‘As Vice President Joe Biden warns it will take a “hell of a long fight” for the United States to stop militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, we speak to Jeremy Scahill, author of the book, “Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield.” We talk about how the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 that helped create the threat now posed by the Islamic State. We also discuss the role of Baathist forces in ISIS, Obama’s targeting of journalists, and the trial of four former Blackwater operatives involved in the 2007 massacre at Baghdad’s Nisoor Square.’ (Democracy Now!)
‘Political prisoners in Uzbekistan suffer “unspeakable abuses”, including torture and abysmal jail conditions according to Human Rights Watch. A new report says that activists, journalists and government critics are locked up for years and often have their sentences extended arbitrarily. The Uzbek authorities say there are no political prisoners in the country and that torture is being eliminated.
The report looks at the cases of 34 current and 10 former prisoners. “We have concluded that at least 29 out of these 44 prisoners have alleged credibly that they have been tortured either during the pre-trial custody phase or in prison,” Steve Swerdlow, Central Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch, told the BBC. One case highlighted in the report is that of prominent journalist Muhammad Bekjanov who has been held since 1999.’
- Uzbekistan: Prison, Torture for Critics
- Report: Torture widespread in Uzbekistan
- Thousands jailed in Uzbekistan on politically motivated charges, report says
- Uzbekistan’s flamboyant first daughter grounded by corruption charge
- In Uzbekistan, ‘slave labour’ used to harvest cotton
- ‘Uzbeks tortured me,’ says British Embassy man
‘A United Nations human rights team looking into complaints of torture in Azerbaijan said on Wednesday it had cut short its investigations because it had been stopped from visiting some government detention centres.
In a statement issued in Geneva, the five-person group said the action by the authorities in the former Soviet republic had come despite assurances that the team would have unrestricted access to all places where prisoners were held.’
‘In the wake of the coup that overthrew the democratically elected government of Thailand in May, at least one activist says she was tortured while in custody, some 60 civilians face trials in military courts, and dissent and freedom of expression have been sharply restricted, according to a report by Amnesty International.
“The right to a fair trial is currently in jeopardy,” said the report, which provided a snapshot of what it described as a deteriorating human rights situation in Thailand since the armed forces seized power in May.
The people facing military trials, which offer no appeal, are charged with taking part in political gatherings, protesting against the military takeover of the country or insulting the monarchy.’
‘According to the report, use of torture by Mexican police and military is widespread, with a 600 percent rise in the number of reported cases over the past decade. Yet despite the huge increase in incidents, there is little being done to combat it or, in fact, discourage it.
“Torture is so widespread in Mexico and sort of expected as an investigative technique,” said Maureen Meyer, the Washington Office of Latin America associate for Mexico and Central America.
Meyer authored a 2010 report on human rights violations committed by the military in Mexico, with a focus on Ciudad Juárez, where cartel violence combined with federal militarization made it the deadliest city in the world from 2008 to 2010. “It’s not sanctioned. It’s not necessarily a state policy to torture but in fact it’s very much permissive and the torturers are never investigated,” she said.’
‘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.’
- 13 Years On, Will 9/11 Ever Go to Trial?
- Shaker Aamer ‘Beaten’ in Latest Guantanamo Crackdown
- US Navy Pulls Protesting Nurse From Guantanamo
- Could the ‘Torture Report’ help spare the Guantanamo defendants?
- Guantánamo judge bows to prosecution, reinstates joint 5-man 9/11 trial
- FBI Hanky-Panky on Guantanamo—Part of Larger 9/11 Mystery?
- Ex-Guantanamo detainee Moazzam Begg denies terror charges
- CIA secrecy over detention program threatens 9/11 prosecutions, senators warn
- FBI Interrogating Attorneys Of “9/11 Masterminds” Currently On Trial At Gitmo
- Accusation of FBI spying stalls 9/11 hearing
- Torture Didn’t Help Catch bin Laden, Report Finds
- 2013: Legal Clashes at Hearing for Defendants in 9/11 Case
‘[...] 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.’
- Glenn Greenwald: The Obama GITMO myth
- Indefinite inaction: Obama’s pledge to close Guantánamo Bay
- Camp X-Ray: A Ghost Prison
- Uruguay: Guantanamo Prisoner Transfer Not Imminent
- Report: US wanted Britain to build 2nd Guantanamo
- Could the ‘Torture Report’ help spare the Guantanamo defendants?
- Pentagon Hands Lucrative Guantanamo Bay Deal to G4S
- Guantanamo Bay is a Stunningly Expensive Failure
- Guantánamo prisoner ‘just a skeleton’, attorney says in push for care
- A Navy Medical Officer’s Profound Act of Resistance to Force-Feeding Prisoners
- Fear and Loathing in Guantanamo Bay
- Guantanamo Bay a thorn in Cuba’s side
- Gitmo prisoners ‘use’ media, lawyers to discredit U.S.
- US forced to acknowledge secret tapes of Guantánamo force-feedings
- Guantánamo Bay detainees’ release upon end of Afghanistan war ‘unlikely’
- An Unsafe Mess Hall and an Inability to Treat Medical Emergencies
- Money still flows into Gitmo
- America’s Torture Doctors
‘The 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.’
‘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.”‘
- Citing redactions, Feinstein delays release of CIA torture report
- CIA Torture Was Unnecessary, Senate Report To Conclude
- CIA Employees Think They May Be Thrown Under The Bus After The ‘Torture Report’ Comes Out
- CIA spied on Senate staff: Interview with Coleen Rowley
- John Brennan Faces Calls to Resign After CIA Admits to Spying on Senate Torture Probe
- Rand Paul calls for CIA chief Brennan to be fired
- Nancy Pelosi Hesitates To Criticize CIA: ‘They Really Come After You’
- CIA Admits It Spied on Senate Intel Panel
- Senators: CIA ‘Misleading’ Public Over Secret Torture Report
- Time to scrap the CIA
- 2012: Obama’s justice department grants final immunity to Bush’s CIA torturers
- 2011: Torture crimes officially, permanently shielded
‘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.’
- Police investigate evidence that six CIA torture flights landed in Scotland
- Lost US extraordinary rendition files have ‘dried out’, Foreign Office says
- Senate report points to UK ‘complicity’ in US extraordinary rendition
- Emails shed new light on UK link to CIA ‘torture flights’
- Secret British files on CIA rendition flights ‘accidentally destroyed’
- Investigation into UK gov’t complicity is ‘expedient on grounds of national security’
- UK urged to admit that CIA used island as secret ‘black site’ prison
‘[...] The fear of Communist expansion into the Western Hemisphere after Fidel Castro’s 1959 victory in the Cuban Revolution was the geo-political background for the 1963 KUBARK manual. Castro’s victory not only encouraged the 1964 U.S.-supported overthrow of democratically elected Brazilian President Joao Goulart; it also encouraged the CIA to spread KUBARK across the continent to help prop up pro-U.S. governments. After the Brazilian coup, right-wing military leaders across Latin America began seizing control from democratically elected governments with US encouragement, School of the Americas degrees, and a copy of the KUBARK manual.
The Secret, 127-page KUBARK manual, first declassified (with redactions) in 1997 thanks to a Baltimore Sun FOIA request, is a comprehensive guide for training interrogators in obtaining intelligence from “resistant sources.” According to the National Security Archive’s 2004 posting, Prisoner Abuse: Patterns from the Past, KUBARK –a CIA cryptonym for itself– “describes the qualifications of a successful interrogator, and reviews the theory of non-coercive and coercive techniques for breaking a prisoner.”’
- CIA: KUBARK’s very long shadow
- After 16 years, CIA declassifies new portions of “KUBARK” interrogation manual
- Newly Revealed Portions of CIA Torture Manual: Doctoring Tapes, Foreign Detentions & Interrogating ‘Defectors”
- National Archives Quietly Pulls School of the Americas Human Rights Evidence Citing Possible “Terrorist Activity”
- Torture was taught by CIA; Declassified manual details the methods used in Honduras; Agency denials refuted
- A Debate on Torture: Legal Architect of CIA Secret Prisons, Rendition vs. Human Rights Attorney
- CIA Admits It Spied on Senate Intel Panel
- Internal CIA Investigation Confirms CIA Hacked into Senate Computers Being Used for Torture Report
- Scahill: White House Censoring What US Public Can Know About Torture Program
- Pelosi Hesitates To Criticize CIA: ‘They Really Come After You’
- White House accidentally emails torture report document to AP
- CIA initially ‘kept Colin Powell in the dark’ about torture practices
- Senate’s CIA report could come out in August
- Senators consider obscure rule in CIA torture report declassification debate
- Dispute over ex-CIA officials’ access to Senate ‘torture report’ highlights feud
- New Torture Report Blames Obama and the Media for Not Confronting the Truth
- The CIA spying scandal and the disintegration of American democracy
- Security fears loom over CIA report
- Torture, the Senate, and the CIA
- What Happened to CIA Torture Report? Senate in the Dark Too
- Generals Want CIA Torture Report Declassified
- CIA torture architect breaks silence to defend ‘enhanced interrogation’
- CIA’s Declassified Torture Handbook: How to Create a “World of Fear, Terror, Anxiety, Dread”
- Don’t Let the Torturer Play Censor
‘On Tuesday, Clint Williamson — an American diplomat appointed EU prosecutor in 2011 to investigate crimes against humanity in Kosovo — released a scathing statement that accused the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) of murdering a handful of people and then trafficking their kidneys, livers, and other body parts. KLA leaders now run the tiny Balkan country’s government…. The KLA also murdered, kidnapped, and detained people illegally, and in general oversaw a reign of terror against its non-Albanian and Albanian opponents after the group won Kosovo’s independence from Serbia in 1999.
The important thing for Americans to recall here is that the KLA achieved victory with the help of United States and NATO bombers attacking Serbian forces. At the time, President Bill Clinton portrayed the KLA as freedom fighters challenging Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic — a genocidal monster who died in a Hague prison cell in 2006. A few years ago, grateful Kosovars erected a bronze statue of Clinton in downtown Pristina, their capital. But now, it turns out, members of the KLA were probably monsters, too.’
Spinwatch director talks to VICE about British PR companies “reputation laundering” for dictatorships
‘The UK PR industry generates roughly £7.5 billion per year. If you work in media, it might feel like a good chunk of that comes via companies blasting your inbox with products that literally no one could ever want. But let’s be rational about this: there’s a lot more to be made by working for heavy hitters than trying to flog iridescent bean bags to a music reviews website.
Helped by a lack of interference from the government, and with no regulation standing in their way, British PR firms are doing their bit to suppress the evils of foreign dictatorships, and making a decent sum in the process. This isn’t a new phenomenon, of course – regimes have been employing spin doctors for decades whenever they need a dodgy human rights violation smoothed over. But thanks to the internet, there are increasingly more ways in which they can soften whatever blow it is that needs softening.’
‘The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that Poland had violated the United Nations Convention Against Torture when it allowed the CIA to torture and abuse prisoners on its territory. It also ruled that the country had violated the Convention by allowing the CIA to transfer prisoners, even though they would likely be subject to undisclosed detention. And the court ruled that Poland had violated the Convention by transferring prisoners to a country where they had a real risk of facing a “flagrant denial of justice.”
The complaints of violations of the torture convention came from Abu Zubaydah [PDF] and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri [PDF]. Poland was ordered to pay 130,000 euros to Zubaydah and $100,000 to Nashiri for “enabling US authorities” to subject the two men to torture and ill-treatment. ECHR also sought to hold the country accountable for its “failure to carry out an effective investigation,” a violation of the torture convention as well. The Polish government has not decided whether it would like to appeal. Throughout the ECHR proceedings, the government consistently refused to constructively participate and provide information that would help the court make a fair ruling.’
‘A doctor who was part of an FDA advisory panel on electric shock therapy says the Judge Rotenberg Center is not reporting device malfunctions that randomly shock students to the government as required.
“We have no data on how often this device is malfunctioning,” said Dr. Steven Miles, a physician who served on a panel advising the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on the devices used to deliver the shocks. “Any time that you have a medical device failure, in this case administering random shocks, you cause trauma to people. And in this case you traumatize people with learning disabilities.”
The Canton-based Rotenberg Center, the only place in the country using the devices, disagrees, saying the misfires don’t meet the FDA reporting standard of causing death or serious injury. The FDA, however, is not so sure.’
‘As the world focuses on the World Cup, which opens in Brazil in less than a fortnight, many Brazilians are wrestling with painful discoveries about the military dictatorship that ruled the country from 1964 to 1985. The BBC has found evidence that the UK actively collaborated with the generals – and trained them in sophisticated interrogation techniques.
Brazil’s 21-year dictatorship is less well known abroad than that of Argentina or Chile, but it was still brutal. Hundreds died and thousands were imprisoned and tortured. One of those tortured was a left-wing guerrilla who is now the country’s president, Dilma Rousseff. She set up a Truth Commission to unearth long-buried facts about the past.
As former victims and a few military players come forward to give evidence, Britain’s secret role has emerged. By the early 1970s Brazil’s rulers were engaged in a bitter struggle against left-wing guerrillas. Swept up in the oppression were union leaders, students, journalists and almost anyone who voiced opposition.’
‘Torture methods used during internment of Irish nationalists at the height of the Northern Irish Troubles were sanctioned by the British government minister, an Irish television documentary claimed Wednesday.
In 1971, as violence intensified in the sectarian conflict, internment â or imprisonment without trial â was introduced by the British state as they tried to bring order to the province.
Hundreds of Catholic nationalists were brought to detention camps at army bases. Twelve men, who became known as the Hooded Men, were selected for ‘deep interrogation’.’
‘Worldwide, a global survey conducted by Amnesty International reveals that tens of thousands of citizens from twenty-one different countries believe if they were “taken into custody” by their government they would probably be tortured. From December 2013 to April 2014, Amnesty International interviewed 21,221 citizens from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Germany, Greece, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Citizens were asked if they agreed or disagreed with the following statements: (1) If I were taken into custody by the authorities in my country, I am confident that I would be safe; (2) Clear rules against torture are crucial because any use of torture is immoral and will weaken international human rights; (3) Torture is sometimes necessary and acceptable to gain information that may protect the public. On average, “more than four in ten people” indicated they would not “feel safe from torture if taken into custody.” The highest rates of fear were found in Brazil, Mexico, Turkey, Pakistan and Kenya. Thirty-two percent of Americans surveyed feared they would be tortured.’
‘Up to one in three Britons think torture can be justified – because of what they have seen in fictional TV shows, Amnesty International has revealed. The British public is more likely to condone torture practices than people in Russia and almost half are against an outright ban. The civil rights organisation was surprised by the results of its poll and blamed programmes such as 24, Homeland and Spooks for their glorification of ill-treatment of terror suspects and criminals. Some 29 per cent of Britons said practices such as beatings, scalding and needles rammed under fingernails could be justified if it is to protect the public – compared to 25 per cent in Russia.’
‘Three decades after the U.N. Convention Against Torture imposed measures to eradicate the practice, torture still happens in 141 countries — many of which are signatories to that convention — according to Amnesty International’s annual report on torture released Tuesday.
According to the 1948 Universal Declaration on Human Rights, “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” That agreement, as well as the various Geneva Conventions and the International Covenant on Civil and Political rights, have all dictated an absolute ban on torture for any purpose — even in times of war.
And yet, in police headquarters, secret prisons and CIA black sites, detainees across the globe report being subjected to torture as a means of extracting information or confessions, silencing dissent or simply as punishment. The Amnesty report details 27 categories of torture reported in the past year, including electric shocks, mock executions, water torture, rape and sexual violence and the pulling of teeth.’
- House members denied look at CIA report
- On CIA abuses, denial does Americans no favors
- Senators Urge Partial Declassification of CIA Torture Report, Keep Vast Majority Secret
- 5 Explosive Revelations Leaked from Senate Report Exposing CIA Torture
- Why the CIA Doesn’t Want You to See the Senate Torture Report (Video)
- UK urged to admit that CIA used island as secret ‘black site’ prison
- Timeline: The Tortured History of the Senate’s Torture Report
- Leaked Report: CIA Lied, Lied, Lied to Conceal ‘Brutal’ Torture
- Senate report contains new details on CIA black sites
- Using the ‘Top Secret’ Stamp to Hide Lies and War Crimes
- Hayden suggests Feinstein too ‘emotional’ about CIA interrogation techniques
- Confidential State Department cable released by WikiLeaks “detainees were RAPED”
- Rep. Mike Rodgers: “Russian intelligence services are cutting people’s ears off” (Video)
- Pelosi: Blame Cheney for CIA’s ‘Attitude’
- Tony Blair ‘knew all about CIA secret kidnap programme’
- Senate Intel panel approves CIA report
- John McCain: Classified Senate Report on Torture ‘Chilling’
- A tale of two torture reports
- A Debate on Torture: Legal Architect of CIA Secret Prisons, Rendition vs. Human Rights Attorney (Video)
- Nancy Pelosi Admits That Congress Is Scared Of The CIA
- Marcy Wheeler: The White House Has Been Covering Up the Presidency’s Role in Torture for Years
- John Glaser: The Outrageous and Criminal Cover-Up By Obama and the CIA
- Report: White House shielding CIA from Senate torture investigation
- ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ Leaks: Pentagon Says Employee Was Prohibited From Providing Report to Congress
- The hidden history of the CIA’s prison in Poland
- Obama and GOPers Worked Together to Kill Bush Torture Probe
Speaking Saturday at the National Rifle Association’s “Stand And Fight” rally at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, the former Alaska governor and 2008 GOP vice presidential candidate accused the Obama administration of instating counterterrorism policies that “coddle adversaries.”
“Come on. Enemies, who would utterly annihilate America, they who’d obviously have information on plots, to carry out Jihad. Oh, but you can’t offend them, can’t make them feel uncomfortable, not even a smidgen,” she said. “Well, if I were in charge, they would know that waterboarding is how we’d baptize terrorists.”
While President Obama told the country to “look forward, not backward” when it came to Bush’s torture program, the United Nations has taken a different route. Recently, the UN Human Rights Committee issued a report excoriating the United States for its human rights violations. It focuses on violations of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which the country is party. The report mentions 25 human rights issues where the United States is failing. This piece will focus on a few of those issues – Guantanamo, NSA surveillance, accountability for Bush-era human rights violations, drone strikes, racism in the prison system, racial profiling, police violence, and criminalization of the homeless.
The UN has delivered a withering verdict on the US’s human rights record, raising concerns on a series of issues including torture, drone strikes, the failure to close Guantánamo Bay and the NSA‘s bulk collection of personal data.
The report was delivered by the UN’s human rights committee in an assessment of how the US is complying with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights [ICCPR], which has been in force since the mid 1970s.
The committee, which is chaired by the British law professor Sir Nigel Rodley, catalogued a string of human rights concerns, notably on the mass surveillance exposed by the whistleblower Edward Snowden.
In the summer of 1971, on the campus of one of the nation’s top universities and under the supervision of a faculty member, 11 students tortured 10 others over a six-day period, all in the interest of “science.”
Intended to last two weeks, according to the study’s author, Professor Phil Zimbardo, the original focus of the experiment was to see “how individuals adapt to being in a relatively powerless situation.”
The scenario chosen was a simulated prison, built in the basement of the psychology building on Stanford’s campus. Since the research was to involve people, it had to and was approved by the Stanford Human Subjects Committee. The study was set to begin on August 17, 1971.