Category Archives: Torture

CIA Cables Detail Its New Deputy Director’s Role in Torture

Raymond Bonner reports for ProPublica:

Image result for CIA Cables Detail Its New Deputy Director’s Role in Torture[…] When questions began to swirl about the Bush administration’s use of the “black sites,” and program of “enhanced interrogation,” the chief of base began pushing to have the tapes destroyed. She accomplished her mission years later when she rose to a senior position at CIA headquarters and drafted an order to destroy the evidence, which was still locked in a CIA safe at the American embassy in Thailand. Her boss, the head of the agency’s counterterrorism center, signed the order to feed the 92 tapes into a giant shredder.

By then, it was clear that CIA analysts were wrong when they had identified Abu Zubaydah as the number three or four in al-Qaida after Osama bin Laden. The waterboarding failed to elicit valuable intelligence not because he was holding back, but because he was not a member of al-Qaida, and had no knowledge of any plots against the United States.

The chief of base’s role in this tale of pointless brutality and evidence destruction was a footnote to history — until earlier this month, when President Trump named her deputy director of the CIA.

The choice of Gina Haspel for the second-highest position in the agency has been praised by colleagues but sharply criticized by two senators who have seen the still-classified records of her time in Thailand.

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‘Human Slaughterhouse’: Amnesty International Claims Up to 13,000 Hanged at Syrian Prison

Amy Goodman speaks to Nicolette Waldman, an Amnesty International researcher who specialises in detention issues, about the report she co-authored which claims that as many as 13,000 people have been hanged in a Syrian government military prison in recent years. (Democracy Now!)

Trump: No to Black Sites But Yes to Torture

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

Reports early Wednesday claimed President Donald Trump was planning to reverse the ban on CIA black sites holding detainees around the world. These reports ultimately proved untrue, with the White House insisting the memo in question was not genuine, and that they have absolutely no plans to review the black sites policy at all.

The flurry of conflicting reports on the CIA black sites was confusing and ultimately didn’t amount to much in and of itself, but the putative memo did mention a return to torture, and got President Trump talking, and again loudly endorsing the idea of torture.

Trump insisted that he had been assured by several top intelligence officials that torture “works” and that he believes the US has to “fight fire with fire” in the war against ISIS. Trump noted that ISIS routinely tortures, and that it’s unfair the US is “not allowed to do anything,” saying the two sides aren’t “playing on an even field.”

Though Trump presented his comments as deferring to the experts, he also made it very clear he leans toward the idea of torture, saying he wants to do everything that the US can “do legally.” This is in keeping with his campaign rhetoric, which faulted opponents as weak for not being pro-torture.

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14 Senate Democrats Fall in Line Behind Trump CIA Pick Who Left Door Open to Torture

Zaid Jilani and Alex Emmons report for The Intercept:

Fourteen Senate Democrats joined all but one Senate Republican in confirming Rep. Mike Pompeo as the new CIA director on Monday evening, failing a crucial first test of whether Democrats would present a united front to defend human rights and civil liberties in the Trump era.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., was the lone member of his party to vote against his confirmation.

Pompeo is a far-right Kansas Republican who has in the past defended CIA officials who engaged in torture, calling them “patriots.” Last week, he left the door open to torture by acknowledging in his written responses to the Senate Intelligence Committee that he would be open to altering a 2015 law prohibiting the government from using techniques not listed in the Army Field Manual.

As a member of Congress, he repeatedly appeared on the radio program hosted by anti-Muslim activist Frank Gaffney, and has portrayed the war on terror as a conflict between Islam and Christianity. He has also claimed that “Islamic leaders across America [are] potentially complicit” in terrorism because they supposedly don’t speak out against it, which is not true.

While Pompeo’s confirmation was opposed by Human Rights Watch, it netted votes from a variety of Senate Democrats, including the caucus’ leader: Chuck Schumer of New York.

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CIA Nominee Leaves Door Open to Torture, Making Senate Vote a Test of Principles

Zaid Jilani writes for The Intercept:

Image result for Mike PompeoCIA director nominee Mike Pompeo — whose confirmation vote in the Senate is set for Monday — has said he is open to changing the rules governing the interrogation of detainees, which could mean re-authorizing the use of the torture technique called waterboarding.

The vote is shaping up as a test for Senate Democrats, who will have to choose between letting Donald Trump fill a key national-security post, on the one hand, and supporting basic human rights on the other.

Pompeo’s admission came in a written response to inquiries from the Senate Intelligence Committee. Asked if he would refrain from taking steps that would reintroduce waterboarding or other similar techniques, he replied that he would “consult with experts at the agency and at other organizations in the U.S. government” on whether the Army Field Manual — which currently establishes the legal limits of interrogation — should be changed. In other words, he’ll follow the law, but he’s open to changing it

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America is About to go Backwards on Torture Under Trump

Rupert Stone writes for The Independent:

trump-lift.jpgTuesday’s UK Supreme Court ruling, allowing two Libyans to sue the British government for alleged complicity in their rendition and torture by the CIA, takes us back to the dark days after 9/11 when America kidnapped people and handed them over to squalid foreign regimes, like Colonel Gaddafi’s or President Assad’s.

However, it has gone unnoticed that US President-elect Donald Trump looks set to continue renditions when he takes office in a few days. True, his cabinet nominees told Congress last week that they would not use torture, despite Trump’s calls for waterboarding and “a hell of a lot worse” on the campaign trail. But Mike Pompeo, his pick for CIA Director, has effectively confirmed that rendition will be an available policy. In response to written questions from Senators recently, he said that, if the CIA does conduct “rendition/transfers” of prisoners to foreign countries, he will seek “diplomatic assurances” from those countries that torture will not occur.

In other words, rendition is on the table. This isn’t surprising, because the US has been in the rendition business for decades, long before George W Bush came on the scene. It basically involves the extralegal transfer of prisoners from one country to another without going through formal extradition or deportation procedures.

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In General Mattis, Trump Finds a Major Torture Opponent

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

Image result for General Mattis, TrumpIn picking his nominees for top cabinet positions, President-elect Donald Trumpappears not to have fully understood the positions of everyone he selected. This led to at least one major surprise, when Gen. James Mattis, a former high-ranking Marine turned Defense Secretary nominee, sat Trump down to explain to him why torture doesn’t work and is a bad idea.

Trump admitted he was “surprised” to learn Mattis was against torture, and after Trump had campaigned heavily on a pro-torture position, he backed off the pledge to bring back torture after speaking with Mattis, reflecting not only how strongly the general feels about the position, but how convincing he apparently is at arguing the point.

After all, Trump was not just on the fence about torture, he argued during the campaign that “only a stupid person” wouldn’t support torture, and insisted that even if it didn’t work the US should torture people anyhow just because they probably deserve it.

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No, Trump Has Not Changed His Mind About Torture

Fred Kaplan writes for Slate:

624448490-president-elect-donald-trump-speaks-as-he-stands-with[…] The full transcript of the session, which the Times published on its website, reveals a different bottom line. Trump is quoted as telling the same story about Mattis, adding, “I was surprised [by his answer], because he’s known as being like the toughest guy.”

But Trump then goes on, “And when he said that, I’m not saying it changed my mind.” (Italics added.) Let me repeat that: Contrary to the Times’ own news story, it is not the case that “Mr. Trump suggested he had changed his mind about the value of waterboarding.” In fact, he explicitly said the opposite. Right after that point in the transcript, a Times editor adds the following, in parentheses and italics: “(Earlier, we mistakenly transcribed ‘changed my mind.’)” Hence the misreporting and the as-yet largely unrecognized misunderstanding.

Trump goes on in the transcript: “Look we have people that are chopping off heads and drowning people in steel cages and we’re not allowed to waterboard. But I’ll tell you what, I was impressed by that answer. It certainly does not—it’s not going to make the kind of difference that maybe a lot of people think. If it’s so important to the American people, I would go for it. I would be guided by that. But Gen. Mattis found it to be very less important, much less important than I thought he would say.”

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Neocons, War Criminals and White Nationalists: Trump’s Incoming Advisers and Cabinet

Juan Gonzalez speaks to Jeremy Scahill, investigative journalist and co-founder of The Intercept, who examines the “team of rivals” Trump is considering for key appointments to his Cabinet, noting all of them have “ended up in direct conflict with President Obama over key issues that Trump and Pence have sort of touted.” (Democracy Now!)

Thanks, Obama: Commander-In-Chief Donald Trump Will Have Terrifying Powers

Alex Emmons writes for The Intercept:

Image result for trump obamaWhen Donald Trump becomes commander in chief in January, he will take on presidential powers that have never been more expansive and unchecked.

He’ll control an unaccountable drone program, and the prison at Guantanamo Bay. His FBI, including a network of 15,000 paid informants, already has a record of spying on mosques and activists, and his NSA’s surveillance empire is ubiquitous and governed by arcane rules, most of which remain secret. He will inherit bombing campaigns in seven Muslim countries, the de facto ability to declare war unilaterally, and a massive nuclear arsenal — much of which is on hair-trigger alert.

Caught off guard by Hillary Clinton’s election defeat, Democrats who defended these powers under President Obama may suddenly be having second thoughts as the White House gets handed over to a man they described — with good reason — as “unhinged,” and “dangerously unfit.”

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Obama Has Handed a Surveillance State and War Machine to a Maniac

Trevor Timm writes for The Guardian:

Image result for trump surveillance dronesIn a little over two months, Donald Trump – after his shocking victory last night – will control a vast, unaccountable national security and military apparatus unparalleled in world history. The nightmare that civil libertarians have warned of for years has now tragically come true: instead of dismantling the surveillance state and war machine, the Obama administration and Democrats institutionalised it – and it will soon be in the hands of a maniac.

It will go down in history as perhaps President Obama’s most catastrophic mistake.

The Obama administration could have prosecuted torturers and war criminals in the Bush administration and sent an unmistakable message to the world: torture is illegal and unconscionable. Instead the president said they would “look forward, not backward”, basically turning a clear felony into a policy dispute. Trump has bragged that he will bring back torture – waterboarding and “much worse”. He has talked about killing the innocent family members of terrorists, openly telling the world he will commit war crimes.

Now that Trump will take the reins of our various Middle East wars in January, who’s going to stop him from following through on his heinous proposals?

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FBI Director James Comey Has Been Abusing His Power For Years

Trevor Timm writes for The Guardian:

Image result for FBI Director James ComeyFBI director James Comey set off a torrent of criticism late last week when he directly inserted himself into the presidential campaign with a vague letter to Congress about the reopening of Clinton email case. His conduct has shocked many observers across the political spectrum, but the only thing truly surprising about this episode is that people are only now realizing how power-hungry and dangerous Comey actually is.

During his stints in the Bush and Obama administration Comey has continually taken authoritarian and factually dubious public stances both at odds with responsible public policy and sometimes the law. The Clinton case is not an aberration, it’s part of a clear pattern.

Liberals were once enthralled when Obama appointed the Republican as FBI chief in 2013. They talked about Comey as if he was above reproach because of his role as acting attorney general under George W Bush, when he threatened to resign over an aspect of the president’s illegal warrantless wiretapping program.

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CIA Psychologists Sue CIA for Docs to Prove Torture Program Wasn’t Their Idea

Jessica Schulberg reports for The Huffington Post:

The two CIA-contracted psychologists accused of crafting the spy agency’s so-called “enhanced interrogation program” want the U.S. government to turn over documents they hope will show the torture program wasn’t their fault.

The motion to compel the documents, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Monday, alleged that the CIA and Justice Department had been uncooperative in supplying James Elmer Mitchell and John “Bruce” Jessen with “documents critical to their defense.”

Their request is related to a separate ongoing lawsuit in Spokane, Washington, where the American Civil Liberties Union, on behalf of three former CIA detainees, is suing Jessen and Mitchell for their alleged role in creating and implementing an interrogation program that used techniques now considered to be torture.

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The CIA’s first captive after 9/11 describes his years of torture

Jason Leopold reports for VICE News:

[…] Abu Zubaydah, 45, a Saudi national who was the CIA’s first captive following the 9/11 attacks, served as the guinea pig for what the CIA euphemistically referred to as its “enhanced interrogation” program. The details about Abu Zubaydah’s treatment were revealed in a sworn, eight-page declaration [PDF at the end of this story] he provided to his attorney in 2009 that was filed under seal in US District Court in Washington, DC seven years ago in his habeas corpus case in which his attorneys have argued for his release.

That declaration was unsealed one week ago, prepared for public release in response to a motion filed earlier this year by investigative journalist Raymond Bonner, who convinced the federal judge presiding over Abu Zubaydah’s case to unseal dozens of court filings that have been shrouded in secrecy since 2008.

The judge who previously oversaw the case, Richard Roberts, failed to rule on nearly every motion Abu Zubaydah’s attorneys have filed over the past seven years. He abruptly retired from the bench as chief judge of the US District Court for the District of Columbia on March 16, the same day a woman filed a lawsuit accusing him of sexually assaulting her more than three decades ago when she was 16 years old.

The partially redacted declaration was attached as an exhibit to a 21-page motion his attorneys filed on September 21, 2009 asking the court to impose sanctions against the government for destroying “material evidence” — nearly 100 interrogation videotapes, at least one of which showed Abu Zubaydah being waterboarded.

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CIA Knew it Had the Wrong Man, but Kept Him Anyway

Matthew Schofield reports for McClatchy:

German of Lebanese descent Khaleed al Masri reads German newspapers covering his arrest by the CIA in Stuttgart, Germany, on Dec. 6, 2005.By January of 2004, when German citizen Khaleed al Masri arrived at the Central Intelligence Agency’s secret prison in Afghanistan, agency officials were pretty sure he wasn’t a terrorist. They also knew he didn’t know any terrorists, or much about anything in the world of international terror.

In short, they suspected they’d nabbed the wrong man.

Still, the agency continued to imprison and interrogate him, according to a recently released internal CIA report on Masri’s arrest. The report claims that Masri suffered no physical abuse during his wrongful imprisonment, though it acknowledges that for months he was kept in a “small cell with some clothing, bedding and a bucket for his waste.” Masri says he was tortured, specifically that a medical examination against his will constituted sodomy.

The embarrassing, and horrifying, case of Masri is hardly new. It has been known for a decade as a colossal example of CIA error in the agency’s pursuit of terrorists during the administration of President George W. Bush.

But the recently released internal report makes it clear that the CIA’s failures in the Masri case were even more outrageous than previous accounts have suggested.

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European Parliament Calls for Investigation of Secret CIA Torture Sites

Alex Emmons reports for The Intercept:

The European Parliament on Wednesday condemned the “apathy shown by member states and EU institutions” over torture in secret CIA prisons in Europe.

A non-binding resolution, which passed 329-299, urged member states to “investigate, insuring full transparency, the allegations that there were secret prisons on their territory in which people were held under the CIA programme.” It also called on the European Union to undertake fact-finding missions into countries that were known to house American black sites.

The resolution named Lithuania, Poland, Italy, and the United Kingdom as countries complicit in CIA operations.

The Parliament also expressed “regret” that none of the architects of the U.S. torture program faced criminal charges, and that the U.S. has failed to cooperate with European criminal probes.

Despite banning torture when he came into office, President Obama has fought all attempts to hold Bush administration officials accountable, including by invoking the state secrets privilege to block lawsuits and delaying the release of the Senate Torture Report.

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Judge Criticizes Pentagon Suppression of Hundreds of Bush-era Torture Photos

Spencer Ackerman reports for The Guardian:

A federal judge has sharply rebuked the Pentagon for the process by which it concealed hundreds of Bush-era photos showing US military personnel torturing detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan, suggesting Barack Obama may have to release even more graphic imagery of abuse.

Alvin Hellerstein, the senior judge who has presided over a transparency lawsuit for the photos that has lasted more than 12 years, expressed dissatisfaction over the Pentagon’s compliance with an order he issued last year requiring a case-by-case ruling that release of an estimated 1,800 photographs would endanger US troops.

“We don’t know the methodology, we don’t know what was reviewed, we don’t know the criteria, we don’t know the numbers,” Hellerstein said during an hour-long hearing on Wednesday.

Hellerstein said he would formally rule on the matter in the “near future”, a process that may compel the Pentagon to disclose additional photographs.

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The CIA Naked Photos Scandal is a Wake-Up Call

Trevor Timm writes for The Guardian:

Just as the ugly spectre of torture has reared its head once again in the US presidential race, the Guardian has revealed shocking new details of the US government’s brutality during the Bush era.

As the Guardian’s Spencer Ackerman reported today, the CIA took photographs of its prisoners while they were naked, bound and some bruised, just before they were to be shipped off to some of the world’s worst dictators at the time – which included Assad, Mubarak and Gaddafi – for torture. The photos were described by a former US official as “very gruesome”.

The report is a stark reminder that the US continues to keep secret, to this day, some of the worst actions of the Bush administration. And it’s all the more relevant given that after the tragic terrorist attack in Brussels, torture has once again become central to the US political debate. On national television immediately following the attacks, the Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump again called for waterboarding – a war crime Japanese soldiers were prosecuted for after the second world war. Trump has also repeatedly claimed he would do “much worse” than waterboarding to captives as president.

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Obama in Cuba: Pro-Torture Pundits Suddenly Concerned With Human Rights

Adam Johnson writes for Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting:

US President Barack Obama landed in Havana [last] Sunday to great fanfare, both in Cuba and stateside. His visit marks a significant shift of the United States’ approach towards the socialist state, and the possibility of cooperation after decades of hostility. US media generally struck a hopeful tone, with a surprisingly nuanced mix of positive and critical stories about Cuba.

Some Cold War hold-outs in the media just weren’t having it, though, taking the occasion to feign outrage that Obama could visit a country with such a terrible human rights record. While American human-rights hypocrisy is nothing new, a string of Bush-era, pro-torture, pro-Guantánamo pundits expressing indignation at Cuba’s human rights failings was still remarkable.

[…] Human rights are important. Human Rights™, as arbitrary tools of Western propaganda, are dangerous. Not only because they serve to bully unfriendly nations with cheap sloganeering, but they also, in the long run, undermine the otherwise noble and well-intentioned enterprise of establishing international norms.

“The problem with living outside the law,” Truman Capote once quipped, “is that you no longer have its protection.” The same is true for every Bush-era pundit who served as ideological shock troops in one of the more shameful episodes of American history. These talking heads can criticize Cuba’s controlled economy, they can criticize its leadership, they can criticize its immigration policy—but they have no grounding, intellectually or morally, to criticize its human rights record.

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Former CIA Analyst and Whistleblower John Kiriakou on Why You Shouldn’t Back Hillary Clinton

Afshin Rattansi talks to John Kiriakou, a former analyst at the CIA and a former senior investigator for the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Kiriakou goes over the UK-US torture collaboration, why you shouldn’t back Hillary Clinton and how when it comes to whistleblowers, President Obama is the worst president in the U.S. history. (Going Underground)

Imagine Obama’s National Security Policies In Trump’s Hands

Trevor Timm writes for The Guardian:

As Donald Trump gets closer to locking up the Republican nomination and therefore one step closer to the presidency, it’s worth looking back at one of the Obama administration’s most troubling legacies. Specifically, the national security precedents that have allowed the US to spy on countless people and kill without accountability. The prospect now – a terrifying one – is of Trump in charge of this vast apparatus.

Civil liberties advocates have been warning of a scenario like this for more than six years. The extraordinary national security powers George W Bush pioneered and Obama shamefully entrenched could now fall into the hands of someone many people consider a madman. Someone whose opinion changes with the wind – or the sound of the crowd – and whose entire candidacy is based around personal vendettas.

Trump’s abhorrent daily pronouncements about what he would do as president come at such a rate that we have become numb to them. We’ve lost count of the amount of times he’s claimed he’ll bring back waterboarding, or some forms of torture that are “so much worse” (something that would constitute a war crime). Or that he’ll not only kill terrorists, but members of their families as well – another war crime. (After some backlash for these statements, Trump claimed on Friday that he would still “obey the law”.)

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Donald Trump’s Policies Are Not Anathema to U.S. Mainstream, but an Uncomfortable Reflection of It

Glenn Greenwald writes for The Intercept:

The political and media establishments in the U.S. — which have jointly wrought so much destruction, decay, and decadence — recently decided to unite against Donald Trump. Their central claim is that the real estate mogul and longtime NBC reality TV star advocates morally reprehensible positions that are far outside the bounds of decency; relatedly, they argue, he is so personally repellent that his empowerment would degrade both the country and the presidency.

In some instances, their claim is plausible: There is at least genuine embarrassment if not revulsion even among America’s political class over Trump’s proposed mass deportation of 11 million human beings, banning of all Muslims from entering the country, and new laws to enable him to more easily sue (and thus destroy) media outlets that “falsely” criticize him. And his signature personality brew of deep-seated insecurities, vindictive narcissism, channeling of the darkest impulses, and gaudy, petty boasting is indeed uniquely grotesque.

But in many cases, probably most, the flamboyant denunciations of Trump by establishment figures make no sense except as self-aggrandizing pretense, because those condemning him have long tolerated if not outright advocated very similar ideas, albeit with less rhetorical candor. Trump is self-evidently a toxic authoritarian demagogue advocating morally monstrous positions, but in most cases where elite outrage is being vented, he is merely a natural extension of the mainstream rhetorical and policy framework that has been laid, not some radical departure from it. He’s their id. What establishment mavens most resent is not what Trump is, does, or says, but what he reflects: the unmistakable, undeniable signs of late-stage imperial collapse, along with the resentments and hatreds they have long deliberately and self-servingly stoked but which are now raging out of their control.

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GOP Candidates Compete Over Who Will Commit Most War Crimes Once Elected

Murtaza Hussain and Dan Froomkin report for The Intercept:

At a rally in New Hampshire on Monday night, Donald Trump was criticizing Ted Cruz for having insufficiently endorsed torture – Cruz had said two nights earlier that he would bring back waterboarding, but not “in any sort of widespread use” – when someone in the audience yelled out that Cruz was a “pussy”. Trump, in faux outrage, reprimanded the supporter, repeating the allegation for the assembled crowd: “She said he’s a pussy. That’s terrible. Terrible.”

The spectacle of one Republican presidential candidate being identified by another as a “pussy” for failing to sufficiently endorse an archetypal form of torture exemplifies the moral state of the current race for the GOP nomination.

The Republican candidates have seemingly been competing with one another over who would commit the gravest war crimes if elected. In recent months, one or another has promised to waterboard, do a “helluva lot worse than waterboarding,” repopulate Guantanamo, engage in wars of aggressionkill families of suspected terrorists and “carpet bomb” Middle Eastern countries until we find out if “sand can glow in the dark.”

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Pentagon Releases Photos of Detainee Abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan

Cora Currier reports for The Intercept:

detainee-photos-3The Pentagon today released 198 photos related to its investigations into abuse of detainees by U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The photos are mainly close-up shots of arms, feet, heads, hands, or joints, sometimes showing bruises or scabs. Faces are redacted with black bars. It’s not always clear where each of the photos was taken, but they come from internal military investigations and have dates ranging from 2003 to 2006. Sometimes the marks on the prisoners’ skin are labeled with tape measuring the size of the wound, or a coin or pen for comparison.

These photos appear to be the most innocuous of the more than 2,000 images that the government has fought for years to keep secret. Lawyers for the government have long maintained that the photos, if released, could cause grievous harm to national security because they could be used for propaganda by groups like al Qaeda and the Islamic State. The legal case has stretched on for more than a decade, since 2004, when the American Civil Liberties Union firstsued to obtain photos beyond the notorious images that had been leaked from the prison at Abu Ghraib.

It has been reported that some of the 2,000 imagesshow soldiers posing with dead bodies, kicking and punching detainees or posing them stripped naked next to female guards. The 198 photos that were released today do not show any of this.

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Brutal Repression in Egypt Exceeds Conditions Under Mubarak: Interview with Noha Radwan

Sharmini Peries talks to Noha Radwan, an associate professor of Arabic and Comparative Literature at UC Davis. Radwan discusses the conditions facing political prisoners, where as many as seventy people are crammed into 15×15 spaces, while calling on the international community for assistance. (The Real News)

Campaign to Close Guantánamo During Obama’s Last Year in Office: Interview with Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters and Andy Worthington

On the day that marked seven years since President Obama signed an executive order calling for the closure of Guantánamo Bay within one year, Juan Gonzalez and Amy Goodman spoke to Roger Waters, co-founder of Pink Floyd, and Andy Worthington, a British activist and investigative journalist who co-founded the “Countdown to Close Guantánamo” campaign. (Democracy Now!)

ISIS Recruitment Thrives in Brutal Prisons Run By US-Backed Egypt

Murtaza Hussain reports for The Intercept:

For nearly two years, Mohamed Soltan, a 26-year-old citizen of both Egypt and America, endured torture, deprivation, and cruelty while locked in the prisons of Egyptian military dictator Abdul Fattah al-Sisi. In 2013, he was among thousands arrested in a country-wide crackdown on civil society activists, journalists, and members of the deposed government following Sisi’s coup and massacre of protestors in Cairo’s Raba’a Adawiya Square.

Soltan was released this year after a 400-day hunger strike in which he lost over 130 pounds and nearly died, saved only by the intervention of the American government on his behalf. Despite bending to pressure in his case, the Egyptian regime continues to hold as many as 41,000 political prisoners, recent Human Rights Watch estimates suggest. And Soltan worries that extremism is incubating in those facilities, where he witnessed and experienced torture. Today, he says that, through its oppressive practices, the Sisi government is effectively acting as a “recruiting agent” for extremist groups like the Islamic State.

“The regime is fostering an environment in their prisons that makes them a fertile ground for that kind of ideology to flourish,” Soltan says. “The brutality and the overwhelming loss of hope is creating a situation which fits [the Islamic State’s] narrative, and they’re using it to try and recruit people and spread their message.”

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Last British Prisoner Released From Guantanamo: Interview with Shayana Kadidal

Sharmini Peries talks to Shayana Kadidal, senior attorney with the Centre for Constitutional Rights. Kadidal discusses how Shaker Aamer was cleared for release in 2007, but US military officials held him all these years because he was a charismatic leader and negotiator. (The Real News)

Andy Worthington on Shaker Aamer finally being released from Guantanamo

From the Scott Horton Show:

Andy Worthington, author of The Guantanamo Files, discusses British resident Shaker Aamer’s reunion with his family in the UK after his long-delayed release from Guantanamo, and how he survived being locked away for 14 years without charge or trial, often in solitary confinement.

LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW…

Homan Square: How Chicago police ‘disappeared’ 7,000 people

Spencer Ackerman reports for The Guardian:

Police “disappeared” more than 7,000 people at an off-the-books interrogation warehouse in Chicago, nearly twice as many detentions as previously disclosed, the Guardian can now reveal.

From August 2004 to June 2015, nearly 6,000 of those held at the facility were black, which represents more than twice the proportion of the city’s population. But only 68 of those held were allowed access to attorneys or a public notice of their whereabouts, internal police records show.

The new disclosures, the result of an ongoing Guardian transparency lawsuit and investigation, provide the most detailed, full-scale portrait yet of the truth about Homan Square, a secretive facility that Chicago police have described as little more than a low-level narcotics crime outpost where the mayor has said police “follow all the rules”.

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