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Solly Mack

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Current location: Back of Beyond
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 76,887

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Busy observing the group dynamics of dust bunnies.

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Without torture prosecutions, we can't claim to be a nation of laws

Without torture prosecutions, we can't claim to be a nation of laws


Imagine what the U.S. reaction -- from government officials to everyday people -- would be if we learned that agents of another country had grabbed people from outside its borders, spirited them away to clandestine chambers in third countries, and tortured them. Special forces would be deployed. The United Nations Security Council would convene. Sanctions would be imposed amid talk of isolating a rogue nation from the civilized world.


But because it was the U.S., it's likely nothing will happen despite calls for prosecutions. The Justice Department, which has already passed on prosecutions once, affirmed Tuesday that it will not reopen investigations into possible illegal acts committed by CIA agents and officials, or the people hired by them (yes, the U.S. even outsources torture).


Torture is illegal. Letting those responsible for such inhumane acts slip away without being brought to justice compounds the crime. We like to think of ourselves as a nation governed by laws, but to shrug off torture by agents of our own government tells the world that we not only find the crimes inconsequential, but we’ve turned off the international beacon of justice.


“The CIA detention and interrogation program was immoral, illegal, out of control and (the committee persuasively argues) unnecessary. President Obama's admission this summer that "we tortured some folks" doesn't begin to convey the appalling violations of human rights and international law cataloged by the Intelligence Committee. The officials who carried out these acts shamed themselves and their country.”

US hid UK links in CIA torture report at request of British spy agencies

US hid UK links in CIA torture report at request of British spy agencies

References to Britain’s intelligence agencies were deleted at their request from the damning US report on the CIA’s use of torture after 9/11, it has emerged.

A spokesman for David Cameron acknowledged the UK had been granted deletions in advance of the publication, contrasting with earlier assertions by No 10. Downing Street said any redactions were only requested on “national security” grounds and contained nothing to suggest UK agencies had participated in torture or rendition.

However, the admission will fuel suspicions that the report – while heavily critical of the CIA – was effectively sanitised to conceal the way in which close allies of the US became involved in the global kidnap and torture programme that was mounted after the al-Qaida attacks.

On Wednesday, the day the report was published, asked whether redactions had been sought, Cameron’s official spokesman told reporters there had been “none whatsoever, to my knowledge”.

Redha al-Najar, Detainee in Torture Report, Released to Afghan Government

Redha al-Najar, Detainee in Torture Report, Released to Afghan Government

The United States has handed over to Afghanistan a suspected al Qaeda militant named in a U.S. Senate report as one of the first objects of harsh interrogation techniques in a CIA "dungeon" near Kabul, his lawyer told Reuters on Wednesday.

Redha al-Najar, a Tunisian who is one of the longest-serving detainees from the U.S. "war on terror", was captured as a suspected bodyguard of Osama Bin Laden in May 2002.

He has never been charged or had the chance to prove his innocence in court, and does not have prisoner of war status. The Senate report said he had been subjected to a psychological ordeal that had left him a "broken man".

His lawyer, Tina Foster, said the U.S. government had notified her that Najar had been transferred from the U.S.-run detention center at Bagram Airfield on Tuesday, six days before the government was due to make a submission to the Supreme Court about his treatment.




U.S. Closes Bagram Detention Center, Hands Over Last Afghan Prisoners

The U.S. has closed its controversial detention center near Bagram Air Base, leaving it with no prisoners in Afghanistan, after it turned over two Tunisian prisoners mentioned in the Senate Intelligence Committee's report on CIA interrogation techniques to Afghan authorities, defense officials told NBC News on Wednesday.


The Pentagon told NBC News that it "no longer operates detention facilities in Afghanistan nor maintains custody of any detainees" after the final handover. Under Washington's agreement with Kabul, the handoff to Afghanistan wasn't due to go into effect until Jan. 1. Defense officials said they couldn't explain why the U.S. was getting out three weeks early.

A spokesperson for the State Department would neither confirm nor deny the detainees' identities. The spokesperson told NBC News that the transfers were due to the Jan. 1 deadline and were "not linked to the release of the Senate committee report on detention and interrogation."

But Tina Foster, al-Najar's attorney, said her client — one of the first detainees to have been subjected to the CIA's "enhanced interrogation techniques" — and other detainees were shuttled among various detention centers for years "to avoid scrutiny by U.S. courts." She said al-Najar was turned over less than a week before the U.S. government was to have filed a response to the Supreme Court about his treatment.

CIA torture report: Europe must come clean about its own complicity

CIA torture report: Europe must come clean about its own complicity

Under President Bush the CIA used a web of European airports and bases for its extraordinary rendition flights, secretly transferring terror suspects across borders for interrogation. Some European states helped the CIA to carry out kidnappings. Others hosted CIA “black sites” – in effect, torture chambers – on their territory. The 600-page redacted summary of the 6,000-page report, published on Tuesday by the Senate intelligence committee, will no doubt be scrutinised to see what it may reveal of the continent’s involvement in these abuses.

In 2007 a special investigator for the Council of Europe, Dick Marty, concluded that there was “enough evidence to state” that American secret prisons existed in Poland and Romania. He added that the “illegal deportation of suspects by CIA kidnapping teams in Europe” amounted to “a massive and systematic violation of human rights”.

After 9/11 the CIA reached out to its European allies as it embarked on its detention and extraordinary rendition operation. The aim was to place detainees beyond the reach of law. The active participation of dozens of foreign governments made both the renditions and interrogations possible. How many in Europe will now be pressed to disclose the full extent of their involvement in these operations?

To this day the exact scale of European complicity remains unknown. This is because of the secrecy maintained for years by the US and its partner governments. Washington has never confirmed the location of secret CIA prisons, nor named the governments that cooperated, and nor indeed does the material just published. A decade on, there is still no public comprehensive account.

Torture planning began in 2001, Senate report reveals (from 2009)

Just a blast from the past. 2009 Senate Armed Services Committee Report on Treatment of Detainees


To hear former President Bush tell it, you would think the United States only turned to the techniques in desperation. When Bush announced the existence of the CIA’s interrogation program in September 2006, for example, he argued that suspected al-Qaida operative Abu Zubaydah stopped cooperating with interrogators after his capture on March 28, 2002, forcing the agency to get rough. “We knew that Zubaydah had more information that could save innocent lives,” Bush said. “But he stopped talking. As his questioning proceeded, it became clear that he had received training on how to resist interrogation,” the president said. “And so, the CIA used an alternative set of procedures.”

Not to worry, the president explained. “The Department of Justice reviewed the authorized methods extensively, and determined them to be lawful.”


But that’s not how it happened


To set up the torture program, the Department of Defense and the CIA reverse engineered something called SERE training, which was conducted by the JPRA. Based on Cold War communist techniques used to force false confessions, in SERE school elite U.S. troops undergo stress positions, isolation, hooding, slapping, sleep deprivation and, until recently, waterboarding to simulate illegal tactics they might face if captured by an enemy who violated the Geneva Conventions.

In either December 2001 or January 2002, two psychologists affiliated with the SERE program, James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, developed the first written proposal for reverse engineering the training for use on al-Qaida suspects. Their paper made its way to the Joint Staff. (Salon first zeroed in on the pair in a June 2007 article.) The military also then began discussions at that time about using the ideas at Guantánamo.

In early March 2002, Jessen began two-week, “ad-hoc ‘crash’” courses for training government interrogators slated for Guantánamo. The courses therefore began before the allegedly uncooperative Zubaydah was ever captured, and Zubaydah was the first allegedly high-level al-Qaida operative in U.S. custody after 9/11.


Torture planning began in 2001, Senate report reveals
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