Britain and CIA torture flights update


This video is called UK Complicit in 11,000 flights of ILLEGAL TORTURE.

By Paddy McGuffin in Britain:

Government changing the story on rendition flight records

Saturday 13th September 2014

LEGAL action charity Reprieve accused the government of changing its story yet again yesterday over the fate of potentially compromising flight records relating to Britain’s role in the United States’ rendition programme.

Reprieve is seeking access to documents relating to US rendition flights passing through the British territory of Diego Garcia.

In 2008, after years of denials, the British government admitted that Diego Garcia had been used as a stop-off for two rendition flights.

However, in July the government informed Parliament that flight records for Diego Garcia were “incomplete due to water damage.”

A week later, on July 15, Foreign Office Minister Mark Simmonds told the Commons that “previously wet paper records have been dried out … no flight records have been lost as a result of the water damage.”

But yesterday the government’s position appeared to shift again with the confirmation in a statement given to the Commons foreign affairs committee that immigration records relating to civilians landing on the island have been destroyed.

Reprieve argues that, although there is no indication of the identities of the civilians concerned, such records are potentially significant as they could relate to the civilian CIA agents who operated the “rendition” flights.

Legal director at Reprieve Cori Crider said: “This is the second time the government has changed its story on the destruction of what is potentially evidence of CIA renditions via Diego Garcia.

“People will rightly draw the conclusion that the government still has something to hide when it comes to the UK’s role in supporting CIA torture flights.”

CIA ‘medieval’ torture


This 1 April 2014 video from the USA is called CIA Lied About Torture To Justify Using It (Senate Report).

By Thomas Gaist in the USA:

CIA employed “medieval” torture that brought prisoners “to the point of death”

9 September 2014

The CIA engaged in brutal torture that brought prisoners to the brink of death, according to a report published over the weekend in the British newspaper, the Telegraph. The methods used far exceed what has been previously acknowledged by the CIA and the Bush and Obama administrations.

“They weren’t just pouring water over their heads or over a cloth,” said an unnamed source who had “first-hand knowledge of the period,” according to the Telegraph. “They were holding them under water until the point of death, with a doctor present to make sure they did not go too far. This was real torture.”

“They got medieval on his ass, and far more so than people realize,” he added, referring to one of the individuals tortured.

In 2008, the Bush administration publicly acknowledged the use of “waterboarding” several years earlier against alleged terrorists, including Abu Zubaydah, who was subjected to the torture 83 times, and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was tortured 183 times.

A 2004 CIA internal document, released in 2009, described what the Bush administration euphemistically referred to as “enhanced interrogation techniques.” Waterboarding was described as a method in which water is sprayed on detainees’ faces for “no more than 20 seconds” to “simulate drowning.” As revealed by the Telegraph’s source, however, Mohammed and Zubaydah were subject to much harsher methods.

The interrogation sessions referred to by the Telegraph source were videotaped, but some 90 tapes containing the torture footage were destroyed in 2005 by US intelligence personnel under the supervision of the then-head of the CIA’s National Clandestine Service, Jose Rodriguez. In 2010, the Obama administration announced that it would not file criminal charges relating to the destruction of the tapes.

The Telegraph article makes clear that the tapes destroyed in 2005 showed that “enhanced interrogation” was being supplemented by unambiguous acts of torture, implicating CIA agents and Bush administration officials in clear and direct crimes under both international and domestic law.

The revelations come as the US Senate Intelligence Committee is preparing to release a more than 3,000-page report on CIA torture. A summary of the report is set to be published in the coming weeks after being thoroughly vetted and redacted by intelligence officials.

In March, Senator Dianne Feinstein revealed that CIA agents had spied on the computers of Senate staff who were involved in compiling the report, a violation of US law and the Constitutional separation of powers. This was part of a broader effort by the CIA to cover up its illegal actions, a cover-up that has been aided and abetted by the White House.

The Obama administration responded by seeking to defend the CIA, operating as a direct agency of the intelligence bureaucracy. The White House itself was implicated in efforts to withhold key documents from the Senate.

After expressing transparently contrived regrets that “we tortured some folks” during a press conference last month, Obama immediately proceeded to signal the solidarity of his administration with the countless high-ranking US government personnel involved with the CIA’s secret international network of torture centers. Obama declared his “full confidence” in CIA Director Brennan, who was a central player in the crimes documented by the Senate report while serving as a top counterterrorism official under the Bush administration.

In doing so, Obama was only reaffirming the position that it will hold no one accountable for the massive crimes, including torture.

The Obama administration has also explicitly defended the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), James Clapper, who is overseeing the CIA’s redaction of the Senate report. Clapper committed perjury when he issued blanket denials of unconstitutional domestic spying by the National Security Agency (NSA), which he also oversees, during Congressional hearings. These lies were exposed in subsequent revelations from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

In an official statement totaling three sentences, Clapper rebuked Feinstein’s mild objections to the CIA redactions, writing, “More than 85 percent of the Committee Report has been declassified. The redactions were the result of an extensive and unprecedented interagency process, headed up by my office, to protect sensitive classified information.”

Clapper himself personifies the decomposition of American democracy: after lying to the US Senate directly and having his lying clearly exposed, he remains in charge of declassifying what is one of the most significant reports on criminal activity to be released by the US government in the country’s entire history.

For her part, Feinstein, who initially denounced the CIA spying, quickly reeled in her rhetoric. By midsummer Feinstein announced her support for the decision of the Justice Department not to launch an investigation, while praising CIA Director John Brennan for taking steps in the right direction.

What the Telegraph article and the political crisis over the Senate report reveal is a government and state apparatus that is steeped in criminality. The intelligence agencies operate as a law unto themselves, rejecting any oversight or accountability.

No one can be held accountable because the entire government, including high-ranking officials in the intelligence agencies and the military, along with the top officials in both the Bush and Obama administrations and leading Congressional figures in both political parties, are implicated.

See also here.

2004 Bush administration memos advocate unlimited presidential powers: here.

Ex-head CIA lawyer defends torture


This April 2014 video from the USA is called CIA Lied About Torture To Justify Using It (Senate Report).

By Eric London in the USA:

Former head CIA lawyer defends torture in Der Spiegel interview

27 August 2014

In an August 20 interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel, former acting CIA General Counsel John Rizzo defends his role as the legal architect of the US government’s international campaign of detention and torture.

In the interview, Rizzo, who worked at the CIA from 1976 to 2009, declares that although the torture programs he approved “seemed harsh, even brutal,” he does not regret his support for their implementation.

“I was certainly an architect of the interrogation program, even if I didn’t originally come up with it,” he says, adding, “I was the legal architect of the proposed list of techniques and played the lead role in obtaining legal approval for their use.”

He goes on to tell Der Spiegel, “I can’t honestly sit here and say I would have made any different decisions than the ones I made back in early 2002,” even as he asserts, “I am confident that, if I had chosen to, I could have stopped [the torture programs] before they started.”

At one point in the interview, Rizzo refers to an interrogation technique on the initial list provided by the Counter Terrorism Center that was “even more chilling than waterboarding.” He claims it was never used.

Asked by the interviewer what the technique was, Rizzo replies: “I’m not allowed to specify it; it is still classified. I had no preparation when the counterterrorism people came to me, and so my first reaction was one of being rather stunned by what was being proposed.”

Given the sadistic character of the so-called “enhanced interrogation” methods that have been acknowledged, one can only imagine the gruesome nature of the proposal that was supposedly rejected.

These statements make clear that Rizzo and his co-conspirators, including the highest officials in the Bush administration, were absolutely clear about the savage and inhuman measures they were implementing. Other parts of the interview establish that they were also well aware of their illegality.

“I had been at the CIA long enough at that point to know when a proposed activity was bound to get the agency in trouble,” Rizzo states, and then adds, “From the beginning, this proposal had deep trouble written all over it.”

The interview sheds light on the role of the Obama administration in protecting the architects of the state torture programs. It begins with Rizzo noting his “surprise” upon hearing Obama proclaim earlier this month that “we tortured some folks.”

What surprised Rizzo wasn’t the flippancy with which the president discussed violations of the US Constitution and international law. “What did surprise me, in a good way,” Rizzo says, “is that Obama went on to point out that the people who first conceived and carried out the program in the wake of 9/11 were under tremendous pressure to protect the country at a time of national crisis. He even called us patriots.”

Rizzo notes the rapidity with which Obama accepted and expanded the Bush administration’s police state “national security” programs. “With the exception of the interrogation program, he endorsed all operations and even intensified the general program,” the former CIA lawyer states.

He continues: “When Obama came into the White House, he reviewed the operations, found them all to be effective and valuable. Every US president fairly quickly comes to really value having the CIA at his disposal. The CIA reports directly to the president and responds to his wishes. It does what it does in secret, with no messy political debates. In Obama’s case, I think he recognized it almost immediately.”

Not only has Obama expanded the vast majority of the Bush-era programs, he has protected those responsible for torture. This goes beyond labeling the criminals as “patriots.”

John Brennan, who led the Counter Terrorism Center in 2004 and 2005, was appointed CIA director by Obama in 2013 and confirmed with the overwhelming support of Senate Democrats. Last May, Obama nominated David Barron, the author of the pseudo-legal memorandum authorizing drone assassinations of US citizens, for an open seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. Barron easily won confirmation by the Senate.

More recently, the Obama administration has been delaying the release of a still-classified Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture that is widely expected to reveal state torture on an even broader scale than is currently known.

Obama allowed several of the architects of the state torture program to secretly view and redact the Senate report before its release. Rizzo himself was not amongst those given access to the document, a slight against which he indignantly protested.

Nevertheless, Rizzo is sufficiently confident that he faces no legal threat from the Obama administration, Congress or the courts, and can rely on the American media to cover up his crimes, that he boasts of his role in the torture program to a major international publication. The interview is, in fact, part of a publicity campaign to promote his new book about his years with the CIA.

That his confidence is well placed is demonstrated by the failure of any major US media outlet to report his interview with Der Spiegel.

The full complicity of Obama in the methods of torture and illegal detention pioneered by his predecessor is chillingly underscored by one exchange in the interview. Der Spiegel asks whether “the presidential directive you wrote with George Bush which allowed the targeted assassination of terror suspects” is still in effect. Rizzo replies: “It was signed just a few days after Sept. 11 and, as far as I know, it is still in effect today.”

Rizzo attempts to foist the blame for the torture and state assassination programs on the American people. When asked about the White House’s post-September 11 decision to authorize the CIA to “do whatever is necessary” to halt the ostensible terrorist threat, Rizzo says “the phrase is a characterization of the atmosphere and the consensus in the country.”

This is a lie. All of these programs were instituted secretly, behind the backs of the American public, precisely because those implementing them knew they would be massively opposed.

Rizzo’s interview should be taken as a warning to the working class. It reveals the prevalence within the highest echelons of the American state of fascistic elements who would have had no problem serving as functionaries of Hitler’s Gestapo or SS.

British government tries to hide role in CIA torture


This 12 July 2014 video is called Emails shed new light on UK link to CIA ‘torture flights’.

From weekly The Observer in Britain:

UK ambassador ‘lobbied senators to hide Diego Garcia role in rendition

Rights groups claim that top-level talks were part of bid to redact link to Diego Garcia from report

Jamie Doward

Saturday 16 August 2014 21.45 BST

Logs released under the Freedom of Information Act have reinforced claims that the UK lobbied to keep its role in the CIA‘s torture and interrogation programme out of what is expected to be a damning Senate report.

They show that the UK ambassador to the US met members of the Senate select committee on intelligence 11 times between 2012 and 2014 – as they were investigating the CIA’s rendition programme. This included two meetings with the committee’s chair, Diane Feinstein, which took place as crucial decisions were being made regarding how much of its report into the programme should be made public.

The revelation has prompted fresh concern that the government lobbied for key parts of the report referring to Diego Garcia, a British territory in the Indian Ocean leased to the US as a military base, to be redacted. Human rights groups believe that the territory played a key role in facilitating the CIA’s extraordinary rendition programme – the movement of high-value terrorist suspects to “black sites” around the world without legal oversight.

The US authorities have confirmed only that the territory was used for two refuelling stops. But there are suspicions Diego Garcia has played a more extensive role than the US has so far admitted, raising questions about when and what the UK knew about its use.

The release of the report on the torture and rendition programme has been delayed after the Democrats criticised what they claimed were excessive redactions made by the CIA. Sources suggest that the spy agency wanted as much as 15% of the report blacked out.

Former foreign secretary William Hague confirmed in a recent letter to the human rights group Reprieve that the UK government had discussed the report with the US, prompting concerns it had pushed for sections relating to Diego Garcia and possible other British involvement to be blacked out.

“We have made representations to seek assurances that ordinary procedures for clearance of UK material will be followed in the event that UK material provide[d] to the Senate committee were to be disclosed,” Hague explained.

Now the newly released logs reveal that UK ambassador Peter Westmacott met Feinstein on 29 April and 2 May this year, Senator Martin Heinrich on 16 July, and Senator Marco Rubio on 26 March 2014. The timing of the meetings appears significant. The committee voted to declassify its report’s summary and conclusions on 3 April this year, succeeding by 11 votes to three. Rubio voted against. Mid-April also saw numerous stories appear in the world’s press relating to Diego Garcia and the CIA’s rendition programme.

The ambassador met Rubio last year on 1 February and 10 April, Senator Saxby Chambliss on 20 November 2012, Senator Mark Warner on 11 January 2013, Senator Susan Collins on 16 July and 25 July 2012, and Senator Jay Rockefeller, the then chair, on 28 June 2012.

There were also at least 11 meetings between Britain’s then ambassador, Nigel Sheinwald, and members of the committee between 2009 and 2011, commencing shortly after the committee voted by 14-1 to investigate the rendition programme.

“This is yet more evidence of the desperate attempts being made by the UK to censor the Senate’s report on CIA torture,” said Reprieve’s executive director, Clare Algar. “We already know that our government was up to its neck in the CIA’s programme of rendition and torture – making it highly likely that the Senate’s report will contain information which is deeply embarrassing for them. But simple embarrassment is not a justification for suppressing the truth. Ministers must change course and instead support the publication of this crucial report in the most open and transparent form.”

Confirmation that a British territory was involved in extraordinary rendition could leave the government vulnerable to legal action. Last month the European court of human rights ruled that the Polish government had actively assisted the CIA’s European “black site” programme.

See also here.

At least two al-Qaeda suspects were brought to the “point of death” during “real torture” by CIA officials following the 9/11 attacks, a security source has claimed: here.

Thirteen years after the September 11 attacks. CIA torture and the “war on terror”: here.

Merkel demands names of all foreign spies in Germany


This video is called Germany arrests second CIA spy.

Translated from Der Spiegel weekly in Germany:

Espionage: government requires disclosure of all agents in Germany

By Matthias Gebauer and Jörg Schindler

Berlin urges the United States for information on the espionage affair – so far unsuccessfully. Now the sound is sharper: According to information obtained by SPIEGEL ONLINE, the Foreign Office urged all foreign embassies to name their espionage agents stationed here.

Friday, 08/08/2014 – 17:22

Berlin – The German government increased the pressure on foreign intelligence services to disclose their activities in Germany. According to information obtained by SPIEGEL ONLINE, the Foreign Office urges (AA) all foreign embassies through official diplomatic channels, to name their entire intelligence personnel.