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.

Bolivia extradites Argentine dictatorship torture suspect


This video from the USA says about itself:

Argentine Torture Survivor Tells of Her Struggle to Bring Her Torturers to Justice

12 November 2010

Democracy Now! speak with Patricia Isasa, a torture survivor from Argentina’s military dictatorship. She was a 16-year old student union organizer in 1976 when she was kidnapped by police and soldiers. She was tortured and held prisoner without trial for two-and-a-half years at one of the 585 clandestine detention and torture centers set up during the dictatorship. After a long legal battle to bring her torturers to justice, six of her nine torturers were recently sentenced to prison.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Bolivia deports former Argentine army captain over role in military junta’s dirty war

Tuesday 12th August 2014

Bolivia has deported an Argentine ex-army officer convicted of serious rights abuses during the “dirty war” carried out by his country’s 1976-83 military regime.

Jorge Horacio Paez Senestrari “was handed over to authorities of his country” on the border with Argentina, Bolivian Interior Minister Jorge Perez said yesterday.

Mr Perez said that Paez Senestrari — an infantry captain posted in the Argentine town of San Juan during the dictatorship — was captured on Friday morning in the Bolivian city of Santa Cruz.

Then Interior Ministry said there was an Interpol red notice for his arrest.

An Argentinian court had sentenced Paez Senestrari in absentia to 25 years on charges of “aggravated homicide, violation of domicile and torture.”

An estimated 30,000 people were killed or abducted and presumed killed under Argentina’s military dictatorship.

In 2012, former dictators Jorge Videla and Reynaldo Bignone were sentenced to lengthy prison terms for abuses in office.

Bahrain dictatorship spied on its own torture inquiry commission


This video is called ‘Night raids, torture, sham trials a daily reality in Bahrain‘ – human rights activist.

From Global Voices:

Evidence Suggests Bahrain’s Government Hacked its Own Fact Finding Commission

Posted 10 August 2014 21:46 GMT

Noor Mattar

While governments in countries like the United Kingdom and the United States are tracking individuals on hacking charges and proposing laws like the SOPA, David Cameron’s government seems to turn a blind eye toward the online piracy acts taken by their allies in Bahrain.

Bahrain, currently in its third year of a popular uprising, has witnessed a bloody crackdown that led to a fact finding mission called the “Bahrain Independent Commission of Investigation” (BICI) to be formed. The commission, established by a royal decree by the King of Bahrain, concluded that Bahrain has practiced systematic torture against dissidents, extrajudicial killings and other serious offenses, including the demolishing of places of worship.

Lately Bahrain Watch revealed that a malware targeting its member Dr Ala’a Shehabi has led to identifying the makers of the spyware used against activists in Bahrain. Gamma International, an Anglo-German company, is being accused of selling surveillance technology to Bahrain’s government. After a court ruling in May 2014, many NGOs have called on the UK government to take action against the export of surveillance technology to Bahrain. Now, further information came to the hands of Bahrain Watch’s activists when 40GB of Gamma International’s data was leaked on the internet. The leaks show the Bahrain government has hacked lawyers and activists with the spyware. It also shows two records of people who are presumably members of the King’s BICI commission.

BICIfin

KMA is assumed to be judge Khaled Moheyuldin Ahmed, a member of the commission and now employed by the Bahraini government, who sources confirm was using a Sony VAIO laptop during the time he worked with BICI which coincide with the dates of infection. The other target who shares the same operation code and is named Douglas is believed to be Douglas Hansen-Luke, another member of the BICI.

Activists have long been accusing Bahrain government of breaching their privacy. Ever since the 2009 order to keep a record of all emails sent and received [source in Arabic] they have been trying to fight to keep their privacy.

Lawyer Mohamed Altajer told the rights group Bahrain Watch that his computer was compromised after a CD containing private footage was sent to him. His computer became infected with the spyware after watching that CD, sent to him to blackmail him to step down from defending Bahrainis arrested and tortured for their role in the protests:

Many others have said their photographs which were confiscated during police raids have turned up on porn sites and distributed across social media.

I asked Mr Matar Matar from the opposition society Alwefaq, who is a target of the spyware, to comment on the issue and he said when I asked if he can confirm if the society or any of its members were targeted:

Yes, the application was found on one of the devices in AlWefaq.

I asked him then if Alwefaq will take further legal action against Gamma, the Bahrain government or the any other party for this violatio. He answered:

The political influence on the judiciary System in Bahrain doesn’t provide any space to protect activists from surveillance. But this is an opportunity to move in legal action in UK courts. Now Alwefaq is in a better position to call HM Revenue & Customs, UK’s tax authority, to investigate in the illegal export of a hacking software for non-free regimes with a dark record of serious human rights violations. How come such a software is licensed to a regime which is considered be the third worst and 5th most declining regime in Freedom House report.

By UK law, Gamma must apply for country-specific licences in such cases and it doesn’t it seem did and Alwefaq is harmed by this violation. UK’s High Court already slammed the UK’s tax authority for hiding details about this issue. And this is the time for all those who were harmed by this violation to sue Gamma.

I asked him how does discovering Alwefaq is spied on affect the trust in the authority in Bahrain? He said:

Karim Fakrawi, co-founder of AlWefaq, was beaten to death in custody. During martial law, I was arbitrary detained with my colleague Jawad Fayrozz. Also the government revoked the citizenship of two former MPs from AlWefaq. They both are living in exile in addition to another 3 other MPs. In addition to that, five elected members municipality council have been dismissed. And currently AlWefaq is on trial for it to be suspended and three senior leaders are awaiting trial. Under these circumstances, the struggle with the regime is much beyond the surveillance.

I also asked Bill Marckzak of Bahrain Watch if he thinks the findings based on the leaks will be admissible in court and he commented:

I doubt the leaks themselves will be admissible in court, but, we are following up with the victims mentioned in the leaks to find out how they were targeted.

BICI was established based on a royal decree and the fact that it was spied on might suggest testimonies being tailored to mislead the commission. Gamma also deals directly with the government of Bahrain indicating that the spying is done with the knowledge of officials.

Meanwhile activists, bloggers and any other Bahrainis or anyone related to the situation in Bahrain could be on the list of people being spied on as the list is beyond political players as evidences of financial espionage were found. Bloggers like Takrooz were arrested due to similar technology and many more might be in danger. Their chances now are with taking Gamma International to court in the UK.

While the UK government tracks and arrests hackers it continues to allow selling surveillance technology to Bahrain and welcomes members of their widely criticized security apparatus to get training in the UK.

CIA sabotages US Senate report on its torture again


This video from the USA is called [Senator] Feinstein: CIA searched our computers.

By Eric London in the USA:

Release of Senate report on torture stalled by CIA redactions

6 August 2014

Senator Dianne Feinstein announced last Friday that the Senate Intelligence Committee would delay the release of a declassified summary of its voluminous report on CIA torture programs during the Bush administration due to the scale of redactions made by the US spy agency. Fifteen percent of the report’s 600-page executive summary was blacked out by the CIA.

“We need additional time to understand the basis for these redactions and determine their justification,” Feinstein said. “Therefore, the report will be held until further notice and released when that process is completed.”

Feinstein and a handful of senators are appealing to President Obama to reduce the scale of the redactions. Obama, however, has fronted for the CIA and tacitly supported its months-long efforts to undermine the Senate probe and delay the release of the Intelligence Committee’s findings.

The Obama administration has allowed CIA Director John Brennan to hold secret meetings with Bush-era CIA officials who are, like Brennan himself, directly implicated in the crimes reportedly described in the Senate report. Among those who have met to review the report and plot against it are former CIA directors George Tenet and Michael Hayden, and other former top agency officials such as J. Cofer Black, John McLaughlin, Peter Goss and Michael Morell. No doubt the extensive redactions made by the CIA were discussed by these officials.

Last week Brennan, chosen by Obama for the top agency post after having served as the White House’s chief counter-terrorism adviser and heading up its drone assassination program, was exposed as a liar when the CIA inspector general reported that the agency had indeed hacked into computers being used by Senate committee staff conducting the probe. Last March, Brennan denied that his agency had spied on the Senate after Feinstein denounced him on the floor of the Senate for violating the separation of powers laid down by the US Constitution and attacking the Senate committee charged with overseeing CIA activities.

The military-intelligence apparatus responded with indignation to Feinstein’s request that there be fewer redactions. The CIA declined to comment, but Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who perjured himself before Congress last year when he denied the existence of the massive NSA spying programs subsequently exposed by Edward Snowden, issued a three-sentence statement.

“More than 85 percent of the Committee Report has been declassified,” the statement reads. “The redactions were the result of an extensive and unprecedented interagency process, headed up by my office, to protect sensitive classified information.”

If the redaction process was “unprecedented,” it was not in the sense stated by Clapper. Obama essentially gave those guilty of crimes against the Constitution and the democratic rights of the American people the power to select the evidence against them that would be made public.

The fact that they chose to redact one-sixth of the summary report—or 90 pages—is a further demonstration of the unchecked powers of the unelected cabal of spies and generals and the de facto subordination of all other official institutions, including the presidency, Congress and the courts to it.

According to US officials who spoke to VICE news, the CIA “vehemently opposed” the inclusion of material in the report because it reveals “specific” details about the types of torture methods employed, how victims were held captive, and the role played by foreign governments working with the CIA.

The officials told VICE that the Senate report includes evidence that the CIA systematically used torture techniques that went beyond even those approved in the infamous “torture memo” written by Bush administration attorneys John Yoo and Jay Bybee. Officials assert that the details of the report highlight the “cruelty” of the programs.

In a statement made last week, Obama said, “We tortured some folks.”

See also here.

C.I.A. Hires Yossarian to Censor Torture Report: here.

Top senator rejects CIA torture report redactions ahead of public release: here.

Sorry, New York Times. Torture “debate” isn’t about efficacy, but why no one has been prosecuted to date: here.

British government censorship about torture


This 2011 video from the USA is called Files Reveal U.S. & Britain Had Extensive Ties With Libya on Rendition, Torture. 1 of 2.

This 2011 video from the USA is called Files Reveal U.S. & Britain Had Extensive Ties With Libya on Rendition, Torture. 2 of 2.

By Joana Ramiro in Britain:

Government ‘censored torture and rendition documents’

Monday 4th August 2014

THE government was yesterday accused of censoring critical documents to hide its involvement with CIA torture and rendition.

According to a letter from former foreign secretary William Hague to human-rights charity Reprieve, the government has “made representations” to the US Senate ahead of its publication of an intelligence select committee report.

“In plain English, it is a request to the US to keep Britain’s role in rendition out of the public domain,” said Reprieve director Cori Crider.

The dossier, expected to be published any day, will provide declassified information on US-British cooperation in Gaddafi’s Libya.

Among the details might be the case of Libyan opposition Islamist leader Abdel-hakim Belhaj and his wife Fatima, who were arrested with the alleged assistance of the MI6 in 2004.

The couple were later returned to Libya on a rendition aircraft.

Mr Hague said intervention into the report’s publication had been made “to seek assurance that ordinary procedures for clearance of UK material will be followed.”

Reprieve believes this to be a revealing change of tactic as the Foreign Office stance had so far been that “the release of the committee’s report is a matter for the United States.”

Ms Crider said: “The government protested that the United States would be angered if this kidnap case ever went to trial — and now we learn the British government is leaning on the US not to air Britain’s dirty laundry.

“It exposes their litigation stance as mere posturing.”

Late in 2011 Mr Belhaj started legal proceedings against the role of the British government in his rendition and torture at the hands of the Libyan regime.

CIA, torture, spying on Senate, and cover-up


This video from the USA is called CIA Confesses To Hacking Senate.

By Eric London in the USA:

A law unto themselves: the CIA and the torture cover-up

1 August 2014

A report by the Central Intelligence Agency’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) marks a significant escalation in the constitutional crisis over the systematic cover-up of the CIA’s widespread torture programs.

According to the Inspector General David Buckley, five CIA officials surreptitiously gained access to the computers used by Senate staff investigators while compiling a still-classified 6,300-page report on CIA torture. Two CIA attorneys and three CIA information technology employees created fake accounts in order to follow the movements of Senate staff as they worked.

The OIG weakly asserts that the employees were “acting in a manner inconsistent with the common understanding” brokered between the CIA and the Senate.

What is involved is not a breach of a “common understanding,” but a breach of laws and the Constitution. Not only did the spying violate the Fourth Amendment’s proscription of unreasonable searches and seizures and laws that prohibit domestic spying by the CIA, it also violated the basic constitutional principle of separation of powers—in this case, a clear intrusion by the executive branch on the investigatory powers of the legislature.

The gravity of the CIA’s actions is amplified by the fact that the Senate was investigating actions of the executive branch that already violated the Eighth Amendment’s proscription on cruel and unusual punishment.

The OIG report provides proof that the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, John Brennan, lied as part of the cover-up. When first faced with allegations of CIA spying, Brennan declared: “When the facts come out on this, I think a lot of people who are claiming that there has been this tremendous sort of spying and monitoring and hacking will be proved wrong.”

In fact, this is exactly what the CIA was doing, and there is every indication that it was done at the direction of Brennan himself.

Each individual layer of illegality implicates top officials in the “high crimes and misdemeanors” required for impeachment and criminal prosecution of high-ranking officials.

Then, just two weeks ago, the US Department of Justice announced that it would not launch a criminal investigation into the CIA spying—an act that was no doubt taken with foreknowledge of the conclusions of the inspector general report. On Thursday, the White House again jumped to defend Brennan, with press secretary Josh Earnest saying that the report proved that Brennan had “done what is necessary to get to the bottom of what exactly happened,” and that he showed the kind of “proactive leadership that the president would expect.”

As for Congress, after Senator Dianne Feinstein revealed the illegal spying in a speech on the floor of the Senate in March—accusing the CIA of illegal and unconstitutional activities—the issue was completely dropped. The prostration of the legislative branch before the intelligence apparatus was expressed in Feinstein’s statement that the OIG report “corrects the record.” She praised Brennan for taking “positive first steps.”

The whole affair reveals a political system in which the trappings of democracy are a thin cover for a state that is controlled by a gigantic military-intelligence apparatus (including the CIA, NSA, Defense Department and associated agencies) that operates as a law unto itself.

Consider what has happened. In the midst of a series of illegal wars, the CIA under the direction of the Bush administration established an international network of secret prisons and torture centers. This network operated effectively as a separate organization within the government to which the law—both domestic and international—did not apply. Conscious that what they were doing was illegal, high-ranking CIA officials destroyed evidence (including video tapes) of the torture.

Many of the victims of torture were held indefinitely with no semblance of due process and without ever being charged with committing a crime. In those cases where the victim could not stand the pain, the torturers became executioners. Leaks made by those who have read the Senate report have described the methods as “brutal” for inducing “excruciating” pain at “sprawling” black site prisons.

None of those who ordered these illegal actions or carried them out have been prosecuted. The Obama administration, while nominally ending the torture program, continues it in different forms while vastly expanding the illegal drone assassination and domestic spying programs.

Then, after all of this, Senate investigators into the torture program were spied on and threatened, their computers hacked.

The CIA torture cover-up reveals the collapse of democratic forms in the United States, the consequence of unending war abroad and extreme levels of social inequality at home.

Under the auspices of the “war on terror,” practically every democratic right has been effectively repealed by a collection of scoundrels and political criminals. The state is overseen by a spying apparatus that seeks to monitor all communications and a president that declares the right to assassinate without due process. The entire political establishment is complicit in torture and other illegal activities, and there is not a hint of opposition from the corporate media. Policy is dictated by a cabal that lives in constant fear of the social explosions that will arise inevitably out of the policies that it has pursued.

The breakdown of democracy is one expression of the protracted crisis of American capitalism and a ruling class that, in its determination to defend its interests at home and abroad, is dispensing with all legality.

Obama: “We tortured some folks” after 9/11: here.

Senators slam CIA spying as “worse than criminal”: here.

The White House and Senate Intelligence Committee are in disagreement over whether blacking out 15% of the CIA’s long-awaited torture report is acceptable.

In an internal State Department memo inadvertently leaked to the press, the United States government acknowledges that it orchestrated an international program of torture, the limits of which extend far beyond what is already known to the public: here.

Britain ‘attempts to censor’ US report on torture sites. US Senate report may confirm that Diego Garcia was used for extraordinary rendition after 9/11: here.