CIA torture report cover-up


This video from the United States Senate says about itself:

Feinstein: CIA Spied on Intelligence Committee (Full Speech)

11 March 2014

Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein on Tuesday accused the CIA of spying on her committee’s computers without authorization — in possible violation of the law and the Constitution — and suggested the CIA may have also tried to engage in an effort to intimidate her staff.

Read the full story here.

From the Huffington Post in the USA:

Torture Report Fight Erupts In Chaos

Posted: 11/20/2014 6:11 pm EST Updated: 11/20/2014 6:28 pm EST

WASHINGTON — Before White House chief of staff Denis McDonough came to brief Senate Democrats on Thursday afternoon, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) had a little pep talk with his flock. Every Tuesday, during the weekly caucus lunches, he said, you all gripe and moan about the White House. But then when the White House comes by, there’s never a peep.

The talk may not have been necessary. The White House’s briefing to Democrats on immigration Thursday erupted instead into a confrontation over the Senate’s classified torture report, Senate sources told The Huffington Post.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, waited for the immigration discussion to end and then pulled out a prepared speech that she read for five or six minutes, making the case for the release of the damning portrayal of America’s post-9/11 torture program. …

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), who served as intelligence committee chair before Feinstein, was furious after the meeting, and accused the administration of deliberately stalling the report.

“It’s being slow-walked to death. They’re doing everything they can not to release it,” Rockefeller told HuffPost.

“It makes a lot of people who did really bad things look really bad, which is the only way not to repeat those mistakes in the future,” he continued. “The public has to know about it. They don’t want the public to know about it.”

As negotiations continue, Rockefeller said Democrats were thinking creatively about how to resolve the dispute. “We have ideas,” he said, adding that reading the report’s executive summary into the record on the Senate floor would probably meet with only limited success. “The question would be how much you could read before they grabbed you and hauled you off.”

Besides Rockefeller, Sens. Martin Heinrich (N.M.), Ron Wyden (Ore.), Mark Udall (Colo.) and Mark Warner (Va.) all spoke up in defense of Feinstein, a source with knowledge of the situation said.

Senate Democrats have for years been pursuing an accounting of the acts committed in the name of the United States after the Sept. 11 attacks. Having finished preparing a 6,000-page report, Democrats are now locked in a struggle with the White House over releasing even a redacted summary.

Feinstein had hoped to release the summary during the summer, but has clashed with the White House over the use of aliases for CIA officials mentioned in the report. …

Rockefeller said the administration’s unwillingness to use aliases reflects a broader contempt for congressional oversight.

“The White House doesn’t want to release this. They don’t have to. And all we do is oversight, and they’ve never taken our oversight seriously,” he said. (He then added that he did allow for one exception, the Church Committee.) “Under Bush there was no oversight at all. Remember the phrase, ‘Congress has been briefed’? What that meant was that I and our chairman […] and two comparable people in the House had met with [former Vice President Dick] Cheney in his office for 45 minutes and given a little whirley birdie and a couple charts.”

“They had a specialty for being unforthcoming in our efforts at oversight,” he added, “and therefore there is no incentive for them to change their behavior.”

Democrats aren’t the only ones who want to see the report released. A number of Republicans, most of whom opposed the so-called “enhanced interrogation” techniques used at Guantanamo Bay and other facilities, also say America needs to come clean in order to restore its moral standing. …

Rockefeller said that the administration itself is the one doing harm to the nation. “They’re doing enormous damage to the country,” he said.

Islamophobic violence in Myanmar


This video says about itself:

19 April 2013

Buddhist monk uses racism and rumours to spread hatred in Burma. Thousands watch YouTube videos of 45-year-old ‘Burmese Bin Laden‘ who preaches against the country’s Muslim minority. His name is Wirathu, he calls himself the “Burmese Bin Laden” and he is a Buddhist monk who is stoking religious hatred across Burma. Read more here.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

100,000 Rohingya flee Myanmar violence and discrimination

Tuesday 18th November 2014

HUMAN rights group the Arakan Project warned yesterday that violence and discriminatory government policies had set an estimated 100,000 Rohingya fleeing Myanmar in the last two years.

Project director Chris Lewa said the group, which monitors the Rohingya, had seen the pace of the exodus accelerating, with more than 15,000 people leaving since October 15.

Ms Lewa said troops in northern Rakhine state were engaging in a “campaign to create fear and to get them to leave.”

She said that in the last six weeks, at least four Rohingya men had been tortured to death.

Security forces broke one victim’s leg and burned his penis during interrogation and the beaten body of another Rohingya was found in a river, she said.

Ms Lewa said that more than 140 people have been arrested on what appeared to be trumped-up charges, ranging from immigration violations to alleged links with Islamic militants.

The United States government and torture


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

By Joseph Kishore in the USA:

UN hearing: US acknowledges it “crossed the line” on torture

15 November 2014

During a two-day hearing before a United Nations panel this week, representatives of the Obama administration said that the US had “crossed the line” in torturing prisoners, but made clear that it would continue covering up for these crimes and blocking any accountability.

“In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, we regrettably did not always live up to our own values, including those reflected in the Convention [Against Torture],” said Mary McLeod, US acting legal adviser at the State Department. “As President Obama has acknowledged, we crossed the line and we take responsibility for that.”

The State Department adviser, along with other Obama administration representatives, spoke before the Committee Against Torture, a UN body established to monitor implementation of the Convention Against Torture. The convention, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1984, both prohibits torture and requires all signatories to investigate and prosecute instances of torture.

In addition to reviewing torture by the CIA and military at secret sites and at Guantanamo Bay, the panel also addressed police brutality and the horrific conditions in US prisons and immigration centers.

McLeod spoke as the representative of a government that has done everything it can to block any serious investigation into torture carried out by US government agencies including the CIA, while opposing efforts to prosecute those who ordered it, including top officials in the military, intelligence agencies and the Bush administration—many of whom have continued to serve under Obama.

McLeod’s comments echoed those made by Obama earlier this year when he said that the US “tortured some folks.” In the months since, the White House has worked closely with the CIA to obstruct the release of a Senate Intelligence Committee report, completed in 2012, on torture under the Bush administration. Obama’s CIA director, John Brennan, is himself implicated in developing the torture policy while serving as Bush’s counterterrorism adviser.

The Senate investigation, while documenting what one source has called “ medieval ” torture methods, reportedly absolves top executive, military and intelligence officials of any direct responsibility.

As evidence of its commitment to investigate torture, US officials cited a Justice Department investigation in 2008-2009 that did not result in any charges. This included a decision not to prosecute anyone in the CIA for the decision to destroy dozens of videotapes documenting torture.

The Justice Department investigation did not even interview many of the victims of CIA torture, a fact that the US delegation refused to acknowledge this week. Laura Pitter of Human Rights Watch, in an email to the New York Times, responded by saying, “We know absolutely that key witnesses … were not interviewed.”

Tom Malinowski, the assistant secretary of state for human rights, said in his testimony that the proof of whether a country is committed to the “rule of law” is “not whether it ever makes mistakes, but whether and how it corrects them,” claiming that the US has implemented aggressive action against torture.

In other words, it is okay to break the law as long as you say you are sorry. With utter cynicism, Malinowski cited the Senate investigation as proof of its determination to hold those guilty of torture accountable.

“We’ve had an honest public accounting,” Malinowski said. “Our government has been open and truthful, even when releasing information has been painful and uncomfortable.”

This too is a fraud. In addition to working to block the Senate report, the Obama administration has resisted an effort by the American Civil Liberties Union and journalists to force the release of 2,100 photographs of torture carried out by the US military—documenting crimes that are said to be more disturbing than those revealed in the infamous Abu Ghraib photographs.

Malinowski added, “Our goal is to move forward, but we know that to avoid falling backward, we must be willing to look backward and to come to terms with what happened in the past.” The Obama administration official was echoing Obama’s own remarks in 2009 that “we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards”—the rationale that was used to justify the refusal to prosecute anyone guilty of crimes.

The Obama administration is also continuing to hedge on the scope of the Convention Against Torture. In the run-up to this week’s hearing, there was speculation that the White House would revise a secret Bush administration decision that the CAT does not apply outside of the United States. There was reportedly an intense debate among different government agencies on this question.

In the end, the Obama administration decided to accept that treaty’s language—that a country is prohibited from carrying out torture in “any territory under its jurisdiction”—applies outside the physical boundaries of the United States. The scope, however, is limited, in the words of one member of the US delegation, to “all places that the state party controls as a government authority,” which includes the “sovereign territory of the United States,” Guantanamo Bay and “US registered ships and aircraft.”

This definition notably excludes CIA “black sites” and other detention centers.

Prisoners tortured in Guantanamo and Bagram


Protest outside parliament in London, England demanding the release of Shaker Aamer from detention in Guantanamo Bay prison

From daily News Line in Britain:

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

TORTURE & FORCE FEEDING IN G-BAY AND BAGRAM PRISON

GLOBAL youth media company ‘Vice’ on Monday launched a week-long special edition of their website Vice.com about Guantanamo Bay, featuring testimony from clients represented by human rights organisation Reprieve.

The special edition includes first-hand testimony from detainees Shaker Aamer, Emad Hassan and Younous Chekkouri, who have been cleared for release from the prison yet remain detained without charge or trial.

It also includes original essay contributions from Jeremy Paxman, Melvyn Bragg, John le Carré and Frederick Forsyth.

British resident Shaker Aamer has been detained in Guantanamo since 2002 despite having been cleared for release under both the Bush and Obama administrations.

The British government has repeatedly stated that Shaker should be returned as a matter of urgency to his British wife and their four children in London.

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond recently dismissed concerns over the abuse faced by Shaker in Guantanamo.

Reprieve has undertaken litigation in the US – on behalf of long-time hunger striking client Abu Wa’el Dhiab – challenging the legality of the methods used to force-feed men in Guantanamo Bay.

Video tapes of Dhiab being manhandled to the force-feeding chair – dubbed ‘torture chair’ by the detainees – and force-fed, have been ordered released by a US federal judge.

Cori Crider, Strategic Director of Reprieve and attorney for the men in Guantanamo, said: ‘Guantanamo is a legal black hole and an affront to justice the world over.

‘This special edition of Vice brings much-needed attention to the plight of those men who remain detained without charge or trial.

‘The US administration is currently trying to stop video tapes of force-feedings being released to public scrutiny as part of its continuing efforts to keep transparency far away from Guantanamo.

‘The US must release these tapes – and the prison from which they came must be closed at once.’

Vice.com article, Growing up, Guantanamo says:

Mohammed el Gharani, a citizen of Chad raised in Saudi Arabia, had just turned 15 when he arrived at Guantánamo Bay in February 2002, shepherded off a military cargo plane wearing shackles and blackout goggles.

‘He weighed 126 pounds, was too young to shave, and for months didn’t know where he was. “Some brothers said Europe,” he later recalled in an interview with the London Review of Books.

‘Others thought the unsparing winter sun suggested Brazil. When an interrogator finally told him he was in Cuba, Mohammed didn’t recognise the name. “An island in the middle of the ocean,” the interrogator said. “Nobody can run away from here and you’ll be here forever.”

Omar Khadr, born in Toronto, was also shipped to the offshore prison as a juvenile.

‘The 16-year-old made an early impression on the Army chaplain on base, who, walking by his cell, found Omar curled up asleep, arms wrapped tightly around a Disney book with drawings of Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Goofy. “He definitely seemed out of place,” the chaplain told reporter Michelle Shephard, who wrote about Omar in her book Guantánamo’s Child?

‘Fahd Ghazy, who grew up in a Yemeni farming village, was seized when he was 17. He had recently graduated at the top of his high-school class.

‘One of Guantánamo’s earliest detainees, he was initially housed in the jerrybuilt, open-air cages of Camp X-Ray. Around the time he was transferred to a permanent cellblock, Fahd learned he’d won a university scholarship to study in Yemen’s capitol, Sana’a.

‘Nearly 13 years later, he’s still at the naval base – still without charge.

‘Swept up as juveniles, Mohammed, Omar, and Fahd were among some 15 to 20 detainees whose adolescence and early adulthood unfolded within the desolate confines of the prison camp, marked by isolation, abusive treatment and the chronic stress of indefinite detention.

‘For years, the Pentagon misreported how many children had been seized. “They don’t come with birth certificates,” a Guantánamo public affairs officer told the New York Times in 2005.

‘To this day, the government considers Fahd to be older than he is, explains his lawyer, Omar Farah of the Centre for Constitutional Rights.

‘While visiting Fahd’s relatives in rural Yemen last year, Farah confirmed the birth date Fahd has consistently maintained, recorded in his family’s Koran.

‘“Because they’re developing, they’re more vulnerable to being traumatised,” says Dr. Stephen Xenakis, a retired brigadier general and child psychiatrist who’s served as a medical expert in several cases at Guantánamo. “They’re detached from their families, they don’t have schooling, and they’re thrown in with adults in this adversarial climate.”

‘International juvenile justice standards identify child soldiers first and foremost as victims in need of representation and rehabilitation.

‘The first prisoner Xenakis evaluated was Omar – deemed high profile because his father had ties to Osama bin Laden – who’d been accused of lobbing a grenade that killed an American medic during a firefight in Afghanistan.

‘Gravely injured in the confrontation, Omar was found under a pile of debris with two bullet holes in his back and shrapnel in his eyes.

‘But Omar was air-evaced to Bagram and interrogated almost immediately – pain relief for his injuries withheld during questioning.

‘Years later, in an interrogation room that doubled as an office for doctor-patient interviews, Omar would say to Xenakis, “I’ll tell you what happened in this room.”

‘He described being used as a “human mop”: after painful stress positions caused him to urinate on the floor, he said, military police poured pine oil on his body and dragged him through the liquid.

“These were kids,” says Xenakis. “They’re threatened and harshly interrogated, they’re frightened. I just didn’t think it was consistent with our values as a country.’

‘Dennis Edney, Omar’s longtime civilian lawyer, recalls his client’s bearing during their first meeting in 2004. “I went into one of those cold, windowless cells,” Edney says, “and saw a young boy chained to the floor, trying to keep himself warm. He was blind in one eye, with paralysis in his right arm. He reminded me of a little broken bird. I recall the absolute shock I felt witnessing this lonely, abject figure.”

‘Plagued by procedural snarls and an ever-changing rulebook, Omar’s military commissions case dragged on for years.

‘Had he gone to trial as scheduled in 2010, he would have been the first child soldier to be prosecuted for war crimes since World War II, “a terrible precedent”, according to Human Rights Watch.

‘Instead, after a military judge ruled admissible his statements obtained under torture, Omar pled guilty to all charges, avoiding further entanglement with a system he’d described before the court as “constructed to convict detainees, not find the truth”.

Now 28 and serving an eight-year sentence in Canada, Omar remains close to Xenakis, who provides ongoing support. “He’s going to have some real challenges when he’s out,” Xenakis says. “How does he recover the skills to communicate and socialise outside the prison setting? How does he act in an environment where he can make his own choices? He’s very conscientious and diligent, but he’s got a lot of ground to make up.”

‘According to Polly Rossdale, who directs the Life After Guantánamo project for the human rights group Reprieve, the most ordinary tasks and desires often strike former detainees as insurmountable and unachievable. “When they get out,” she says, “the main things that men call me up about are, ‘How am I going to find a wife?’ Or they want to go to computer class and get computer skills.” Some have been consumed by panic in the shampoo aisle, while others can’t remember how to put on a seatbelt.

The article reveals that an ex-G-Bay prisoner Mohammed, who finally made it out of Chad in 2011, is married now, his second child born earlier this year.

‘He named the baby Shaker, after Shaker Aamer, a mentor and friend still imprisoned at Guantánamo. “Shaker was one of the men who really looked after Mohammed because he was a young boy,” Rossdale explains. “This is his way of saying thank you.’

‘Of the 779 men imprisoned at Guantánamo, roughly 600 were eventually released without charge. Nevertheless, heavy stigma has burdened former detainees looking for work or community acceptance . . .

‘Eighty-seven of Guantánamo’s remaining 148 detainees are from Yemen, 58 of whom have been cleared for transfer . . .’

British government torture whitewash


This video from Britain says about itself:

The Women of Reprieve

Watch some of Reprieve’s female members of staff talk about their work.

From weekly The Observer in Britain:

UK rights groups reject official inquiry into post-September 11 rendition

Government-led inquiry into alleged British involvement in rendition and torture will be a whitewash, say rights groups

Mark Townsend, home affairs editor

Saturday 8 November 2014 20.45 GMT

Britain’s leading human rights groups are to boycott the official investigation into the UK’s involvement in torture and rendition in the years after 9/11, grievously undermining the controversial inquiry.

Nine organisations have announced that they want nothing to do with the parliamentary inquiry by the intelligence and security committee (ISC) into Britain’s alleged role in the ill-treatment of detainees.

A strongly worded letter to the committee team investigating detainee allegations says that, despite raising concerns with the government more than six months ago over whether its decision to allow the ISC to lead the inquiry was “lawful or appropriate”, their concerns of an establishment cover-up remained unanswered.

The letter, obtained by the Observer, says the coalition of groups – including Reprieve, Amnesty International and Liberty – have lost all trust in the committee’s ability to uncover the truth. “Consequently, we as a collective of domestic and international non-governmental organisations do not propose to play a substantive role in the conduct of this inquiry,” the letter states.

Other signatories of the letter include Cage, Rights Watch UK, Freedom From Torture, Redress, Justice and the legal charity the Aire Centre. Their anger follows assurances by David Cameron that the inquiry into whether MI5 and MI6 were actively involved in the secret rendition and torture of UK citizens and residents would be headed by a senior judge.

When the coalition government came to power, Cameron told MPs that no other arrangement would command public confidence, and vehemently rejected suggestions that the ISC should conduct the investigation. He said that only a “judge-led inquiry” could “get to the bottom of the case”.

The boycott follows the debacle of the independent inquiry into child abuse, which has been dogged by whitewash claims and recently lost its second chair, Fiona Woolf, after she accepted that abuse survivors had lost confidence in her ability to conduct the investigation impartially.

The ISC has faced years of criticism as evidence of UK involvement in rendition has emerged, and was also condemned for failing to report on the bulk surveillance being conducted by the UK’s signals intelligence agency, GCHQ, until after it became public.

After an initial inquiry by retired appeal court judge Sir Peter Gibson was cut short two years ago as further evidence came to light of British complicity in rendition and torture, the government’s decision to hand the inquiry to the ISC was widely condemned.

“We remain unpersuaded that the decision to cut short the work of the flawed Gibson inquiry and to pass the baton on to the ISC is an adequate substitute for the establishment of an independent judicial inquiry,” states the letter.

Clare Algar, executive director of Reprieve, said: “What little credibility the ISC had left is rapidly evaporating. It should now be abundantly clear that it is simply incapable of getting to the truth on the UK’s role in rendition and torture.

“Last time they looked into this issue, they gave the agencies a clean bill of health. We now know that conclusion was spectacularly misguided – so why should we expect anything more than a whitewash this time around? The government must now abandon this farce.”

However, the chair of the ISC, former Conservative defence and foreign secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind, dismissed criticism of the committee and said the inquiry would continue regardless of the boycott by the human rights sector.

However, he warned that the inquiry into rendition and torture would not be concluded before the general election next May.

“It’s not going to be remotely possible to complete it before the election. Apart from that, we can’t even start on the Libyan stuff because of the police inquiries,” he added.

Ten days ago police investigating MI6’s involvement in the secret abduction of Libyan suspects in 2004 and their forced return to Tripoli revealed they had passed a file of evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service.

The rights groups’ letter also raises concern that the membership makeup of the ISC meant that it could not deliver an “impartial and thorough” investigation. It states: “The ISC is not and cannot be, by its very design, adequate to the task of carrying out an independent investigation of these violations. It remains the case that the prime minister holds an absolute veto over its membership, the evidence which it is allowed to examine, and the information which it is allowed to publish.

“We are therefore of the view that the committee has neither the powers nor the independence necessary to get to the truth of Britain’s involvement in the rendition and torture of detainees abroad. Any investigation conducted by the ISC will be inherently flawed.”

Rifkind dismissed criticism of the committee’s makeup as “pathetic”.

See also here.