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.

In Senate-CIA Fight on Interrogation Report, Another Controversy: 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.

CIA ‘hid its torture from United States government’


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

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

CIA hid prison brutality from State Department’

Thursday 31st July 2014

A LEAKED White House document concludes that the CIA kept the US secretary of state and some ambassadors in the dark about brutal interrogation techniques and secret prisons.

An internal briefing on an upcoming Senate report on the CIA interrogation programme was accidentally emailed to a reporter, the Associated Press news agency said.

According to the briefing, the still-classified full report maintains ambassadors who were informed about interrogations at black sites were instructed not to tell their State Department superiors.

The four-page White House document is significant because it reveals some of the report’s conclusions as well as State Department concerns over how it will be portrayed around the world.

Allegedly, the Senate report concludes the CIA used brutal techniques on detainees and then misled Congress and the Justice Department.

The briefing said the full report “leaves no doubt that the methods used to extract information from some terrorist suspects caused profound pain, suffering and humiliation.

“It also leaves no doubt the harm caused by the use of these techniques outweighed any potential benefit.”

Those methods included slapping, humiliation, exposure to cold, sleep deprivation and waterboarding.

The report may not draw the conclusion that the CIA actions legally constituted torture, but it makes clear that in some cases they amounted to torture by common definition.

According to the leaked document, the State Department wants to embrace the conclusions of the Senate report and blast past CIA practices.

“This report tells a story of which no American is proud,” it says.

CIA initially ‘kept Colin Powell in the dark’ about torture practices. It’s not entirely clear exactly which US officials knew about the practices at the time they began, a Senate report concludes: here.

The director of the Central Intelligence Agency, John Brennan, issued an extraordinary apology to leaders of the US Senate intelligence committee on Thursday, conceding that the agency employees spied on committee staff and reversing months of furious and public denials: here.

Pakistani, tortured in Iraq, sues British government


This rock music video from Brazil is called Torture Squad – Holiday in Abu Ghraib (Official Music Video HD). Lyrics are here.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

MoD and Foreign Office sued by Pakistani citizen in Iraq torture case

Yunus Rahmatullah accuses UK of complicity in torture and abuse after his capture by British special forces in Iraq in 2004

Richard Norton-Taylor

Tuesday 29 July 2014 09.56 BST

A Pakistani citizen is suing the Ministry of Defence and Foreign Office, accusing them of responsibility for his subjection to torture and severe abuse over 10 years.

Yunus Rahmatullah was captured by British special forces in Iraq in 2004 and handed over to US troops soon afterwards. The incident was initially kept secret from ministers and only disclosed to MPs five years later, in 2009. Rahmatullah, now 31, was released by the US without charge in May.

He is believed to have been first held at Camp Nama, a secret detention facility at Baghdad airport that British troops helped to run. He was later transferred to Iraq’s notorious Abu Ghraib jail before being rendered to the Bagram “black prison” in Afghanistan.

The court of appeal ruled in 2011 that Rahmatullah was unlawfully detained and ordered a writ of habeas corpus – the ancient British legal right to be charged or released from arbitrary detention – to be issued.

However, lawyers acting for the government later successfully argued in the supreme court that British ministers had no power “to direct the US” to release Rahmatullah from Bagram.

He describes in detail his torture and abuse in a 60-page document drawn up by his lawyers and seen by the Guardian. He says when he was captured by British special forces in Iraq in early 2004 he was beaten unconscious. Soldiers cut his clothes with a pair of scissors until, he says, he was “completely naked”.

His lawyers’ statement of claim describes how a soldier poured water on to Rahmatullah’s face after placing a cloth over his mouth and nose causing “a sensation of drowning”.

He was shackled and hooded, and lapsed in and out of consciousness as he was beaten and thrown against a wall. He was suspended upside down and “repeatedly dunked into a tank of water”, says the court document.

At one point, he was taken to a room “where he was horrified to see six or seven naked detainees piled on top of each other”, according to the court statement. He was thrown on top of the detainees and kept in the room for more than two days.

Despite an agreement signed by Britain and the US that specifically referred to the rights of prisoners of war and detained civilians enshrined in the Geneva conventions and international humanitarian law, Rahmatullah was handed over to US forces who secretly took him to Afghanistan. His entire body, including his eyes and mouth, were “taped tightly with duct tape”, the court document says. He was locked in a solitary cell with rats and cockroaches. With other Bagram detainees, he was exposed to daylight in 2006, for the first time in two and half years.

After going on hunger strike, he was subjected to force-feeding on six separate occasions. Apart from limited communication with International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) representatives, he had no contact with the outside world, including his family, until 2010.

British officials, their “servants and agents”, were “recklessly indifferent to the illegality of their actions”, Rahmatullah’s lawyers have told the high court.

Kat Craig, legal director at the human rights group Reprieve, who has recently visited Rahmatullah, said he had been “through 10 years of frankly unimaginable horror”.

She added: “Now that he has finally been able to speak freely to his lawyers, there is no longer any doubt that the British government bears responsibility for his torture and illegal rendition to Bagram.”

Craig continued: “Yunus was robbed of 10 years in the prime of his life; a time when he wanted to find a career, choose a partner and build a family.

“The government must now come clean about the full extent of British involvement in this disgraceful episode in our history – only then will Yunus be able to move on and try to rebuild his life.”

Reprieve legal directors says there is ‘no doubt’ of British responsibility for torture and rendition of Yunus Rahmatullah: here.

CIA torture in Poland


This video from the USA is called Secret CIA Black Site Prison In Poland.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Poland assisted US in torture, Europe’s rights court rules

Thursday 24th July 2014

THE European Court of Human Rights ruled today that the Polish government actively assisted a US “black site” programme, which saw detainees tortured in secret prisons.

The Strasbourg court ruled in the case of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri and Abu Zubaydah — a Guantanamo detainee who the US has already admitted it mistakenly believed to be a senior member of Al Qaida.

Judges concluded that it was “established beyond reasonable doubt” that Mr Zubaydah had been flown from a secret site in Thailand to another CIA prison in northern Poland.

They described the evidence as “coherent, clear and categorical” and ruled that it was “inconceivable” that Poland had been unaware of his mistreatment.

The ruling means that Poland actively violated the European Convention on Human Rights in failing to stop the “torture and inhuman or degrading treatment” of Mr Nashiri and Mr Zubaydah, who were transported to Poland in 2002.

Poland was ordered to pay €100,000 (£79,000) to Mr Nashiri and €130,000 (£103,000) to Zubaydah.

The US has previously acknowledged the existence of its “extraordinary rendition” scheme in the years after the September 11 2001 attacks but has never revealed which of its allies hosted the secret jails.

But the ruling has implications for other European states alleged to have hosted CIA prisons — similar cases have been lodged with the court against Romania and Lithuania.

Mr Nashiri and Mr Zubaydah are still being held in Guantanamo Bay prison camp and the court stated that this ongoing imprisonment without charge amounted to a “flagrant denial of justice.”

British government helps Bahrain dictatorship persecuting dissidents


This video is called Systematic torture in Bahrain.

From Middle East Eye:

Has Britain become Bahrain’s lapdog?

Alastair Sloan

Tuesday 22 July 2014 19:31 BST

Bahraini human rights activists are speaking out about increasing persecution at the hands of the British authorities

Could it be possible that the British government is now acting as Bahrain’s political policeman? Yes, according to Bahraini exiles living in London – most of whom have fled persecution in their homeland and now claim the British government is giving them a hard time for it.

Suspicions were first raised to me earlier this year, when two fleeing activists were detained and nearly deported back by suspiciously over-zealous UKBA officials at Heathrow airport. Both had strong asylum cases, but the seeming prejudice against them may well point to a wider pattern of discrimination.

Mohammed Ahmed, a prominent blogger and media fixer had been arrested and tortured in August 2013. He had previously been arrested and beaten in April 2012, whilst working with a journalist from the Sunday Telegraph, and because of his pro-democracy activism had a history of nasty run-ins with Bahraini security services. In February of this year, he decided he’d had enough and ran for London.

His travelling companion, Hussain Jawad was chairman of the prominent rights group the European-Bahraini Organisation for Human Rights. He too was arrest by Bahraini security agents in November 2013, shortly after he lodged a formal complaint against the government, claiming that they were harassing human rights defenders. Over 50 bloggers across the world demanded Hassan’s release during his arbitrary detention in Bahrain where he spent 46 days in prison before being bailed. Upon his release, Jawad too decided he’d been left no other option but to flee.

Amnesty International declared Jawad a prisoner of conscience, even setting up a publically available website to detail his case, as did Frontline Defenders, an international charity which supports the work of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders across the globe. Yet, on arriving at Heathrow in February, both men were taken aside by UKBA officials. They were taken to separate detention centres outside London and found themselves in medium security prisons, operated by UKBA for detaining and deporting illegal immigrants.

It quickly emerged that the pair had been placed on a special programme called DFT (Detained Fast Track), a process designed for uncomplicated cases where the applicant clearly has no right to asylum and needs to be returned as soon as possible. They were denied legal aid and had their case labelled all but hopeless, despite the fact they knew they had strong grounds for asylum and would face likely persecution, incarceration and the threat of torture upon their return.

Were it not for an 11th hour intervention by specialist solicitors, Jawad and Ahmed would have faced almost certain deportation. As it is, they were released a few days later and are currently proceeding forward with their applications.

Speaking to Bahraini leaders and activists living in London (there are perhaps five hundred exiles who have fled here), they clearly believe that the UKBA detention was politically motivated, and that the Bahraini community is being “systematically targeted,” by, they suspect, the British government acting on behalf of the Bahrainis.

The detention of Ahmed and Jawad, one exile told me, was a display by the UK and Bahraini governments to show the democracy movement who was in charge.

These are strong allegations, but when asked, the spin doctors in the Home Office dismissed the allegations, explaining that they couldn’t comment on individual cases.

This is odd as the Home Office is often very vocal about terrorists like Abu Hamza or Abu Qatada, or indeed hunger-striking Isa Muazu last year, leading one to conclude that they only respond when it suits them.

When you highlight this little discrepancy though, the Home Office does have an answer. It seems that they merely don’t comment routinely on cases – so a case of one rule for terrorists and another for human rights defenders.

In May, more evidence emerged that the British could be doing the bidding of the Bahrainis, and that what had happened to Ahmed and Jawad may well be routine.

On 30 April, two Bahraini exiles living in London were raided by a counter-terrorism unit from the Metropolitan Police. It was 6:00 am. Their families were also detained. Both were charged with terrorism-related offences, which, according to the human rights activists, were most likely fabricated by the Bahraini authorities.

Given the sensitive nature of the raid, it is suspicious that a Twitter account in Bahrain tweeted about the men’s arrest at 4:00 am, two full hours before Metropolitan Police kicked down their doors in London.

“Urgent: British authorities arrest Iranian agents (Safawi) and Karim Almahroos and Abdul Rauf Alshayeb is now being handed over to Bahrain,” tweeted @mnarfezhom.

The @mnarfezhom account is, according to the research and advocacy group, Bahrain Watch, most likely operated by a member of the ruling al-Khalifa family, and functions as a cyber-vigilante, mobilising die-hard royalists.

There have also been other signs that the relationship between Bahraini human rights defenders and the UK Foreign and Commonwealth office have in their words become “hostile”.

Desk officers in the FCO are regularly briefed by global human rights defenders. Nearly all of these meetings invite a participatory mood in which organisations large and small can air their concerns in a receptive environment.

This vital lobbying opportunity has increasingly been choked off to Bahrainis. In a conversation with an official in May, an activist swears that UK authorities parroted Bahraini regime propaganda. When asked why the regime was tear-gassing so excessively each night, the UK officials allegedly said that “the attacks by the Bahraini police are just self-defence against the Molotov cocktail throwing youth.” This line is all too familiar to those reading the Bahraini state press.

When the activist retorted by saying that the youth throw Molotov cocktails because of the harsh police tactics that on occasion prove fatal, the officer allegedly replied: “Well, it’s always someone else’s fault isn’t it?”

But could it really be true that the British government is aiding and abetting the ruling al-Khalifa monarchy to perpetuate its oppression? This is incredibly hard to prove but it would not be the first time that British officials have got their hands dirty to keep the al-Khalifas in power.

Colonel Ian Henderson, a colonial era British policeman who worked for the al-Khalifa family for nearly thirty years, was investigated in 2000 by the Home Office for his alleged complicity in torture while in Manama. Eventually, no charges were filed, but UK journalist Robert Fisk wrote a scathing expose that unearthed widespread instances of abuse.

If this kind of behaviour has and is happening, it is likely a case of “I scratch yours, you scratch mine.” Bahrain itself is small and not that energy-rich, but it is a key part of the GCC which all but controls OPEC. Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and to a lesser extent Kuwait, have sunk vast resources – from money and fuel to soldier and weapons – to prop up the al-Khalifas who they see as a bulwark against Iranian and Shia expansion in the region.

There are also large geo-political gains to be made by keeping the Khalifas on the throne. Bahrain is conveniently positioned in the Gulf and is seen as a vital base for protecting key shipping lanes. The British and American presence in the Middle East is generally based in and coordinated out of Manama harbour, and billions in expensive defence equipment is stationed there.

While these are underlying factors for the possible collusion between the British and the Bahrainis, a new large-scale defence contract was thrown into the mix at the start of the year, which could explain why we have seen this more hostile attitude.

Negotiations about the highly-prized British BAE Systems £4bn deal to supply Saudi Arabia with 72 Eurofighter Typhoons, had been unusually tense.

There have already been suggestions that this tension may have led to unusual and secretive government “favours” being introduced to buttress the deal. Defence sales by British companies are assisted by UK government operatives from the highest levels.

Speculation on what these “sweeteners” could have been, has so far centred on the Muslim Brotherhood investigation announced by No.10 shortly after the Saudi arms deal went through. The timing played nicely into the political aims of Saudi Arabia’s rulers, and there was subsequent outrage from ambassadors, newspaper columnists and MPs, who all denounced this as and shameful “favour” for the Saudis.

But the Muslim Brotherhood investigation might not have been the only unusual favour discussed and the timing of the first reports of Bahrain persecution would also help to explain the growing mistrust, bad blood, and of host of allegations that have started flying around.

Alastair Sloan  focuses on injustice and oppression in the west, Russia and the Middle East. He contributes regularly to The Guardian, Al Jazeera and Middle East Eye. Follow Alastair’s work at www.unequalmeasures.com.

U.S. Highlights Bahrain Sectarianism in New Religious Freedom Report: here.