British ISIS terrorist ‘Jihadi John’ and MI5 intelligence service

This video from the USA says about itself:

It’s Time to Talk About GW Bush’s Role in Creating ISIS

4 February 2015

Thom Hartmann says we need to have a conversation about how U.S. foreign policy under Presidents George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan has led to extremist groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS.

By Bill Van Auken:

“Jihadi John,” imperialism and ISIS

28 February 2015

On Thursday, the Washington Post revealed the identity of “Jihadi John,” the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) operative featured in grisly videos depicting the beheading of US journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, as well as two British aid workers, David Haines and Alan Henning.

The Post named the ISIS member as Mohammed Emwazi, a 26-year-old who was born in Kuwait and raised in London. He is described in a CNN report as “a Briton from a well-to-do family who grew up in West London and graduated from college with a degree in computer programming.”

The media reporting on this identification has been dominated by discussions of the psychology of terrorism and the role of Islamist ideology, along with speculation as to why someone from such a background would choose to engage in such barbaric acts.

All of these banalities are part of a campaign of deliberate obfuscation. Purposefully left in the shadows is the central revelation to accompany the identification of “Jihad John”—the fact that he was well known to British intelligence, which undoubtedly identified him as soon as his image and voice were first broadcast in ISIS videos.

Not only did Britain’s security service MI5 carefully track his movements, it carried out an active campaign to recruit him as an informant and covert agent. As the British daily Guardian put it Thursday, MI5 has “serious questions” to answer about its relations with Emwazi.

Chief among these questions is whether the intelligence agency was successful in its recruitment efforts. In other words, did Emwazi go to Syria with MI5’s foreknowledge and blessings?

If there is doubt as to whether Emwazi was recruited, it is clear that other ISIS jihadists have been. The BBC reported that British intelligence has refused to name Emwazi for “operational reasons.” It adds: “The practice by intelligence agencies of approaching jihadist sympathisers to work for them is likely to continue. It’s believed both Britain and the US have informers inside the Islamic State ‘capital’ of Raqqa. Yet this seems to have been little help in stopping the actions of Mohammed Emwazi, or bringing him to justice.”

At its heart, the case of “Jihadi John” is of significance because of what it says about the real relationship between Western imperialism and ISIS. In the final analysis, ISIS is a product of the interventions by Washington and its allies in the region.

Armed Islamist movements existed in neither Iraq nor Syria—nor, for that matter, in Libya—before US imperialism intervened to topple secular Arab governments in all three countries.

It is not only a matter of these movements emerging out of the mayhem, death and destruction unleashed by the US military and CIA in these countries at the cost of well over a million lives and wholesale social devastation.

Like Al Qaeda before it, ISIS is a creation of US and Western imperialism, unleashed upon the peoples of the region in pursuit of definite strategic aims. In Libya, Islamists now affiliated with ISIS provided the principal ground forces for the US-NATO war to topple Muammar Gaddafi. In Syria, ISIS, the Al Qaeda-affiliated Al Nusra Front and similar Islamist militias have played a similar role in a war for regime-change that has been backed by Washington and its allies.

By all accounts, so-called “foreign fighters” comprise the largest component of the “rebels” who have sought to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad over the past three-and-a-half years. Estimates have put their number at over 20,000, with recruits drawn from throughout Europe, North America, Central Asia and elsewhere.

While the media presents the flow of these fighters into Syria as something of a mystery, the question of how they have gotten there can be easily answered. The CIA, MI5 and other Western intelligence agencies have not merely turned a blind eye to Islamists traveling from their respective countries to the Syrian battlefield, it has offered them active encouragement. Turkey, a key US ally, has facilitated the flow of these elements across its border into Syria.

It should be recalled that Western governments and media painted forces like ISIS in Syria as democratic “revolutionaries” waging a progressive struggle against a tyrant. The war, which was stoked through orchestrated provocations, was cited as a justification for “humanitarian” intervention.

Arms and funding poured in to back the largely Islamist “rebels,” even as Washington and its allies steadily escalated the threat of direct intervention. The Obama administration went to the brink of launching a savage bombardment of Syria in September 2013, only to beat a tactical retreat in the face of unexpected opposition.

The Islamist forces on the ground in Syria felt themselves the victims of a double-cross. Much like the CIA’s Cuban counterrevolutionaries at the Bay of Pigs a half-century earlier, their promised US air support did not come and they lashed out in retribution. Ultimately, this took the form not only of the serial beheadings of Western hostages, but also the debacle inflicted upon the US-trained security forces in Iraq.

Washington has hypocritically seized upon the beheadings in an attempt to whip up support for its new intervention in the Middle East. But when similar atrocities were carried out by ISIS and its cohorts against Syrian Alawites, Christians and captured conscripts, the Obama administration looked the other way.

In the wake of the revelations about “Jihadi John,” Britain’s Tory Prime Minister David Cameron issued a ringing defense of the country’s security services, describing its members as “incredibly impressive, hard-working, dedicated, courageous.” He declared his sympathy for their “having to make incredibly difficult judgments.” He insisted that “the most important thing is to get behind them.”

If Britain were a functioning democracy, the revelations about the role of MI5 and its relations with Mohammed Emwazi and ISIS generally would be the subject of a parliamentary inquiry that could spell the fall of the government.

However, in London, as in Washington, the government has been largely taken over by the military and intelligence apparatus, whose crimes are systematically covered up with the aid of a complicit corporate-controlled media.

For workers in Britain, the US and internationally, these revelations only underscore the necessity to build up a genuine antiwar movement based on a socialist and internationalist program and in intransigent opposition to all attempts to exploit the crimes of ISIS—the Frankenstein’s monster created by imperialism—to justify the escalation of war abroad and repression at home.

In the case of the unmasking of Jihadi John, one of the perspectives that was excluded from the ‘spectrum of thinkable thought’ was the view that Britain’s aggressive foreign policy has been a key driver of ‘radicalisation’, leading young British Muslims towards armed struggle or ‘jihadism': here.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), now threatening Baghdad, was funded for years by wealthy donors in Kuwait, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, three U.S. allies that have dual agendas in the war on terror: here.

ISIS is proof of the failed “war on terror”: here.

Presenting Isis as iconic demons obscures the symbiotic relationship between jihadis and the west: here.

How the FBI Created a Terrorist: here.

USA: Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, speaking Thursday at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), an ultra-right political conference held in suburban Washington DC, compared the working class and student protesters who thronged the streets of Madison in 2011 to ISIS terrorists. “If I could take on 100,000 protestors, I could do the same across the world,” he said, boasting that his defeat of the unions in Wisconsin qualified him to wage war in the Middle East: here.

US trade unions have reacted angrily to Wisconsin’s Republican Governor Scott Walker comparing trade union workers to IS terrorists: here.

Isis accused of beheading captives in Palestinian refugee camp Yarmouk: here.

Diego Garcia, Bush’s and Blair’s torture island

This video from Britain says about itself:

More Lies – Torture & The Special Relationship

22 February 2008

This video contains clips highlighting the denials made by the British government concerning the use of UK territory in CIA rendition “torture” flights.

By Jean Shaoul:

US official admits to UK role in rendition to Diego Garcia

9 February 2015

A senior official from the Bush administration has admitted that the then Labour British government was complicit in the CIA’s extraordinary rendition, interrogation and torture. Britain colluded in the use of the British overseas territory of Diego Garcia by the US for its criminal activities.

The admission flatly contradicts the lies and evasions of the British government. Over a period of years, the Labour government—whose first Foreign Secretary Robin Cook famously boasted that Britain would pursue an “ethical foreign policy”—including former Prime Minister Tony Blair and former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, denied any involvement on no less than 54 occasions.

The lies started to unravel in 2008, when then Labour Foreign Secretary David Miliband said that information had “just come to light” that Diego Garcia had been used as a refuelling stop for extraordinary rendition flights on just two occasions in 2002. He still denied that any detainees had ever set foot on the island, which is leased to the US.

Since then, Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron has continued the lies, claiming that Britain was not involved in the rendition program. The Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition has issued statements that fell apart within days, refused to provide any meaningful answers to Freedom of Information requests from human rights organisations or the media, and resisted any public inquiry into the UK’s role in the horrific crimes of US imperialism.

Shortly after taking office in 2010, Cameron promised an independent inquiry into the issue. But in 2013 he reneged on that pledge in favour of a toothless inquiry by the parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee that can be relied on to whitewash the government’s role when it eventually publishes its report.

The claims by Lawrence Wilkerson, former US Secretary of State Colin Powell’s chief of staff between 2002 and 2005, add to the growing pressure on the British government to come clean on its involvement in the CIA’s rendition programme, global network of secret prisons and criminality. This includes kidnapping, illegal detention for years under the most inhumane conditions, torture, water boarding, sexual assault, sleep deprivation, forcing inmates to stand on broken limbs, and murder, for which no officials have stood trial.

Wilkerson’s claims—along with other evidence—could pave the way for a flood of litigation against the government. Last July, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Poland had actively assisted the CIA’s European “black sites” program.

Wilkerson’s information came from four well-placed CIA and intelligence sources, including a veteran of the renditions programme and an official who was “very much plugged in to what was going on at the CIA.” After he retired, he said Diego Garcia was known as a place to get things done “out of the limelight.”

While there was no permanent detention facility there, it was used as a transit location when other places were full, insecure or unavailable. “So you might have a case where you simply go in and use a facility at Diego Garcia for a month, or two weeks, or whatever, and you do your nefarious activities there.” [emphasis added]

He added that the British authorities must have been aware of what was going on, saying, “It’s difficult for me to think that we could do anything there of any duration to speak of without the British knowing—at least the British on the island—knowing what we were doing.” Furthermore, “A general theme I heard was that the British were very cooperative with everything.”

This is very similar to statements by Michael Blyth, a British Royal Marine, who was head of security on Diego Garcia in 2001-2002. He said in testimony to the High Court that while a permanent site was ruled out, the possibility of using the island “for the purpose of prisoner transfers and/or detention was raised occasionally … by US officials.”

The UN former special envoy on torture, Manfred Nowak, stated in 2008 that he had been told detainees were held on Diego Garcia in 2002 and 2003. Barry McCaffrey, a retired four-star US general, also said that detainees were held on Diego Garcia, but later retracted his claim.

Swiss senator Dick Marty, who led a Council of Europe investigation into the CIA’s use of European territory and air space, said that the island had been used and that some CIA officers had helped him during his investigation.

Time magazine cited a regional intelligence officer saying that a suspected Al Qaeda terrorist known as Hambali, believed to have been involved in the 2002 Bali bombing in which 202 people died, was taken to Diego Garcia and interrogated following his capture in August 2003.

Abdel Hakim Belhaj is a Libyan dissident opposed to former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who is suing the British government and three officials for “extraordinary rendition” via Diego Garcia, where his aircraft refuelled, to Libya in 2004. His lawyers have cited documents found in abandoned government offices in Tripoli after the 2011 NATO-led invasion of Libya to topple the Gaddafi regime and install a puppet government.

A letter from the senior MI6 officer, Sir Mark Allen, to Libya’s intelligence chief Musa Kusa, shows that thanks to help from British intelligence, the CIA planned to use Diego Garcia as a stopover for rendering him and his pregnant wife to be tortured in Libya. Belhaj claims that during his more than four years in a Libyan prison he was interrogated by US and British intelligence agents.

While it has been known for decades that Diego Garcia has some kind of US detention facility, the British government turned down an informal request from the US in 2001 to use it for a Guantanamo-type facility to hold hundreds of suspected “terrorist” prisoners from Afghanistan. The official UK government position is that it never gave the US explicit permission to use the island for its rendition, detention and torture program.

Successive British governments have sought to cover up what was going on.

To cite but one of the most damaging examples: Last July, when asked in parliament about the records of flights to and from the island, Conservative Foreign Office Minister Mark Simmonds claimed the records were “incomplete due to water damage” in June 2014. A week later, he said the “previously wet paper records have been dried out… no flight records have been lost as a result of the water damage.”

But in September, the Foreign Affairs Select Committee was told that the papers had been “damaged [by water] to the point of no longer being useful.”

Ministers refused to answer questions raised in parliament over whether the US had sought permission to use Diego Garcia for Belhaj and his wife’s rendition to Libya.

Last August, David Miliband implied that further evidence could well emerge—and as a former Labour Foreign Secretary, he is in a position to know.

In December, it was revealed that Britain had made repeated requests that its role be struck out from the US Senate Intelligence Committee’s executive summary of its report into torture by the CIA, itself only a summary of a 6,700-page classified report. In the event, the CIA and the Obama administration insisted that all references to the participation of other governments were omitted.

‘ISIS result of Bush’s, Blair’s Iraq war’, United Nations’ Kofi Annan says

This 15 January 2015 video from Britain says about itself:

Tony Blair Not In Jail? I Literally Don’t Understand: Russell Brand The Trews (E235).


US invasion of Iraq helped create ISIS – former UN chief

Published time: February 08, 2015 16:10

Kofi Annan, the former UN secretary general, said the US-led invasion of Iraq was a mistake and helped to create the Islamist State militant group. He also blamed regional powers for making the conflict worse.

“I was against this invasion and my fears have been founded. The break-up of the Iraqi forces poured hundreds if not thousands of disgruntled soldiers and police officers onto the streets,” Kofi Annan told the Munich Security Conference on Sunday. He added that some of these former security force members went on to join the Islamic State.

“The aim of creating democracy without the existing institutions ushered in corrupt sectarian governments,” Annan said. He added that the country has been unstable ever since and this has proved the perfect breeding ground for Sunni radical Muslims, who have become affiliated with the Islamic State.

The Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) stunned the world last summer by capturing large swaths of Iraq and Syria, including the city of Mosul in mid-June. The group has created what it calls an Islamic caliphate that straddles the Iraq-Syria border.

The Islamic State has advocated the rape and selling into slavery of women they capture. IS rules state that it’s permissible to rape a slave “immediately after taking possession of her” and that it’s okay “to have intercourse with the female slave who hasn’t reached puberty if she is fit for intercourse.”

“The Islamic State is destroying the diversity and pluralism in the Middle East,” Annan concluded.

In order to halt the spread of extremism, Annan said that governments must do more to tackle problems such as unemployment, rather than just arresting critics of the regimes.

In northern Iraq, the communists have set up their own armed units alongside Kurdish peshmerga and Iraqi regular forces to defend communities against “fascist” Isis. The Co-ordinating Committee of Communist Parties in Britain (CCCPB) seminar also heard how Nato member Turkey and Western allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar had facilitated the rise of Isis: here.

‘I didn’t think of Iraqis as humans,’ says U.S. soldier who raped 14-year-old girl before killing her: here.

The US invasion of Iraq was based on lies and has lead to unspeakable horrors. It is time for accountability, says former UN representative to Iraq, Hans von Sponeck: here.

Nearly a year after the debacle suffered by US imperialism and the regime it imposed during more than eight bloody years of war and occupation of Iraq—the fall of the country’s second largest city, Mosul to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)—a similar collapse has unfolded in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar, Iraq’s largest province: here.

ISIS terror, product of Bush’s Iraq war

This 17 June 2014 video from the USA about ISIS is called Bush’s toxic legacy in IRAQ to continue.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Human Rights Watch hits out at all sides of Iraqi and Syrian wars

Thursday 29th January 2015

Human Rights Watch lambasted Islamic State (Isis) militants for their atrocities yesterday and linked the group’s foundation and fanaticism directly to the US-driven war in Iraq.

The criticism came in the HRW annual report, which reviews human rights practices in more than 90 countries.

The Islamic State group spreading terror in the Middle East was a product of the US-led war and military occupation of Iraq, the report said, coupled with the abuse of detainees in Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison and other US-run detention centres.

HRW also criticised the Syrian and Iraqi governments over what it described as “sectarian and abusive” policies that fuel extremism.

The funding of extremist groups by Gulf states and their citizens also played a role in fuelling militancy across the volatile region, the group warned.

“Rarely has an armed force engendered such widespread revulsion and opposition,” the report said. “Yet Isis did not emerge in a vacuum,” it added.

It also accused the Iraqi government of relying primarily on Shi’ite militias in the fight against Isis. They are, HRW alleged, killing and cleansing Iraqi areas of Sunni civilians with impunity.

HRW also accused the international community of indifference to violations by both governments.

“If the conditions that led to Isis are left to fester, the group could deepen its hold on the two countries and expand into Lebanon, Jordan, Libya and beyond.”

CIA torture report by United States Senate, review

This video from the USA says about itself:

CIA Torture Report Sparks Bush Arrest Plea

15 December 2014

Just last week, the Senate Intelligence Committee released their full report on inhumane CIA torture tactics. Even though the report says former President George W Bush was kept in the dark until 2006, many people still believe he should be held accountable for the actions of the CIA during his term as Commander-in-Chief. In fact, the International Criminal Court has in their hands, an official request document for the immediate arrest of George W Bush. Joining us today, is professor Francis Boyle from the University of Illinois’ College of Law. He’s very closely connected with the ICC, and is reporting on the status of the Bush arrest warrant request.

By Tom Carter in the USA:

What is in the Senate Intelligence Committee Report on CIA torture: Part one

16 December 2014

This is the first of three articles summarizing the contents of the unclassified executive summary of the US Senate Intelligence Committee’s 6,700-page report on the CIA torture program, released last week.

The US Senate Intelligence Committee Report on the Central Intelligence Agency’s “enhanced interrogation program” exposes the CIA as a globe-spanning enterprise of criminality, deceit, and violence—as well as rank incompetence, petty intriguing, and porno-sadistic depravity.

With the support of the political establishment in the US and its international accomplices, the CIA operates without accountability or restraint—lying, brutalizing, and bungling its way around the world in pursuit of the interests of American imperialism.

From a legal standpoint, the war crimes and crimes against humanity that are documented in the report warrant the immediate arrest, indictment and prosecution of every individual involved in the program, from the torturers themselves and their “outside contractors” all the way up to senior officials in the Bush and Obama administrations who presided over the program and subsequently attempted to cover it up. The Watergate scandal, which resulted in Nixon’s resignation, pales in comparison. However, the perpetrators remain at large and nobody has been held accountable.

CIA redactions in torture report

The full committee study, which amounts to 6,700 pages and contains 38,000 footnotes, remains classified and has not been publicly released. The document published last week, at 525 pages and heavily redacted, is the executive summary. It was originally completed on December 13, 2012, but its publication was obstructed by the Obama administration for a further two years.

This article, the first of a series presented by the World Socialist Web Site, aims to provide a synopsis and analysis of the report.

The executive summary opens with a letter by Democratic senator Diane Feinstein, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee. The letter essentially reads as an apology for the CIA crimes documented in the report. “It is worth remembering the pervasive fear in late 2001 and how immediate the threat felt,” she writes, tendentiously recalling her personal memories of the September 11, 2001, attacks. “I can understand the CIA’s impulse to consider the use of every possible tool to gather intelligence and remove terrorists from the battlefield,” she continues, “and the CIA was encouraged by political leaders and the public to do whatever it could to prevent another attack.”

Feinstein’s introductory letter makes clear that her opposition to CIA torture is not fundamentally because is depraved and a war crime, but from the standpoint that it has not resulted in useful intelligence. When her committee launched its investigation in 2009, she wrote that its purpose was “to review the program and to shape detention and interrogation policies in the future.” In her letter, Feinstein cites the CIA’s own documents as evidence that the “enhanced interrogation” (i.e., torture) techniques “do not produce intelligence,” “will probably result in false answers,” and have historically proven to be ineffective.

The CIA’s “enhanced interrogation” program has its origins at the highest levels of the Bush administration following the September 11 attacks. As early as November 2001, the report states, “CIA officers had begun researching potential legal defenses for using interrogation techniques that were considered torture by foreign governments and a non-governmental organization.” In other words, the first step was to concoct a pseudo-legal justification for something that everyone knew was prohibited by international law, American law, and even the CIA’s own internal policies.

The Bush administration was likely concerned that public trials of the individuals suspected of involvement in the September 11 attacks would shed too much light on the American intelligence agencies’ long and sordid history of partnerships with groups such as Al Qaeda, and would perhaps lead to unpleasant questions being asked about what the those agencies knew in advance of the attacks. Instead, a plan was devised to round up all of these individuals and hold them incommunicado.

The conspiracy to implement the illegal program reached all the way up to the Oval Office. President Bush issued a memorandum in February 2002 stating that Common Article 3 of the Geneva Convention, “requiring humane treatment of individuals in a conflict, did not apply to al-Qa’ida or Taliban detainees.”

The Senate Intelligence Committee found that at least 119 individuals had been targeted by the program during its existence, contrary to the CIA’s claims that the number of individuals involved was “less than a hundred.” (This was one of a very long list of CIA lies documented in the report.) The committee found that at least 26 of those individuals (or 22 percent of the total) “did not meet the standard for detention”—that is, they were innocent victims.

At the beginning of the program, the CIA had no personnel trained in how to perform torture, so to implement the torture program, the agency retained two psychologists as outside contractors: “Dr. Grayson SWIGERT and Dr. Hammond DUNBAR.” These psychologists (identified by the New York Times and NBC News as Jim Mitchell and Bruce Jessen) had no field experience with respect to interrogation and had only prepared a research paper on the subject of how CIA agents could resist torture. Nevertheless, in 2006, “the value of the CIA’s base contract with the company formed by the psychologists with all options exercised was in excess of $180 million; the contractors received $81 million prior to the contract’s termination in 2009.”

Abu Zubaydah, a Saudi citizen and allegedly a low- or mid-ranking Al Qaeda figure, was among the first victims of the program. He was initially questioned by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), which provided him with medical care and established a rapport with him. Zubaydah cooperated with the FBI, identifying Khalid Shaykh Mohammad as the “mastermind” of the September 11, 2001, attacks and providing other information.

Abruptly, the CIA intervened and took over the interrogation of Zubaydah, demanding the exclusion of the FBI personnel who had been previously involved. The FBI, which is the criminal investigative agency belonging to the federal Department of Justice, apparently objected to this intervention.

The CIA’s openly declared strategy was to impose “learned helplessness” on Zubaydah through torture. But after taking custody of Zubaydah, the CIA agents responsible for his interrogation went on vacation, taking “time off for a break and to attend to personal matters” and leaving Zubaydah in isolation for 47 days. So much for the danger of imminent terrorist attacks!

In 2002, the CIA began meeting with top officials in the Bush administration to obtain authorization for torturing Zubaydah. The CIA insisted that its interrogation of Zubaydah take precedence over Zubaydah’s medical care, and even established a contingency plan for what should be done in the event that Zubaydah died while being tortured.

On July 24, 2002, Attorney General John Ashcroft directly authorized a number of torture techniques, including “attention grasp, walling, the facial hold, the facial slap (insult slap), cramped confinement, wall standing, stress positions, sleep deprivation, use of diapers, and use of insects.”

On July 26, 2002, Ashcroft expressly approved waterboarding. With the blessing of Ashcroft and other senior Bush administration officials, Zubaydah was tortured around the clock during the month of August 2002. By the end of the first week of the interrogations, the CIA determined that it was unlikely that Zubaydah would provide any useful information, but the torture continued anyway.

During waterboarding, internal CIA documents described Zubaydah as “hysterical” and “distressed to the level that he was unable to effectively communicate.” Waterboarding Zubaydah “resulted in immediate fluid intake and involuntary leg, chest and arm spasms” and “hysterical pleas.” At least once during waterboarding, Zubaydah “became completely unresponsive, with bubbles rising through his open, full mouth.” During Zubaydah’s torture, he lost his left eye. The CIA subsequently destroyed video evidence of these interrogations to prevent it from coming into the hands of investigators.

The Senate report confirms that the torture of Zubaydah did not result in any meaningful intelligence—but CIA headquarters falsely insisted to the Bush administration at the time that the torture of Zubaydah was effective and was “producing meaningful results,” and that it “should be used as a template for future interrogation of high value captives.” The CIA also falsely claimed that the information that was obtained through the FBI’s successful interviews of Zubaydah was actually the fruit of its own “enhanced interrogation” strategies.

In July of this year, the European Court of Human Rights awarded Zubaydah €100,000 in damages and €30,000 in costs against the Polish government, which had allowed the CIA to torture him on its territory.

In 2002, the CIA established a dedicated torture facility codenamed DETENTION SITE COBALT. (In one of many examples of the gratuitous redactions in the report, the fact that the COBALT facility is located in Afghanistan was redacted, even though that fact is available through other sources.)

The COBALT facility, also known as the “Salt Pit,” was one of the many “black site” torture facilities used by the CIA during the course of the program. Its windows “were blacked out and detainees were kept in total darkness…. While in their cells, detainees were shackled to the wall and given buckets for human waste. Four of the twenty cells at the facility included a bar across the top of the cell. Later reports describe detainees being shackled to the bar with their hands above their heads, forcing them to stand, and therefore not allowing the detainees to sleep.”

In November 2002, Gul Rahman died at the COBALT facility. Rahman was innocent—a case of “mistaken identity.” He was traveling to Islamabad for a medical checkup when he was kidnapped and murdered by the CIA, which did not even bother to notify his wife and four children of his death. No one was ever charged with a crime in connection with Rahman’s death.

According to the report, Rahman was “shackled to the wall of his cell in a position that required the detainee to rest on the bare concrete floor,” and the warden “had ordered that Rahman’s clothing be removed when he had been judged to be uncooperative during an earlier interrogation.” In other words, he was stripped for the purpose of humiliating him.

“The next day, the guards found Gul Rahman’s dead body.” The cause of death was determined to be hypothermia, “in part from having been forced to sit on the bare concrete floor without pants.” Rahman’s corpse was also discovered to be covered with bruises and abrasions.

The CIA officer assigned as warden of the COBALT facility was someone who had “little to no experience with interrogating or handling prisoners,” according to the report. A previous CIA supervisor had determined that the warden lacked “honesty, judgment, and maturity.” However, four months after Rahman’s death, the CIA recommended that the warden receive a “cash award” of $2,500 for his “consistently superior work.”

Other torture techniques in use at the COBALT facility included “standing sleep deprivation in which a detainee’s arms were shackled above his head, nudity, dietary manipulation, exposure to cold temperatures, cold showers, ‘rough takedowns,’ and, in at least two instances, the use of mock executions.” At the COBALT facility, “CIA officers (including personnel not trained in interrogation) could, at their discretion, strip a detainee naked, shackle him in the standing position for up to 72 hours, and douse the detainee repeatedly with cold water.”

Beginning in 2002, the CIA began providing special “interrogation training” (torture training) to selected officers. The Senate Intelligence Committee noted that individuals who were selected by the CIA as torturers included “inexperienced, marginal, underperforming” officers from other assignments and “individuals who, among other issues, had engaged in inappropriate detainee interrogations, had workplace anger management issues, and had reportedly admitted to sexual assault.”

In other words, the CIA was deliberately seeking out, cultivating, and advancing psychopaths within its ranks.

Meanwhile, the network of secret CIA torture facilities continued to grow. The COBALT facility held “a total of 64 detainees during the period of its operation between September 2002 and [redacted] 2004,” while “DETENTION SITE GRAY held eight detainees…DETENTION SITE ORANGE…held 34 detainees…and DETENTION SITE BROWN…held 12 detainees” during the period of their operation.

The torture of Abd al-Rahim Al-Nashiri, who was alleged to have been involved in the USS Cole bombing and the 1998 East Africa US Embassy bombings, is a representative case. The torture of Al-Nashiri included placing “a pistol near al-Nashiri’s head and operat[ing] a cordless drill near al-Nashiri’s body.”

Besides waterboarding, other techniques included “slapping al-Nashiri multiple times on the back of the head during interrogations; implying that his mother would be brought before him and sexually abused; blowing cigar smoke in al-Nashiri’s face; giving al-Nashiri a forced bath using a stiff brush; and using improvised stress positions that caused cuts and bruises resulting in the intervention of a medical officer, who was concerned that al-Nashiri’s shoulders would be dislocated using the stress positions.”

At one point, al-Nashiri went on a hunger strike, to which the CIA responded by force-feeding him “rectally.”

Another detainee, as a result of repeated waterboarding, developed an abdomen that “was somewhat distended and he expressed water when the abdomen was pressed.” CIA documents indicate that “[i]n the new technique we are basically doing a series of near drownings.”

The most infamous of the torture techniques described in the report is “rectal rehydration, without evidence of medical necessity.” CIA documents quote one medical officer who described the technique as follows: “you get a tube up as far as you can, then open the IV wide. No need to squeeze the bag—let gravity do the work.”

One detainee who was subjected to this procedure was later “diagnosed with chronic hemorrhoids, an anal fissure, and symptomatic rectal prolapse.” In other words, his large intestine was protruding out of his body.

The report describes how detainee Majid Khan’s “lunch tray, consisting of hummus, pasta with sauce, nuts, and raisins was ‘pureed’ and rectally infused.” This procedure was repeated a number of times for no apparent medical reason.

In response to this treatment, Majid Khan repeatedly attempted to kill himself, including “attempting to cut his wrist on two occasions, an attempt to chew into his arm at the inner elbow, an attempt to cut a vein in the top of his foot, and an attempt to cut into his skin at the elbow joint using a filed toothbrush.”

A man “had to stand up for five days straight and answer questions;” a man was “forced to strip naked and stand in front of a female interrogator;” a man was “subjected to baths in which ice water was used;” a man was forced to stand on a broken limb until the leg swelled up; a man was forced to stand up for 56 hours straight, until he began to hallucinate; a man was deprived of sleep “for a total of 138.5 hours” in a row; men were subjected to loud music around the clock; a broomstick was placed behind the knees of a man in a stress position, recalling the techniques employed by the medieval Inquisition.

In another episode, “water dousing was used on Abu Hazim, a cloth covered Abu Hazim’s face, and [redacted] poured cold water directly on Abu Hazim’s face to disrupt his breathing. [The linguist] said that when Abu Hazim turned blue, Physician’s Assistant [redacted] removed the cloth so that Abu Hazim could breathe.”

CIA officers willfully ignored recommendations by doctors against the torture methods that were being employed and pressed ahead anyway, even when the person being tortured had no information to provide. Many of the men subjected to torture developed behavioral and psychological problems, including hallucinations, paranoia, insomnia, suicidal ideation, and other complications, with some suffering total breakdowns.

The report is not limited to torture, but depicts the CIA as engaged in what amounts to organized crime on a daily basis. In one episode, the political leadership of a country where a secret CIA torture facility was located “rejected the transfer” of certain detainees, apparently uncomfortable over the political ramifications of CIA torture taking place within its borders.

“The following month [redacted] provided [redacted]$ million to Country [redacted]’s [redacted] which officials, for Country [redacted] political leadership, indicated that Country [redacted] was now flexible with regard to the number of CIA detainees at the facility and when the facility would eventually be closed.” In other words, the CIA paid millions in cash bribes to keep the torture facility operational.

The CIA’s torture program was accompanied by constant turf-warring and factional maneuvering by the agency within the Bush administration. While the CIA provided information about its activities to its factional allies, it provided inaccurate information to everyone else or kept them in the dark entirely, dispensing information as a kind of patronage.

By the end of 2006, virtually all of the top officials in the Bush administration knew about the torture program, making them all accomplices in it. When President Bush was finally briefed about the program in April 2006, he “expressed discomfort” only with an “image of a detainee, chained to the ceiling, clothed in a diaper, and forced to go to the bathroom on himself.”

The CIA’s interrogation program did not, it appears, achieve anything at all from an intelligence or national security standpoint. With the country supposedly at risk of an imminent terrorist attack, the CIA at various times lost track of how many detainees it had.

The Senate Intelligence Committee report focuses on the CIA’s inept and mismanaged implementation the program, and there are definite political reasons behind this emphasis. Nevertheless, the CIA’s incompetence is a further reflection of the extent to which democratic norms—as well as professionalism and basic human decency—have disappeared from the internal machinery of the state, which is instead permeated through and through with criminality and corruption.

To be continued

CIA torture: health professionals ‘may have committed war crimes’, report says. Physicians for Human Rights called for federal investigation on CIA torture program participation, calling rectal feeding technique ‘form of sexual assault’: here.

Despite all the evidence in the CIA torture report, US leaders and media remain in denial about its foreign policy crimes, says Ramzy Baroud: here.

Cheney on CIA torture: “I’d do it again in a minute”: here.