CIA torture, new information


This video says about itself:

Here the rain never finishes: exclusive CIA torture report from the ACLU

13 October 2015

Survivors of Central Intelligence Agency torture are sueing the contractor psychologists who designed one of the most infamous programs of the post-9/11 era. Salim, one of the three ex-detainees in the suit, is a Tanzanian fisherman who says that flashbacks from his ordeal in CIA custody are a permanent part of his life.

By Shelley Connor in the USA:

Declassified reports reveal torture techniques used by Bush-era CIA

21 January 2017

Newly disclosed documents from the CIA detail the “enhanced interrogation” techniques—torture—used on detainees at black sites throughout the world. The documents, 50 in all, include information that was not presented to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation into the CIA torture program in 2014.

This information has been released amid a pitched legal battle concerning the handling of the full 6,700 page document that was presented to the Senate Intelligence Committee.

The documents were released as the result of an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Freedom of Information Act suit against the CIA. The documents describe, in clinical, disinterested prose, a harrowing array of torture techniques used against suspects, from extreme humiliation to potentially deadly force.

The use of “mock burials,” in which detainees were forced into coffin-shaped boxes with hidden ventilation holes, the slamming of detainees repeatedly into walls, and the exposure of denuded detainees to extreme cold stand out as particularly inhumane practices. The documents include an investigation into the 2002 death of suspected Taliban militant Gul Rahman, who died of hypothermia at a black site north of Kabul, Afghanistan. At the time of his death, Rahman was clad in nothing but an adult diaper, and had been chained to a vent in his cell throughout a cold, November night.

Attorneys for two of the CIA’s victims, Abu Zubaydah and Abdul Rahim Al-Nashiri, are currently fighting for the preservation of the full report of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s findings, which doubtless contain even more gruesome details.

Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, who is adjudicating Zubaydah’s habeas corpus request, issued a memo demanding that the United States government “immediately” deposit a complete and un-redacted copy of the Senate report with the court by February 10. Last week, Judge Royce C. Lamberth of the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia ordered the Obama administration to hand a copy over to the court, as well, in the case of Al-Nashiri. The Obama administration resisted on both counts.

Excerpts from the reports reveal how prisoners were subjected to torture through “walling” and waterboarding. During walling, a towel rolled up and placed behind the prisoner’s neck was the only precaution taken to ensure that the victims did not sustain concussions or spinal injuries when yanked upright by their chains and slammed into walls by their interrogators. Zubaydah was rendered unconscious and suffered seizures as a result of this treatment; to this day, he still experiences blackouts, headaches and seizures.

After three consecutive days of waterboarding, walling, and mock burials, Zubaydah was given a day-long reprieve from the aggressive interrogations. He was given Ensure, a meal replacement drink, and was again released to his cell, where interrogators disrupted his sleep purposely throughout the night. The next morning, interrogators again hooded Zubaydah and inflicted their torments upon him anew. After telling interrogators that he had no new information to offer, he was slapped and forced into a dark, upright box with a container for his waste.

Even after Zubaydah “showed distress,” he was left in the box for four hours. He was removed from this box, was walled again for two hours, and was then shoved into what interrogators called “the small confinement box.” Here, he was forced into a modified fetal position, with his back curved downward and his legs drawn up.

“Subject remained in the small box for one hour and ten minutes. Subject sounded distressed and did not appear to adapt as well to his time in the small confinement box,” interrogators recounted. He was waterboarded and walled for several more hours after being removed from the box. “Subject has not provided any new threat or elaborated on any old threat information. Medical assessment is that subject remains stable and that his physiologic condition is close to normal given his present circumstances,” the report affirmed.

Zubaydah himself remembers those events in much more excruciating detail. He told his lawyers that he remembered “screaming unconsciously,” in pain because he was unable to stretch his legs, unbend his back, or stand upright. The documentation of his torture reveals that the small box was used to the maximum amount allowable by interrogators.

The reports substantiate claims by several detainees that interrogators drugged them with powerful pharmaceuticals without consent during interrogation—a practice regarded as unethical by medical professionals. For years, the CIA asserted that detainees were only “sedated” as a last resort, mainly as a safety measure.

However, the released documents reveal another practice entirely. In April of 2002, interrogators documented plans to transport Zubaydah “in a state of pharmaceutical unconsciousness … to maximize the intended effect of disorienting.”

These documents have been released at a critical juncture. Obama ascended to the presidency eight years ago amid hopes that he would end the opacity and latitude the intelligence apparatus had enjoyed under Bush. Yet during his last week in office, he worked feverishly to ensure that the full, damning report of state-sanctioned torture would remain safely sealed in the presidential archives, where they would be free from public viewing until 2028. In response to Judge Royce Lamberth’s order to remand a copy to the court, Obama administration lawyers argued that doing so would endanger executive-congressional cooperation and that the document enjoyed enough protection by being included in Obama’s archives.

This action is of a piece with the rest of Obama’s presidency, which began with him granting immunity to war criminals from the Bush and Cheney era. Obama’s lukewarm expressions of distaste for torture are not borne out by his policies, through which domestic spying, extrajudicial assassinations and legalized entrapment have become standard operating procedure.

While Al-Nashiri fights for his freedom—and his life, as the Obama administration has sought the death penalty—James Mitchell, a primary architect of many Bush-era torture regimens, remains free.

Another criminal who walks free, CIA director John Brennan, worked to intimidate members of the Senate Intelligence Committee. He ordered CIA thugs to break into Senate staffers’ computers and delete information concerning the CIA’s torture program. He then brazenly claimed that those staffers should be prosecuted for possessing confidential information, and arrogantly stated that the CIA had a right to withhold information from the Senate Intelligence Committee, to which it is supposed to be answerable.

Obama doused the flames between Brennan and outraged members of the Senate committee by stating that no one would be prosecuted. This effectively granted Brennan immunity and provided a precedent for the cover-up of war crimes.

Meanwhile, whistleblowers such as Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, and CIA analyst John Kiriakou were punished for the “crime” of revealing the sadistic nature of military and intelligence practices. Kiriakou, particularly, stands out as a symbol for the injustice of the Obama administration; while James Mitchell boasts openly to the press about waterboarding detainees, Kiriakou was prosecuted by the Obama Justice Department and sentenced to 30 months in prison for revealing the use of waterboarding to the American public.

Many Americans are rightly concerned about the dangers posed by recently inaugurated President Donald Trump. Attorneys for victims such as Zubaydah and al-Nashiri, among others, fear that Trump could, at the behest of Senate Republicans, destroy the full Senate torture report. Trump himself has expressed support for waterboarding and other techniques; “Torture works,” he has told reporters.

Will Trump destroy CIA torture evidence?


This video says about itself:

The Dark Prison: The Legacy of the CIA Torture Programme – Fault Lines

24 March 2016

“In the immediate aftermath of 9/11 we did some things that were wrong. We did a whole lot of things that were right, but we tortured some folks.”

It’s been more than a year since US President Barack Obama admitted that the CIA tortured prisoners at its interrogation centres.

While the CIA has long admitted the use of waterboarding, which simulates drowning by pouring water into a person’s nose and mouth, a truncated and heavily redacted report by the Senate Intelligence Committee in December 2015 detailed other abuses that went beyond previous disclosures.

Reading like a script from a horror film, some of the techniques involved prisoners being slapped and punched while being dragged naked up and down corridors, being kept in isolation in total darkness, subject to constant deafening music, rectal rehydration and being locked in coffin-shaped boxes.

Critical to the development of the CIA’s brutal interrogation programme was a legal memo that said the proposed methods of interrogation were not torture if they did not cause “organ failure, death or permanent damage”.

Despite failing to produce any useful information about imminent terrorist attacks, the CIA meted out these and other brutal treatments for years after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

And with dozens of people having since been released without charge, and at least a quarter of them officially declared to have been “wrongfully detained“, the effects of torture live on with the victims, burned into their minds.

In this episode of Fault Lines, we explore the plight of these men struggling to overcome their harrowing experiences of torture since leaving CIA-run black sites.

By Laura Barron-Lopez, Congressional Reporter, The Huffington Post in the USA:

Senate Democrat Urges Obama To Ensure The CIA Torture Report Won’t Disappear

Ron Wyden is worried the report could be destroyed under the Trump administration if it’s not made a federal record.

12/02/2016 07:00 am ET

WASHINGTON ― If President Barack Obama wants to codify his legacy on banning the use of torture in U.S. intelligence gathering, he should declassify the 6,700-page CIA torture report and make it a federal record, according to a top Senate Democrat.

Ron Wyden, a vocal member of the Senate intelligence committee, has long urged the administration to declassify the report with necessary redactions. But now he’s pressuring Obama to make the report a document of federal record before he leaves office ― protecting it from possible destruction under a Donald Trump presidency.

With Trump heading to the White House in just under two months, the Oregon Democrat told The Huffington Post it’s “more important than ever” that the American public know what is in the full torture report.

Something Obama “can do today on this,” Wyden said, is “make sure the report isn’t destroyed and lost to history.”

“All that the president needs to do is direct that the report be a federal record under the Federal Records Act, and an agency record pursuant to [the Freedom of Information Act], and then it can be disseminated widely to appropriate, cleared agencies,” Wyden said in his Capitol Hill office on Tuesday.

On his second day in office Obama used his executive authority to ban “enhanced interrogation” techniques authorized by President George W. Bush, but his administration decided not to press charges against individuals involved in the torture program. Prompted by revelations that the CIA had destroyed videotapes of some of its interrogations, the Senate intelligence committee voted in 2009 to investigate the CIA’s detention and interrogation program. In December 2014, the Democrats on the committee released a 525-page executive summary of their findings. They concluded that the CIA’s interrogation program used techniques far more brutal than it had previously disclosed and misled the public about the efficacy of the program in producing intelligence.

The full report remains classified. Lawyers who represent detainees at Guantanamo who were previously held at CIA black sites say the executive summary of the torture report reveals only a small part of the abuse their clients endured.

The Obama administration has been less than eager to declassify the report, with agencies directed to keep their copies unopened. Even less transparency is expected from his successor. Trump, a real estate businessman with no prior government experience, said earlier this year that he would “bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding.”

Trump’s sympathetic stance toward torture is why Wyden thinks the president-elect wouldn’t think twice about the destruction of a report long mired in controversy.

“It seems to me ― and this’ll be the argument we’d be making to the administration ― that the president wants a legacy issue,” Wyden said. “This is something he can do today that will be very meaningful, and frankly we’re very concerned that it’s just going to get destroyed and that will be that.”

Making the torture report a federal record would not require its declassification, but making it an agency record would open it up to a Freedom of Information Act request. Even then, it can be redacted in part or full.

The report, an “exhaustive history with hundreds of footnotes,” should “at a minimum” be protected, Wyden said.

Wyden pointed to Trump’s campaign promises, the views of those he’s surrounding himself with, and comments made by his Republican colleagues as proof there’s a real threat the report could be lost forever.

In January 2015, during his first month as chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) requested that the White House return every copy of the document that had been distributed to the administration officials and federal agencies. In a letter to Obama, Burr wrote: “I consider that report to be a highly classified and committee sensitive document.”

“It should not be entered into any Executive Branch system of records,” Burr continued.

At the time, Burr also said he planned to give back a critical secret document, the Panetta Review, that underpins the entire Senate investigation into the CIA’s torture program.

Burr never got the copies of the torture report back; the White House said it would “preserve the status quo.”

But once Republicans have complete control of the federal government from the White House on down, it only follows that Burr would again request to have the last copies of the secret report returned. And what he does with them after that is pretty much up to him.

That means the fate of the infamous document would depend on individual senators like Wyden fighting to keep it in existence until it can be declassified.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who led the intel committee during the investigation and when the report was released, is also pushing for Obama to declassify the document.

She hasn’t always been supportive, however. A New Yorker report published in the summer of 2015 said Wyden, then-Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) rarely aligned with Feinstein on surveillance and tried to convince her to push for the entire declassification of the report.

“Feinstein, concerned that the information in the full report would be too inflammatory, decided that the executive summary sufficed for the time being,” according to the New Yorker.

She’s changed her mind since, and handed a letter to Vice President Joe Biden to give to Obama last week, urging him to make it public.

“The time has come to declassify the report, allow the general public to make up its own mind,” Feinstein said, according to Politico. At least, those that’ll read 7,000 pages.”

So far, the White House response has not been encouraging.

“It was not a full-throated: ‘We are gonna declassify the report,” Wyden said of recent statements coming from the administration. “So we’ve got some heavy lifting to do on that.”

In the final days of the Obama administration, Wyden says, he plans to focus on preserving the torture report so people understand what the CIA engaged in when interrogating suspected terrorists, and “that it’s contrary to our values; contrary to our laws.”

“I want to amp up the concern I have to make sure that this full report is not destroyed,” he said. “That’s all the more reason why the report ought to be put in hands of American people so that you can have a real debate about this.”

White House spokesman Ned Price didn’t comment on Obama’s plans for the report or on calls by Democratic senators for it to be declassified or made a federal record.

When Feinstein disseminated the copies nearly two years ago there were eight: one sent to the White House, two to the CIA (one for the inspector general, which was “mistakenly” deleted) and the rest to five different agencies.

The White House declined to comment Wednesday on the status of the various copies.

Jessica Schulberg contributed reporting.

On December 28, US District Judge Royce Lamberth ordered a complete copy of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s 2014 report on the Central Intelligence Agency’s torture program during the Bush administration to be delivered to a federal courthouse, where it is to be preserved in a safe by a judicial security officer. Lawyers for torture victim Abd al-Rahim Al-Nashiri requested this extraordinary measure on the grounds that efforts were underway within the other branches of the US government to destroy and erase every copy of the full report: here.

US Americans suspected of torture in Afghanistan


This video says about itself:

US: Ex-Detainee Describes Unreported CIA Torture

3 October 2016

A Tunisian man formerly held in secret United States Central Intelligence Agency custody have described previously unreported methods of torture that shed new light on the earliest days of the CIA program. Lotfi al-Arabi El Gherissi, 52, recounted being severely beaten with batons, threatened with an electric chair, subjected to various forms of water torture, and being chained by his arms to the ceiling of his cell for a long period.

The United States repatriated El Gherissi to Tunisia on June 15, 2015, after 13 years in custody without charges or trial. He was not provided compensation or support for his wrongful detention or the torture he endured, nor was he provided help to cope with the physical and mental harm incurred. Today he is destitute, unable to work, and experiencing the consequences of serious physical and emotional trauma he believes is a direct result of his treatment in US custody.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

International Criminal Court suspects Americans of torture of Afghan prisoners

Today, 02:53

The International Criminal Court in The Hague says the US has possibly tortured prisoners in Afghanistan. Prosecutors say that the suspicions were raised on the basis of a preliminary examination. The US military and the CIA would thus have committed war crimes.

A report states that there are indications that the military has tortured at least 61 detainees, especially in 2003 and 2004. In the same period CIA employees are said to have tortured at least 27 people in secret prisons in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

Interrogation technique

The alleged crimes, according to the report, were not the work of a few individuals. It seems that the torture was part of an approved interrogation technique with which the US hoped to get “useful information“.

Prosecutors say they will soon decide whether they are going to ask for permission to do an extensive study in Afghanistan about war crimes.

The US itself is not a member of the ICC, but US citizens can be prosecuted if they have committed crimes in a country which is a member, such as Afghanistan. The question is whether it ever will come to that. Even if sufficient evidence will be provided, the very question remains whether Washington will cooperate in prosecution of its nationals by the ICC. In the past, the US has made clear that it will not accept that American soldiers may stand trial in The Hague.

U.S. President George Bush signed into law the American Servicemembers Protection Act of 2002, intended to intimidate countries that ratify the treaty for the International Criminal Court. The law authorizes the use of military force to liberate any American or citizen of a U.S.-allied country being held by the court, which is located in The Hague. This provision, dubbed the “Hague invasion clause,” has caused a strong reaction from U.S. allies around the world, particularly in the Netherlands: here.

Some African countries which had originally recognized the ICC are now threatening to withdraw. Because in practice the ICC prosecutes only Africans; while rich suspects from rich countries, like Tony Blair from Britain, go scot-free.

Also, there are African suspects and quite other African suspects. Bashir, dictator of Sudan, was indicted by the ICC when he had a bad relationship with NATO governments. However, in 2011 Bashir became an ally in the NATO war of regime change against Libya. And now the European Union considers him an ally in stopping African refugees from dictatorship, war and famine. So, probably Bashir will never be on trial in The Hague; unless governments of rich countries will consider he is no longer useful as an ally.

One may wonder which U.S. individuals the ICC may indict now. Only privates? Or will they be a little more courageous, and indict even corporals? Or will they be really courageous, and indict people like Bush’s Secretary of War ‘Defence’ Donald Rumsfeld or Bush’s Vice President Dick Cheney?

The first American troops left for Afghanistan in 2001 …. At the height of the mission, there were 100,000 American soldiers.

President Obama has long said all US Americans would be home at the end of his term, but he said last summer that still 8,400 soldiers will remain in the country, because of the precarious security situation.

See also here.

The International Criminal Court is investigating US war crimes. But there’s a huge catch: here.

CIA torture report, background


This video says about itself:

CIA ‘torture’: Inside the ‘blackout box’ – BBC News

3 August 2015

**VIDEO CONTAINS SOME DISTURBING IMAGES** BBC reporter Hilary Andersson finds out what it is like to be inside a “blackout box” used in so-called “enhanced interrogation“. The agency’s position has always been that the “enhanced interrogation” techniques it used under George W Bush did not amount to torture, because they were legally approved by the White House at the time. President Obama closed the CIA’s programme down when he came to power in 2009. BBC Panorama reporter Hilary Andersson experiences what it is like inside a “blackout box” as used by CIA interrogators.

From the Huffington Post in the USA:

This week, the Guardian‘s Spencer Ackerman published a threepart series detailing the backstory of the CIA’s battle with the Senate over torture. Ackerman’s stories focused on Daniel Jones, who was the lead investigator for the Senate report on CIA torture. On Saturday, we spoke to Ackerman about his work. An edited transcript of our conversation follows.

United States CIA torture report, mostly still secret


This video says about itself:

The Dark Prison: The Legacy of the CIA Torture Programme – Fault Lines

24 March 2016

“In the immediate aftermath of 9/11 we did some things that were wrong. We did a whole lot of things that were right, but we tortured some folks.”

It’s been more than a year since US President Barack Obama admitted that the CIA tortured prisoners at its interrogation centres.

While the CIA has long admitted the use of waterboarding, which simulates drowning by pouring water into a person’s nose and mouth, a truncated and heavily redacted report by the Senate Intelligence Committee in December 2015 detailed other abuses that went beyond previous disclosures.

Reading like a script from a horror film, some of the techniques involved prisoners being slapped and punched while being dragged naked up and down corridors, being kept in isolation in total darkness, subject to constant deafening music, rectal rehydration and being locked in coffin-shaped boxes.

Critical to the development of the CIA’s brutal interrogation programme was a legal memo that said the proposed methods of interrogation were not torture if they did not cause “organ failure, death or permanent damage”.

Despite failing to produce any useful information about imminent terrorist attacks, the CIA meted out these and other brutal treatments for years after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

And with dozens of people having since been released without charge, and at least a quarter of them officially declared to have been “wrongfully detained”, the effects of torture live on with the victims, burned into their minds.

In this episode of Fault Lines, we explore the plight of these men struggling to overcome their harrowing experiences of torture since leaving CIA-run black sites.

By Cristian Farias, Legal Affairs Reporter, The Huffington Post in the USA:

American Public Is Not Entitled To See Full Senate Torture Report, Court Rules

As a “congressional record,” the document is not subject to freedom-of-information laws.

05/13/2016 07:19 pm ET

An appeals court ruled on Friday that more than 6,000 pages of the so-called Senate torture report cannot be made public because they consist of congressional records that are not subject to disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act, which only covers federal agencies.

The unanimous ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in Washington made clear that records that Congress shares with federal agencies can’t be disclosed if there’s a “clear intent” by lawmakers “to control the document.”

The decision dealt a major blow to the American Civil Liberties Union, which sued the CIA and other federal agencies that saw the full report ahead of the Senate’s release of a much shorter executive summary in 2014.

The ACLU had argued that the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, then headed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), had “relinquished control” of the full report when it allowed President Barack Obama and other agencies to inspect it before the much briefer executive summary was released to the public.

But the appeals court rejected that argument, relying on a “critical” June 2009 letter Feinstein sent to the CIA that made “plain” that the Senate committee “intended to control any and all of its work product” — including the 6,963-page report that resulted from its investigation into widespread detainee abuse by the agency during the Bush administration.

The court said that the “mere transmission” of the full report to the executive branch didn’t mean the document was now discoverable under federal public-disclosure laws.

“The Committee effectively stamped its control over the Full Report when it wrote the terms of the Letter,” wrote U.S. Senior Circuit Judge Harry Edwards Friday, concluding that those terms governed the report’s lengthy process of revisions and approval by the two government branches in the years that followed.

Hina Shamsi, the ACLU lawyer who in March argued in favor of the disclosures, expressed disappointment about Friday’s ruling on Twitter and said her organization is weighing whether to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court.

Feinstein, through spokesman Tom Mentzer, sidestepped a question from The Huffington Post about whether she believes the full report remains in the Senate’s control and thus outside the public’s reach.

Instead, the senator suggested that only certain officials should be granted access to its contents.

“Now that this case is resolved, I again call on the administration to allow appropriate, cleared individuals to have full access to the study and for the National Archives to fulfill its obligation to preserve this document,” Feinstein said in a statement.

But in a December 2014 letter to the president — after the torture report’s executive summary was made public — Feinstein seemed to defer to the executive on what do to with the full report, counseling that it should allow “for use as broadly as appropriate” so that the abuse “is never repeated.”

“I hope you will encourage use of the full report in the future development of CIA training programs, as well as future guidelines and procedures for all Executive Branch employees, as you see fit,” Feinstein wrote at the time.

NEW REPORTS DETAIL CIA TORTURE The declassified transcripts contain testimony from prisoners. [NYT]

New CIA torture documents confirm chilling details of Khaled El-Masri’s ‘Kafka-esque’ ordeal: here.

Right after he took office, Barack Obama promised to do away with torture. But documents obtained by BuzzFeed News show for the first time how a harsh interrogation tactic thrived on his watch in Afghanistan. Human rights advocates said it could be inhumane and illegal: here.

 The CIA Didn’t Just Torture, It Experimented on Human Beings: here.