Drone, film on extra-judicial killing


This video says about itself:

DRONE TRAILER (Official version)

The secret CIA drone war. People living under the drones and young dronepilots coming to terms with killing through joysticks. DRONE uncovers crucial secrets of the CIA drone program, and shows how drones have changed war and possibly our future. See the documentary that inspired Homeland!

Directed by Tonje Hessen Schei and produced by Flimmer Film.

By Joanne Laurier in the USA:

Drone, a Norwegian-made documentary: “We just made orphans out of all these children”

29 January 2016

Directed by Tonje Hessen Schei

Drone, directed by Norwegian filmmaker Tonje Hessen Schei, about the illegal CIA drone program, has been screened at various documentary film festivals and played in certain theaters in North America.

The use of drones by the United States for purposes of assassinations has greatly increased over the past decade. Hessen Schei’s movie brings together opponents of this specialized killing tool, including authors, commentators, human rights attorneys and investigative journalists.

The real heart and strength of Drone lies in its interviews with two former drone operators from the US Air Force, Brandon Bryant and Michael Haas, both young men suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Bryant and Haas served in time periods that straddled the presidencies of George W. Bush and Barack Obama. One of Bryant’s entries in his diary: “On the battlefield there are no sides, just bloodshed. Total war. Every horror witnessed. I wish my eyes would rot.”

Hessen Schei presents images and stories focusing on the northwestern Pakistani province of Waziristan, a region that has been a particular target of homicidal American drone bombing.

Reprieve, the British human rights organization whose founder, Clive Stafford Smith, is interviewed in the film, points out: “To date, the United States has used drones to execute without trial some 4,700 people in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia—all countries against whom it has not declared war. The US’ drones programme is a covert war being carried out by the CIA.”

In the documentary, Chris Woods, author of Sudden Justice, further observes that “nowhere has been more bombed by the CIA than Waziristan. The first recorded CIA drone strike in Pakistan took place in 2004. The number of those strikes has accelerated.” He calls it “an industrialized killing program.”

In Waziristan, a young drone strike survivor, Zubair Ur Rehman, shyly tells the camera that “the drones circulate 24 hours a day. Two or three at a time. Always two, but often three or four. When we hear the sound of the drones, we get scared. We can’t work, play or go to school. It is only when it’s cloudy that we don’t hear the drones.”

The barbaric strikes, which have increased sharply under the Obama administration, are illegal under international and US law and amount to war crimes. In the Hessen Schei film, Pakistani photojournalist Noor Behram displays his dossier of devastating photographs of child victims of drone attacks: “Every time I sleep, I hear the cries of the children.”

Drone also deals with the attacks on the would-be rescuers of the victims of the drone strikes. This is what the American military refers to as a “double tap.” Missiles are launched, killing and injuring people. Moments later, when nearby residents race to the scene to help the wounded, another round of missiles is fired. As one analyst points out, the US government, in many cases, has no idea whom they are killing.

From Drone, children with missile pieces

Imran Khan, Chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, affirms that “when people gather round to save the injured [from a drone strike], there’s another drone attack! … You can hear the cries of the injured for hours because no one goes to help them.”

Another of the movie’s commentators emphasizes, “It’s never been easier for an American president to carry out killing operations at the ends of the earth … and when you define the world as a battlefield, it’s a very broad range of operations you can carry out.”

According to Woods: “You’ve got the president signing off on particular death lists; you have the US Air Force flying the drones; the Central Intelligence Agency responsible for the strikes; CENTCOM [United States Central Command] involved in launching and targeting of strikes; NSA [National Security Agency] providing intelligence for strikes … the entire apparatus of the United States government has been bent towards the process of targeted killings over the past decade.”

As a means of recruiting drone pilots, the military has developed “militainment”—war presented as entertainment. In the warped minds of the armed forces’ top brass, video gamers have skill sets that it values.

Former drone operator Bryant, who served as a sensor operator for the Predator program from 2007 to 2011, movingly explains that “I didn’t really understand what it meant to kill at first. … We sat in a box for nearly 12-hour shifts. … We’re the ultimate voyeurs. The ultimate Peeping Toms. No one is going to catch us. We’re getting orders to take these peoples’ lives. It was just a point and click.”

One of Drone’s interviewed experts argues the more distant the perpetrator is from the victim, the crueler the act of killing. The separation in space creates and encourages indifference. He refers to “the psychology of distance.”

Haas, who served in the US military from 2005 to 2011, participated in targeted killing runs from his computer at the Creech Air Force Base in Nevada that ended the lives of insurgents and others in Afghanistan some 8,000 miles away: “I joined when I was barely 20 years old. I did not know what I was in for. I thought it was the coolest damn thing in the world. Play video games all day and then the reality hits you that you may have to kill somebody.

“In our control room, they had a picture of the September 11 [2001] plane hitting the second [World Trade Center] building. They make you pissed off all over again just before you go do your job. ‘These guys have to die. These guys deserve to die.’ And you’ve got to make it happen.”

As opposed to the remorse felt by the former airmen, Andy Von Flotow, chairman of Insitu, which builds unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) in the state of Washington, was in on the ground floor in the development of drones. He boasts that “we started this unmanned aircraft business in the early 1990s, shortly after GPS made it possible.” His company built a small airplane with a camera on it in 1999 to help tuna fisherman. While the fishermen did not buy the planes, “George Bush took us into his adventures.” Flotow claims that “we have 25 percent of unmanned flight hours in Iraq and Afghanistan. … War is an opportunity to do business.”

One of the most intense moments in the film occurs when Bryant opens up to the filmmakers: “I didn’t really understand what it meant to kill at first. It was horrible. The first time was horrible. The second time was horrible. The third time was numbing. The fourth time was numbing. But of course the first time sticks with you the longest [he describes the procedure]. … Then I watched this man bleed out … and I imagined his last moments. I knew I had ended something I had no right to end. I swore an oath, I did what I was supposed to do. I followed through with it. … It was like an image of myself was cracking up and breaking apart.

Earlier in the film, he says: “Over the last five and one half years, 1,626 people were killed in the operations I took part in. … When I looked at that number, I was ready to put a bullet in my brain.”

Fellow drone operator Haas discloses that “you never knew who you were killing because you never actually see a face—just silhouettes and it’s easy to have that detachment and that lack of sympathy for human life. And it’s easy just to think of them as something else. They’re not really people, they’re just terrorists.” His military superiors, he remarks, “don’t have to take that shot or bear the burden—I’m the one who has to bear that burden. They don’t have to do the actions or live with the repercussions … and we just made orphans out of all these children. They don’t have to live with that. I do.”

The CIA drones program is global assassination without trial. The operations of this state-run murder machine are kept shrouded in secrecy by the Obama administration. While the outlook of the creators of Drone is not strong––essentially consisting of appeals to the United Nations and the Pakistani government––the movie provides further insight into the lawless and ruthless character of US foreign policy.

CIA torturers and accomplices still not prosecuted


This video from the USA says about itself:

How The CIA Tortured Terror Suspects In Uzbekistan

9 December 2014

The West’s Torture Farm (2005) – How the United States shipped terror suspects to Uzbekistan

Watch Torturing Democracy, Journeyman’s collected playlist on CIA torture.

It’s one of the nastiest, most repressive dictatorships in Asia but its relationship with Washington has helped it avoid censure. Just how valuable an ally is Uzbekistan in the War on Terror?

Critics of the government risk being tortured to death, there’s no freedom of speech and all opposition parties are banned. “This is not a government. It’s a monster against its own people,” laments Prof Mirsaidov. In the name of fighting Islamic terror, Uzbekistan has jailed thousands of members of Hiz-but-Tahrir. The problem is, many claim they are innocent and confessions are extracted under torture. But despite its appalling human rights record, few Western governments seem willing to criticise it. Uzbekistan is now regarded as a key ally in the War on Terror.

It allows the US to use its airbases to support operations in Afghanistan and American agents are believed to have ‘rendered’ terrorist suspects to Uzbekistan to be tortured. However, there are growing fears that siding with this repressive regime to fight terrorism is counter productive. As former British Ambassador Craig Murray states: “Our short sighted policy in Asia is creating the terrorism we claim we are fighting.”

By Tom Carter in the USA:

Report makes case for prosecuting US war criminals

5 December 2015

This week, Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued a 159-page report titled, “No More Excuses: A Roadmap to Justice for CIA Torture.” This detailed report sets forth a compelling legal case for the criminal prosecution of senior US officials for their roles as conspirators and accomplices in the illegal Central Intelligence Agency torture program (2001-2009).

The report names names: “US officials who created, authorized, and implemented the CIA program should be among those investigated for conspiracy to torture as well as other crimes. They include: Acting CIA General Counsel John Rizzo, Assistant Attorney General for Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) Jay Bybee, OLC Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo, an individual identified as ‘CTC Legal’ in the Senate Summary, CIA Director George Tenet, National Security Legal Advisor John Bellinger, Attorney General John Ashcroft, White House Counsel Legal Advisor Alberto Gonzales, Counsel to the Vice President David Addington, Deputy White House Counsel Timothy Flanigan, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Defense Department General Counsel William Haynes II, Vice President Dick Cheney, and President George W. Bush. In addition, James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, CIA psychologist contractors who devised the program, proposed it to the CIA, and helped carry it out, should also be investigated for their role in the initial conspiracy.”

“We believe there is also sufficient evidence to investigate others who were not necessarily part of the initial conspiracy but who later joined it,” the report states. “Others should not only be investigated for torture but also for offenses such as war crimes, assault, and sexual abuse.”

The report reads like a criminal indictment. It provides point-by-point highlights of the CIA program in all its depraved and sadistic detail. The report also covers the attempts by the Bush administration to provide a pseudo-legal cover for the program, as well as attempts by the Obama administration to cover it up and shield the perpetrators from liability.

The report identifies specific US officials, victims, dates, documents, and other particulars, with emphasis on the roles of the senior officials who orchestrated the program. The report brings together material from numerous sources, including the heavily redacted executive summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the CIA torture program, media reports, internal executive department memoranda, investigations by Human Rights Watch and other institutions, and even chilling hand-drawn images of the implements of torture by the victims themselves.

Entrance to CIA Black Site near Kiejkuty Village, Poland

It is difficult to find words to describe the CIA’s crimes. In November 2002, the CIA murdered Gul Rahman at the COBALT “black site” facility in Afghanistan by shackling him naked so that his body lay on a cold concrete floor. His corpse was covered in bruises and abrasions, and the cause of death was determined to be hypothermia. Rahman, who left behind a wife and four children, was likely innocent, a case of mistaken identity.

To punish hunger strikers, which were a constant problem at its various torture compounds, the CIA retaliated with a form of torture/rape that was euphemistically termed “rectal feeding.” This involved reducing a tray full of food to a puree and then injecting it into the victim’s rectum, “without evidence of medical necessity,” as the Senate report diplomatically describes it. (One imagines the guards’ scatological banter: “Oh, you don’t want to eat your lunch, do you. .. ?”)

As a result of this form of torture, Guantanamo prisoner Mustafa al-Hawsawi developed medical conditions described as an “anal fissure” and “symptomatic rectal prolapse.” In other words, he was bleeding and part of his large intestine was protruding outside his body.

The most imaginative horror film director could not conceive of the sheer lunacy of the CIA torturers, who apparently were given free rein to act on every sadistic whim. In his book Guantanamo Diary, current inmate Mohamedou Ould Slahi describes being locked in a specially prepared freezing cold room “full of pictures showing the glories of the US: weapons arsenals, planes, and pictures of George Bush… For the whole night I had to listen to the US anthem… All I can remember was the beginning, ‘Oh say can you see…’ over and over.”

Narrow windowless box with speakers on each side of victim's ears (Copyright 2012 Ben Soud)

Shackling in “stress positions” reminiscent of the medieval Inquisition, the use of insects, sexual humiliation and assault, forced nudity, female guards smearing menstrual blood on prisoners, asphyxiation, sensory deprivation, prolonged isolation, lack of sanitation, beatings, loud music, blowing cigar smoke in prisoners’ faces, sleep deprivation, mock executions, threats to rape and kill family members—the list of depravities goes on for page after page. At least one prisoner tried to kill himself by chewing into a vein on his arm.

“Many detainees were held by the CIA in pitch-dark windowless cells, chained to walls, naked or diapered, for weeks or months at a time,” the report states. “The CIA forced them into painful stress positions that made it impossible for them to lie down or sleep for days, to the point where many hallucinated or begged to be killed to end their misery. It used ‘waterboarding’ and similar techniques to cause near suffocation or drowning, crammed detainees naked into tiny boxes, and prevented them from bathing, using toilets, or cutting their hair or nails for months. ‘We looked like monsters,’ one detainee said of his appearance while in CIA custody.”

The Human Rights Watch report demonstrates the extent to which the Senate report, in all its horror, actually understates the CIA’s crimes. For example, the Senate report mentions Adnan al-Libi being tortured with sleep deprivation for “46.5 hours, 24 hours, and 48 hours, with a combined three hours of sleep between sessions.”

Small wooden box in which victims would be locked (Copyright 2012 Ben Soud)

“When Human Rights Watch interviewed al-Libi, long before the Senate Summary was released,” the report states, “he said he thought one of his sleep deprivation episodes lasted for more like 15 days, though he said he was in a windowless cell with little ability to track time with great accuracy. He also said the sleep deprivation was accomplished by forcing him to stand all those days with his hands chained above his head, feet shackled to the ground so that if his legs buckled, he would have to hang from his arms in order to try and sleep—something impossible to do. He endured this while diapered and otherwise naked. Once released from the standing sleep deprivation position and allowed to shower, al-Libi said he could not move his arms and so guards had to bathe him. ‘I was there for 15 days, hanging from my arms, another chain from the ground. They put a diaper on me but it overflowed so there was every type of stool everywhere.’ He said he had hallucinations and felt like he was going insane and was going to die.”

Other prisoners reported hearing al-Libi’s screams while he was being tortured.

The Senate report last year revealed that the CIA did not actually obtain any significant intelligence through the torture program. While this does not make the torture any more or less criminal, it constitutes what a future war crimes tribunal might call an “aggravating factor.” In other words, the CIA was more or less doing it for fun.

In addition to a concentrated synopsis of the CIA’s crimes, the Human Rights Watch report also cites an impressive battery of international legal treaties as well as domestic statutes and precedents that outlaw torture. These include the Geneva Conventions of 1949, the international Convention against Torture, and other treaties. Under American law, the torturers and their enablers could be prosecuted under the federal Torture Statute.

Human Right Watch cites a 1983 case where a ten-year sentence was handed down to a Texas sheriff for torturing six prisoners. “The method of torture was to handcuff the detainees ‘to a table or chair with the face wrapped tightly with a towel. The head would be pulled back, they said, and water would be poured over the towel until, fearing drowning, they would talk,’” (citing a New York Times report).

Wooden board for water torture (Copyright 2012 Ben Soud)

The Human Rights Watch report also refers to the precedent set by the Nuremberg prosecutions of leading Nazis after the Second World War, which “held that torture and war crimes cannot be legitimate functions of a government official.” Finally, CIA agents or US officials traveling abroad could be arrested and investigated by foreign governments for their roles in the torture program.

With all this material collected in one place and rigorously presented, the Human Rights Watch report makes an overwhelming case. It is clear that there are numerous high-level war criminals residing in the United States who deserve to be arrested, indicted, and prosecuted. These individuals committed shocking crimes, and yet the whole American political establishment has united to cover up their crimes and shield them from accountability.

Indeed, the establishment media in the US has almost completely buried this week’s Human Rights Watch report, just as it has buried the Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture, published a year ago this month. None of the presidential candidates from either of the big-business parties has made a serious demand for the prosecution of US war criminals, from Bernie Sanders to Donald Trump. Nor have they demanded the release of the full Senate report.

Indeed, Trump has openly presented himself as a proponent of “enhanced interrogation”—a term that closely resembles the euphemism “Verschärfte Vernehmung” (intensified/sharpened questioning) employed by the Gestapo. This state of affairs is made possible by the cowardice and complicity of the Democrats and the Obama administration, which have gone out of their way to coddle and shield Bush-era torturers. …

Before the Senate report was released, Obama administration Secretary of State John Kerry called Senate Intelligence Committee chair Dianne Feinstein to discourage her from publishing it. …

Nevertheless, the inclusion of the demand for prosecutions in the Human Rights Watch report is a significant event.

The recipient of a $100 million donation from George Soros in 2010, Human Rights Watch has a history of tacit support for “human rights imperialism” around the world. The organization’s dispatches from Iraq under headlines like “Help Yezidi Survivors” (which were used as justification for US military escalation), its support for the fascist-led “Maidan” coup in the Ukraine, and its declaration that the January Charlie Hebdo attacks were an attack on “freedom of expression” are all indicative of a certain role the organization plays in bourgeois politics.

In this light, the demand for prosecutions is an expression of the glaring contradictions and hypocrisy of American foreign policy, which commits the most heinous violations of human rights in the name of human rights.

There is a concern in some sections of the political establishment that the example of CIA torture, without even so much as a token prosecution, will render Washington’s claim to be the self-appointed guarantor of human rights around the world even more unbelievable than it already is. These concerns, to a certain extent, motivated the Senate Intelligence Committee’s original investigation into the program.

In this week’s report, Human Rights Watch states: “Globally, the US unwillingness to prosecute CIA torture weakens US authority to oppose torture and other abuses abroad, provides a ready excuse for countries unwilling to prevent or prosecute torture in their own countries, and undermines global respect for the rule of law.”

The socialist demand for the prosecution of US war criminals is not aimed at promoting illusions in any section of the American political establishment, the US justice system, or international judicial bodies, which have already proved themselves incapable of timely bringing US war criminals to justice. In the event that any US war criminals are ever prosecuted within the framework of bourgeois politics, it will be only to that token extent deemed necessary to placate popular anger.

The de facto immunity enjoyed by US war criminals is an expression of class justice, which is in turn a product of class society. In America, a worker can be fired, losing his livelihood and access to food and shelter, for the infraction of “stealing” $2 worth of empty pop bottles abandoned in a WalMart parking lot.

Meanwhile, torturers and mass murderers, corporate looters, financial parasites who steal billions, political perjurers, killer cops and their lying accomplices, in effect, the entire ruling class and its political agents, are free to commit crimes with impunity.

Any genuine demand for the prosecution of US war criminals must be a demand for an end to class justice and class society. The abandonment by the American ruling class of the rule of law and democratic norms is bound up with the growth of social inequality and the crisis of capitalism. Driven to pursue more and more unpopular policies to defend its privileges, the capitalist class jettisons democracy and the rule of law and turns to dictatorship.

The CIA torture program (which officially ended in 2009) did not occur in a vacuum, but took place simultaneously with the massive expansion of the coercive power of the state apparatus, the outbreak and escalation of aggressive war, the speculative frenzy preceding the financial crash of 2008, and the assault on democratic rights. The same years saw the militarization of police domestically, the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security, the introduction of massive illegal domestic surveillance programs, attacks on workers’ wages and living standards across the board, the assertion of the president’s power to jail US citizens without charges or trial, and so forth.

The breakdown of democracy and the rule of law, together with the turn to dictatorship, represents in every country the social interests and objective historical trajectory of the capitalist class. However, there remains a long tradition and historical impulse for democracy in the working class. Only the powerful intervention of the international working class, on the basis of a socialist program, will see America’s war criminals brought to justice.

INSIDE THE CIA’S PLAN TO TRICK ITS OWN EMPLOYEES “Senior CIA officials have for years intentionally deceived parts of the agency workforce by transmitting internal memos that contain false information about operations and sources overseas, according to current and former U.S. officials who said the practice is known by the term ‘eyewash.'” [WaPo]

CIA torture psychologists’ lawsuit


This video says about itself:

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

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 Nick Barrickman in the USA:

Lawsuit charges US psychologists involved in CIA torture program with war crimes

15 October 2015

A lawsuit filed on Tuesday in federal court alleges that American psychologists James Mitchell and John “Bruce” Jessen collaborated with the CIA in devising “enhanced interrogation techniques” that were later used by US personnel in Guantanamo Bay, Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, Abu Ghraib in Iraq and unlisted US black sites. The charges were filed by victims of the US torture program and the ACLU, and declare that the two doctors engaged in a “joint criminal enterprise” with the US government, constituting “torture, cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment; non-consensual human experimentation; and war crimes, all of which violate well-established norms of customary international law.”

The lawsuit was filed by Suleiman Abdullah Salim and Mohamed Ahmed Ben Soud, Tanzanian and Libyan nationals who were subjected to CIA torture methods, as well as by Obaid Ullah, a representative of the family of Gul Rahman, who was killed while under interrogation in 2002. The lawsuit alleges that Mitchell and Jessen “designed, implemented, and personally administered an experimental torture program for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency” while working with the agency.

Mitchell and Jessen were tapped by representatives of the Bush administration in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks to devise interrogation methods intended to break the willful resistance of Al Qaeda suspects in US custody. According to the lawsuit, the two CIA collaborators “proposed a pseudoscientific theory of countering resistance” based on 1960s experiments in which doctors subjected animals to “uncontrollable pain” in an effort to instill a state of “learned helplessness” in their victims, the latter eventually submitting passively to the will of their captors. These methods were first carried out on Abu Zabaydah, a suspected Al Qaeda militant captured in March of 2002.

Victims of the program were subjected to “solitary confinement; extreme darkness, cold, and noise; repeated beatings; starvation; excruciatingly painful stress positions; prolonged sleep deprivation; confinement in coffin-like boxes; and water torture” in CIA black sites under the supervision of Mitchell and Jessen, which resulted in “lasting psychological and physical damage,” the lawsuit alleges. The family of Rahman, the latter having died of such abuse, was never notified of his death or given his body so they could perform a burial, the lawsuit notes.

Although the CIA has officially admitted to having waterboarded only three individuals—Abdul al-Rahim al-Nashiri, Abu Zubaydah and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed—the charges detail torture methods and abuse which can essentially be described as the same thing. Ben Soud, held by the CIA in a number of US prison black sites in Afghanistan and Libya from 2003 to 2011, was repeatedly “strapped to a wooden board that could spin around 360 degrees… with a hood over his head covering his nose and mouth. While strapped to the board with his head lower than his feet, his interrogators poured buckets of cold water [over] him” while threatening to drown him.

“You can’t sleep, you can’t eat, you can’t smell,” says Salim of his ordeal, in a video interview published on the ACLU website, adding, “Flashbacks come anytime, so much they make you crazy.”

Jessen and Mitchell’s methods first became public knowledge with the exposure of photographs depicting torture at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq in 2004, controlled by the US military in the wake of the invasion of that country in 2003. At the time, the scandal forced the US government to place a moratorium on the practices, only later continuing them when the American Psychological Association, in consultation with the Bush administration, stepped in to provide the program a veneer of legality so that it could continue unhindered.

During 2005, the two formed Mitchell and Jessen Associates, a company providing “operational psychologists, debriefers, and security personnel at CIA detention sites,” allowing them to draw $81 million from the federal government throughout the life of their contract. While President Barack Obama officially ended the program upon coming to office in 2008 [sic; 2009], the US government continued to pay millions of dollars in legal fees for Mitchell and Jessen until 2012.

Despite the severity of the charges brought forth, the lawsuit only demands payment for legal costs, punitive and exemplary damages of an amount “to be proven” and compensation payments totaling $75,000 each.

“This case is about ensuring that the people behind the torture program are held accountable so history doesn’t repeat itself,” said ACLU attorney Steven Watt of the lawsuit, adding, “Impunity for torture sends the dangerous message to US and foreign officials that there will be no consequences for future abuses.” Such language implies that acting and former members of the Bush and Obama administrations could be held liable for similar charges in the future.

The lawsuit is based largely on findings of the US Senate Select Intelligence Committee’s report on the CIA torture program, released in late 2014, and represents the first and thus far only lawsuit to be brought against collaborators in the US torture program based upon documented government evidence. While initially reacting with outrage to the highly redacted revelations of US criminality, the US political establishment has halted any public discussion of the highly explosive content of the Senate report. Less than a year after its release, no one, including members of the Senate committee itself, is seeking to revisit the subject.

The author also recommends:

The CIA torture report and the crisis of legitimacy in the United States
[08 December 2014]

What is in the Senate Intelligence Committee Report on CIA torture
[16 December 2014]

American Psychological Association played critical role in CIA torture program
[01 May 2015]

Ex-CIA boss Petraeus wants cooperation with Al Qaeda


This video says about itself:

Syria Christian village Maaloula Raided by Al Nusra rebels

7 September 2013

Heavy fighting between rebels and regime forces continues in Syria’s predominately Christian village of Maaloula, which was earlier partially destroyed by Al-Qaeda affiliated rebels. …

Maaloula — a mountain village of 2,000 residents, 60km northeast of Damascus – is home to some of the most ancient Orthodox Christian relics and is a major pilgrimage destination. It’s also one of the very few places in the world where people still speak Aramaic, a biblical-era language that Jesus is believed to have spoken.

By Bill Van Auken in the USA:

General Petraeus calls for recruiting Al Qaeda

16 September 2015

Last week, US officials once again marked the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington with solemn speeches vowing a never-ending war on terrorism. President Barack Obama spoke to US troops at Fort Meade, Maryland about “significant threats coming from terrorist organizations and a terrorist ideology,” while US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter vowed at a Pentagon ceremony that “terrorists will not escape the long arm and the hard fist of American justice.”

Alongside this official 9/11 rhetoric, which grows more hollow with every passing year, a different discussion is taking place within the ruling political establishment and the military and intelligence apparatus. It centers on a proposal that Washington recruit factions of Al Qaeda—the group blamed for the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 14 years ago—as its proxy troops in a simultaneous war against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad.

The point man for this scheme is David Petraeus, the retired four-star Army general who served as the director of the Central Intelligence Agency after postings as the US military commander in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

The attention given to Petraeus’ proposal is indicative of the continuing influence that he wields within US ruling circles, despite his sacking as CIA director over illegally passing binders filled with highly classified information to his biographer and mistress, Paula Broadwell. He received only a misdemeanor conviction and a sentence of a $100,000 fine and two years probation for essentially the same offense for which Chelsea Manning was sentenced to 35 years in a military prison. Manning leaked information documenting war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq in which Petraeus himself was among those most directly responsible.

In recent weeks, Petraeus has confirmed the thrust of a story that first appeared on the DailyBeast web site, which quoted unnamed sources in Washington to the effect that the retired general “has been quietly urging U.S. officials to consider using so-called moderate members of al Qaeda’s Al Nusra Front to fight ISIS in Syria.”

Petraeus told CNN: “… it might be possible at some point to peel off so-called ‘reconcilables’ who would be willing to renounce Nusra and align with the moderate opposition (supported by the US and the coalition) to fight against Nusra, ISIL, and Assad.”

In promoting his plan, Petraeus boasts about the supposed “success” of his “surge” policy in Iraq, which included the “peeling off” of Sunni elements that had fought against the US occupation, intimidating and bribing them into forming the “Sons of Iraq” militias to combat Al Qaeda in Iraq. In reality, the “Sons of Iraq” quickly disappeared after the US withdrew the bulk of its troops and with the relentless growth of sectarian tensions first fostered by the US occupation’s divide-and-conquer strategy. Today, many of those who comprised the “Sons of Iraq” are part of ISIS.

Some media liberals have feigned shock at Petraeus’ proposal to harness Al Qaeda to the US war wagon in Syria. In reality, the plan is fully in line with policies pursued both before and after 9/11 of using armed Islamist factions to advance US imperialist interests in the Middle East.

Al Qaeda itself was the product of the CIA-orchestrated war waged by the so-called mujahideen against the Soviet-backed government of Afghanistan that plunged that country into decades of war, costing millions of lives. Osama bin Laden worked closely with the CIA and its Pakistani and Saudi intelligence counterparts.

Well before that, US policy in the region was pursued through the support of Islamist elements as a counterweight to radical nationalist and socialist movements in the Arab world. Washington covertly funded and mobilized right-wing Islamists as a crucial component of the CIA-backed 1953 coup that toppled the Mossadegh government, which had nationalized Western oil interests in Iran, ushering in the Shah’s 25-year dictatorship. In Egypt, it secretly supported the Muslim Brotherhood against the government of Col. Abdel Nasser, during the period when it nationalized the Suez Canal.

More recently, the Obama administration relied upon Islamist militias, including elements who had previously been targeted by Washington for their affiliation to Al Qaeda, as proxy ground troops in the 2011 US-NATO air war to topple the secular government of Muammar Gaddafi in Libya.

Fresh from its “success” in murdering Gaddafi, destroying Libya’s government and plunging the country into bloody chaos that continues to this day, the White House and the CIA embarked on a similar venture in Syria, relying on similar elements.

Under the guiding hand of the CIA, Washington’s key regional allies—Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar—funneled billions of dollars worth of arms and aid into the Al-Nusra Front, ISIS and other Islamist militias, which have, from the beginning, served as the main fighting force in the Western-backed war for regime change in Syria.

With the rise of ISIS and its offensive last year that routed the US-trained and armed security forces in Iraq, the policy of aggression and subversion pursued by the Obama administration in the region produced a debacle. Billions of dollars more worth of US weaponry fell into the hands of ISIS from the fleeing Iraqi troops.

The proposed turn to the Al-Nusra Front is a tacit admission that the so-called “moderate opposition,” touted for years by US officials, does not exist on the ground in Syria. The Pentagon’s abortive attempt to arm and train “vetted” rebels has proven an unmitigated fiasco, with the handful sent back into Syria being routed and captured by Al-Nusra, to which they swore fealty. The only indigenous force that has effectively resisted ISIS, the Kurdish militias, have themselves become the principal target of Washington’s main ally in the so-called war against ISIS, Turkey, which is concentrating its firepower on destroying them.

Petraeus is not alone in advocating a turn to Al Qaeda-linked elements to do Washington’s dirty work in Syria. Robert S. Ford, the US ambassador to Syria from 2011 to 2014, drafted an article for Middle East Institute this summer calling for Washington to make an approach to Ahrar al-Sham (Free Men of the Levant) another Islamist militia with its roots in Al Qaeda.

Ford acknowledges that Ahrar al-Sham advocates “an Islamic state in Syria” and a “Sunni theocracy,” but claims that it has “ideological and political differences” with Al-Nusra and Al Qaeda. He admits that its record is “problematic,” with its fighters massacring Alawi civilians and desecrating Christian sites, but points in their defense to a propaganda video showing “its fighters visiting priests.”

Ahrar al-Sham’s founders include Abu Khalid al Suri, who was designated as Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri’s representative in the Levant, and Abu Hafs al Masri, an Egyptian, who was a military commander and trainer for Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. Both have been killed in the last year fighting with the militia.

The call by key men of the state like Petraeus and Ford for a more explicit turn to Al Qaeda-linked forces in Syria only underscores the complete fraud of the “war on terrorism.” It likewise points to the real aims of US imperialism in its current war in Iraq and Syria. Washington is fighting neither against terrorism nor for “democracy” and “human rights.” It is prosecuting another predatory war of aggression aimed at securing a US stranglehold over the Middle East and its vast energy reserves and thereby preparing for even more catastrophic conflicts with Iran, Russia and China.

US has trained only ‘four or five’ Syrian fighters against Isis, top general testifies. Senators appear incredulous and call for a new plan after hearing news that US military’s $500m effort has resulted in training of only a handful of fighters: here.

GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS MAY BE DEMOTED “The Pentagon is considering retroactively demoting retired Gen. David Petraeus after he admitted to giving classified information to his biographer and mistress while he was still in uniform, three people with knowledge of the matter told The Daily Beast.” [Daily Beast]

United States psychologists’ convention bans participation in torture


This video, recorded in Canada, says about itself:

Anti-Torture Psychologists Celebrate New APA Interrogation Ban

7 August 2015

Steven Reisner and Stephen Soldz, two founders of the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology, speak to Amy Goodman in Toronto moments after the American Psychological Association approved a ban on psychologists from taking part in national security interrogations. See full coverage here.

By Tom Carter in the USA:

US psychologists’ convention bans participation in torture

10 August 2015

On Friday, the American Psychological Association overwhelmingly adopted a resolution banning participation by psychologists in national security interrogations, in the face of accusations that the proposed ban on torture was “anti-government” and “anti-military.”

The resolution states that “psychologists shall not conduct, supervise, be in the presence of, or otherwise assist any national security interrogations for any military or intelligence entities, including private contractors working on their behalf, nor advise on conditions of confinement insofar as these might facilitate such an interrogation.”

The resolution was adopted at a convention in Toronto by a vote of 156 council members to one, with seven abstentions and one recusal. Following the successful vote, participants and a crowd of observers rose for a defiant standing ovation. Some wore T-shirts that read, “First, do no harm,” referring to the fundamental concept in medical ethics.

The American Psychological Association is a scientific and professional organization embracing 122,500 professionals. Full membership in the organization requires a doctoral degree.

According to an APA press release, “The new policy does allow for psychologist involvement in general policy consultation regarding humane interrogations. The prohibition does not apply to domestic law enforcement interrogations or domestic detention settings where detainees are under the protection of the U.S. Constitution.”

The vote follows the release of a 542-page independent report last month implicating the APA in the CIA torture program, which was prepared by a team of lawyers led by former federal prosecutor David Hoffman. The Hoffman report, commissioned by the APA, exposed a conspiracy at the top levels of the APA, in collusion with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Department of Defense (DOD), to facilitate the involvement of psychologists in the CIA torture program and later to shield the perpetrators from accountability.

The CIA torture program was the subject of a devastating Senate Intelligence Committee report in December of last year, which shamefully continues to be ignored by the establishment media in the US. The Senate report painted a picture of systematic and shocking brutality, infamously including “rectal feeding” and other practices, with the active oversight of the highest levels of the state. The Senate report found that numerous medical professionals had been accomplices or direct participants in torture, including doctors, nurses and psychologists.

In the period leading up to the APA’s annual conference last week, dissident psychologists opposed to torture were targeted for browbeating and intimidation. Tony Williams, president of the APA’s Society for Military Psychology, characterized the ban on torture that was passed Friday as a “politically motivated, anti-government and anti-military stance.” He went on to criticize the Hoffman report as serving “an effort to advance an unspoken political agenda.”

In the face of such efforts, the nearly unanimous vote is certainly a welcome repudiation of the criminal torture practices of the American government that were implemented as part of the “war on terror.” The vote vindicates the efforts of those dissident psychologists who have campaigned for years against torture.

At the same time, it is certainly an indication of the present crisis of American society that a vote was even necessary at all. Torture has been clearly illegal for decades, under both international and domestic law.

The involvement of medical professionals in torture is unambiguously prohibited by the Nuremberg Code, which resulted from the trials of Nazi doctors in the aftermath of the Second World War. (See The American Psychological Association, torture and the Nuremberg doctors’ trial.) Under the Nuremberg Code, medical professionals require the voluntary informed consent of their patients, and they are required to minimize harm.

The vote Friday paves the way for ethical complaints to be initiated against the psychologists involved in the CIA torture program, the loss of their licenses, and even prosecutions.

While those psychologists who participated in torture should certainly be held accountable, holding them accountable raises the question of all other civilian, military and intelligence officials and personnel who participated in torture. What about the top officials in the Bush and Obama administrations that orchestrated the program, lied about it, and tried to conceal it?

To date, the Obama administration has consistently refused to hold anyone involved in the criminal torture program accountable, invoking the slogan “looking forward, not backward.” The APA vote on Friday is a reminder that war criminals and torturers remain at large, who have yet to be brought to justice.

Retired Army Colonel Larry James cast the one dissenting vote on Friday. James served as Guantanamo’s chief psychologist in 2003 and as the director of the Abu Ghraib “behavioral science unit” in 2004.

At both Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib, according to the Center for Torture Accountability, “James headed teams of ‘mental health’ professionals charged with destroying the mental health of detainees, on the theory that psychologically broken men would provide interrogators with more information.”

James claims that his role was to ensure that the detainees were treated ethically, but the Center indicates that his real function was “to maximize their psychological pain.”

“On his watch, prisoners were threatened with rape and murder, sexually humiliated, left naked in cold cells, chained into uncomfortable ‘stress positions’ for hours on end, and deprived of sleep and human contact, among other psychological regimens,” the Center notes.

In 2008, James became dean of the School of Professional Psychology at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. In 2009, he served as president of the American Board of Health Psychology. From 2009 to 2010, he served as president elect of the APA’s Division of Military Psychology.

In 2010, James announced that he had been appointed to a task force headed by Michelle Obama called, “Enhancing the Psychological Well-Being of The Military Family.” In a press release, James emphatically agreed with the Obama administration’s policy of “turning the page” on torture—that is, the policy of zero accountability for torturers and their accomplices.

See also here.

CIA Romanian torture prison discovered, 2011


This video says about itself:

AP Exclusive: Inside Romania’s Secret CIA Prison

7 December 2011

For years, the CIA used a government building in Bucharest, Romania as a makeshift prison for its most valuable detainees.

From Associated Press, 8 December 2011:

Inside Romania’s secret CIA prison

WASHINGTON: In northern Bucharest, in a busy residential neighbourhood minutes from the heart of the capital city, is a secret the Romanian government has long tried to protect.

For years, the CIA used a government building — codenamed “Bright Light” — as a makeshift prison for its most valuable detainees. There it held Al-Qaeda operatives Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of 9/11, and others in a basement prison before they were ultimately transferred to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in 2006, according to former US intelligence officials familiar with the location and inner workings of the prison.

The existence of a CIA prison in Romania has been widely reported, but its location has never been made public. The Associated Press and German public television ARD located the former prison and learned details of the facility where harsh interrogation tactics were used. ARD’s program on the CIA prison is set to air Thursday.

The Romanian prison was part of a network of so-called black sites that the CIA operated and controlled overseas in Thailand, Lithuania and Poland. …

Unlike the CIA’s facility in Lithuania’s countryside or the one hidden in a Polish military installation, the CIA’s prison in Romania was not in a remote location. It was hidden in plain sight, a couple blocks off a major boulevard on a street lined with trees and homes, along busy train tracks.

The building is used as the National Registry Office for Classified Information, which is also known as ORNISS. Classified information from Nato and the European Union is stored there. Former intelligence officials both described the location of the prison and identified pictures of the building.

In an interview at the building in November, senior ORNISS official Adrian Camarasan said the basement is one of the most secure rooms in all of Romania. But he said Americans never ran a prison there.

“No, no. Impossible, impossible,” he said in an ARD interview for its “Panorama” news broadcast, as a security official monitored the interview.

The CIA prison opened for business in the fall of 2003, after the CIA decided to empty the black site in Poland, according to former US officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to discuss the detention program with reporters.

Shuttling detainees into the facility without being seen was relatively easy. After flying into Bucharest, the detainees were brought to the site in vans. CIA operatives then drove down a side road and entered the compound through a rear gate that led to the actual prison.

The detainees could then be unloaded and whisked into the ground floor of the prison and into the basement.

The basement consisted of six prefabricated cells, each with a clock and arrow pointing to Makkah, the officials said. The cells were on springs, keeping them slightly off balance and causing disorientation among some detainees.

The CIA declined to comment on the prison.

During the first month of their detention, the detainees endured sleep deprivation and were doused with water, slapped or forced to stand in painful positions, several former officials said. Waterboarding, the notorious interrogation technique that simulates drowning, was not performed in Romania, they said.

Former US officials said that because the building was a government installation, it provided excellent cover. The prison didn’t need heavy security because area residents knew it was owned by the government. People wouldn’t be inclined to snoop in post-communist Romania, with its extensive security apparatus known for spying on the country’s own citizens.

Human rights activists have urged the Eastern European countries to investigate the roles their governments played in hosting the prisons in which interrogation techniques such as waterboarding were used. Officials from these countries continue to deny these prisons ever existed.

“We know of the criticism, but we have no knowledge of this subject,” Romanian President Traian Basescu said in a September interview with AP.

The CIA has tried to close the book on the detention program, which President Barack Obama ended shortly after taking office.

“That controversy has largely subsided,” the CIA’s top lawyer, Stephen Preston, said at a conference this month.

But details of the prison network continue to trickle out through investigations by international bodies, reporters and human rights groups. “There have been years of official denials,” said Dick Marty, a Swiss lawmaker who led an investigation into the CIA secret prisons for the Council of Europe. “We are at last beginning to learn what really happened in Bucharest.”

During the Council of Europe’s investigation, Romania’s foreign affairs minister assured investigators in a written report that, “No public official or other person acting in an official capacity has been involved in the unacknowledged deprivation of any individual, or transport of any individual while so deprived of their liberty.” That report also described several other government investigations into reports of a secret CIA prison in Romania and said: “No such activities took place on Romanian territory.”

Reporters and human rights investigators have previously used flight records to tie Romania to the secret prison program. Flight records for a Boeing 737 known to be used by the CIA showed a flight from Poland to Bucharest in September 2003. …

Later, other detainees — Ramzi Binalshibh, Abd al-Nashiri and Abu Faraj al-Libi — were also moved to Romania. …

Court documents recently discovered in a lawsuit have also added to the body of evidence pointing to a CIA prison in Romania. The files show CIA contractor Richmor Aviation Inc., a New York-based charter company, operated flights to and from Romania along with other locations including Morocco and the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay.

For the CIA officers working at the secret prison, the assignment wasn’t glamorous. The officers served 90-day tours, slept on the compound and ate their meals there, too. Officers were prevented from the leaving the base after their presence in the neighbourhood stoked suspicion. One former officer complained that the CIA spent most of its time baby-sitting detainees like Binalshibh and Mohammed whose intelligence value diminished as the years passed.

The Romanian and Lithuanian sites were eventually closed in the first half of 2006 before CIA Director Porter Goss left the job. Some of the detainees were taken to Kabul, where the CIA could legally hold them before they were sent to Guantanamo. Others were sent back to their native countries.

The detailed and engrossing 2008 book, The Mighty Wurlitzer: How the CIA Played America, by Hugh Wilford investigates the CIA’s ideological struggle from 1947 to 1967 to win “hearts and minds” for US capitalism and to prosecute the Cold War: here.

British government used civilians as chemical, biological warfare ‘guinea pigs’


This video says about itself:

National GeographicCIA Secret Experiments (Documentary)

26 June 2013

It’s the height of the Cold War and the United States government is desperate to combat the spread of communism. The CIA launches a highly classified, top secret research program into the covert use of biological and chemical agents. In simulated attacks on enemy populations, entire cities in America are contaminated with bacteria, exposing millions of Americans to germ warfare.

British protesters demand an end to germ warfare in 1963 at Porton Down (photo: Getty)

From daily The Independent in Britain:

How the British Government subjected thousands of people to chemical and biological warfare trials during Cold War

Exclusive: Historians had previously thought that such operations were much less extensive

David Keys, Archaeology correspondent

Thursday 09 July 2015

During the Cold War, the British Government used the general public as unwitting biological and chemical warfare guinea pigs on a much greater scale than previously thought, according to new historical research.

In more than 750 secret operations, hundreds of thousands of ordinary Britons were subjected to ‘mock’ biological and chemical warfare attacks launched from aircraft, ships and road vehicles.

Up until now historians had thought that such operations had been much less extensive. The new research, carried out by Ulf Schmidt, Professor of Modern History at the University of Kent, has revealed that British military aircraft dropped thousands of kilos of a chemical of ‘largely unknown toxic potential’ on British civilian populations in and around Salisbury in Wiltshire, Cardington in Bedfordshire and Norwich in Norfolk.

Substantial quantities were also dispersed across parts of the English Channel and the North Sea. It’s not known the extent to which coastal towns in England and France were affected.

The research reveals, for the first time, that around 4600 kilos of the chemical, zinc cadmium sulphide (now thought to be potentially carcinogenic, on account of its cadmium content) were dispersed from ships, aircraft and moving lorries between 1953 and 1964.

Professor Schmidt’s investigation – published on 9 July as a book, Secret Science – has revealed that commuters on the London underground were also used as guinea pigs on a substantially larger scale than previously thought.

The new research has discovered that a hitherto unknown biological warfare field trial was carried out in the capital’s tube system in May 1964.

The secret operation – carried out by scientists from the government’s chemical and biological warfare research centre at Porton Down, Wiltshire – involved the release of large quantities of bacteria called Bacillus globigii. The scientists were keen to discover whether ‘long distance travel of aerosols’ in the tube network ‘was due to transportation within trains’ or through the tube’s air ventilation systems.

At the time, the government thought that Bacillus globigii bacteria were harmless – but they are today regarded as a cause of food poisoning, eye infections, and even septicaemia. It is not known whether the authorities attempted to properly test the bacterium before releasing it into the tube system. An earlier series of tube field trials, in July 1963, has been known to historians for many years.

However, the new research has now revealed that some of the British scientists involved had grave misgivings about the field trials that had been carried out. Indeed some had long felt that it was not politically advisable to conduct large-scale trials in Britain with live bacterial agents.

One particular test – involving live plague bacteria – was carried out off the west coast of Scotland in 1952. It’s long been known that a fishing vessel inadvertently passed through the cloud of bacteria and that the authorities were very worried that the fishermen might contract the disease.

The plague bacteria field trials, though at sea, took place only a few miles from the Isle of Lewis which had a population of several thousand.

The government scientists, carrying out the trials, banked on the fact that the prevailing wind normally blew away from the coast. If, however, the wind had changed direction, thousands of Hebrideans would have been at risk from plague infection, says Professor Schmidt.

Following the fishing vessel incident, the scientists were eager to carry out any further potentially very hazardous field trials outside the UK. Prime Minister Churchill therefore approved a plan to carry out tests in a British overseas territory, the Bahamas.

New research shows that the government scientists took the view that the Bahamas was the best place “on the surface of the globe” to carry out tests “without restrictions”.

In 1954, the British government sent Cold War biological warfare scientists to an area of sea near an uninhabited island in the Bahamas to release clouds of dangerous Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis viruses. These organisms were capable of causing, in humans, high fever, long term fatigue, headaches and occasionally death.

The new research reveals, for the first time, that in another British imperial possession, Nigeria, a location was found for chemical warfare field trials. In an area called Obanaghoro in southern Nigeria, four British Cold War scientific missions spent a total of around 15 months dispersing, and assessing the effects of, large quantities of experimental nerve gas weapons. The advantage of the location was that it permitted field trials to be carried out in a tropical environment – and, of course, that it was not in Britain or Australia.

The extent that local people (including locally employed field trial personnel) were affected by the nerve agents is not known.

Historians have so far been unable to find out who did the particularly hazardous work of ‘hand-charging’ the nerve agent artillery shells, mortar bombs and aircraft cluster bombs. Likewise they have not been able to discover the extent to which local Nigerian soils were contaminated or whether nearby villages and schools were affected by any of the toxic clouds that would have been blown across the countryside.

“The government records I’ve been looking at are conspicuously silent on all this,” said Ulf Schmidt.

“Officials had clearly good reasons as to why the kind of experiments undertaken in Nigeria were strictly prohibited on the British mainland, which is why the files and photographic records surrounding Britain’s post-war nerve agent testing in Africa were regarded as particularly sensitive,” he said.

Professor Schmidt’s research has also revealed the vast scale of Cold War chemical warfare tests carried out on ‘volunteer’ British service personnel here in the UK – involving numbers of people much greater than previously thought.

His investigation now suggests that up to 30,000 secret chemical warfare substance experiments were carried out, mainly at Porton Down, on more than 14,000 British soldiers between 1945 and 1989. He believes that, in most cases, the servicemen were not given sufficient information to allow them to give properly informed consent.

Ulf Schmidt’s book, Secret Science, is published today on 9 July, by Oxford University Press.

Spreading diseases: ‘Harmless’ proxies

Zinc Cadmium Sulfide ultra-fine particles. This inorganic compound was used by Cold War scientists in the UK and the US as a supposedly harmless proxy to simulate the behaviour, in the lower atmosphere and on the ground, of biological warfare substances. However it is still not known whether particles of ZCS that may have become embedded in people’s lungs for decades could ultimately cause disease.

Bacillus globigii. This bacterium was used as a supposedly harmless proxy to simulate the behaviour, in terms of dispersal and penetration, of biological warfare aerosols. Although not considered harmful when it was used in Cold War field trials, it is now known to be capable of causing fevers, food poisoning (occasionally resulting in death), peritonitis and septicaemia.

Pasteurella pestis (now known as Yersina pestis). Clouds of this highly infections bacterium were dispersed only over areas of sea – but nevertheless very near to Lewis, a Scottish Island with thousands of inhabitants. In order not to infect the islands, it appears that the scientists relied entirely on the wind not changing direction and speed. This bacterium is the one that has caused plague epidemics worldwide in the past (including those of the medieval world’s Black Death).

Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis. Clouds of this virus were dispersed over an area of sea close to an uninhabited island in the Bahamas. The virus debilitates or kills horses and donkeys and can also cause severe fever and even death in humans. Mosquitos spread the virus further by biting equines.

G-series nerve agents. Clouds of this chemical warfare weapon were dispersed during field trials in a small part of southern Nigeria, some miles north of the town of Warri. G-series nerve agents were first developed by the Nazis before and during World War Two. The group includes substances like sarin and attacks the human nervous system, causing loss of bodily function and normally death. Survivors are likely to suffer long-term neurological damage and psychiatric disorders.