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.

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.

‘CIA helped apartheid regime arrest Nelson Mandela’, ex-CIA man admits


This video from the USA says about itself:

“One of Our Greatest Coups”: The CIA & the Capture of Nelson Mandela

13 December 2013

As South Africa prepares to hold a state funeral for Nelson Mandela, we look at how the CIA helped the South African track down and capture Nelson Mandela in 1962. In 1990, the Cox News Service quoted a former U.S. official saying that within hours after Mandela‘s arrest a senior CIA operative named Paul Eckel admitted the agency’s involvement.

Eckel was reported as having told the official, “We have turned Mandela over to the South African security branch. We gave them every detail, what he would be wearing, the time of day, just where he would be. They have picked him up. It is one of our greatest coups.”

Several news outlets have reported the actual source of the tip that led to the arrest of Mandela was a CIA official named Donald Rickard. On Thursday, Democracy Now! attempted to reach Rickard at his home in Colorado. On two occasions, a man who picked up the phone hung up when we asked to speak with Donald Rickard.

The activist group RootsAction has launched a campaign to urge the CIA to open its files on Mandela and South Africa and the media watchdog group Fairness in Accuracy in Reporting has questioned why corporate media outlets have largely ignored the story. We speak to journalist Andrew Cockburn who first reported on the CIA link to Mandela’s arrest in 1986 in the New York Times.

From Slate.com in the USA:

Former U.S. Spy Says CIA Played Key Role in Nelson Mandela’s Arrest

By Daniel Politi

May 15 2016 11:51 AM

A former CIA spy said he played a key role in getting Nelson Mandela arrested in 1962, which led to a 27-year imprisonment. Donald Rickard, who was working as the U.S. vice consul in Durban at the time, said he was the one who provided the tip about Mandela’s whereabouts on that fateful day, according to the Sunday Times.

So, Rupert Murdoch‘s far Right Sunday Times (for readers who only believe right-wing media).

Rickard gave the explosive declaration mere weeks before his March 30 death to British film director John Irvin. The former spy had no apparent qualms about what he did because Mandela was “the world’s most dangerous communist outside of the Soviet Union.”

Rickard claims he found out that Mandela would be traveling from Durban to Johannesburg and told police authorities so they could set up a roadblock. When Mandela’s car was stopped, agents immediately recognized the most wanted man in the country and took him into custody. “I found out when he was coming down and how he was coming … that’s where I was involved and that’s where Mandela was caught,” Rickard said. The former agent didn’t reveal how he received the information but said he firmly believed Mandela was “completely under the control of the Soviet Union, a toy of the communists.”

The interview appears to confirm suspicions that the CIA was tracking Mandela, according to the BBC. The report is likely to increase pressure on the U.S. intelligence agency to release documents that could help clarify its role in Mandela’s arrest.

Mandela’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) party was quick to react to the news, saying it puts in evidence a pattern of Washington involvement in the country’s politics. “That revelation confirms what we have always known, that they are working against [us], even today,” ANC spokesman Zizi Kodwa said. “It’s not thumb sucked, it’s not a conspiracy [theory]. It is now confirmed that it did not only start now, there is a pattern in history.”

When the 88-year-old Rickard spoke to Irving two weeks before his death he contradicted statements he had made in the past when he vehemently denied any involvement in Mandela’s arrest. In 2012, the Wall Street Journal wrote about the “mystery” of Mandela’s detention and noted reports “about a junior U.S. diplomat at the Durban consulate who allegedly boasted at a party of steering the police to Mr. Mandela.” Rickard denied everything. “That story has been floating around for a while,” he told the paper over the phone. “It’s untrue. There’s no substance to it.”