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.

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[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.

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.

United States Senate against some, not all, torture

This video from the USA says about itself:

Horrific Depths Of CIA Torture Exposed

3 June 2015

Newly cleared documents reveal that the CIA’s torture techniques have been more sadistic, more brutal than the 2014 Senate report revealed. Today we’re going to be talking about one particular detainee Majid Khan, a man who was originally arrested by Pakistani police in Karachi back in 2003.

Cenk Uygur (The Young Turks) and John Iadarola (Think Tank) break it down. Are techniques like this ever justifiable? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Read more here.

The CIA’s use of torture was far more “brutal and sadistic” than was disclosed in last year’s controversial US Senate report into the agency’s interrogation techniques, according to new information from a Guantanamo Bay detainee.

The newly declassified accounts of the torture of Majid Khan, a so-called “high value detainee”, describe in graphic detail how he was sexually assaulted, hung from a beam for several days without a break and half-drowned in tubs of freezing water.

The descriptions are contained in 27 pages of notes from interviews between Mr Khan and his legal team that were cleared for release by the US government on Tuesday.”

By James Tweedie:

United States: Senators vote for partial ban on torture

Thursday 18th June 2015

‘Cruel’ interrogation methods still authorised

THE US Senate voted on Tuesday to ban some forms of torture including waterboarding, rectal feeding, mock executions, hooding prisoners and sexual humiliation.

An amendment to a defence Bill was introduced by Republican Senator John McCain and Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein and passed by 78 votes to 21.

It makes the US Army Field Manual on Interrogations the standard for all branches of the US government and grants the International Committee of the Red Cross access to detainees.

However, the army manual allows interrogation methods such as stress positions and sleep deprivation, which a group of doctors called “cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment” in a 2013 letter to the government.

Ms Feinstein said the amendment was needed in case the current presidential executive order banning torture was lifted by a future president.

“Whatever one may think of the CIA’s former detention and interrogation programme, we should all agree that there should be no turning back to the era of torture,” she said.

Torture methods “corrode our moral standing, and ultimately they undermine any counterterrorism policies they are intended to support,” she added.

Mr McCain claims to have been tortured as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, though this is denied by his captors and those who treated his injuries.

“I know from personal experience that abuse of prisoners does not provide good, reliable intelligence,” he said.

“I firmly believe that all people, even captured enemies, are protected by basic human rights.

“Our enemies act without conscience. We must not.

“We must continue to insist that the methods we employ in this fight for peace and freedom must always, always, be as right and honourable as the goals and ideals we fight for.”

Since the beginning of the “war on terror” in 2001, US military forces and intelligence agencies have allegedly tortured both prisoners of war and civilian terrorism suspects at numerous extra–judicial prisons and “black sites,” including Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and Bagram air base in Afghanistan.

The amended defence authorisation Bill must now be approved by the House of Representatives, the lower house of Congress.

CIA experiments on human beings, new information

This video about nazi Germany says about itself:

Mengele’s Human Experimentation | Nazi Hunters

7 January 2014

Joseph Mengele performed unthinkable experiments on his human subjects.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

CIA torture appears to have broken spy agency rule on human experimentation

Exclusive: Watchdogs shocked at ‘disconnect’ between doctors who oversaw interrogation and guidelines that gave CIA director power over medical ethics

Read the document: ‘Human experimentation’ and the CIA

Spencer Ackerman

Monday 15 June 2015 12.33 BST

The Central Intelligence Agency had explicit guidelines for “human experimentation” – before, during and after its post-9/11 torture of terrorism detainees – that raise new questions about the limits on the agency’s in-house and contracted medical research.

Sections of a previously classified CIA document, made public by the Guardian on Monday, empower the agency’s director to “approve, modify, or disapprove all proposals pertaining to human subject research”. The leeway provides the director, who has never in the agency’s history been a medical doctor, with significant influence over limitations the US government sets to preserve safe, humane and ethical procedures on people.

CIA director George Tenet approved abusive interrogation techniques, including waterboarding, designed by CIA contractor psychologists. He further instructed the agency’s health personnel to oversee the brutal interrogations – the beginning of years of controversy, still ongoing, about US torture as a violation of medical ethics.

But the revelation of the guidelines has prompted critics of CIA torture to question how the agency could have ever implemented what it calls “enhanced interrogation techniques” – despite apparently having rules against “research on human subjects” without their informed consent.

Indeed, despite the lurid name, doctors, human-rights workers and intelligence experts consulted by the Guardian said the agency’s human-experimentation rules were consistent with responsible medical practices. The CIA, however, redacted one of the four subsections on human experimentation.

“The more words you have, the more you can twist them, but it’s not a bad definition,” said Scott Allen, an internist and medical adviser to Physicians for Human Rights.

The agency confirmed to the Guardian that the document was still in effect during the lifespan of the controversial rendition, detention and interrogation program.

After reviewing the document, one watchdog said the timeline suggested the CIA manipulated basic definitions of human experimentation to ensure the torture program proceeded.

“Crime one was torture. The second crime was research without consent in order to say it wasn’t torture,” said Nathaniel Raymond, a former war-crimes investigator with Physicians for Human Rights and now a researcher with Harvard University’s Humanitarian Initiative.

Informed consent, the director and his ‘human subject research’ panel

The document containing the guidelines, dated 1987 but updated over the years and still in effect at the CIA, was obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the ACLU and shared with the Guardian, which is publishing it for the first time.

The relevant section of the CIA document, “Law and Policy Governing the Conduct of Intelligence Agencies”, instructs that the agency “shall not sponsor, contract for, or conduct research on human subjects” outside of instructions on responsible and humane medical practices set for the entire US government by its Department of Health and Human Services.

A keystone of those instructions, the document notes, is the “subject’s informed consent”.

That language echoes the public, if obscure, language of Executive Order 12333 – the seminal, Reagan-era document spelling out the powers and limitations of the intelligence agencies, including rules governing surveillance by the National Security Agency. But the discretion given to the CIA director to “approve, modify, or disapprove all proposals pertaining to human subject research” has not previously been public.

The entire 41-page CIA document exists to instruct the agency on what Executive Order 12333 permits and prohibits, after legislative action in the 1970s curbed intelligence powers in response to perceived abuses – including the CIA’s old practice of experimenting on human beings through programs like the infamous MK-Ultra project, which, among other things, dosed unwitting participants with LSD as an experiment.

The previously unknown section of the guidelines empower the CIA director and an advisory board on “human subject research” to “evaluate all documentation and certifications pertaining to human research sponsored by, contracted for, or conducted by the CIA”.

CIA doctors, waterboarding and blurred lines of policy

Experts assessing the document for the Guardian said the human-experimentation guidelines were critical to understanding the CIA’s baseline view of the limits of its medical research – limits they said the agency and its medical personnel violated during its interrogations, detentions and renditions program after 9/11.

The presence of medical personnel during brutal interrogations of men like Abu Zubaydah, they said, was difficult to reconcile with both the CIA’s internal requirement of “informed consent” on human experimentation subjects and responsible medical practices.

When Zubaydah, the first detainee known to be waterboarded in CIA custody, “became completely unresponsive, with bubbles rising through his open, full mouth”, he was revived by CIA medical personnel – known as the Office of Medical Services (OMS) – according to a CIA account in the Senate intelligence committee’s landmark torture report.

The OMS doctors were heavily involved in the torture of detainees in CIA custody. They advised interrogators on the physical and psychological administration of what the agency called “enhanced interrogation techniques”. After observation, the doctors offered perspectives on calibrating them to specific detainees’ resilience.

OMS staff assigned to the agency’s black sites wrote emails with subject lines like: “Re: acceptable lower ambient temperatures”.

The CIA, which does not formally concede that it tortured people, insists that the presence of medical personnel ensured its torture techniques were conducted according to medical rigor. Several instances in the Senate torture report, partially declassified six months ago, record unease among OMS staff with their role in interrogations.

Doctors take oaths to guarantee they inflict no harm on their patients.

Zubaydah “seems very resistant to the water board”, an OMS official emailed in August 2002. “No useful information so far … He did vomit a couple of times during the water board with some beans and rice. It’s been 10 hours since he ate so this is surprising and disturbing. We plan to only feed Ensure for a while now. I’m head[ing] back for another water board session.”

Doctors and intelligence experts said they could imagine legitimate, non-abusive CIA uses for human experimentation.

Steven Aftergood, a scholar of the intelligence agencies with the Federation of American Scientists, suggested that the agency might need to study polygraph effects on its agents; evaluate their performance under conditions of stress; or study physiological indicators of deception.

But all said that such examples of human experimentation would require something that the CIA never had during the interrogation program: the informed consent of its subjects.

“There is a disconnect between the requirement of this regulation and the conduct of the interrogation program,” said Aftergood. “They do not represent consistent policy.”

A director’s decision, oversight and an evolving rulebook

Months after Zubaydah’s interrogation, Tenet issued formal guidance approving brutal interrogation techniques, including waterboarding. Tenet explicitly ordered medical staff to be present – a decision carrying the effect of having them extensively document and evaluate the torture sessions.

“[A]ppropriate medical or psychological personnel must be on site during all detainee interrogations employing Enhanced Techniques,” Tenet wrote in January 2003. “In each case, the medical and psychological staff shall suspend the interrogation if they determine that significant and prolonged physical or mental injury, pain or suffering is likely to result if the interrogation is not suspended.”

Ironically, the only part of the CIA’s torture program in which agency officials claimed they were hamstrung by prohibitions on human experimentation is when they were asked by John Helgerson, their internal inspector general, if torture was effective.

Their response was framed as an example of the agency respecting its own prohibition on human experimentation. In more recent days, the CIA has used it as a cudgel against the Senate report’s extensive conclusions that the torture was ultimately worthless.

“[S]ystematic study over time of the effectiveness of the techniques would have been encumbered by a number of factors,” reads a CIA response given to Helgerson in June 2003, a point the agency reiterated in its formal response to the Senate intelligence committee. Among them: “Federal policy on the protection of human subjects.”

Harvard’s Raymond, using the agency’s acronym for its “enhanced interrogation technique” euphemism, said the CIA must have known its guidelines on human experimentation ruled out its psychologist-designed brutal interrogations.

“If they were abiding by this policy when EIT came up, they wouldn’t have been allowed to do it,” Raymond said. “Anyone in good faith would have known that was human subject research.”

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) internal regulations empower the agency’s director to override US and international laws restricting experimentation on human beings, a classified CIA document published by the Guardian on Monday, “AR 2-2, Law and Policy Governing the Conduct of Intelligence Activities,” shows: here.

Psychologists met in secret with Bush officials to help justify torture – report. Newly disclosed emails reveal American Psychological Association coordinated with officials in CIA and White House to help ethically justify detainee program: here.