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.

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.

CIA sexual torture, new report


This video from the USA says about itself:

Torture Report Includes ‘Rectal Hummus’ & Other Shocking Brutalities

9 December 2014

“A scathing report released by the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday found that the Central Intelligence Agency routinely misled the White House and Congress about the information it obtained from the detention and interrogation of terrorism suspects, and that its methods were more brutal than the C.I.A. acknowledged either to Bush administration officials or to the public.

The long-delayed report, which took five years to produce and is based on more than six million internal agency documents, is a sweeping indictment of the C.I.A.‘s operation and oversight of a program carried out by agency officials and contractors in secret prisons around the world in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. It also provides a macabre accounting of some of the grisliest techniques that the C.I.A. used to torture and imprison terrorism suspects.

Detainees were deprived of sleep for as long as a week, and were sometimes told that they would be killed while in American custody. With the approval of the C.I.A.’s medical staff, some C.I.A. prisoners were subjected to medically unnecessary “rectal feeding” or “rectal hydration” — a technique that the C.I.A.‘s chief of interrogations described as a way to exert “total control over the detainee.” C.I.A. medical staff members described the waterboarding of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the chief planner of the Sept. 11 attacks, as a “series of near drownings.””* The Young Turks hosts Dave Rubin (The Rubin Report), Ben Mankiewicz and Jimmy Dore (The Jimmy Dore Show) break it down.

*Read more here.

From Reuters news agency in New York, USA:

CIA sex abuse and torture went beyond Senate report disclosures, detainee says

Majid Khan, who underwent ‘enhanced interrogation’, says authorities poured ice water on his genitals and hung him naked from a beam for days

Tuesday 2 June 2015 17.16 BST

The US Central Intelligence Agency used a wider array of sexual abuse and other forms of torture than was disclosed in a Senate report last year, according to a Guantánamo Bay detainee turned government cooperating witness.

Majid Khan said interrogators poured ice water on his genitals, twice videotaped him naked and repeatedly touched his “private parts” – none of which was described in the Senate report. Interrogators, some of whom smelled of alcohol, also threatened to beat him with a hammer, baseball bats, sticks and leather belts, Khan said.

Khan’s is the first publicly released account from a high-value al-Qaida detainee who experienced the “enhanced interrogation techniques” of President George W Bush’s administration after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the US.

Khan’s account is contained in 27 pages of interview notes his lawyers compiled over the past seven years. The US government cleared the notes for release last month through a formal review process.

Before the Senate report detailed the agency’s interrogation methods last December, CIA officials prohibited detainees and their lawyers from publicly describing interrogation sessions, deeming detainees’ memories of the experience classified.

In exchange for serving as a government witness, Khan will be sentenced to up to 19 years in prison, with the term beginning on the date of his guilty plea. …

Khan was captured in Pakistan and held at an unidentified CIA “black site” from 2003 to 2006, according to the Senate report. Khan’s lawyers declined to comment on where he was captured or held, which they said remained classified.

In the interviews with his lawyers, Khan described a carnival-like atmosphere of abuse when he arrived at the CIA detention facility.

“I wished they had killed me,” Khan told his lawyers. He said that he experienced excruciating pain when hung naked from poles and that guards repeatedly held his head under ice water.

“‘Son, we are going to take care of you,’” Khan said his interrogators told him. “‘We are going to send you to a place you cannot imagine.’”

Current and former CIA officials declined to comment on Khan’s account.

Khan’s description of his experience matches some of the most disturbing findings of the US Senate report, the product of a five-year review by Democratic staffers of 6.3m internal CIA documents. CIA officials and many Republicans dismissed the report’s findings as exaggerated.

Years before the report was released, Khan complained to his lawyers that he had been subjected to forced rectal feedings. Senate investigators found internal CIA documents confirming that Khan had received involuntary rectal feeding and rectal hydration. In an incident widely reported in news media after the release of the Senate investigation, CIA cables showed that “Khan’s ‘lunch tray’, consisting of hummus, pasta with sauce, nuts, and raisins, was ‘pureed’ and rectally infused”.

The CIA maintains that rectal feedings were necessary after Khan went on a hunger strike and pulled out a feeding tube that had been inserted through his nose. Senate investigators said Khan was cooperative and did not remove the feeding tube.

Most medical experts say rectal feeding is of no therapeutic value. His lawyers call it rape.

Khan told his lawyers that some of the worst torture occurred in a May 2003 interrogation session, when guards stripped him naked, hung him from a wooden beam for three days and provided him with water but no food. The only time he was removed from the beam was on the afternoon of the first day, when interrogators shackled him, placed a hood over his head and lowered him into a tub of ice water.

An interrogator then forced Khan’s head underwater until he feared he would drown. The questioner pulled Khan’s head out of the water, demanded answers to questions and again dunked his head underwater, the detainee said. Guards also poured water and ice from a bucket on to Khan’s mouth and nose.

Khan was again hung on the pole hooded and naked. Every two to three hours, interrogators hurled ice water on his body and set up a fan to blow air on him, depriving him of sleep, he said. Once, after hanging on the pole for two days, Khan began hallucinating, thinking he was seeing a cow and a giant lizard.

“I lived in anxiety every moment of every single day about the fear and anticipation of the unknown,” Khan said, describing his panic attacks and nightmares at the black site. “Sometimes, I was struggling and drowning under water, or driving a car and I could not stop.“

In a July 2003 session, Khan said, CIA guards hooded and hung him from a metal pole for several days and repeatedly poured ice water on his mouth, nose and genitals. At one point, he said, they forced him to sit naked on a wooden box during a 15-minute videotaped interrogation. After that, Khan said, he was shackled to a wall, which prevented him from sleeping.

When a doctor arrived to check his condition, Khan begged for help, he said. Instead, Khan said, the doctor instructed the guards to again hang him from the metal bar. After hanging from the pole for 24 hours, Khan was forced to write a “confession” while being videotaped naked.

Khan’s account also includes previously undisclosed forms of alleged CIA abuse, according to experts. Khan said his feet and lower legs were placed in tall boot-like metal cuffs that dug into his flesh and immobilized his legs. He said he felt that his legs would break if he fell forward while restrained by the cuffs.

Khan is not one of the three people whom current and former CIA officials say interrogators were authorized to “waterboard”, a process whereby water is poured over a cloth covering a detainee’s face to create the sensation of drowning. Nor is he the fourth detainee whose waterboarding was documented by Human Rights Watch in 2012.

His descriptions, however, match those of other detainees who have alleged that they were subjected to unauthorized interrogation techniques using water. Human rights groups say the use of ice water in dousing and forced submersions is torture.

Khan’s account also includes details that match those of lower-level detainees who have described their own interrogations. Like other prisoners, Khan said he was held in complete darkness and isolated from other prisoners for long periods. To deprive him of sleep, his captors kept the lights on in his cell and blared loud music from Kiss and other American rock and rap groups.

He said that he was given unclean food and water that gave him diarrhea and that he was held in an outdoor cell and in cells with biting insects. Other prisoners later told him they were held in coffin-shaped boxes.

Khan is scheduled to be sentenced by a military judge in Guantánamo Bay by February. His lawyers, however, want his case moved to the US federal courts because, they said, federal law allows for fairer sentences for cooperating witnesses.

“He has made a decision to trust the US government and cooperate with the US government in order to try to atone for what he did,” said J Wells Dixon of the Center for Constitutional Rights. “But it is incumbent on the United States to treat him fairly.”

Katya Jestin, a former federal prosecutor who also represents Khan, said Khan remains committed to cooperating in the military commission system. But, she said, “from a broader criminal justice policy perspective, I would like to see him sentenced in US federal court. Federal judges have more experience in assessing the value of cooperation and incentivizing cooperation from others.”

See also here.

Bin Laden’s death, in Hollywood pro-torture film and reality


This video says about itself:

Zero Dark Thirty: Glorifying torture in bed with the CIA

16 December 2012

Writer Glenn Greenwald argues that Zero Dark Thirty, the film about the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden, which is already a front-runner to win the 2013 Best Film Oscar, is politically and morally reprehensible and a glorification of torture. Hollywood and the film’s director Kathryn Bigelow have climbed into bed with the CIA and produced pernicious propaganda for the view that the USA is always on the side of “good”, whatever our enemies do is always because they are “evil”, and anyone who is a Muslim is a “terrorist suspect”.

By David Walsh in the USA:

Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal’s Zero Dark Thirty

CIA-embedded Hollywood liars and their lies

15 May 2015

Zero Dark Thirty, written by Mark Boal and directed by Kathryn Bigelow, was a detestable work for many reasons. The film, released in December 2012 to much critical acclaim, was promoted as the true story of the decade-long hunt for Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, assassinated by the US military in Pakistan in May 2011.

Now we know, thanks to Seymour Hersh and his article in the London Review of Books, that, along with everything else, the Bigelow-Boal film was a pack of lies from beginning to end. About the only plot element of Zero Dark Thirty that remains unrefuted is that the CIA did indeed operate illegal “black sites” and horribly torture people.

As our original review noted, the film’s central figure, CIA agent Maya, is shown “conducting a single-minded pursuit of clues leading to the whereabouts of bin Laden, while bravely battling resistance from the entire male-dominated leadership of the CIA until she finally prevails.

“According to this improbable version of events, the junior female analyst single-handedly brought about the May 1, 2011 raid on the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan that ended in the assassination of bin Laden and the shooting of several other defenseless men, women and children.”

“Improbable” seems to be the key word here.

Hersh points out in his lengthy piece that bin Laden was not living secretly at the time of his killing in a well-guarded hideout, as depicted in the film, but “had been a prisoner of the ISI [Pakistani intelligence service] at the Abbottabad compound since 2006.” He further explains “that the CIA did not learn of bin Laden’s whereabouts by tracking his couriers, as the White House has claimed since May 2011 [seconded by Zero Dark Thirty], but from a former senior Pakistani intelligence officer [a “walk-in”!] who betrayed the secret in return for much of the $25 million reward offered by the US.”

So there was no intense debate at CIA headquarters as to whether bin Laden was actually living at the location in question, an important sequence in Bigelow’s film. In the face of rather wishy-washy superiors, Maya boldly insists it is a “100 percent” certainty that the house’s mysterious resident is indeed the al Qaeda leader. In actual fact, Pakistani officials had acknowledged to their American counterparts he was there in Abbottabad (“less than two miles from the Pakistan Military Academy,” and “another mile or so away” from “a Pakistani army combat battalion headquarters,” observes Hersh) and even handed over a DNA sample to prove the point.

Nor was there a deadly shoot-out at the compound. The Pakistani military and intelligence deliberately stood down and let the US Navy Seal team do its dirty work. “An ISI liaison officer flying with the Seals guided them into the darkened house and up a staircase to bin Laden’s quarters,” writes Hersh. Bin Laden was unguarded and unarmed, living on the third floor of the “shabby” house “in a cell with bars on the window and barbed wire on the roof.”

Nor did any CIA official identify the body after the murder, as Maya is shown doing in Bigelow’s film, because two members of the Seal team obliterated bin Laden, an elderly, seriously ailing man. Hersh writes that “some members of the Seal team had bragged to colleagues and others that they had torn bin Laden’s body to pieces with rifle fire. The remains, including his head, which had only a few bullet holes in it, were thrown into a body bag and, during the helicopter flight back to Jalalabad, some body parts were tossed out over the Hindu Kush mountains—or so the Seals claimed.”

So much for the events that Bigelow absurdly claimed only “come along once or twice in a millennium”! So much for what Zero Dark Thirty’s director praised as “the brave work of those professionals in the military and intelligence communities”!

Bigelow and Boal hardly made a secret of the fact that they enjoyed intimate and unprecedented cooperation from the CIA and the Obama administration in the development of the project. Emails and transcripts released in May 2012 revealed that the previous July Bigelow and Boal had met with Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Michael Vickers and other Defense Department officials. Boal had earlier held discussions with top administration officials, including Obama’s Chief Counterterrorism Advisor John O. Brennan and Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough.

One of the released emails, from a CIA spokesperson, explained that the agency and other US government entities “have been engaging with the film’s screenwriter, Mark Boal. … Both Mark and Kathryn have told us how impressed they are with the Agency’s work in the UBL [Usama bin Laden] operation and how eager they are to bring that to the screen.”

The CIA and the administration gave the green light to the film, vetted or had changes made in its script and gloated about its usefulness as propaganda.

One of the principal lines of defense of the filmmakers and their apologists against critics was that Zero Dark Thirty did not render a judgment, was apolitical and simply presented the unadorned facts.

Boal evidently chose to believe (and pass on) every bit of information provided to him by the CIA, not exactly an organization known for its scrupulous adherence to the truth.

In an email sent May 10, 2011, Boal informs George Little of the CIA’s Office of Public Affairs that he and Bigelow “are making a film about the extraordinary effort to capture or kill Usama Bin Laden. Given the historical nature of the subject matter, we intend to make accuracy and authenticity hallmarks of the production, for we believe that this is one of those rare instances where truth really is more interesting than fiction.”

One doesn’t know whether to laugh or …

In another remarkable email from June 13, 2011, Defense Department Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Douglas Wilson wrote Under Secretary of Defense Vickers that “At the direction of Director [Leon] Panetta, CIA is cooperating fully [with the filmmakers] … For the intelligence case, they [Boal and Bigelow] are basically using the WH[White House]-approved talking points we used the night of the operation.”

And, as it turns out, those talking points were a series of fabrications.

In a February 2013 radio interview, Boal asserted: “Of course we tried to be as honest as we could. Who would go into a movie like this knowing there’s going to be the scrutiny there is, knowing the importance, knowing the deep underlying fissures in our political system on the policy issues and try to play fast and loose? You’d have to be out of your mind to do that.” Was Boal out of his mind then? Or had he simply bought into the “war on terror” so deeply that he was incapable of identifying lies when they were told him?

It is almost farcical. This is Boal, in the same radio interview, on the details of the hunt for bin Laden, now exposed as part of a White House-CIA cover story:

“I think that what led to Osama Bin Laden’s death is the work of thousands of people over the course of 10 years. We depict some of them. There were many different places that the information came from. Some of it came from the detainee program. A lot of it came out of good old-fashioned sleuthing, detective work, some of it came out of electronic surveillance. There’s a whole host of methods, but at the end of the day what the movie is really about that there’s a cerebral cortex involved here.”

Boal here admits somewhat grudgingly—after all, he is a liberal-minded man!—that only “some” of the information came from “the detainee program,” i.e., torture. And, as a result of Boal’s including this claim in the film, Zero Dark Thirty became part of the argument in certain circles for the effectiveness of “enhanced interrogation.” But, in any case, it was all made up! Interrogations and torture had nothing to do with bin Laden’s being located.

Hersh writes: “That US intelligence had learned of bin Laden’s whereabouts from information acquired by waterboarding and other forms of torture,” a complete invention, was “pushed by [John] Brennan and [CIA director] Leon Panetta.” A bunch of retired CIA officers had been called in, according to one of Hersh’s sources, “‘to help with the cover story. So the old-timers come in and say why not admit that we got some of the information about bin Laden from enhanced interrogation?’ At the time, there was still talk in Washington about the possible prosecution of CIA agents who had conducted torture.”

It is difficult to express in words the contempt one feels for individuals like Bigelow and Boal.

They were both “leftists” of a sort once upon a time. In the 1970s Bigelow (born 1951) was a radical opponent of the Vietnam War, a figure on the artistic “avant-garde scene” and a student of postmodernism at Columbia University. One of her earliest film projects was a critique of US counterinsurgency methods and the use of death squads.

According to Jordan Michael Smith in the Nation, Boal (born 1973), a graduate of Oberlin College, “began writing for The Village Voice in 1998, documenting concerns about the burgeoning US surveillance infrastructure. … Boal was also freelancing for Mother Jones. In a terrific 1999 cover story, he investigated a garment factory in Kentucky that qualified as a sweatshop because of its below-sustenance wages, dangerous working conditions and intimidation against union organizers.”

Both have evolved, along with many other former middle class protesters and dissidents, into enthusiastic defenders of the state and its brutal operations, at home and abroad.

“You gotta be kidding me.” – Seymour Hersh on the timing of the new Bin Laden documents: here.

SEAL Team Six the classified US special operations unit best known for killing Osama bin Laden, has grown into a “global manhunting machine”, that often kills civilians and operates with only partial oversight, according to a major new report: here.

In a lengthy article published Sunday, the New York Times provided a glimpse into the criminal and grisly methods employed by Seal Team 6, a secret unit within the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). The unit was made famous by the phony accounts of its assassination of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, cover stories that were blown last month by veteran journalist Seymour Hersh, who exposed the operation as the cold-blooded murder of an unarmed and decrepit individual who had been fingered by Pakistani intelligence: here.

The sister and stepmother of the former al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden were reportedly among the dead after a business jet crashed at a private airport in Hampshire and ploughed into a car auction centre: here.