Posts tagged torture
Posts tagged torture
Human rights and open government advocates on Tuesday harshly criticized the Obama administration over the criminal charges brought against an ex-CIA officer for allegedly leaking to reporters the names of two agency operatives involved in the brutal interrogation of terrorism detainees.
John Kiriakou, 47, the CIA’s former director of counterterrorism operations in Pakistan, was arraigned in federal court in Virginia on Monday on charges of espionage, lying to investigators and disclosing the identity of a covert operative. He was released on bond…
Kiriakou, of Arlington, Va., is the sixth government official charged with espionage by the Obama administration for leaking classified information to reporters. The espionage law, enacted in 1917, was used only three times prior to Obama’s election to prosecute leaks to the media.
Jesselyn Radack, an attorney with the Government Accountability Project, which defends whistle-blowers, called Kiriakou’s arrest the most recent example of a broader administration crackdown against federal officials who disclose illegal, abusive or wasteful government activity.
Scumbag Obama: gets told about illegal torture program, gives immunity to all the people who tortured, prosecutes whistle-blower. A vote for Obama in 2012 is a vote for increased prosecutions under the Espionage Act.
The Guardian’s Ian Black files an audio report on the death and injury of two journalists in Homs, Syria today. According to Black, a journalist working for France 2 television station has been reported killed along with 8 Syrians and someone working for a Belgian radio station injured, possibly when an RPG hit their vehicle. Further information and confirmations still coming in.
Visit Enduring America’s ongoing liveblog for the various and conflicting details that have so far been reported on the situation.
Avaaz is also reporting that one of their journalists has had their fingernails pulled out and has been electrocuted as a form of torture. There are 617 confirmed deaths due to torture since March 2011, and Avaaz has the full details of their investigation online as a .PDF, including methodology.
Assad’s time runs thin- he will pay for his crimes.
Let’s review Manning’s detention over the last nine straight months: 23-hour/day solitary confinement; barred even from exercising in his cell; one hour total outside his cell per day where he’s allowed to walk around in circles in a room alone while shackled, and is returned to his cell the minute he stops walking; forced to respond to guards’ inquiries literally every 5 minutes, all day, everyday; and awakened at night each time he is curled up in the corner of his bed or otherwise outside the guards’ full view. Is there anyone who doubts that these measures — and especially this prolonged forced nudity — are punitive and designed to further erode his mental health, physical health and will? As The Guardian reported last year, forced nudity is almost certainly a breach of the Geneva Conventions; the Conventions do not technically apply to Manning, as he is not a prisoner of war, but they certainly establish the minimal protections to which all detainees — let alone citizens convicted of nothing — are entitled.
And I’ll say this again: just fathom the contrived, shrieking uproar from opportunistic Democratic politicians and their loyalists if it had been George Bush and Dick Cheney — on U.S. soil — subjecting a whistle-blowing member of the U.S. military to these repressive conditions without being convicted of anything, charging him with a capital offense that statutorily carries the death penalty, and then forcing him to remain nude every night and stand naked for inspection outside his cell. Feigning concern over detainee abuse for partisan gain is only slightly less repellent than the treatment to which Manning is being subjected.
Is there anyone still denying that what’s being done to Bradley Manning is torture?
By Glenn Greenwald:
A 48-year-old Afghan citizen and Guantanamo detainee, Awal Gul, died on Tuesday of an apparent heart attack. Gul, a father of 18 children, had been kept in a cage by the U.S. for more than 9 years — since late 2001 when he was abducted in Afghanistan — without ever having been charged with a crime. While the U.S. claims he was a Taliban commander, Gul has long insisted that he quit the Taliban a year before the 9/11 attack because, as his lawyer put it, “he was disgusted by the Taliban’s growing penchant for corruption and abuse.” His death means those conflicting claims will never be resolved; said his lawyer: ”it is shame that the government will finally fly him home not in handcuffs and a hood, but in a casket.” This episode illustrates that the U.S. Government’s detention policy — still — amounts to imposing life sentences on people without bothering to prove they did anything wrong.
This episode also demonstrates the absurdity of those who claim that President Obama has been oh-so-eagerly trying to close Guantanamo only to be thwarted by a recalcitrant Congress. The Obama administration has sought to “close” the camp only in the most meaningless sense of that word: by moving its defining injustice — indefinite, due-process-free detention — a few thousand miles north onto U.S. soil. But the crux of the Guantanamo travesty — indefinite detention — is something the Obama administration has long planned to preserve, and that has nothing to do with what Congress has or has not done. Indeed, Gul was one of the 50 detainees designated by Obama for that repressive measure. Thus, had Gul survived, the Obama administration would have sought to keep him imprisoned indefinitely without any pretense of charging him with a crime — neither in a military commission nor a real court. Instead, they would have simply continued the Bush/Cheney policy of imprisoning him indefinitely without any charges.
There’s one other aspect of this episode that warrants attention. In its 2008 Boumediene decision, the Supreme Court struck down the provision of the Military Commissions Act which denied habeas corpus review to all detainees, and ruled that Guantanamo detainees at least have the right to a one-time review by a federal court as to whether there is credible evidence to justify their detention (a far less rigorous standard than the one that applies if they’re charged with a crime and the state has to prove their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt). Gul had filed a habeas petition and it was fully argued before a federal court back in March — 11 months ago. The federal judge never got around to issuing a ruling.
Obama promised to stop indefinite detentions, torture and close Guantanamo. Since his election, he’s consistently reaffirmed his commitment to indefinite detention by embracing the policy whole-heartedly, he continues to use torture (sleep deprivation and solitary confinement at least) on defenseless prisoners who have never seen the inside of a courtroom, and his best efforts to close Guantanamo have been to attempt to move the prison (without changing anything that happens there) to US soil (which failed anyway). Remind me again why I should vote to reelect Obama?
Yesterday, MSNBC’s Dylan Ratigan hosted a segment on the extreme, prolonged isolation in which Bradley Manning has been kept for eight months now, despite having been convicted of nothing. He had on his panel a “Democratic strategist,” a “Republican strategist,” and “a Washington insider.” Ratigan tried without any success to get them to understand why putting someone in a cage alone for 23 hours a day under extremely repressive conditions was unjust and intolerable. Begin at the 1:20 mark — right after Ratigan introduces his panel — and see if you can identify who the Republican is, who the Democrat is, and who the “Washington insider” is; I’d submit it’s impossible. Once your guesses are in, go back and watch the beginning of the segment and grade yourself — on the honor system. It’s the Joys of Bipartisanship
I couldn’t tell. I guessed, but they all parrotted the same thing. Since he was in the military, the government shouldn’t need to be constrained by constitutional mandates like due process, prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment and the right to a speedy trial. That is the main stream, acceptable viewpoint.
Not only did Quantico officials this weekend contrive reasons to deny Manning his only real reprieve from isolation — periodic Saturday visits from his friend David House — but they also last week made his conditions even harsher by placing him on suicide watch even though three separate brig psychiatrists said it was unwarranted. That decision resulted in this:
The suicide risk assignment meant that PFC Manning was required to remain in his cell for 24 hours a day. He was stripped of all clothing with the exception of his underwear. His prescription eyeglasses were taken away from him. He was forced to sit in essential blindness with the exception of the times that he was reading or given limited television privileges. During those times, his glasses were returned to him.
But because of all the light that has been shined on the issue of Manning’s detention, the Government has now been forced to publicly admit that the imposition of these conditions was not only improper, but punitive. From Miklaszewski:
The officials told NBC News  that a U.S. Marine commander did violate procedure when he placed Manning on “suicide watch” last week.
Military officials said Brig Commander James Averhart did not have the authority to place Manning on suicide watch for two days last week, and that only medical personnel are allowed to make that call.
The official said that after Manning had allegedly failed to follow orders from his Marine guards, Averhart declared Manning a “suicide risk.” Manning was then placed on suicide watch, which meant he was confined to his cell, stripped of most of his clothing and deprived of his reading glasses…
The order was lifted once Manning’s lawyer filed a formal complaint, but clearly, the mentality of brig officials is to punish Manning — who has been convicted of nothing — and make life as inhumane and unbearable for him as possible, even if it means violating their own rules and abusing the oppression of “suicide watch” to torment him further. None of this will deter the blind authoritarians among us — the long-time marchers on the Right and their newfound Obama-apologist comrades — from citing pronouncements from brig and other military and government officials as though they’re unchallengeable Gospel (that’s what authoritarians, by definition, do), but for anyone minimally rational, this episode will underscore the need for serious skepticism with such claims.
Bradley Manning was not suicidal. We know this because he’s never claimed to be suicidal and three separate psychiatrists that are in the armed forces examined him and determined he was not suicidal. When he failed to obey orders, they stripped all of his clothing, removed his ability to see and denied him the single hour of human interaction per week that he gets (the visitors were also detained and their car towed).
What happened to all the people expressing outrage at warrantless wiretaps and torture prisons off of US soil? Does the president having a big blue (D) next to his name really matter more to them than actually changing the issues that were core to the passion behind the anti-Bush movement? We won a phony battle at the polls and we’re using it as an excuse to ignore the exact same issues that inflamed the electorate in the first place.
Manning, like Bouazizi, is young. He also faced, with all his youth and inexperience and impatience, a political situation that was the result of criminality. Dick Cheney and John Yoo and Karl Rove and George W. Bush were responsible for creating a public image of government lawlessness that encouraged whistle blowing. They went to war against Iraq on false pretenses and in contravention of international law. They themselves tried to leak the identity of Valerie Plame, a covert CIA operative, to the press. They set up Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib and Bagram as black torture facilities. They lied repeatedly to the American people (there was no looting in Iraq, no guerrilla war in Iraq, no civil war in Iraq, no torture practiced by the US in Iraq, no more than 30,000 civilian dead in Iraq, no need for more armored vehicles for our troops in Iraq).
The political situation Manning faced was also unyielding. Long after the American public turned against Washington’s Forever Wars, they are still being pursued, and are killing thousands of innocent civilians for war goals that range from the highly unlikely to the utterly phantasmagoric. Manning’s leak was an act of desperation no different in intent from Bouazizi’s self-immolation. He intended to protest, by putting himself on the line. He wrote in chat room, “god knows what happens now — hopefully worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms — if not & we’re doomed.” He did not intend to get caught, but he must have known the risks. His was a cyberspace form of self-immolation, a career-ending, decisively life-changing act that, however foolhardy or possibly illegal, was certainly courageous.
President Obama belatedly praised “the courage and dignity of the Tunisian people” and said,
“The United States stands with the entire international community in bearing witness to this brave and determined struggle for the universal rights that we must all uphold, and we will long remember the images of the Tunisian people seeking to make their voices heard.”
So one of the universal human rights the Tunisians wanted was freedom from harsh conditions of detention when charged with thought crimes.
As a service member under arrest in preparation for a military trial, Manning lacks many of the protections of US civilians charged with wrongdoing, but there are military regulations about pre-trial treatment that his defense alleges are being violated. There are also provisions in international law to which the US is signatory and which may be being violated.
Manning was placed on suicide watch for two days last week, and is in general in maximum security detention and subject to ‘prevention of injury’ (POI) rules.
Manning’s psychiatrists say there is no reason for the POI. This procedure allows guards to wake Manning up whenever they cannot see his face (i.e. if he rolls over on his bed while sleeping).
There is a strong possibility that solitary confinement (i.e. social isolation) and sleep deprivation are being used by Manning’s jailers as a form of torture to soften him up. It is possible that they want from him information that would allow them to pursue conspiracy charges against Wikileaks, and this mistreatment is the way they think they can get it from him.
‘ Prison conditions: Many political prisoners reportedly suffered discrimination and harsh treatment. Some went on hunger strike to protest against ill-treatment by prison guards, denial of medical care, interruption of family visits and harsh conditions, including prolonged solitary confinement.’
And, yes, among the techniques used against prisoners was “sleep deprivation.”
No one is saying that Manning is being physically abused. But he is being psychologically abused, which is still a form of inhumane treatment. Both the United Nations and the US State Department have called sleep deprivation a form of torture.
Juan Cole puts Manning’s situation into perspective. We’re torturing someone we’ve yet to convict until he says what we want him to say. Not only that, but we’re torturing him in the exact same way and for the exact same reasons as a foreign government widely known for it’s corruption. Yesterday, Manning’s visitors were detained for two hours (visitor hours) right outside of the base where Manning is being held. They committed no crime and were not charged, but were repeatedly threatened and harassed. Manning isn’t even allowed visitors now. He’s completely isolated, suicidal, kept awake needlessly and constantly harassed.
The worst part is that this is the centrist approach to the issue. The hardliners want Manning to be physically (in addition to psychologically) tortured, just like the “dozens” that (according to four star General Barry McCaffrey) were “murdered” by “both the armed forces and the C.I.A.” We don’t even have an option to vote for someone who would opt out of torturing Manning. What separates the US from the evil regimes we publicly criticize?
Last Thursday, I wrote about and interviewed Gulet Mohamed, the 18-year-old Somali-born American citizen who described how he was abducted in Kuwait by unknown authorities, blindfolded and taken to an unknown location, and then interrogated, beaten and tortured for the next week (he has since turned 19). After he was moved to a new facility to be deported, he was able to speak with the outside world, including me, only by virtue of a cellphone which a fellow detainee had illicitly smuggled in and allowed him to use; if not for that, it’s quite possible that nobody, including his family, would be aware of his detention.
Mohamed — who has been charged with no crime — remains in a deportation facility in Kuwait without any idea of when, how or where he will be released. The Kuwaitis are perfectly willing to release him back to the U.S., but the U.S. has prevented this by placing him on a no-fly list, and both his family and his lawyer insist that it is American authorities responsible for his detention, due to a desire to interrogate him.
Greenwald interviews the lawyer through the link.
Greenwald interviews the lawyer through the link.
Bidding to restore the reputations of MI5 and MI6 and to rebuild damaged intelligence links with the United States, the British government said on Tuesday that it had agreed to pay compensation running into millions of dollars to 15 former detainees at Guantánamo Bay and one man still held there who have accused Britain’s intelligence agencies of colluding in their torture in the American-run detention system.
America outright refuses to admit any culpability in torturing innocent people:
The settlement represents the first time any Guantanamo Bay detainee, of 779 who have passed through or are still held at the military prison in Cuba, has received a financial settlement because of his incarceration. And the payments are all the more significant because they are being made by the closest military and security partner of the United States. The George W. Bush and Obama administrations, as well as the federal courts, have rejected the idea of compensation.
A White House spokesman said the administration would have no comment on the British decision.
Glenn Greenwald contrasts this to American policy:
It was clear from that start that, standing alone, Obama’s steadfast devotion to protecting and shielding all Bush crimes from any form of accountability — and his active blocking of all victims from obtaining compensation or any form of justice in a court of law — seriously mars his record, his legacy and his character. That other nations are providing exactly the accountability that Obama has desperately sought to prevent makes that even more apparent. The British are acting with less than pure motives here — they are particularly concerned that allowing these lawsuits to proceed will expose their intelligence agencies to judicial scrutiny — but the fact that their political and legal system (and Canada’s and Sweden’s and others’) does not permit a total whitewash of these crimes while ours eagerly does speaks volumes about comparative notions of justice and the rule of law — especially since, first and foremost, they are American crimes.