Torture and "Non Lethal" Weapons
It didn't start (or end) with Bush
"I can teach you about torture, but sooner or later you'll have to get involved. You'll have to lay on your hands and try it yourselves ... The precise pain, in the precise place, in the precise amount, for the desired effect.''
-- Daniel Mitrione, head of the US Office of Public Safety (OPS) mission in Uruguay in 1971, teaching classes in the art of torture
"The Iraqi people are now free. And they do not have to worry about the secret police coming after them in the middle of the night, and they don't have to worry about their husbands and brothers being taken off and shot, or their wives being taken to rape rooms. Those days are over."
-- Paul Bremer, Administrator, Iraq Coalition Provisional Authority, Sept. 2, 2003
"Iraq is free of rape rooms and torture chambers."
-- President Bush, remarks to 2003 Republican National Committee Presidential Gala, Oct. 8, 2003
The truth is that Iraq's torture chambers are merely under new management.
Published on Saturday, January 31, 2009 by the Chicago Tribune
Obama Lets CIA Keep Controversial Renditions Tool
by Greg Miller
WASHINGTON - The CIA's secret prisons are being shuttered. Harsh interrogation techniques are off-limits. And Guantanamo Bay will eventually go back to being a wind-swept naval base on the southeastern corner of Cuba.
But even while dismantling these discredited programs, President Barack Obama left an equally controversial counterterrorism tool intact.
Under executive orders issued by Obama last week, the CIA still has authority to carry out what are known as renditions, or the secret abductions and transfers of prisoners to countries that cooperate with the U.S.
I'm Still Tortured by What I Saw in Iraq
By Matthew Alexander
Sunday, November 30, 2008; Page B01
"I learned in Iraq that the No. 1 reason foreign fighters flocked there to fight were the abuses carried out at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. Our policy of torture was directly and swiftly recruiting fighters for al-Qaeda in Iraq. The large majority of suicide bombings in Iraq are still carried out by these foreigners. They are also involved in most of the attacks on U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq. It's no exaggeration to say that at least half of our losses and casualties in that country have come at the hands of foreigners who joined the fray because of our program of detainee abuse. The number of U.S. soldiers who have died because of our torture policy will never be definitively known, but it is fair to say that it is close to the number of lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001. How anyone can say that torture keeps Americans safe is beyond me -- unless you don't count American soldiers as Americans."
Regarding the "Iraqi torture scandal"
Torture is nothing new in the US military. It is torture for the US to drop bombs on large cities like Baghdad (imagine the stress of living in a city under siege, hoping that the American's bombs don't demolish your neighborhood). There was equal torture in Afghanistan (and mass murder of prisoners) but no outrage in the US media.
Any serious effort to eradicate torture by the US empire would need to abolish the special forces, the CIA the Department of Homeland Security (one of its top leaders is a veteran of the notorious "Phoenix Program" in Vietnam, a death squad / torture program run by the military and CIA), and the new National Intelligence office headed by John Negroponte (who helped the terrorist "Contra" war when he was ambassador to Honduras).
excerpts from the book
Hidden Terrors: the truth about U.S. police operations in Latin America
by A.J. Langguth
Pantheon Books, 1978, paper
The United States As Torture Central: U.S. sponsors regimes using torture extensively
by Edward S. Herman
Z magazine, May 2004
TORTURE: AS AMERICA AS APPLE PIE (long list of articles on systemic torture
in US prisons, US support of torturing dictatorships and CIA / military
participation in torture)
William Blum, Killing Hope
33. URUGUAY 1964 to 1970
Torture -- as American as apple pie
UK forces taught torture methods
Saturday May 8, 2004
.... The British former officer said the dissemination of R2I techniques inside Iraq was all the more dangerous because of the general mood among American troops.
"The feeling among US soldiers I've spoken to in the last week is also that 'the gloves are off'. Many of them still think they are dealing with people responsible for 9/11".
U.S. Powerless to Halt Iraq Net Images :.
I don't think I totally agree with this assessment of the situation in this piece; mainly, that the U.S. can't control its own C4I (Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence) systems. Remember, the Pentagon document from 1995, Strategic Assessment: The Internet. The DoD knew, early on, that the Internet would be used for PSYOPS. Charles Swett states:
The Internet could also be used offensively as an additional medium in psychological operations campaigns and to help achieve unconventional warfare objectives. Used creatively as an integral asset, the Internet can facilitate many DoD operations and activities.
Armed with this knowledge, do you honestly believe that the military hasn't thought about the implications of allowing soldiers to use open Internet connections in a warzone!? Impossible. The article has a cavalier tone about the use of the Internet by troops. It's almost as if the author of the piece assumes that soldiers have a right to use the Internet to talk to their families. If the military was ACTUALLY concerned about PSYOPS implications of Internet use, why is it available? Why not simply eliminate it? Any number of schemes could be implemented to lock down the systems such that only plain text emails of a certain length (with content screened by AI filters) could be sent. Etc. Etc. Perhaps, however, there is a PSYOPS objective in allowing the soldiers to use the Internet.
We, the public, as consumers of allegedly "unauthorized" materials, must use our skills of discernment more than ever. Remember, the DoD built the technologies that became the Internet. They thought it all up in the first place. They have roomfulls of men and women who design perception management campaigns and write propaganda as their full time jobs. That is, they think about attaining strategic objectives via the use of memes. Since the Internet is the ultimate meme propagation system, it would be foolish to believe that the U.S. military and intelligence community have not done heavy research into the SIW (Strategic Information Warfare) implications of this technology.
Some intelligence operations are often predicated on the fact that the target of a meme payload believes that they have come into possession of privileged information by some unauthorized means. This came to mind as most people (me included) automatically assumed that the torture images we have all been bombarded with lately are, 1) authentic, and 2) unauthorized.
Consider the fact that the torture story grew legs and ran because the television enabled media took it from the Internet backwaters of sites like mine, and thousands of others, and made it a "real" story in the consciousness of Joe and Jane Sixpack. Why did that happen? Why did they start driving that meme? The same types of horrific torture occurs routinely in U.S. prisons. Why isn't that a big story?
Bottom line: Do I think the pictures from Iraq are authentic? Yes.
Do I think their release was unauthorized? No. They let this stuff out. These are scientifically engineered stimuli that were designed to provoke unthinking, emotional responses. Not only is this a setup, but it's an inside job. And the media are fully in on it.
I tend to believe that if U.S. intelligence wanted to keep what happened at Abu Ghraib a secret, most of us wouldn't have ever heard of the place. Even if the material eventually found its way onto the Internet, without the television meme driving, these data would have simply languished in obscurity on the Internet.
For example, there are thousands of sites dedicated to covering the chemtrail situation, yet you NEVER see anything in the media about it, unless it's some silly thing trying to maintain the witless, status quo dogma on the subject. There are all order of sites that showcase easily viable alternative energy technologies. Where is the hard driving, never ending news coverage?
No... It's TORTURE, TORTURE, TORTURE. Standard operating procedure of U.S. forces/clients for easily 50 years. Taught to special forces as a matter of routine. So, why now? Why is this a big deal to the media at this point?
at the 54:07/-04:10 point. Quoting an article by DIA military analyst
William M. Arkin in the October 27, 2002 Los Angeles Times (which is at www.commondreams.org/views02/1028-11.htm), Ralph Schoenman discusses
the proposal by Rumsfeld's Defense Science Board of "a super-Intelligence
Support Activity, an organization it dubs the Proactive, Preemptive Operations
Group, (P2OG), to bring together CIA and military covert action, information
warfare, intelligence, and cover and deception. Among other things, this
body would launch secret operations aimed at 'stimulating reactions' among
terrorists and states possessing weapons of mass destruction - that is,
for instance, prodding terrorist cells into action and exposing themselves
to 'quick-response' attacks by U.S. forces."
"This is the smoking gun, brothers and sisters," says Schoenman.
"Rumsfeld and these people are carrying out provocateur operations which are designated as 'terrorist' operations to provide the rationale and the pretext and the cover for massive U.S. military response. This is the signature of 9/11. This is the predicate for the new attacks which we can expect involving smallpox that will bring into play the Northern Command, the Northern Command which will bring military rule to the United States. I say these things not to alarm, I say these things to present the reality. This is the smoking-gun exposure of the real nature of this ruling class. Let us prepare that resistance, city across city, union to union, working-class resistance at the point of production, mass mobilizations against the permanent war. It is a state that oppresses us, it is a state of terror, it is lethal, it is without restraint, it is our responsibility to mobilize now and make this new year one of resistance, brothers and sisters, to the rule of our ruthless ruling class."
New England Journal of Medicine
July 29, 2004 -- Number 5
Doctors and Torture
Robert Jay Lifton, M.D.
There is increasing evidence that U.S. doctors, nurses, and medics have been complicit in torture and other illegal procedures in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay. Such medical complicity suggests still another disturbing dimension of this broadening scandal.
We know that medical personnel have failed to report to higher authorities wounds that were clearly caused by torture and that they have neglected to take steps to interrupt this torture. In addition, they have turned over prisoners' medical records to interrogators who could use them to exploit the prisoners' weaknesses or vulnerabilities. We have not yet learned the extent of medical involvement in delaying and possibly falsifying the death certificates of prisoners who have been killed by torturers.
A May 22 article on Abu Ghraib in the New York Times states that "much of the evidence of abuse at the prison came from medical documents" and that records and statements "showed doctors and medics reporting to the area of the prison where the abuse occurred several times to stitch wounds, tend to collapsed prisoners or see patients with bruised or reddened genitals."1 According to the article, two doctors who gave a painkiller to a prisoner for a dislocated shoulder and sent him to an outside hospital recognized that the injury was caused by his arms being handcuffed and held over his head for "a long period," but they did not report any suspicions of abuse. A staff sergeant–medic who had seen the prisoner in that position later told investigators that he had instructed a military policeman to free the man but that he did not do so. A nurse, when called to attend to a prisoner who was having a panic attack, saw naked Iraqis in a human pyramid with sandbags over their heads but did not report it until an investigation was held several months later.
A June 10 article in the Washington Post tells of a long-standing policy at the Guantanamo Bay facility whereby military interrogators were given access to the medical records of individual prisoners.2 The policy was maintained despite complaints by the Red Cross that such records "are being used by interrogators to gain information in developing an interrogation plan." A civilian psychiatrist who was part of a medical review team was "disturbed" about not having been told about the practice and said that it would give interrogators "tremendous power" over prisoners.
Other reports, though sketchier, suggest that the death certificates of prisoners who might have been killed by various forms of mistreatment have not only been delayed but may have camouflaged the fatal abuse by attributing deaths to conditions such as cardiovascular disease.3
Various medical protocols — notably, the World Medical Association Declaration of Tokyo in 1975 — prohibit all three of these forms of medical complicity in torture. Moreover, the Hippocratic Oath declares, "I will use treatment to help the sick according to my ability and judgment, but never with a view to injury and wrongdoing."
To be a military physician is to be subject to potential moral conflict between commitment to the healing of individual people, on the one hand, and responsibility to the military hierarchy and the command structure, on the other. I experienced that conflict myself as an Air Force psychiatrist assigned to Japan and Korea some decades ago: I was required to decide whether to send psychologically disturbed men back to the United States, where they could best receive treatment, or to return them to their units, where they could best serve combat needs. There were, of course, other factors, such as a soldier's pride in not letting his buddies down, but for physicians this basic conflict remained.
American doctors at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere have undoubtedly been aware of their medical responsibility to document injuries and raise questions about their possible source in abuse. But those doctors and other medical personnel were part of a command structure that permitted, encouraged, and sometimes orchestrated torture to a degree that it became the norm — with which they were expected to comply — in the immediate prison environment.
The doctors thus brought a medical component to what I call an "atrocity-producing situation" — one so structured, psychologically and militarily, that ordinary people can readily engage in atrocities. Even without directly participating in the abuse, doctors may have become socialized to an environment of torture and by virtue of their medical authority helped sustain it. In studying various forms of medical abuse, I have found that the participation of doctors can confer an aura of legitimacy and can even create an illusion of therapy and healing.
The Nazis provided the most extreme example of doctors' becoming socialized to atrocity.4 In addition to cruel medical experiments, many Nazi doctors, as part of military units, were directly involved in killing. To reach that point, they underwent a sequence of socialization: first to the medical profession, always a self-protective guild; then to the military, where they adapted to the requirements of command; and finally to camps such as Auschwitz, where adaptation included assuming leadership roles in the existing death factory. The great majority of these doctors were ordinary people who had killed no one before joining murderous Nazi institutions. They were corruptible and certainly responsible for what they did, but they became murderers mainly in atrocity-producing settings.
When I presented my work on Nazi doctors to U.S. medical groups, I received many thoughtful responses, including expressions of concern about much less extreme situations in which American doctors might be exposed to institutional pressures to violate their medical conscience. Frequently mentioned examples were prison doctors who administered or guided others in giving lethal injections to carry out the death penalty and military doctors in Vietnam who helped soldiers to become strong enough to resume their assignments in atrocity-producing situations.
Physicians are no more or less moral than other people. But as heirs to shamans and witch doctors, we may be seen by others — and sometimes by ourselves — as possessing special magic in connection with life and death. Various regimes have sought to harness that magic to their own despotic ends. Physicians have served as actual torturers in Chile and elsewhere; have surgically removed ears as punishment for desertion in Saddam Hussein's Iraq; have incarcerated political dissenters in mental hospitals, notably in the Soviet Union; have, as whites in South Africa, falsified medical reports on blacks who were tortured or killed; and have, as Americans associated with the Central Intelligence Agency, conducted harmful, sometimes fatal, experiments involving drugs and mind control.
With the possible exception of the altering of death certificates, the recent transgressions of U.S. military doctors have apparently not been of this order. But these examples help us to recognize what doctors are capable of when placed in atrocity-producing situations. A recent statement by the Physicians for Human Rights addresses this vulnerability in declaring that "torture can also compromise the integrity of health professionals."5
To understand the full scope of American torture and abuse at Abu Ghraib and other prisons, we need to look more closely at the behavior of doctors and other medical personnel, as well as at the pressures created by the war in Iraq that produced this behavior. It is possible that some doctors, nurses, or medics took steps, of which we are not yet aware, to oppose the torture. It is certain that many more did not. But all those involved could nonetheless reveal, in valuable medical detail, much of what actually took place. By speaking out, they would take an important step toward reclaiming their role as healers.
From the Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Boston.
References 1. Zernike K. Only a few spoke up on abuse as many soldiers stayed silent. New York Times. May 22, 2004:A1.
2. Slevin P, Stephens J. Detainees' medical files shared: Guantanamo interrogators' access criticized. Washington Post. June 10, 2004:A1.
3. Squitieri T, Moniz D. U.S. Army re-examines deaths of Iraqi prisoners. USA Today. June 28, 2004.
4. Lifton RJ. The Nazi doctors: medical killing and the psychology of genocide. New York: Basic Books, 1986.
5. Statement of Leonard Rubenstein, executive director, Physicians for Human Rights, June 2, 2004. (Accessed July 9, 2004, at http://www.aclu.org/news/NewsPrint.cfm?ID=13965&c=36.)
Tout torture, get promoted
Defending cruelty can be a career booster in Bush's administration
What a revelation to learn that the Justice Department lawyer who wrote the infamous memo in effect defending torture is now a U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals judge. It tells you all you need to know about the sort of conservative to whom George W. Bush is turning in his attempt to pack the federal courts.
Conservatives once were identified with protecting the rights of the individual against the unbridled power of government, but this is not your grandfather's conservatism. The current brand running things in D.C. holds that the commander in chief is above all law and that the ends always justify the means. This has paved the way for the increasingly well-documented and systematic use of torture in an ad hoc gulag archipelago for those detained anywhere in the world under the overly broad rubric of the "war on terror."
Those still clinging to the hopeful notion that photographic evidence of beatings, dead detainees, sexual degradation and threats of electric shock were all the work of a few twisted reservists aren't reading the newspapers. Press accounts are following the paper trail up the chain of command to a heated and lengthy debate inside the White House about how much cruelty constitutes torture.
On Sunday, the Washington Post published on its website an internal White House memo from Aug. 1, 2002, signed by then-Assistant Atty. Gen. Jay S. Bybee, which argued darkly that torturing Al Qaeda captives "may be justified" and that international laws against torture "may be unconstitutional if applied to interrogations" conducted under President Bush. The memo then continued for 50 pages to make the case for the use of torture.
Was it as a reward for such bold legal thinking that only months later Bybee was appointed to one of the top judicial benches in the country? Perhaps he was anointed for his law journal articles bashing Roe vs. Wade and legal protection for homosexuals, or for his innovative attack on the 17th Amendment to the Constitution, which provides for the popular election of U.S. senators. But it's hard to shake the notion that his memo to Counsel to the President Alberto Gonzales established Bybee's hard-line credentials for an administration that has no use for moderation in any form.
This president has turned his war on terror into an excuse for undermining due process and bypassing Congress. For Bybee and his ideologue cohorts, however, the American president is now more akin to a king, and legal or moral restraints are simply problems that can be overcome later, if anybody bothers to question the tactics: "Finally, even if an interrogation method might violate Section 2340A [of the U.S. Torture Convention passed in 1994], necessity or self-defense could provide justification that would eliminate any criminal liability."
In fact, though, this was an argument of last resort for Bybee, whose definition of torture "covers only extreme acts … where the pain is physical, it must be of an intensity akin to that which accompanies serious physical injury such as death or organ failure…. Because the acts inflicting torture are extreme, there is [a] significant range of acts that, though they might constitute cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, fail to rise to the level of torture."
Bybee's generous standard should bring comfort to the totalitarian governments that find the brutal treatment of prisoners a handy tool in retaining power or fighting wars. Even Saddam Hussein, who always faced the threat of assassination and terrorism from foreign and domestic rivals, can now offer in his defense Bybee's memo that his actions were justifiable, on the grounds of "necessity or self-defense."
When confronted by the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee with the content of Bybee's torture defense, Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft responded that the memo did not guide the administration. Yet, the Bybee memo was clearly the basis for the working group report on detainee interrogations presented to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld a year later. And if Bybee's work was rejected as reprehensible, why was he rewarded -- with Ashcroft's deepest blessings -- with a lifetime appointment on the judicial bench only one level below the Supreme Court?
Frighteningly, the Bybee memo is not some oddball exercise in moral relativism but instead provides the most coherent explanation of how this administration came to one of its guiding beliefs: that to assure freedom and security at home and abroad, it should ape the tactics of brutal dictators.
May 2, 2004
Sunday Herald (Scotland)
The Pictures That Lost The War
Grim images of American and British soldiers torturing Iraqi prisoners have
not only caused disgust and revulsion in the West, but could have forever lost
Bush and Blair the moral high ground that they claimed to justify the invasion
by Neil Mackay
IT'S an image that would do Saddam proud. A terrified prisoner, hooded and
dressed in rags, his hands out-stretched on either side of him, electrodes
attached to his fingers and genitals. He's been forced to stand on a box about
one-foot square. His captors have told him that, if he falls off the box,
he'll be electrocuted.
The torture victim was an Iraqi and his torturers were American soldiers. The
picture captures the moment when members of the coalition forces, who styled
themselves liberators, were exposed as torturers. The image of the wired and
hooded Iraqi was one of a series of photographs, leaked by a horrified US
soldier inside Saddam's old punishment center, Abu Ghraib - now a US PoW camp.
When the images were flashed around the world by America's CBS television
network last Wednesday, there was a smug feeling within the UK that British
troops would never behave like that to their prisoners. But on Friday night,
the UK was treated to images - courtesy of the Daily Mirror - of British
soldiers urinating on a blood-stained Iraqi captive, holding guns against the
man's head, stamping on his face, kicking him in the mouth and beating him in
the groin with a rifle butt.
US soldiers force Iraqi prisoners to pose naked and wired for execution at
Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison.
The pictures of US soldiers torturing their captives have the added horror of
sexual abuse. In five of the 14 images that the Sunday Herald has seen, a
female soldier - identified as Lynndie England, a 21-year-old from a West
Virginia trailer park - is playing up to the camera while her captives are
tortured. In one picture, she's smiling and giving the thumbs-up. Her hand
rests on the buttocks of a naked and hooded Iraqi who has been forced to sit
on the shoulders of another Iraqi prisoner.
In another, she is sprawled laughing over a pyramid of naked Iraqis. A male
colleague stands behind her grinning. Later, she's got a cigarette clenched
between grinning lips and is pointing at the genitals of a line of naked,
hooded Iraqis. A third snap shows her embracing a colleague as a naked Iraqi
lies before them.
In other pictures, two naked Iraqis are forced to simulate oral sex and a
group of naked Iraqi men are made to clamber on to each other's backs. One
dreadful picture features nothing but the bloated face of an Iraqi who has
been beaten to death. His body is wrapped in plastic.
Other pictures, which the world has not seen, but which are in the hands of
the US military, include shots of a dog attacking a prisoner. An accused
soldier says dogs are "used for intimidation factors".
There are also pictures of an apparent male rape. An Iraqi PoW claims that a
civilian translator, hired to work in the prison, raped a male juvenile
prisoner. He said: "They covered all the doors with sheets. I heard the
screaming ... and the female soldier was taking pictures."
The British pictures show a hooded Iraqi aged between 18-20 on the floor of a
military truck being brutalized. According to two squaddies who took part in
the torture, but later blew the whistle, the Iraqi's ordeal lasted eight hours
and he was left with a broken jaw and missing teeth. He was bleeding and
vomited when his captors threw him out of a speeding truck. No-one knows if he
lived or died.
One of the British soldiers said: "Basically this guy was dying as he couldn't
take any more. An officer came down. It was "Get rid of him - I haven't seen
him'." The other whistle-blower said he had witnessed a prisoner being beaten
senseless by troops. "You could hear your mate's boots hitting this lad's
spine ... One of the lads broke his wrist off a prisoner's head. Another
nearly broke his foot kicking him."
According to the British soldiers, the military police have found a video of
prisoners being thrown from a bridge, and a prisoner was allegedly beaten to
death in custody by men from the Queen's Lancashire Regiment. Although there
is a debate about the veracity of the images, Armed Forces Minister Adam
Ingram said that if the pictures were real, they were "appalling". A Downing
Street spokesman said Tony Blair expected "the highest standards of conduct
from our forces in Iraq". The UK's most senior army officer, General Mike
Jackson, said that if the allegations were true then those involved were "not
fit to wear the Queen's uniform". The Defense Ministry is in crisis over the
pictures as top brass know they ruin any hope of UK forces winning Iraqi
hearts and minds.
The US torture pictures were taken by members of the American 800th Military
Police Brigade sometime late last year. Following an investigation, 17
soldiers were removed from duty for mistreating captives. Six face court
martial. Brigadier General Janice Karpinski, who ran Abu Ghraib and three
other US military jails, is suspended and faces court martial. Prior to the
revelations, Karpinski assured the US media that Abu Ghraib was run according
to "international standards".
Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, deputy director of coalition operations in
Iraq, said he was "appalled". He added: "These are our fellow soldiers. They
wear the same uniform as us, and they let their fellow soldiers down. Our
soldiers could be taken prisoner as well - and we expect our soldiers to be
treated well by the adversary, by the enemy - and if we can't hold ourselves
up as an example of how to treat people with dignity and respect ... we can't
ask that other nations do that to our soldiers as well. This is wrong. This is
reprehensible. But this is not representative of the 150,000 soldiers over here."
But these soldiers aren't simply mavericks. Some accused claim they acted on
the orders of military intelligence and the CIA, and that some of the torture
sessions were under the control of mercenaries hired by the US to conduct
interrogations. Two "civilian contract" organizations taking part in
interrogations at Abu Ghraib are linked to the Bush administration.
California-based Titan Corporation says it is "a leading provider of solutions
and services for national security". Between 2003-04, it gave nearly $40,000
to George W Bush's Republican Party. Titan supplied translators to the military.
CACI International Inc. describes its aim as helping "America's intelligence
community in the war on terrorism". Richard Armitage, the current deputy US
secretary of state, sat on CACI's board.
No civilians, however, are facing charges as military law does not apply to
them. Colonel Jill Morgenthaler, from CentCom, said that one civilian
contractor was accused along with six soldiers of mistreating prisoners.
However, it was left to the contractor to "deal with him". One civilian
interrogator told army investigators that he had "unintentionally" broken
several tables during interrogations as he was trying to "fear-up" detainees.
Lawyers for some accused say their clients are scapegoats for a rogue prison
system, which allowed mercenaries to give orders to serving soldiers. A
military report said private contractors were at times supervising the
Kimmitt said: "I hope the investigation is including not only the people who
committed the crimes, but some of the people who might have encouraged the
crimes as well because they certainly share some responsibility."
Last night, CACI vice-president Jody Brown said: "The company supports the
Army's investigation and acknowledges that CACI personnel in Iraq volunteered
to be interviewed by army officials in connection with the investigation. The
company has received no indication that any CACI employee was involved in any
alleged improper conduct with Iraqi prisoners. Nonetheless, CACI has initiated
an independent investigation."
However, military investigators said: "A CACI investigator's contract was
terminated because he allowed and/or instructed military police officers who
were not trained in interrogation techniques to facilitate interrogations
which were neither authorized nor in accordance with regulations."
One of the US soldiers facing court martial is reservist Staff Sergeant Chip
Frederick - the equivalent of a part-time territorial army squaddie. In civvy
street, he was a prison warder in Virginia. Frederick has said he will plead
not guilty and blame the army for the torture at Abu Ghraib. "We had no
support, no training whatsoever," he said, claiming he had never been shown
the Geneva Convention. "I kept asking my chain of command for certain things
like rules and regulations and it just wasn't happening."
Frederick also blamed the intelligence services for encouraging the brutality.
Among the agencies coming to the prison were "military intelligence", says
Frederick, adding: "We had all kinds of other government agencies, FBI, CIA."
In letters and e-mails home, he wrote: "Military intelligence has encouraged
and told us "Great job'." He added: "They usually don't allow others to watch
them interrogate. But since they like the way I run the prison, they have made
an exception ... We help getting [the PoWs] to talk with the way we handle
them ... We've had a very high rate with our style of getting them to break.
They usually end up breaking within hours."
Frederick said prisoners were made to live in cramped windowless cells with no
clothes, running water or toilet for up to three days. Others were held for 60
days before interrogation. He said one prisoner with a mental health condition
was "shot with non-lethal rounds". An interrogator told soldiers to "stress
one prisoner out as much as possible [as] he wanted to talk to him the next
day". Frederick also said one prisoner was "stressed so bad that the man
passed away". Prisoners were covered in lice and some had tuberculosis. None
were allowed to pray. Frederick said his commander sanctioned all this.
The former commander of Guantanamo Bay prison, Major General Geoffrey Miller,
has now been made deputy commander for containment operations to overhaul the
Iraqi detention centers.
Frederick, unlike mercenaries, faces jail and being thrown out of the army.
His lawyer, Gary Myers, said: "The elixir of power, the elixir of believing
that you're helping the CIA, for God's sake, when you're from a small town in
Virginia, that's intoxicating. And so, good guys sometimes do things believing
that they are being of assistance and helping a just cause ... and helping
people they view as important."
Kimmitt admitted: "I'd like to sit here and say that these are the only
prisoner abuse cases that we're aware of, but we know that there have been
This also applies to Britain. A Sunday Herald investigation has found that at
least seven civilians have died in British custody in Iraq.
Describing the images of abuse as an "atrocity", Abdel Bari Atwan, editor of
the newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi, said: "The liberators are worse than the
dictators." His sentiments have been echoed around the world. It is hard to
find a country or agency that hasn't condemned the torture of Iraqi prisoners.
>From the Red Cross to the UN and from Amnesty to the coalition's loyal "deputy
in the Pacific", the Australian premier John Howard, the world is united in
horror against the actions of the US and UK forces.
The awful cost of these acts of barbarism by Britain and America is summed up
by ex-US Marine Lieutenant Colonel Bill Cowan: "We went to Iraq to stop things
like this from happening, and indeed, here they are happening under our
tutelage ... If we don't tell this story, these kind of things will continue,
and we'll end up getting paid back 100 or 1000 times over."
© 2004 newsquest (sunday herald) limited
Torture: as American as apple pie
May 5, 2004
Torture's back in the news, courtesy of those lurid pictures of exultant Americans laughing as they torture their Iraqi captives in a prison run by the U.S. military outside Baghdad. Apparently it takes electrodes and naked bodies piled in a simulated orgy to tickle America's moral nerve ends. Kids maimed by cluster bombs just don't do it anymore. But torture's nothing new.
One of the darkest threads in postwar U.S. imperial history has been the CIA's involvement with torture as instructor, practitioner or contractor. Since its inception the CIA has taken a keen interest in torture, avidly studying Nazi techniques and protecting their exponents, such as Klaus Barbie. The CIA's official line is that torture is wrong and ineffective. It is indeed wrong. On countless occasions it has been appallingly effective.
Remember Dan Mitrione, kidnapped and killed by Uruguay's Tupamaros and portrayed by Yves Montand in Costa-Gavras' film "State of Siege"? In the late 1960s, Mitrione worked for the U.S. Office of Public Safety, part of the Agency for International Development. In Brazil, so A.J. Langguth (a former New York Times bureau chief in Saigon) related in his book "Hidden Terrors," Mitrione was among the U.S. advisers teaching Brazilian police how much electric shock to apply to prisoners without killing them. In Uruguay, according to the former chief of police intelligence, Mitrione helped "professionalize" torture as a routine measure and advised on psychological techniques such as playing tapes of women and children screaming that the prisoner's family was being tortured.
In the months after the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, "truth drugs" were hailed by some columnists such as Newsweek's Jonathan Alter for use in the war against Al Qaeda. This was an enthusiasm shared by the U.S. Navy after the war against Hitler, when its intelligence officers got on the trail of Dr. Kurt Plotner's research into "truth serums" at Dachau. Plotner gave Jewish and Russian prisoners high doses of mescaline and then observed their behavior, in which they expressed hatred for their guards and made confessional statements about their own psychological makeup.
Start torturing and it's easy to get carried away. Torture destroys the tortured and corrupts the society that sanctions it. Just like the FBI after September 11, the CIA in 1968 got frustrated by its inability to break suspected leaders of Vietnam's National Liberation Front by its usual methods of interrogation and torture. So the agency began more advanced experiments, in one of which it anesthetized three prisoners, opened their skulls and planted electrodes in their brains. They were revived, put in a room and given knives. The CIA psychologists then activated the electrodes, hoping the prisoners would attack one another. They didn't. The electrodes were removed, the prisoners shot and their bodies burned. You can read about it in Gordon Thomas' book "Journey into Madness."
In recent years, the United States has been charged by the United Nations and also by human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International with tolerating torture in U.S. prisons, by methods ranging from solitary, 23-hour-a-day confinement in concrete boxes for years on end, to activating 50,000-volt shocks through a mandatory belt worn by prisoners. And as a practical matter, torture is far from unknown in the interrogation rooms of U.S. law enforcement, with Abner Louima sodomized by a cop using a stick in one notorious recent example.
The most infamous disclosure of consistent torture by a police department in recent years concerned cops in Chicago in the mid-'70s through early '80s who used electroshock, oxygen deprivation, hanging on hooks, the bastinado and beatings of the testicles. The torturers were white, and their victims black or brown. A prisoner in California's Pelican Bay State Prison was thrown into boiling water. Others get 50,000-volt shocks from stun guns. Many states have so-called "secure housing units" where prisoners are kept in solitary in tiny concrete cells for years on end, many of them going mad in the process. Amnesty International has denounced U.S. police forces for "a pattern of unchecked excessive force amounting to torture."
In 2000, the U.N. delivered a severe public rebuke to the United States for its record on preventing torture and degrading punishment. A 10-strong panel of experts highlighted what it said were Washington's breaches of the agreement ratified by the United States in 1994. The U.N. Committee Against Torture, which monitors international compliance with the U.N. Convention Against Torture, has called for the abolition of electric-shock stun belts (1,000 in use in the U.S.) and restraint chairs on prisoners, as well as an end to holding children in adult jails. It also said female detainees are "very often held in humiliating and degrading circumstances" and expressed concern over alleged cases of sexual assault by police and prison officers. The panel criticized the excessively harsh regime in maximum security prisons, the use of chain gangs in which prisoners perform manual labor while shackled together, and the number of cases of police brutality against racial minorities.
So far as rape is concerned, because of the rape factories more conventionally known as the U.S. prison system, there are estimates that twice as many men as women are raped in the United States each year. A Human Rights Watch report in April of 2001 cited a December 2000 Prison Journal study based on a survey of inmates in seven men's prison facilities in four states. The results showed that 21 percent of the inmates had experienced at least one episode of pressured or forced sexual contact since being incarcerated, and at least 7 percent had been raped in their facilities. A 1996 study of the Nebraska prison system produced similar findings, with 22 percent of male inmates reporting that they had been pressured or forced to have sexual contact against their will while incarcerated. Of these, more than 50 percent had submitted to forced anal sex at least once. Extrapolating these findings to the national level gives a total of at least 140,000 inmates who have been raped.
Alexander Cockburn is coeditor with Jeffrey St. Clair of the muckraking newsletter CounterPunch. To find out more about Alexander Cockburn and read features by other columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2004 CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.
www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Blum/Uruguay_KH.html - from Killing Hope by William Blum
"People were in prison so that prices could be free."
— dissident Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano
The American torture-training role …
"The precise pain, in the precise place, in the precise amount, for the desired effect." — Dan Mitrione, head of the US "Office of Public Safety" in Montevideo, 1969-1970
"The violent methods [of "routine torture"] which were beginning to be employed [by "US advisers, and in particular Mitrione"] caused an escalation in Tupamaro activity. Before then their attitude showed that they would use violence only as a last resort." Alejandro Otero, Uruguayan Chief of Police Intelligence, CIA agent, demoted for his testimony
"One of the pieces of equipment that was found useful was a wire so very thin that it could be fitted into the mouth between the teeth and by pressing the gum increase the electrical charge. And it was through the diplomatic pouch that Mitrione got some of the equipment he needed for interrogations, including these fine wires." — New York Times’ A.J. Langguth, 1981 interview
Torture becomes a "normal, frequent and habitual occurrence" including "electric shocks to the genitals, electric needles under the fingernails, burning with cigarettes, the slow compression of the testicles, daily use of psychological torture", … "pregnant women were imprisoned with their very young infants and subjected to the same treatment" — unamimous conclusion of [Uruguayan] Senate Commission of Inquiry into Torture
"Between 1969 and 1973, at least thirteen Uruguayan police officers went through an eight-week course at CIA/OPS schools in Washington and Los Fresnos, Texas in the design, manufacture and employment of bombs and incendiary devices … there was no instruction in destroying bombs" — report based on US State Department documents obtained by Senator James Abourezk in 1973
"As subjects for the first testing they took beggars … from the outskirts of Montevideo, as well as a woman apparently from the frontier area with Brazil. There was no interrogation, only a demonstration of the effects of different voltages on the different parts of the human body…. The four of them died." — Manuel Hevia Cosculluela, former CIA agent and associate of Mitrione
Mitrione’s demise, and the role of the SOA …
Dan Mitrione was finally kidnapped in 1970 by the Tupamoros. They do not torture him. They demand the release of some 150 prisoners in exchange for him. With the determined backing of the Nixon administration, the Uruguayan government refuses. … Mitrione’s dead body is found on the back seat of a stolen car.
"Mr. Mitrione’s devoted service to the cause of peaceful progress in an orderly world will remain as an example for free men everywhere." — Ron Ziegler, White House spokesperson
Mitrione’s "Office of Public Safety" has trained over a million policemen in the Third World. Ten thousand receiving advanced training in the US. The OPS was finally abolished by Congress in the mid-70s. But within a year Drug Enforcement Administration agents are engaging in many of the same activities the OPS had been carrying out. — 1975 report of the General Accounting Office
A former Uruguayan intelligence officer declares that US manuals were being used to teach techniques of torture to his country’s military. He said that most of the officers who trained him had attended classes run by the United States in Panama [i.e., the School of the Americas]. Among other niceties, the manuals list 35 nerve points where electrodes can be applied. — San Francisco Chronicle, 11/2/81
former CIA agent John Stockwell, The Secret Wars of the CIA, June 1986:
We had the `public safety program' going throughout Central and Latin America for 26 years, in which we taught them to break up subversion by interrogating people. Interrogation, including torture, the way the CIA taught it. Dan Mitrione, the famous exponent of these things, did 7 years in Brazil and 3 in Uruguay, teaching interrogation, teaching torture.He was supposed to be the master of the business, how to apply the right amount of pain, at just the right times, in order to get the response you want from the individual.
They developed a wire. They gave them crank generators, with `U.S. AID' written on the side, so the people even knew where these things came from. They developed a wire that was strong enough to carry the current and fine enough to fit between the teeth, so you could put one wire between the teeth and the other one in or around the genitals and you could crank and submit the individual to the greatest amount of pain, supposedly, that the human body can register.
Now how do you teach torture? Dan Mitrione: `I can teach you about torture, but sooner or later you'll have to get involved. You'll have to lay on your hands and try it yourselves.'
... All they [the guinea pigs, beggars from off the streets] could do was lie there and scream. And when they would collapse, they would bring in doctors and shoot them up with vitamin B and rest them up for the next class. And when they would die, they would mutilate the bodies and throw them out on the streets, to terrify the population so they would be afraid of the police and the government.
And this is what the CIA was teaching them to do. And one of the women who was in this program for 2 years - tortured in Brazil for 2 years - she testified internationally when she eventually got out. She said, `The most horrible thing about it was in fact, that the people doing the torture were not raving psychopaths.' She couldn't break mental contact with them the way you could if they were psychopath. They were very ordinary people....
There's a lesson in all of this. And the lesson is that it isn't only Gestapo maniacs, or KGB maniacs, that do inhuman things to other people, it's people that do inhuman things to other people. And we are responsible for doing these things, on a massive basis, to people of the world today. And we do it in a way that gives us this plausible denial to our own consciences; we create a CIA, a secret police, we give them a vast budget, and we let "them" go and run these programs in our name, and we pretend like we don't know it's going on, although the information is there for us to know; and we pretend like it's ok because we're fighting some vague communist threat. And we're just as responsible for these 1 to 3 million people we've slaughtered and for all the people we've tortured and made miserable, as the Gestapo was the people that they've slaughtered and killed. Genocide is genocide!
The `Pre-emptive Strikes' bill. President Reagan, working through the
Secretary of State Shultz... almost 2 years ago, submitted the bill that
would provide them with the authority to strike at terrorists before terrorists
can do their terrorism. But this bill... provides that they would be able
to do this in "this" country as well as overseas. It provides
that the secretary of state would put together a list of people that he
considers to be terrorist, or terrorist supporters, or terrorist sympathizers.
And if your name, or your organization, is put on this list, they could
kick down your door and haul you away, or kill you, without any due process
of the law and search warrants and trial by jury, and all of that, with
Now, there was a tremendous outcry on the part of jurists. The New York Times columns and other newspapers saying, `this is no different from Hitler's "night and fog" program', where the government had the authority to haul people off at night. And they did so by the thousands. And President Reagan and Secretary Shultz have persisted.... Shultz has said, `Yes, we will have to take action on the basis of information that would never stand up in a court. And yes, innocent people will have to be killed in the process. But, we must have this law because of the threat of international terrorism'.
Think a minute. What is `the threat of international terrorism'? These things catch a lot of attention. But how many Americans died in terrorist actions last year? According to Secretary Shultz, 79. Now, obviously that's terrible but we killed 55,000 people on our highways with drunken driving; we kill 2,500 people in far nastier, bloodier, mutilating, gang-raping ways in Nicaragua last year alone ourselves. Obviously 79 peoples' death is not enough reason to take away the protection of American citizens, of due process of the law.
But they're pressing for this. The special actions teams that will do the pre-emptive striking have already been created, and trained in the defense department.
They're building detention centers. There were 8 kept as mothballs under the McCarran act after World War II, to detain aliens and dissidents in the next war, as was done in the next war, as was done with the Japanese people during World War II. They're building 10 more, and army camps, and the... executive memos about these things say it's for aliens and dissidents in the next national emergency....
FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, headed by Loius Guiffrida, a friend of Ed Meese's.... He's going about the country lobbying and demanding that he be given authority, in the times of national emergency, to declare martial law, and establish a curfew, and gun down people who violate the curfew... in the United States.
And then there's Ed Meese, as I said. The highest law enforcement officer in the land, President Reagan's closest friend, going around telling us that the constitution never did guarantee freedom of speech and press, and due process of the law, and assembly.
What they are planning for this society, and this is why they're determined to take us into a war if we'll permit it... is the Reagan revolution.... So he's getting himself some laws so when he puts in the troops in Nicaragua, he can take charge of the American people, and put people in jail, and kick in their doors, and kill them if they don't like what he's doing....
Alan Dershowitz: "The US is now, currently engaged
in torturing people"
The law of torture
Radio Netherlands: 04/18/03
With US troops in Iraq having caught only a handful of high-level members of Saddam Hussein's destroyed regime, pressure is mounting to discover the whereabouts of remaining Iraqi fugitives. The invading coalition forces have also failed to discover significant amounts of proscribed chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons, undermining one of the key justifications of the war, and increasing reliance on key information known only to Iraqi prisoners.
Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz says this pressing need for information means that torture is now undoubtedly already being used by coalition forces in Iraq. In this Radio Netherlands interview, he explains why he believes it would be better to legislate the use of torture rather than pretend it doesn't exist:"We know in every war prisoners of war who are captured on the field are tortured to obtain information. It happened in the First World War, it happened in the Second World War, it will happen in any ongoing battle. And so the question is, should it be done with accountability? The US Court of Appeal recently ruled that there is no judicial control over what happens on the battlefield or what happens in Guantanamo, and that's wrong. There should always be judicial control. The US is now, currently engaged in torturing people in two different ways. One directly; we're making people stand on tiptoes, with their arms chained to walls, naked. We're slapping them, and pistol-whipping them according to The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, in one case we refused to administer painkillers to someone we had shot and wounded during capture. And then, even worse, indirectly; we are subcontracting our torture to other countries. We are sending people to the Philippines, to Jordan, to Egypt, to Morocco, countries that we know will torture people, and we are making use of their torture information. So the worse thing to do is not discuss it, we must discuss it, and it's the obligation of an academic, of a professor, to discuss the undiscussable."
RN: "Is it better then to have some sort of legal precedent for what is going on?"
"I think we should never do anything in a democratic society unless we are prepared to include it within the law. If we are not prepared to include it within the law we should not be doing it, and if we are doing it, we should be prepared to have accountability, record-keeping, authorisation from the President or the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Democracy requires accountability."
RN: "Why is it better to have it out in the open, if it is still going to go on regardless?"
"Because it might not go on if we do it out in the open. There might be public protests against it. There will be limitations imposed, for instance the distinction between lethal and non-lethal physical force, the requirement of a high degree of necessity. The only way you get limitations is with public accountability, otherwise you get the slippery slope."
RN: "You have spoken a little about a torture warrant, where investigators who are trying to get information from a suspect would have to get a warrant, say, from a judge. Could you just explain to me how that would work and under what circumstances."
"Well, I don't myself approve of torture. But I am arguing that every democracy – the Netherlands, England, France, Germany, every democracy, the US, Israel – will engage in torture, and my requirement would be that if you are going to do it, you have to give advance approval, you have to show the justification, you have to explain the sources of your information, you have show it's the last resort, and you have to allow the judge to impose limits on what you're allowed to do. For instance, in Jordan, they torture the relatives of terrorists; we would not permit that in a democratic country under any circumstances, the torturing of innocent relatives. But a guilty terrorist, being subjected to painful but non-permanent injury, might be permitted. These are the kinds of distinctions and limitations that civilised society ought to be discussing."
Torture in the "War on Terror"
US interrogators turn to "torture lite"
www.chss.montclair.edu/english/furr/langguthleaf.html US torture in Latin America (the case of Daniel Mitrione, US torture advisor in Brazil and Uruguay - his work was immortalized in the movie "State of Siege" and the book "Hidden Terrors" by New York Times reporter A J Langguth)
Reports of Torture of al-Qaeda suspects (Human Rights Watch) http://www.hrw.org/press/2002/12/us1227.htm
Egypt: Anti-War activists arrested and tortured
ABC News: Can US officials torture terrorists?
Observer: Briton tells of ordeal in Bush's torture jail
Guantanamo detainees say US military tortured them
By Robert Verkaik and Ian Herbert
13 March 2004
Two of the British men freed from Guantanamo Bay have accused their American captors of inhuman treatment, which included being beaten and interrogated at gunpoint.
Jamal al-Harith, 37, told yesterday's Mirror newspaper how a squad of five US military police attacked him with batons, fists, feet and knives after he refused to receive an injection. Mr Harith, of Manchester, said the squad, from the US military's Extreme Reaction Force, chanted "comply, comply. Do not resist. Do not resist," while conducting the attack. "They were really gung-ho, hyped up and aggressive," he said. "One of them attacked me really hard and left me with a deep red mark from my backbone down to my knee." Half an hour later, a second attack was carried out on him.
"The beatings were not nearly as bad as the psychological torture - bruises heal after a week but the other stuff stays with you. The whole point of Guantanamo was to get to you psychologically," Mr Harith, a divorced father-of-three, told the newspaper, which paid him for his story.
Tareq Dergoul, another of the five Britons released from the Cuban camp on Tuesday, also alleges he was the victim of a botched operation which led to the amputation of his arm in his first account of his two years' detention. Mr Dergoul, 26, a former care worker from Bethnal Green, east London, made it clear yesterday that he holds the British government equally responsible for his ordeal.
Mr Dergoul is believed to have been captured by American forces near the Taliban strong-hold of Tora Bora in Afghanistan before being taken to Bagram airbase. It is understood that he suffered injuries to his arm and had to have it amputated by an American medical team.
In a statement issued yesterday through his solicitor, Louise Christian, it was clear that he was finding it difficult describing his terrible experiences to his family. The statement said: "Tareq Dergoul has started to try to give his family and his solicitor Louise Christian an account of the horrific things which happened to him during detention at Bagram, Kandahar and Guantanamo Bay. This has included an account of botched medical treatment, interrogation at gunpoint, beatings and inhuman conditions."
It added: "Tareq Dergoul condemns the US and the UK governments for these gross breaches of human rights and demands the immediate release of all the other detainees at Guantanamo Bay.
"Tareq finds it very difficult to talk about things and his family believe his mental health has been severely affected by the trauma he has suffered. We therefore appeal to the media to respect his privacy and not to try and find him.
"His family do not anticipate that he will be speaking to any journalists in the foreseeable future because of his poor health."
Ms Christian also made it clear yesterday that the publicist Max Clifford would not be helping Mr Dergoul to sell his story. She said: "Max Clifford has never met Tareq Dergoul and he never will."
In addition to the beatings, Mr Harith said the abuse at the camp included US soldiers bringing in prostitutes and parading them naked in front of devout Muslims.
On at least 10 occasions, prisoners who had never before seen an "unveiled" woman would be forced to watch them parade up and down, touching their own bodies. "It was a profoundly disturbing experience for these men," he said. "They would refuse to speak about what had happened. It would take perhaps four weeks for them to tell a friend." Mr al Harithsaid he accidentally strayed into Afghanistan, believing he had paid a lorry driver to take him to Turkey, via Iran. He was arrested there on allegations of spying.
Camp X-Ray Regime
The regime, as Mr Harith describes it:
• Prisoners were shackled for up to 15 hours at a time in hand and leg cuffs with links that cut into the skin
• They were kept in wire cages that were open to the elements, as well as rats, snakes and scorpions
• Psychological torture included being denied water before prayers, meaning Muslims could not wash according to their religion, and depriving one inmate of food, while the others on a block ate
• Force feeding was used to end a hunger strike by 70 per cent of the 600 inmates, which started after a guard kicked a copy of the Koran
• When carrying out an amputation, US medical staff often removed more of a limb than was necessary
• Prisoners were left malnourished by a diet of porridge and fruit. Some food was 10 years out of date
• Treats included pizzas, ice cream and McDonald's and the occasional chance to watch a James Bond film
Amnesty International Report: US Exports $20 million of Shackles, Electro-Shock Technology
Expanding Global Trade Supplies States US Condemned for Torture
December 2, 2003 (Washington, DC) – A new Amnesty International report charges that in 2002, the Bush Administration violated the spirit of its own export policy and approved the sale of equipment implicated in torture to Yemen, Jordan, Morocco and Thailand, despite the countries' documented use of such weapons to punish, mistreat and inflict torture on prisoners. The US is also alleged to have handed suspects in the 'war on terror' to the same countries.
The total value of US exports of electro-shock weapons was $14.7 million in 2002 and exports of restraints totaled $4.4 million in the same period. The Commerce and State Departments approved these sales, permitting 45 countries to purchase electro-shock technology, including 19 that had been cited for the use of such weapons to inflict torture since 1990.
The report – The Pain Merchants – also reveals that the US approved the 2002 export to Saudi Arabia of nine tons of Smith & Wesson leg-irons. Former prisoners in Saudi Arabia have stated that their restraints were stamped with the name of Smith & Wesson. In a 2000 Amnesty International report, Phil Lomax, a UK national who was held for 17 days in 1999, recounted how shackles used in Malaz prison in Riyadh, were made in the US: "When[ever] we were taken out of the cell we were shackled and handcuffed. The shackles were very painful. They were made of steel... like a handcuff ring. The handcuffs were made in the USA."
"Although torture is endemic in Saudi Arabia, Smith and Wesson had no qualms about exporting approximately 10,000 leg-irons to Riyadh, and apparently sharing this lack of concern, the Bush Administration approved the sale," said Dr. William F. Schulz, Executive Director of Amnesty International USA (AIUSA). "For decades, human rights groups and the US State Department have documented Saudi Arabia's cruel use of leg-irons and shackles to inflict torture and force confessions. With this shameful shipment, we can expect the torture of religious minorities and peaceful protestors to continue for years to come."
Amnesty International acknowledges that the US government made several positive changes in recent years, including creating an excellent export policy predicated on human rights standards that created well-defined export categories and required export licenses for electro-shock equipment to all countries except Canada. However, Amnesty International is alarmed that the policy is being improperly implemented. In particular, the policy has not prevented the approval of exports even when there is a significant risk of their use for torture in the destination country.
In 2001, the US approved three sales of electro-shock weapons to Turkey, despite continued widespread use of such technology to torture. In a 2002 case, a 17-year-old schoolgirl who had been detained for distributing leaflets calling for Kurdish education was stripped, threatened with rape and tortured with electric shocks to her feet, legs and stomach.
"The US needs to completely close the loopholes that have allowed the re-supply of this technology to countries that torture," said Maureen Greenwood, AIUSA's Advocacy Director for Europe. "Representatives Tom Lantos (D-CA) and Henry Hyde (R-IL) have worked to codify in law greater oversight of torture equipment exports, and are currently working on legislation that places restrictions on crime control exports to foreign governments that have a record of repeatedly engaging in acts of torture. The administration should give this legislation its unqualified support."
Worldwide, there are now at least 856 companies in 47 countries involved in the manufacture or marketing of electro-shock technology, restraints and chemical irritants that are prone to be used to torture. A 2001 survey by Amnesty International found more than 80 such firms – 1 in 10 – were in the United States.
The number of manufacturers of electro-shock technology has more than doubled since 1997, when Amnesty International documented 20 such firms. For the period 1999-2003, Amnesty International found at least 59 manufacturers of electro-shock weapons in 12 countries, including 8 firms in the US. For the same period, Amnesty International found 21 manufacturers of leg cuffs, leg-irons and shackles in 11 countries, of which six were US companies.
U.S. USED TORTURE IN AFGHANISTAN
SUZANNE GOLDENBERG AND JAMES MEEK, GUARDIAN - New evidence has emerged that US forces in Afghanistan engaged in widespread Abu Ghraib-style abuse, taking "trophy photographs" of detainees and carrying out rape and sexual humiliation. Documents obtained by the Guardian contain evidence that such abuses took place in the main detention centre at Bagram, near the capital Kabul, as well as at a smaller US installation near the southern city of Kandahar.
The documents also indicate that US soldiers covered up abuse in
Afghanistan and in Iraq - even after the Abu Ghraib scandal last year.
A thousand pages of evidence from US army investigations released to the
American Civil Liberties Union after a long legal battle, and made
available to the Guardian, show that an Iraqi detained at Tikrit in
September 2003 was forced to withdraw his report of abuse after soldiers
told him he would be held indefinitely.
Meanwhile, photographs taken in southern Afghanistan showing US soldiers
from the 22nd Infantry Battalion posing in mock executions of
blindfolded and bound detainees, were purposely destroyed after the Abu
Ghraib scandal to avoid "another public outrage", the documents show.
FILES SUGGEST U.S. TROOPS TRIED TO HIDE TORTURE
BOSTON GLOBE - A former Iraqi detainee told Army investigators that a
soldier forced him to sign a statement that he had not been abused even
though American interrogators in September 2003 had dislocated his arms,
beaten his leg with a bat, crushed his nose, and put an unloaded gun in
his mouth and pulled the trigger, according to newly released internal
military documents. In addition, a sergeant at a military camp in
southern Afghanistan told an Army investigator in July 2004 that his
unit erased a series of digital photographs showing guards beating
detainees and aiming guns at hooded prisoners. The sergeant said the
pictures were deleted after photos from the Abu Ghraib prison appeared
in the media, out of the unit's fear that the pictures could spark a
second wave of scandal. . .
"These raise the question of how many other allegations of abuse
buried in the same way," said Jameel Jaffer, a staff attorney with the
American Civil Liberties Union, which has filed a Freedom of Information
Act request seeking government documents on detainee abuses. "That's
very troubling because we already think that abuse was pervasive, but
maybe there is a whole layer of abuse that we haven't seen."
Stories from the Inside
By Bob Herbert
The New York Times
Monday 07 February 2005
During the whole time we were at Guantanamo," said Shafiq Rasul, "we were at a high level of fear. When we first got there the level was sky-high. At the beginning we were terrified that we might be killed at any minute. The guards would say to us, 'We could kill you at any time.' They would say, 'The world doesn't know you're here. Nobody knows you're here. All they know is that you're missing, and we could kill you and no one would know.' "
The horror stories from the scandalous interrogation camp that the United States is operating at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, are coming to light with increased frequency. At some point the whole shameful tale of this exercise in extreme human degradation will be told. For the time being we have to piece together what we can from a variety of accounts that have escaped the government's obsessively reinforced barriers of secrecy.
We know that people were kept in cells that in some cases were the equivalent of animal cages, and that some detainees, disoriented and despairing, have been shackled like slaves and left to soil themselves with their own urine and feces. Detainees are frequently kicked, punched, beaten and sexually humiliated. Extremely long periods of psychologically damaging isolation are routine.
This is all being done in the name of fighting terror. But the best evidence seems to show that many of the people rounded up and dumped without formal charges into Guantanamo had nothing to do with terror. They just happened to be unfortunate enough to get caught in one of Uncle Sam's depressingly indiscriminate sweeps. Which is what happened to Shafiq Rasul, who was released from Guantanamo about a year ago. His story is instructive, and has not been told widely enough.
Mr. Rasul was one of three young men, all friends, from the British town of Tipton who were among thousands of people seized in Afghanistan in the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001. They had been there, he said, to distribute food and medical supplies to impoverished Afghans.
The three were interviewed soon after their release by Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, which has been in the forefront of efforts to secure legal representation for Guantanamo detainees.
Under extreme duress at Guantanamo, including hundreds of hours of interrogation and long periods of isolation, the three men confessed to having been in a terrorist training camp in Afghanistan. They also said they were among a number of men who could be seen in a videotape of Osama bin Laden. The tape had been made in August 2000.
For the better part of two years, Mr. Rasul and his friends, Asif Iqbal and Rhuhel Ahmed, had denied involvement in any terror activity whatsoever. But Mr. Rasul said they eventually succumbed to long months of physical and psychological abuse. Mr. Rasul had been held in isolation for several weeks (his second sustained period of isolation) when an interrogator showed him the video of bin Laden. He said she told him: "I've put detainees here in isolation for 12 months and eventually they've broken. You might as well admit it now."
"I could not bear another day of isolation, let alone the prospect of another year," said Mr. Rasul. He confessed.
The three men, all British citizens, were saved by British intelligence officials, who proved that they had been in England when the video was shot, and during the time they were supposed to have been in Al Qaeda training camps. All three were returned to England, where they were released from custody.
Mr. Rasul has said many times that he and his friends were freed only because their alibis were corroborated. But they continue to worry about the many other Guantanamo detainees who may be innocent but have no way of proving it.
The Bush administration has turned Guantanamo into a place that is devoid of due process and the rule of law. It's a place where human beings can be imprisoned for life without being charged or tried, without ever seeing a lawyer, and without having their cases reviewed by a court. Congress and the courts should be uprooting this evil practice, but freedom and justice in the United States are on a post-9/11 downhill slide.
So we are stuck for the time being with the disgrace of Guantanamo, which will forever be a stain on the history of the United States, like the internment of the Japanese in World War II.
"Non Lethal" weapons - a new form of mass torture
Guardian Unlimited Observer | International | Army's secret 'people
European Parliament report on new technologies of repression - amazing report on the new techniques of fascist repression - should be mandatory reading for everyone concerned about the police state