Done in your name: Survivors of CIA's torture-decade describe their ordeals

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For nearly a decade, the CIA kidnapped people from over 20 countries, held them without trial or counsel, and viciously tortured them, sometimes to death -- but the only person to serve jail time for the program is the man who blew the whistle on it, and that's thanks in part to Obama's insistence that "Nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past." Read the rest

Newly released police reports describe Michael Jackson’s very disturbing porn collection

Reuters

(UPDATE BELOW)

Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department documents obtained by Radar Online describe materials depicting "animal torture" and "nude children" that were found during a 2003 search of Michael Jackson's Neverland ranch. The issue of pornography in the Michael Jackson child abuse investigations first arose about a decade ago. The pop music icon died seven years ago, but the ugly secrets of his alleged abuse keep surfacing.

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Guy Fawkes signature, before and after torture

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In 1605 an English Catholic man named Guy ("Guido") Fawkes joined 12 other Catholics in an attempt to to blow up the Houses of Parliament with 36 barrels of gunpowder. Fawkes was caught red handed in the cellar of the Parliament. He was tortured an executed. Here's how his signature appeared, before and after torture.

In those days, England didn't take kindly to Catholics, especially ones who tried to kill Queens and members of Parliament. I recently read Simon Singh's excellent The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography which has a chapter about Mary Queen of Scotts who, while under house arrest in the late 1500s, sent encrypted messages to a group of Catholic men conspiring to assassinate Queen Elizabeth and put Mary on the throne. The men were captured and gruesomely executed in front of a crowd of gawkers. As Elizabethan historian William Camden wrote, the conspirators were “cut down, their privities were cut off, bowelled alive and seeing, and quartered.” Mary, being a Queen, was merely beheaded. Read the rest

George W. Bush's torture-justifying lawyer is worried about Trump's respect for the law

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When John Yoo thinks you're an unacceptably authoritarian threat to the rule of law, does that make you one of the baddies? The New York Times reports on conservative legal eagles unsettled by Trump's naked threats to wield presidential power against his enemies.

There are other precedents, said John C. Yoo, a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who took an expansive view of executive power as a lawyer in the Bush administration. “The only two other presidents I can think of who were so hostile to judges on an individual level and to the judiciary as a whole would be Thomas Jefferson and Franklin Roosevelt,” he said.

Both of those presidents chafed at what they saw as excessive judicial power. “But they weren’t doing it because they had cases before those judges as individuals,” Professor Yoo said. “They had legitimate separation-of-powers fights between the presidency and the judiciary. Trump is lashing out because he has a lawsuit in a private capacity, which is much more disturbing.”

Yoo wrote infamous memos justifying the Bush Administration's use of torture to get (largely useless) information from terror suspects. Read the rest

Experience solitary confinement in VR

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The Guardian has recreated a 6x9 solitary confinement cell in VR, designed to be viewed with Google's cheap cardboard VR viewers, which uses your phone for screens. Read the rest

CIA boss flips out when Ron Wyden reminds him that CIA spied on the Senate

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Remember when it looked like the Senate committee that oversees the CIA was writing the notorious CIA Torture Report, and caught the CIA searching their Senate bosses' files to find out what they knew? Read the rest

There's a secret "black site" in New York where terrorism suspects are tortured for years at a time

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Manhattan's Metropolitan Correctional Center has a special wing, 10-South, in which terrorism suspects who have been kidnapped from foreign territories are imprisoned and tortured in secret, before being given secret trials and lengthy sentences. Read the rest

Cushy plea deal for Maryland Judge who had defendant tortured in court

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Maryland Judge Robert Nalley pleaded guilty Monday to ordering deputies to shock a defendant with a 50,000-volt charge. Nalley, who presided over Charles County Circuit Court, reportedly agreed to a plea deal whereby he receives a year of probation.

It's not Nalley's first trouble, either: In 2010, he pleaded guilty to tampering with a vehicle after deflating the tires of a cleaning woman's car, to punish her for parking in his space. For that, he was suspended for five days without pay.

CBS News reports that he was charged with violating the victim's rights in the July 2014 stun cuff incident. The maximum sentence is a year in jail and a fine of $100,000.

During jury selection, the defendant, reading from a prepared statement, objected to Nalley's authority to conduct the proceedings. After the man repeatedly ignored Nalley's questions and his commands to stop speaking, Nalley ordered a deputy sheriff to activate a "stun-cuff" the defendant was wearing.

"Do it. Use it," Nalley said.

The defendant stopped speaking when the deputy sheriff approached him and activated the device, which administered an electric shock for about five seconds. The defendant fell to the ground and screamed and Nalley then recessed the proceedings, according to the plea deal's statement of facts.

Ars Technica's David Kravets reports that stun cuffs are the hot new thing.

[Victim/defendant Delvon L.] King eventually agreed to serve two years after withdrawing a motion for a new trial. In that motion, he said he could not adequately represent himself out of fear of being shocked again.

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Barack Obama ends solitary confinement for juveniles in federal custody

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Obama wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post (bio: "Barack Obama is president of the United States") explaining his suite of penal reform policies, which begin with ending the barbaric practice of putting children into solitary confinement, deemed a form of torture, "an affront to our common humanity." Read the rest

Negative Publicity: a book of paraphernalia from state kidnappings

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Crofton Black is a British counterterrorism investigator who has spent years tracking down the detritus of extraordinary rendition -- a polite euphemism for the government practice of snatching people, flying them to a distant country, and torturing them. Read the rest

China routinely tortures human rights lawyers

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Amnesty International's No End in Sight: Torture and Forced Confessions in China interviews 37 Chinese lawyers and analyzes 590 court decisions in the process of documenting the routine torture of human rights lawyers in China. Read the rest

The DoJ won't let anyone in the Executive Branch read the CIA Torture Report

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The Senate's 6,700 page, $40M report on the CIA's participation in torture has apparently never been read by a single member of the Executive Branch of the US Government, because the Department of Justice has ordered them all to stay away from it. Read the rest

Appeals court holds the FBI is allowed to kidnap and torture Americans outside US borders

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The DC Appeals Court has just ruled against Amir Meshal, a US citizen who was arrested in Kenya by a joint US-Kenyan-Ethiopian law enforcement operation, held for months, tortured with FBI agents present and threatened with his secret murder, then released without any charges. Read the rest

Federal court tells FBI: go ahead and torture Americans, but do it outside the U.S.

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Amir Meshal, an American citizen, claims the FBI falsely imprisoned and tortured him for months, but on Friday the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said he can't sue the FBI because it happened in Ethiopia, not the United States. Read the rest

CIA black-site torture survivors sue shrinks who made $85M overseeing CIA torture program

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James Mitchell and John "Bruce" Jessen are psychologists who took in almost $85 million in CIA contracts to design and oversee torture programs used on CIA prisoners in Guantanamo Bay and around the world. The contracts ran from from 2001 to 2010. The ACLU is representing Suleiman Abdullah Salim, Mohamed Ahmed Ben Soud, and Gul Rahman, three of the prisoners who were tortured at CIA black sites. Rahman was murdered by his torturers and the ACLU is representing his estate. Read the rest

CIA boss John Brennan drafted this never-sent apology letter to senators over the CIA hacking

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“The CIA accidentally released a document to me under FOIA and then asked that I refrain from posting it,” says VICE reporter Jason Leopold. He declined their request.

Star Trekkin' was a brilliantly bad novelty song

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This 1987 nightmare achieved immense commercial success in the UK and Australia. I've just listened to it for the first time in a couple of decades, and found it genuinely difficult to get through. What's interesting is that you can tell from the name, the GIF and my description that this is an amazingly unpleasant experience—and yet you will watch it anyway! [YT]

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