Boing Boing 

First-hand reports of torture from Homan Square, Chicago PD's "black site"


In the wake of last week's revelations about Homan Square, the off-the-books "black site" where Chicago PD disappear prisoners for violent, aggressive interrogation, four of the site's victims have come forward to describe the highly racialized human rights abuses at the secret site.

Read the rest

Chicago Police Department maintains "black site" for illegal detention and torture

Homan Square is the Chicago Police Department's "secure site" where people as young as 15 are detained without charge and without access to counsel, subject to beatings that result in head wounds, and, in one case, death.

Read the rest

Use Facebook while in South Carolina jail, go to solitary for 37 years


Prisons have a legitimate interest in controlling contraband, but in South Carolina, using social media from behind bars is a Class I offense, carrying stiffer penalties than murder, escape and hostage-taking.

Read the rest

Macedonia helped CIA kidnap and torture a German they mistook for a terrorist


Macedonia kidnapped a German citizen called Khalid al-Masri (previously, previously) and sent him to the CIA, mistaking him for a similarly named terror suspect; the CIA tortured him in Afghanistan and held him even after they realized they had the wrong name.

Read the rest

Physicians: “Anal feeding” of prisoners is sexual assault, has no medical use

U.S. Army Military Police escort a detainee to his cell during in-processing to the temporary detention facility at Camp X-Ray in Naval Base Guantanamo Bay (Reuters)


U.S. Army Military Police escort a detainee to his cell during in-processing to the temporary detention facility at Camp X-Ray in Naval Base Guantanamo Bay (Reuters)

What a sad world we live in, when a coalition of medical professionals has to issue a press release announcing this most obvious of obvious observations about so-called “anal feeding” of war-on-terror detainees.

Read the rest

Cheney insists rectal feeding was for medical reasons, not torture

The former US vice president was on TV this weekend to defend the Bush administration torture program that he oversaw. His argument was that the 9/11 terrorists were the real torturers and therefore how dare anyone say the US's “enhanced interrogation techniques” were wrong?

He swatted away evidence contained in the Senate intelligence committee report into the CIA programme that a suspect later found to be innocent froze to death having been shackled naked to a cell wall, and that detainees were rectally infused with food, refusing to accept a torture definition for either example.

“Torture to me is an American citizen on a cell phone making a last call to his four young daughters shortly before he burns to death on the upper levels of the Trade Center in New York City on 9/11,” Cheney said.

“There’s a notion that there’s moral equivalence between what the terrorists did and what we do, and that’s absolutely not true. We were very careful to stay short of torture.”

Cheney insists 'rectal feeding' was for medical reasons, not torture

Why it matters whether or not torture works


Part of the debate about the CIA Torture Report is whether torture works as a means of gathering useful intelligence; scholarly work has long held that it doesn't.

Read the rest

Feds given deadline to subpoena NYT reporter over CIA leak

Reporter James Risen of the New York Times and author of the book, "State of War" speaks during a taping of "Meet the Press" at NBC studios January 8, 2006 in Washington, DC.  Image: NBC


Reporter James Risen of the New York Times and author of the book, "State of War" speaks during a taping of "Meet the Press" at NBC studios January 8, 2006 in Washington, DC. Image: NBC

Now is not exactly the best time for Obama's Justice Department to be subpoenaing one of the nation's best journalists for reporting on a spectacularly botched CIA operation, but that's the decision Attorney General Eric Holder faces this week.

Read the rest

Senate IP address vandalizes Wikipedia to scrub "torture" from CIA torture report

An anonymous editor at 156.33.241.11 -- registered to the US Senate -- has repeatedly attempted to scrub the word "torture" from the Wikipedia entry from Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture.

Read the rest

Calling out the doctors who abetted CIA torture


Dr Atul Gawande (whose Reith lecture on systems thinking I featured last week) took to Twitter to express his shock and disgust at the medical professionals who participated in the crimes documented in the CIA torture report.

Read the rest

Could CIA torture report open the U.S. to prosecution in the International Criminal Court?

U.S. Army Military Police escort a detainee to his cell during in-processing to the temporary detention facility at Camp X-Ray in Naval Base Guantanamo Bay (Reuters)


U.S. Army Military Police escort a detainee to his cell during in-processing to the temporary detention facility at Camp X-Ray in Naval Base Guantanamo Bay (Reuters)

“Does the recent ‘torture report’ on CIA ‘enhanced interrogation methods’ leave US citizens vulnerable to prosecution by the International Criminal Court (ICC)?” Mark Kersten explores the question at Justice in Conflict:

Read the rest

Dissecting the arguments of liberal apologists for Obama's surveillance and secret war

Democratic party partisans like Sean Wilentz, George Packer and Michael Kinsley spent the Bush years condemning the tactics they now defend under Obama -- apart from sheer intellectual dishonesty, how can this be explained?

Read the rest

UK government "dries out" its "water damaged" CIA torture files


The Foreign Office said it couldn't provide its files on secret CIA rendition of terrorism suspects for torture, because those files (and only those files) were "water-damaged."

Read the rest

The English Method: UK taught modern torture to Brazil's dictators


Brazil's 21-year military dictatorship was a torturing, brutal regime -- among their victims was the current president, Dilma Rousseff. At first, the generals tortured by flogging and shocks, but British officials taught them to torture without leaving marks, helping the regime to rehabilitate its international human rights image. The techniques the UK taught to Brazil's torturers were developed for Malay rebels and perfected on Northern Irish Republicans, and these techniques came to be known as "The English Method."

Other governments -- Germany, France, Panama, and, of course, the USA -- also trained Brazil's torturers, but the UK methods were the best. British agents travelled to Brazil to train the torturers personally. More details of the British "foreign aid" program are coming to light as the UK government finally succumbs to the rule of law and releases files from the National Archives at Kew, a move that has been steadfastly refused for obvious reasons.

One document that's come to light is a letter from then-British Ambassador, David Hunt, called "Torture in Brazil," which praises the Brazilian regime for cleaning up its appearance of brutality by "taking a leaf out of the British book."

Read the rest

Movie plot threat semifinalists announced

Bruce Schneier has announced the semifinalists in his seventh annual Movie-Plot Threat Contest, wherein contestants dream up implausible reasons to justify extreme surveillance and other lawless policing techniques like torture and indefinite detention. My favorite: Homeopathic Factoring, "The NSA, through the White House's Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives formed a partnership with Zicam Digital to explore and exploit homeopathic techniques for advanced cryptanalysis."

Read the rest

Obama administration proves why we need someone to leak CIA Torture Report

image: Reuters


image: Reuters

It’s now been over a month since the Senate Intelligence Committee voted to force the Obama administration to declassify parts of the Committee’s landmark report on CIA torture, and the public still has not seen a word of the 6,000 page investigation.

Read the rest

Interview with James Mitchell, psychologist credited with designing CIA torture program


James ("Jim") Mitchell, frame grab from ABC video (4/2009). ABC News, via New York Times.

Journalist Jason Leopold tells us,

Recently, I conducted a wide-ranging, two hour interview with retired Air Force psychologist James Mitchell, who is credited with being the architect of the CIA's torture program. Mitchell and his partner, Dr. Bruce Jessen, are featured prominently in the Senate Intelligence Committee's report on the CIA's detention and interrogation program. This is the first time Mitchell has spoken at length about interrogation since he was linked to the program by Jane Mayer in 2005.

Read the rest

CIA spied on Senate committee writing damning torture report and Obama knew about it

The CIA's Inspector General has asked the Justice Department to consider criminally charging CIA agents who spied on a senate committee that was engaged in writing a report that was highly critical of the CIA's use of torture. Senator Mark Udall, who sits on a CIA oversight committee and whose staff was spied on by the CIA alleges that the CIA surveilled overseeing senators and their staff with Obama's knowledge and consent.

In a recent hearing, Senator Ron Wyden asked the CIA director repeatedly whether the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, America's major anti-hacking statute, applied to the CIA, and whether the CIA spied domestically. CIA director John Brennan replied "yes" and "no," respectively. If Udall's allegations are correct, this means that Brennan lied to Congress (in the second instance) and committed a felony (in the first instance).

The report that caused some CIA agents to spy on their bosses was about how the CIA was wasting time, getting nowhere and doing something illegal and cruel when it kidnapped terror suspects and tortured the shit out of them.

Read the rest

Who is still imprisoned in Guantanamo?


With Obama pledging in the latest State of the Union address to finally shutter the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay -- something he's been promising to do since his 2008 election campaign -- it's worth revisiting the people who remain imprisoned there, more than a decade after the GW Bush administration declared its War on Terror.

There are 155 men in Guantanamo. 77 have been cleared for transfer but there is no country to which they can be sent. 45 men are in "indefinite detention" -- unable to be prosecuted, often because of the brutal torture inflicted on them by Guantanamo's jailers, but unable to be released because the US government considers them to be a threat. 31 more are awaiting prosecution.

This month, the American Psychology Association dropped all proceedings against a member who designed, oversaw, and participated in the torture at Guantanamo. They had previously denied a request to censure other members who participated in torture.

The protocol designed by John Leso, the doctor that the APA will not censure, involved intravenously hydrating a victim until he urinated on himself; sleep deprivation; forcing the victim to bark like a dog; keeping the victim naked and subjecting him to extreme cold; spinning the victim in a swiveling chair to disorient him; putting the victim into stress positions; depriving the victim of mattresses and other bedding; keeping the victim in isolation from all human contact; and more.

Read the rest

Ukrainian riot police strip protester naked in sub-zero weather

In this video, Ukrainian riot police have stripped a protester naked in subzero conditions and are parading him in public before putting him in a police van. The protester is stoic in the face of humiliation.

Daniel, who wrote our feature on #euromaidan, says that it's getting worse there: "Tires burning, police started shooting to kill, body count was at 7 this morning. Hard to say, lots of people disappear. I'm wearing bulletproof vest."

Of the protester in the video, he says, "look at his statue - what a spirit."

Stay safe, Daniel.

berkut, polonenuy

Leaked trove of 55,000 photos detail brutal torture and killing of 11,000 Syrian detainees

A Syrian defector who worked for the regime as a forensic photographer leaked over 55,000 photos detailing the deaths of at least 11,000 people, almost all young men, believed to have been political prisoners who were in custody of the Bashar al-Assad regime. The photos were validated by a trio of globally recognized human rights lawyers with experience at the International Criminal Court. One of the lawyers, Professor David Crane, did an interview (MP3) with CBC Radio's As It Happens in which he compared the photos of the bodies to the pictures that emerged from the Nazi's death camps; saying that they were emaciated to the point of death and showed evidence of brutal torture. The photos came to light on the eve of a fresh round of peace-talks between the Assad regime and the various rebel factions in Syria.

Read the rest

Pussy Riot in Putin's gulag: daily forced gynecological exams


When Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova walked out of the Siberian prison camp IK-50, they were defiant. The Pussy Riot members said they wanted acquittal, not amnesty, and an affirmation of the right to protest in Russia. Tolokonnikova gave the press a V-for-victory and shouted "Russia without Putin!"

But afterwards, in a phone interview with the Guardian, Alyokhina described the horrific conditions inside, where women were put to slave labor, and where Tolokonnikova faced daily, punitive forced gynecological exams for three weeks.

Pussy Riot has called on western countries to boycott eh Sochi Games in February.

Read the rest

Australians ask their government for humane refugee treatment for Christmas


Australian Asher Wolf's taken to the Guardian to explain why her family is spending Christmas petitioning for humane refugee treatment from the Australian government. Wolf enumerates the conditions under which Australia keeps refugees in its off-shore camps -- conditions that Amenesty considers to be torture, conditions where basic sanitation and health-care are denied to families fleeing war, torture and death threats. Deprived of the shoes, hearing aids, and medicine they managed to smuggle out of their own countries, these refugees, including children, are denied sufficient water, exposed to malaria and TB, and are brutalized into suicide attempts. Gay detainees are sent to camps in PNG, where homosexuality is illegal. Orphans get it even worse -- though the immigration minister Scott Morrison is their legal guardian, these children are left with no one to advocate for them.

According to the UN High Commission on Refugees, the Australian government is spending 1000% more torturing and detaining migrants than it would spend on "community processing" on the mainland. But wasting money on cruelty curries favour with racist voters, so it is the preferred option. For now. But, perhaps, not if Australians in great number write to the minister to explain that his cynical games with innocent human lives will cost him more votes than they win.

Read the rest

FBI agent tries to copyright super-secret torture manual, inadvertently makes it public

The ACLU has spent years in court trying to get a look at a top-secret FBI interrogation manual that referred to the CIA's notorious KUBARK torture manual. The FBI released a heavily redacted version at one point -- so redacted as to be useless for determining whether its recommendations were constitutional.

However, it turns out that the FBI agent who wrote the manual sent a copy to the Library of Congress in order to register a copyright in it -- in his name! (Government documents are not copyrightable, but even if they were, the copyright would vest with the agent's employer, not the agent himself). A Mother Jones reporter discovered the unredacted manual at the Library of Congress last week, and tipped off the ACLU about it.

Anyone can inspect the manual on request. Go see for yourself!

Read the rest

Judge throws out Libyan rendered by UK spooks & CIA to Gaddafi for torture, because "it might embarrass America"

Abdel Hakim Belhaj was a Libyan dissident who was kidnapped by the CIA and GHCQ and rendered to Gaddafi's Libya, along with his pregnant wife. He was brutally, savagely tortured and imprisoned for seven years. He's been trying to get justice in a British court since his release. Today, the court told him he would find no justice, because any trial on his rendition would embarrass the CIA, and that would damage the UK's national interest. Oh well, at least the judge was "horrified" as he pronounced his verdict.

UK spies cooperated in torture, didn't want to upset US spies

A UK government inquiry into the practice of torture of suspects rendered by MI5 and MI6 found that British spies did not speak out against torture because they didn't want to offend the CIA.

Doctors were compelled by US military and CIA to harm detainees, report says


A guard walks through a cellblock inside Camp V, a prison used to house detainees at Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base, March 5, 2013. Photo: Reuters.

Post-9/11 detainee interrogration policies of the US Defense Department and CIA forced medical professionals to abandon the ethical obligation to "do no harm" to the humans in their care, and engage in prohibited practices such as force-feeding of hunger strikers, according to a report out this week. "Ethics Abandoned: Medical Professionalism and Detainee Abuse in the War on Terror" [PDF Link] was produced by 19-member task force of Columbia University's Institute on Medicine as a Profession and the Open Society Foundations. The LA Times has a summary here.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel apologizes for decades of police torture

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel has apologized for twenty years' worth of police torture under the stewardship of former Chicago PD Commander Jon Burge, and set aside $85M to compensate victims -- mostly black people from Chicago's South Side. At least two of Burge's victims spent 21 years in jail before being released and paid off. In a City Council meeting, Emmanuel called the torture "a stain on the city’s reputation." His predecessor, former Mayor Daley, refused to apologize for -- or admit -- torture, and used out-of-court settlements to avoid testifying in court about his administration's complicity in the torture.

Read the rest

Iranian government unveils finger-amputating machine for punishing "thieves"


The Iranian government has released photos of a machine that amputates thieves fingers using the state media agency. The photos show a blindfolded man having his finger amputated, though he displays no visible distress. The Telegraph speculates that he might be drugged.

Read the rest