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)

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

Humane interrogation works 4 times better than torture

Terrorism suspects were four times more likely to confess "when interrogators struck a neutral and respectful stance," according to a study published this year.

This isn't just theoretical, either. One former U.S. Army interrogator told PRI this week that he was able to break through to an Iraqi insurgent over a shared love of watching the TV show 24 on bootleg DVDs.

"He acknowledged that he was a big fan of Jack Bauer," he told PRI. "We made a connection there that ultimately resulted in him recanting a bunch of information that he had said in the past and actually giving us the accurate information because we had made that connection."

But as Olga Khazan points out in her Atlantic story, torture isn't about getting useful information. It's about punishment:

In another study highlighted by BPS, regular people were found to be more supportive of torture if they were told the suspect was a terrorist—but not because they thought the suspect had more information. Their support for torture, in other words, was rooted on a desire for payback, not intelligence.

Study finds that confessions are four times more likely when interrogators adopt a respectful stance toward detainees and build rapport, instead of torturing 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 Read the rest

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

A U.S. judge orders the government to decide by next Tuesday if they're going to force New York Times reporter James Risen to testify, once and for all.

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?

Mark Kersten explores the question at Justice in Conflict blog.

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

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

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