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    US confirms secret jails in Afghanistan

    Apr 8, 2011

    The United States has finally confirmed the presence of secret prisons in Afghanistan, where detainees are interrogated for weeks without being charged.

    Afghans are held captive for up to nine weeks in secret US detention facilities, depending on the value of information they produce, and are tortured by American prison guards, according to US officials who revealed details of the detention network to The Associated Press.

    The most secretive network of jails is based at the notorious US-run Bagram prison camp and airbase in Afghanistan's eastern province of Parwan.

    The secret jail in Bagram, which is the principle air base for US forces currently stationed in Afghanistan, is run by the Joint Special Operations Command. The force is the US military's most elite counter-terrorism unit.

    According to a report issued by the US-based Open Society Foundation in October 2010, former detainees said they were abused, deprived of sleep, held in cold isolation cells and prevented from observing religious rituals while held captive in the hidden facility at Bagram.

    Over 800 detainees are being held at Bagram, which became a symbol of prisoner abuse after US troops beat two detainees to death in 2002.

    The International Committee of the Red Cross had earlier confirmed reports on the existence of a secret detention facility at the US airbase in Bagram.

    The Red Cross said in May 2010 that it had been informed of names of several detainees held in the hidden prison in Afghanistan.

    Several former prisoners asserted earlier in April that they were held at the facility, where they suffered abuse.

    Human rights groups say Bagram has remained a US torture center since the toppling of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan ten years ago.

    George W. Bush cancels visit to Swiss charity gala over fears he could be arrested on torture charges

    February 2011

    Former U.S. President George W. Bush has cancelled a visit to Switzerland over fears he could have been arrested on torture charges.

    Mr Bush was due to be the keynote speaker at a Jewish charity gala in Geneva on February 12.

    But pressure has been building on the Swiss government to arrest him and open a criminal investigation if he enters the country.
    Criminal complaints against Mr Bush alleging torture have been lodged in Geneva, court officials said.

    Human rights groups said they had intended to submit a 2,500-page case against him in the Swiss city tomorrow for alleged mistreatment of suspected militants at Guantanamo Bay.

    Left-wing groups have also called for a protest on the day of his visit, leading organisers at Keren Hayesod's annual dinner to cancel Mr Bush's participation on security grounds.

    The New York-based Human Rights Watch and International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) said the cancellation was linked to growing moves told him accountable for the use of torture, including waterboarding.

    He had admitted in his memoirs and TV interviews to ordering the use of the interrogation technique which simulates drowning.

    Reed Brody, a lawyer for Human Rights Watch, said: 'He's avoiding the handcuffs.'

    The action in Switzerland showed Mr Bush had reason to fear legal complaints against him if he travelled to countries that have ratified an international treaty banning torture, he said.

    Mr Brody is a U.S.-trained lawyer who specialises in pursuing war crimes, including Chile's late dictator Augusto Pinochet and Chad's ousted president Hissene Habre.

    Habre has been charged by Belgium with crimes against humanity and torture and is currently exiled in Senegal.

    He said: 'President Bush has admitted ordering waterboarding which everyone considers to be a form of torture under international law.

    'Under the Convention on Torture, authorities would have been obliged to open an investigation and either prosecute or extradite George Bush.'

    Swiss judicial officials have said that the former president would still enjoy a certain diplomatic immunity as a former head of state.

    Dominique Baettig, a member of the Swiss parliament from the People's Party, wrote to the Swiss federal government last week calling for his arrest if he came to the neutral country.

    In his 'Decision Points' memoirs, Mr Bush strongly defended the use of waterboarding as key to preventing a repeat of the September 11 attacks on the U.S.

    Most human rights experts consider the practice a form of torture, banned by the Convention on Torture.

    Switzerland and the U.S. are among 147 countries that have ratified the 1987 treaty.

    Last edited by islamirama; Dec-17-2014 at 08:41 PM.

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    Obama Gives Bush "Absolute Immunity" For Everything

    Days before Bradley - now Chelsea - Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison for helping expose U.S. war crimes in Iraq, the Obama Department of Justice filed a petition in federal court arguing that the perpetrators of those crimes - Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld et al - enjoy “absolute immunity” against criminal charges or civil liability. The filing came in a suit brought by Sundus Shaker Saleh, an Iraqi single mother and refugee now living in Jordan, who alleges that the planning and waging of the Iraq war under false pretenses constituted a "crime of aggression" under a law used in the Nuremberg trials. With neither Congress nor Obama willing to hold Bush & Co. accountable for the Iraq catastrophe, supporters see the suit as a last-chance tactic to force the issue back into the public eye - an effort the Obama administration clearly opposes. More, all dispiriting, on the increasingly flawed Bush-Obama-lesser-of-two-evils thesis, and the current culture of impunity.


    30 Kinds of (approved) TORTURE currently being used by the C.I.A.

    Last edited by islamirama; Dec-10-2014 at 09:54 PM.

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    U.S. under fire over Senate's report on CIA torture


    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States on Wednesday faced criticism from the United Nations as well as governments that Washington often reprimands for human rights violations over a Senate report on CIA torture techniques in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.

    Some U.S. allies, who could face embarrassment or legal liability for any role in the CIA's "enhanced interrogations" during the George W. Bush administration, either condemned the CIA's methods or played down any involvement their governments might have had in them.

    "The CIA's practice of torture is gruesome," German Justice Minister Heiko Maas told German newspaper Bild. "Nothing justifies such methods. Everybody involved must be legally prosecuted."

    Zeid Ra'ad Al-Hussein, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said according to the Convention Against Torture, not even a state of war justified torture.

    In a statement issued in Geneva on Human Rights Day, he said, "The convention lets no one off the hook – neither the torturers themselves, nor the policy-makers, nor the public officials who define the policy or give the orders."

    A White House spokesman said the U.S. Justice Department had reviewed the interrogations and found no reason to indict anyone.

    Poland long denied allowing U.S. intelligence to use a secret site in the country for interrogations but on Wednesday former President Aleksander Kwasniewski acknowledged his government let U.S. officials run a facility there. But when asked at a news conference in Warsaw if he knew what his NATO ally was doing, said: "About what the CIA was doing? No. Inside the site, no."

    China, Iran and North Korea, regularly under fire for their human rights records, prodded Washington on its methods.

    "China has consistently opposed torture," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a daily briefing. "We believe that the U.S. side should reflect on this, correct its ways and earnestly respect and follow the rules of related international conventions."

    A Twitter account associated with Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamanei said the report showed the U.S. government was a "symbol of tyranny against humanity."

    "They claim they've a prideful nation; US govts. debased & misguided their people who aren't aware of many realities," said one tweet.

    North Korea's Foreign Ministry accused the United Nations of ignoring "inhuman torture practiced by the CIA" while focusing too much on Pyongyang's human rights practices.

    The Senate report concluded CIA interrogation tactics were ineffective and often too brutal. U.S. officials had been concerned the report would incite attacks and endanger the lives of American hostages held by Islamic militants but there had been no incidents a day after the report's release.


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    Polish ex-leader acknowledges CIA site but denies knowing about torture


    Poland's former President Aleksander Kwasniewski acknowledged for the first time on Wednesday that he allowed the CIA to operate a secret interrogation center in his country, but denied that he knew prisoners were being tortured there.

    A U.S. Senate report that revealed torture by the CIA at sites around the world has exposed allies that assisted the U.S. spy agency and potentially could have legal consequences for governments and officials involved.

    Kwasniewski, a loyal U.S. ally as president from 1995-2005, broke on Wednesday with years of blanket denials by Polish officials to acknowledge that he had agreed to let U.S. spies use a secret site, codenamed "Quartz", near the village of Stare Kiejkuty in a forest in north-eastern Poland.

    He authorized the site to be used to question "people who had expressed willingness to cooperate with the Americans," he told a news conference in the Polish parliament.

    Asked if he knew what was happening inside, he said: "About what the CIA was doing? No. Inside the site, no."

    The redacted U.S. Senate report released on Tuesday did not name the countries where CIA agents carried out torture, which included sleep deprivation, water boarding, mock executions and other abuse.

    But it contained information that, when cross-checked with publicly available sources like flight data, makes clear one of the sites was in Poland. The European Court of Human Rights has already ruled that abuses took place in Poland and has ordered the Polish government to compensate detainees.

    Standing alongside Leszek Miller, who was Polish prime minister at the time the secret site was operating, Kwasniewski said Poland had asked the U.S. government to sign a document asserting the people at the facility would be treated in accordance with Polish law and humanitarian norms.

    "The memorandum was not signed by the American side," said Kwasniewski. He said the CIA's secrecy about what it was doing at the site caused concern among Polish officials, prompting him to ask the U.S. government to close it down by the end of 2003.

    According to the Senate report, the CIA paid a large sum of money for the site, which brought a more flexible approach from initially skeptical host country officials. Kwasniewski said that if cash was received from the CIA, it was not related to the site.


    Adam Bodnar, vice-president of the Warsaw-based Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights who helped bring the case against Poland to the European Court of Human Rights, said ignorance about what the CIA was doing was not a defense.

    "I think President Kwasniewski was wise enough at the time to know that the Americans would probably use some additional techniques" on the detainees, Bodnar told Reuters.

    "It does not really matter whether they knew or didn't know about what the CIA were doing there. In Poland, you cannot deprive anyone of their liberty without the authorization of a court. It's as simple as that."

    At his news conference, Kwasniewski said the decision by the U.S. authorities to allow publication of the Senate report this week was a breach of trust because Poland had believed details of its partnership with the CIA would remain a secret.

    "The report shows that one needs to work with this most important, biggest ally on the basis of limited trust, but trust nonetheless," he said.

    He nevertheless defended the decision to cooperate with the CIA in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, saying his administration had calculated that Washington would return the favor if Poland's national security was ever threatened.

    That was an even more important consideration now, when Russia's intervention in neighboring Ukraine has left Poland itself feeling vulnerable to attack, he added.

    "There is no such thing as a free lunch," Kwasniewski said, explaining why he agreed to work closely with the CIA.


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    UN officials demand prosecutions for US torture


    All senior U.S. officials and CIA agents who authorized or carried out torture like waterboarding as part of former President George W. Bush's national security policy must be prosecuted
    , top U.N. officials said Wednesday.

    It's not clear, however, how human rights officials think these prosecutions will take place, since the Justice Department has declined to prosecute and the U.S. is not a member of the International Criminal Court.

    Zeid Raad al-Hussein, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, said it's "crystal clear" under international law that the United States, which ratified the U.N. Convention Against Torture in 1994, now has an obligation to ensure accountability.

    "In all countries, if someone commits murder, they are prosecuted and jailed. If they commit rape or armed robbery, they are prosecuted and jailed. If they order, enable or commit torture — recognized as a serious international crime — they cannot simply be granted impunity because of political expediency," he said.

    U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hopes the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee report on the CIA's harsh interrogation techniques at secret overseas facilities is the "start of a process" toward prosecutions, because the "prohibition against torture is absolute," Ban's spokesman said.

    Ben Emmerson, the U.N.'s special rapporteur on counterterrorism and human rights, said the report released Tuesday shows "there was a clear policy orchestrated at a high level within the Bush administration, which allowed (it) to commit systematic crimes and gross violations of international human rights law."

    He said international law prohibits granting immunity to public officials who allow the use of torture, and this applies not just to the actual perpetrators but also to those who plan and authorize torture.

    "The fact that the policies revealed in this report were authorized at a high level within the U.S. government provides no excuse whatsoever. Indeed, it reinforces the need for criminal accountability," Emmerson said.

    Human Rights Watch executive director Kenneth Roth echoed those comments, saying "unless this important truth-telling process leads to the prosecution of officials, torture will remain a 'policy option' for future presidents."

    The report said that in addition to waterboarding, the U.S. tactics included slamming detainees against walls, confining them to small boxes, keeping them isolated for prolonged periods and threatening them with death.

    However, a Justice Department official said Wednesday the department did not intend to revisit its decision to not prosecute anyone for the interrogation methods. The official said the department had reviewed the committee's report and did not find any new information that would cause the investigation to be reopened.

    "Our inquiry was limited to a determination of whether prosecutable offenses were committed," the official said on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss an investigation. "Importantly, our investigation was not intended to answer the broader questions regarding the propriety of the examined conduct."

    The United States is also not part of the International Criminal Court, which began operating in 2002 to ensure that those responsible for the most heinous crimes could be brought to justice. That court steps in only when countries are unwilling or unable to dispense justice themselves for genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes. The case could be referred to the ICC by the U.N. Security Council, but the United States holds veto power there.

    In one U.S. case mentioned in the report, suspected extremist Gul Rahman was interrogated in late 2002 at a CIA detention facility in Afghanistan called "COBALT" in the report. There, he was shackled to a wall in his cell and forced to rest on a bare concrete floor in only a sweatshirt. He died the next day. A CIA review and autopsy found he died of hypothermia.

    Justice Department investigations into his death and another death of a CIA detainee resulted in no charges.

    President Barack Obama said the interrogation techniques "did significant damage to America's standing in the world and made it harder to pursue our interests with allies." CIA Director John Brennan said the agency made mistakes and learned from them, but insisted the coercive techniques produced intelligence "that helped thwart attack plans, capture terrorists and save lives."

    The Senate investigation, however, found no evidence the interrogations stopped imminent plots.

    European Union spokeswoman Catherine Ray emphasized Wednesday that the Obama administration has worked since 2009 to see that torture is not used anymore but said it is "a commitment that should be enshrined in law."

    German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier was quoted as telling the Bild daily that Obama had clearly broken with Bush policies and, as a result, Washington's "new openness to admitting mistakes and promising publicly that something like this will never happen again is an important step, which we welcome."

    "What was deemed right and done back then in the fight against Islamic terrorism was unacceptable and a serious mistake," Steinmeier said. "Such a crass violation of free and democratic values must not be repeated."

    Bush approved the program through a covert finding in 2002 but wasn't briefed by the CIA on the details until 2006. Obama banned waterboarding, weeks of sleep deprivation and other tactics, yet other aspects of Bush's national security policies remain, most notably the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and sweeping government surveillance programs.

    U.S. officials have been tried in absentia overseas before.

    Earlier this year, Italy's highest court upheld guilty verdicts against the CIA's former Rome station chief Jeff Castelli and two others identified as CIA agents in the 2003 extraordinary rendition kidnapping of an Egyptian terror suspect. The decision was the only prosecution to date against the Bush administration's practice of abducting terror suspects and moving them to third countries that permitted torture.

    All three had been acquitted in the original trial due to diplomatic immunity. They were among 26 Americans, mostly CIA agents, found guilty in absentia of kidnapping Milan cleric Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr from a Milan street on Feb. 17, 2003.

    In Geneva last month, a U.N. anti-torture panel said the U.S. government is falling short of full compliance with the international anti-torture treaty. It criticized U.S. interrogation procedures during the Bush administration and called on the U.S. government to abolish the use of techniques that rely on sleep or sensory deprivation.

    The word "torture," meanwhile, wasn't mentioned in U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power's statement Wednesday for Human Rights Day in which she criticized countries including North Korea and South Sudan.


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    Senate report on CIA torture could lead to prosecutions of Americans abroad

    Human rights groups say actions on foreign soil could fall under legal jurisdictions of those countries or the ICC in The Hague


    US officials and military officers implicated by the Senate report on torture could face arrest in other countries as a result of investigations by their national courts, human rights lawyers said on Wednesday.

    The report, released on Tuesday by the Senate intelligence committee, found the CIA misled the White House, the Justice Department, Congress and the public over a torture programme, launched in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks, that was both ineffective and more brutal than the agency disclosed.

    “If I was one of those people, I would hesitate before making any travel arrangements,” said Michael Bochenek, director of law and policy at Amnesty International.

    The Obama administration wound up an inquiry into criminal responsibility for the use of torture in 2012, without launching any prosecutions and it is unclear whether the Senate intelligence comittee’s findings on the CIA’s interrogation techniques will lead to that decision being reviewed.

    “Obviously this is something for US justice, both military and civilian, to take up. They have the first bite of the apple,” said Richard Dicker, the director of Human Rights Watch’s international justice programme. “But we have not seen any persuasive indicators that the department of justice is willing to step up to its responsibilities.”

    However, because torture is considered a grave crime under international law, other governments could arrest and prosecute anyone implicated in the report who happened to be on their territory under the principle of universal jurisdiction.

    “It is a legal avenue open to states with those laws on their books and the political will,” Dicker said. “Many European states and many states internationally have those laws”

    “Some of these people will never leave US borders again,” Bochenek said. “If say, one of them goes on holiday in Paris, then France would have the legal obligation to arrest and prosecute that individual. States have clear obligation in cases of torture.”

    As the repercussions of the report spread around the world, Poland’s president, Bronislaw Komorowski, said it would be critical for an inquiry underway on the running of a secret US prison “black site’’ on Polish soil. “I think the American report will revive that inquiry. I also think that it will provide, if not new information, then guidance as to the conduct of the investigation in Poland.”

    Former Polish president Aleksander Kwasniewski admitted on Wednesday that there had been a secret CIA interrogation site in the country, but insisted he tried to convince US President George Bush to close it.
    “I told Bush that this cooperation must end and it did end,” Kwasniewski said.

    Polish prosecutors have asked for access to the full Senate report, which is 10 times longer than the 500-page declassified version published on Tuesday. That version said that 119 detainees in the “war on terror” were held at black sites around the world. The names of the countries were redacted but they are thought to include Afghanistan, Poland, Romania, Thailand and Lithuania. Lithuanian prosecutors have also asked to see the full report.

    “If the information proves correct, Lithuania will have to take responsibility,” the country’s president Dalia Grybauskaite, said. Valdas Adamkus, Lithuania’s president at the time, denied any knowledge of a secret prison on Lithuanian soil.

    “I am still convinced that there had been no jails and no prisoners from there”, Adamkus said Scotland’s chief law officer, the Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland told the police to review the Senate report as part of an inquiry into whether rendition flights carrying CIA detainees used Scottish aiports.

    “The use of torture cannot be condoned,” Mulholland said in a statement. “It is against international law and contrary to the common law of Scotland. I have instructed Police Scotland to consider the information published in the US Senate report as part of the ongoing police investigation into rendition flights into Scotland.”

    In the most famous case of the application of universal jurisdiction for severe human rights abuses, the former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet was arrested in London in 1998 on the basis of an indictment issued by a Spanish court. In 2009, Westminster magistrates court issued an arrest warrant for the former Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni. Israel subsequently demanded a change in UK law that would allow her to travel without fear of arrest.

    The Senate report will almost certainly be assessed by the international criminal court as part of a preliminary examination of US treatment of detainees in Afghanistan.

    However, it is seen as unlikely that the ICC’s inquiry will lead to charges against the US officials involved in the torture programme, for both legal and political reasons.

    “Certain of the enhanced interrogation techniques apparently approved by US senior commanders in Afghanistan in the period from February 2003 through [to]June 2004, could, depending on the severity and duration of their use, amount to cruel treatment, torture or outrages upon personal dignity as defined under international jurisprudence,” the ICC prosecutor’s office said in an annual report on its activities.

    Earlier this month, the court, which is based in The Hague, revealed that it was looking into the potential US torture of detainees in Afghanistan. “In addition, there is information available that interrogators allegedly committed abuses that were outside the scope of any approved techniques, such as severe beating, especially beating on the soles of the feet, suspension by the wrists, and threats to shoot or kill,” the prosecutor’s office said.

    Bochenek said that the ICC inquiry represented “the most obvious way the report would enter the ICC’s jurisdiction”.

    The 500-page Senate report, which includes newly declassified memos, would be examined by the prosecutor’s offices to assess how widespread the use of torture was and who could be held criminally responsible, but the preliminary examination would have to pass several legal and procedural hurdles before it could proceed to a full investigation.

    The prosecutors would have to make a call on whether the scale of the abuse warranted judgment from an international court established to prosecute “the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole”. The Senate report mentions 39 known cases of enhanced interrogation techniques, only some of which took place in Afghanistan. There are no exact benchmarks for the ICC’s jurisdiction, but it has tended to examine mass crimes involving many thousands of victims.

    “The ICC was designed to end impunity for the most egregious and shocking breaches of the law, and it is hard to see how alleged detainee abuse by US forces meets that standard,” Ryan Vogel, an assistant professor at the Chicago-Kent College of Law and former policy adviser to the US defence secretary, argued on the Lawfare Blog.
    However, Bochenek argued that the significance of the US torture programme went beyond simple numbers of victims. “This was the world’s only superpower that has carried out a programme of torture and tried to cover it up in a reprehensible way and recruited the help of some 50 other countries in the programme.

    Vogel also pointed out that, on the principle of complementarity, the ICC prosecutors would have to demonstrate that the US was unwilling or unable to prosecute the abuses itself. The ICC would have to show that the American process was essentially a sham. The prosecutor’s office alluded to these obstacles, saying it was “analysing the relevance and genuineness of national proceedings by the competent national authorities for the alleged conduct described above as well as the gravity of the alleged crimes”.

    Furthermore, the US is not a state party to the ICC. Bill Clinton signed the Rome statute establishing the court during his last days in office in 2000, but his successor, George W Bush, withdrew US assent to the document.
    The Afghan government could request an ICC investigation as it is a state party to the statute and the abuses were committed on its soil, but Kabul is an American ally and dependent on US economic and military support. An ICC investigation would also look at abuses by all parties in Afghanistan over a given period, including the Kabul government.


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    CIA torture report: global reaction roundup

    UN calls for prosecution of Bush-era officials who sanctioned CIA torture programme detailed by Senate’s intelligence committee


    The UN has led international condemnation of the CIA’s interrogation and detention programme laid bare by the Senate’s intelligence committee. Its special rapporteur on counter-terrorism and human rights has called for the criminal prosecution of Bush-era officials involved.

    Here is a roundup of world reaction to Dianne Feinstein’s report:

    Ben Emmerson, UN special rapporteur on counter-terrorism and human rights

    It is now time to take action. The individuals responsible for the criminal conspiracy revealed in today’s report must be brought to justice, and must face criminal penalties commensurate with the gravity of their crimes.

    The fact that the policies revealed in this report were authorised at a high level within the US government provides no excuse whatsoever. Indeed, it reinforces the need for criminal accountability.

    International law prohibits the granting of immunities to public officials who have engaged in acts of torture. This applies not only to the actual perpetrators but also to those senior officials within the US government who devised, planned and authorised these crimes.

    As a matter of international law, the US is legally obliged to bring those responsible to justice. The UN convention against torture and the UN convention on enforced disappearances require states to prosecute acts of torture and enforced disappearance where there is sufficient evidence to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction. States are not free to maintain or permit impunity for these grave crimes.

    The heaviest penalties should be reserved for those most seriously implicated in the planning and purported authorisation of these crimes. Former Bush Administration officials who have admitted their involvement in the programme should also face criminal prosecution for their acts.

    President Obama made it clear more than five years ago that the US government recognises the use of waterboarding as torture. There is therefore no excuse for shielding the perpetrators from justice any longer. The US attorney general is under a legal duty to bring criminal charges against those responsible.

    Torture is a crime of universal jurisdiction. The perpetrators may be prosecuted by any other country they may travel to. However, the primary responsibility for bringing them to justice rests with the US Department of Justice and the attorney general.

    David Cameron, Britain’s prime minister

    Let’s be clear: torture is wrong; torture is always wrong. in Britain we have had the Gibson inquiry and that inquiry has now produced a series of questions that the intelligence and security Committee will look at.

    But I am satisfied that our system is dealing with all these issues and I, as prime minister, have issued guidance to all of our agents and others working around the world about how they have to handle these issues in future.


    The Twitter account of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, condemned the US’s record on torture as “shameful”.

    — Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) December 10, 2014 They claim #humanrights & trample its basics in their prisons,in interactions w/ nations & even w/ their own ppl.#TortureReport #Ferguson 2/8/10

    China’s state news agency Xinhua

    [The US] should clean up its own backyard first and respect the rights of other countries to resolve their issues by themselves.

    America is neither a suitable role model nor a qualified judge on human rights issues in other countries, as it pertains to be.

    Yet, despite this, people rarely hear the US talking about its own problems, preferring to be vocal on the issues it sees in other countries, including China.

    North Korea’s news agency KCNA

    Why [is] the United Nations security council turning its face from the inhuman torture practiced by the CIA?

    If the UNSC handles the ‘human rights issue’ in the DPRK [North Korea] while shutting its eyes to the serious human rights issue in the US, one of its permanent members, while failing to settle the pending and urgent issues directly linked with the world peace and security, it will prove itself its miserable position that it has turned into a tool for US arbitrary practices just as everybody can hear everywhere.


    Poland’s former president confirmed that his country hosted one of the CIA’s “black sites” for the first time following the release of the report.

    Aleksander Kwasniewski said that during his term Poland offered the CIA a site for a secret prison but did not authorise the harsh treatment of inmates.

    His comments were the first time that a Polish leader has admitted the country hosted a secret CIA site. Reports say it operated from December 2002 until the fall of 2003. Kwasniewski was in power from 1995-2005.

    Kwasniewski said the activity in Poland was terminated under pressure from Poland’s leaders. He gave no dates for the site’s operation. Until now, Polish leaders at the time have denied the site’s existence, but their successors in 2008 ordered a probe.

    Before the release of the report, current president Ewa Kopacz said:

    It will not harm US-Polish relations.

    Moazzam Begg, former British inmate of Guantánamo Bay

    The former terrorism suspect said CIA torture had fuelled violence and the rise of Islamic State.

    The legacy of this torture has been that for the past 13 years we’ve seen people being dressed in orange suits and executed, whether it’s Iraqi groups during the first occupation by America or whether it’s Iraqi groups now under IS.

    Those who have committed crimes have to be held accountable regardless of who they are.

    Nazeeh Alemad, legal adviser to Yemen’s ruling party

    The New York Times quoted him saying:

    It makes no difference. People here are not looking for more proof of torture [by the United States] They deal with it as a fact.

    What makes a difference is what happens here, not some report published over there.


    Egypt, where the US rendered scores of prisoners under Hosni Mubarak and the government continues to torture Egyptian dissidents with impunity, gave a muted response to the report. A government spokesman declined to comment.

    Those who did react said the report highlighted the hypocrisy of the US, who have often condemned Egypt’s recent human rights abuses. “America cannot demand human rights reports from other countries when this proves they know nothing about human rights,” said a pro-regime television host, Tamer Amin, on his show.

    Mohamed ElBaradei, a prominent opposition politician under Hosni Mubarak, and Nobel peace-prize winner, tweeted:

    — Mohamed ElBaradei (@ElBaradei) December 9, 2014 Heinous acts of torture & rendition: shock to the world & blow to US values. Nothing short of full accountability will do.


    A Malaysian politician has urged his government to explain the full role it played in the CIA’s torture of terror suspects, writes Kate Hodal. “Both the US and Malaysia owe the public, as well as the world at large, an explanation over this sordid and sorry affair”, said PKR youth leader Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad. He added:

    [The report] highlights the role that our country and other allies in the ‘global war on terror’ played in the practice of ‘extraordinary rendition’, that is to say, the covert capture and transfer of such suspects to various clandestine detention facilities set up for such purposes.

    “While stopping terror plots is paramount, Malaysia should not have compromised its moral integrity in this way,” he added. “Indeed, the efficacy and quality of intelligence that the practice of extraordinary rendition has produced has repeatedly been questioned.

    The incumbent government, led by PM Najib Razak, has not commented on the Senate’s report.


    Reaction in Russia’s state media has been strangely muted, at least so far, writes Shaun Walker. Usually, Moscow enjoys the opportunity to engage in some schadenfreude over such issues, most recently during the unrest in Ferguson. CIA abuses are also a pet topic of the English-language Kremlin television station Russia Today.

    A parody Vladimir Putin account on Twitter wrote: “Russia Today to run coverage of CIA torture & also KGB torture in Chechnya. Ok, only half of that is true.”

    Though Russia Today and Russia’s domestic Channel One have indeed run stories, the Senate report has not dominated coverage so far. Nor has it been used to draw any conclusions about US hypocrisy.

    There has also been little response from Russian officials so far, although Konstantin Dolgov, the foreign ministry’s human rights ombudsman, released a series of tweets slamming the US response to CIA torture:

    The Senate’s report proves that there was systematic use of torture in CIA prisons in violation of the international obligations of the US. Everyone has known this for a long time. But the Obama administration, having formally banned torture, hasn’t lifted a finger to punish those guilty for these egregious human rights abuses. This has created a further stain on the already stained US reputation in human rights. Let’s see what the administration’s reaction to the report is.”


    Marine Le Pen, president of the far-right Front National said she “did not condemn” the CIA servicemen alleged to have carried out torture.

    “On subjects like this it’s quite easy to go on television to say ‘Oh, la la! That’s wrong’,” she told BFMTV.

    “I believe that those people who are dealing with terrorists, and trying to get information out of them that helps save civilian lives, are responsible people.”

    Pressed as to whether she believed it was permissible to torture suspects she said: “In some cases. Let me say when you have a bomb going tick, tock, tick that’s going to explode in an hour or two and 200-300 civilian victims will be caught up in it, then it can be useful to make someone speak ... however one can.”

    Afterwards Le Pen said she’d been misrepresented and denied defending the use of torture. She tweeted that “faced with terrorism” the authorities should use “legal means ... obviously not torture”.

    French international radio station RFI described publication of the CIA report as a “complicated exercise in democracy”.


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    James Mitchell: 'I'm just a guy who got asked to do something for his country'

    Psychologist who designed CIA's post-9/11 torture program insists he has nothing to apologise for – and attacks 'people with a Jack Bauer mentality who don't understand how intel works'


    Dr James Elmer Mitchell has been called a war criminal and a torturer. He has been the subject of an ethics complaint, and his methods have been criticized in reports by two congressional committees and by the CIA's internal watchdog.

    But the retired air force psychologist insists he is not the monster many have portrayed him to be.

    "I'm just a guy who got asked to do something for his country by people at the highest level of government, and I did the best that I could."

    Mitchell is featured prominently in a new report prepared by the Senate select committee on intelligence, which spent five years and more than $40m studying the CIA's detention and interrogation program.

    The findings, according to a summary leaked to McClatchy, are damning: that the agency misled the White House, Congress and the American people; that unauthorised interrogation methods were used; that the legal opinions stating the techniques did not break US torture laws were flawed; and perhaps most significant, that the torture yielded no useful intelligence.

    But Mitchell said the program's successes had been deliberately ignored.

    Mitchell spoke to the Guardian by phone from his home in Land O'Lakes, Florida for two hours last Friday – the "longest conversation I had with any reporter," he said. He mounted a full-throated defense of the Bush administration's counter-terrorism policies and attacked "partisan Democrats" for "throwing me under the bus" and "rewriting history."

    He would not discuss specific details about "the program" because he is bound by a non-disclosure agreement. Despite repeated requests, he said, the government won't free him from his secrecy obligations.

    Mitchell, however, did talk about the torture program in general terms. He sees it as a huge success and is upset it has gotten such a bad rap.

    Long before the Senate intelligence committee began its review, Mitchell was identified in a 2004 CIA inspector general's report that examined the efficacy of the agency's torture program. A heavily redacted copy of the IG report was released five years ago. It said Mitchell and Jessen had "probably misrepresented" their "expertise" as experienced interrogators when pitching coercive techniques to the CIA as a way to obtain actionable intelligence from prisoners.

    Mitchell said his credentials are impeccable. He has spent his career studying the terrorist mindset first as a bomb disposal specialist, then as a hostage negotiator, a clinical psychologist and an instructor at the Air Force's elite survival school.

    Mitchell blamed an unnamed staffer on the Senate armed services committee for spreading "lies" about him to the media. In 2009, the committee released a scathing report about the treatment of detainees in custody of the US military at Guantánamo, Afghanistan and Iraq.

    The panel concluded that the coercive interrogation methods had been "reverse engineered" for use on terror detainees by Mitchell and another psychologist under contract to the CIA, Bruce Jessen, from resistance training techniques taught to airmen known as survival evasion resistance escape (Sere).

    But Kathleen Long, a spokeswoman for the armed services committee, disputed Mitchell's claims.

    "He agreed to be interviewed for the committee's inquiry," Long said. "We do not believe that information included in the report is inaccurate, or that we provided statements to the media that were not supported by information included in the report."

    Mitchell also singled out a former colleague: air force colonel Steven Kleinman, who had participated in interrogations in Iraq and knew Mitchell and Jessen from the air force survival school where he worked as an instructor.

    Kleinman is also featured in the Senate committee report, notably for blowing the whistle on the abusive interrogation methods detainees in Iraq were subjected to. He also warned his superiors against using Sere techniques during interrogation sessions because it would result in false confessions.

    Mitchell said Kleinman "did the right thing [reporting abuse]".

    "The Geneva Conventions applied, and when he saw the Department of Defense using techniques that weren't authorized by the Geneva Conventions, he said we shouldn't be doing this, and that's what he should have done," Mitchell said. "But I don't know how he could have possibly gone to the Senate armed services committee and said I had something to do with it. I didn't do any training for them."

    Kleinman, in an interview with the Guardian, recounts the episode differently. He said Mitchell contacted him in 2005 and asked him to travel to Spokane to interview for a job. During the interview, Kleinman said Mitchell asked him if he witnessed prisoners being abused would he report it. Kleinman told Mitchell that he would.

    "I found out later that I wasn't offered the job, because Mitchell thought I was too inflexible with my views," Kleinman said.

    Kleinman added that while there is no question Mitchell and Jessen were the "backbones of the nation's Sere program", he could not understand how they could believe interrogation methods used to generate propaganda and/or false confessions could somehow be used to elicit "reliable, accurate and timely intelligence."

    "Why would anybody think that a model that would produce those outcomes would also be effective in producing the opposite?"

    Perhaps one day, Mitchell said, he will write a book, "just to get my point of view out there". In the meantime, he said, he's not losing any sleep over the Senate intelligence committee's report.

    "I don't care what [Dianne] Feinstein thinks about me," Mitchell said. "I'm retired. I do a lot of adventurous stuff now. I served my country and now I'm done. I did what I did for whoever I did it for, and now I'm done with that stuff."


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    Your Guide to CIA Torture and Its Sick, Sad American Apologists

    In one of its last acts before Republicans take leadership, the Senate intelligence committee today released another report again acknowledging that yes, the United States tortured people in the war on terror—and no, it didn't really help much. Here's what we know today.

    How did we torture people?

    Well, there's the waterboarding, which even a machismo-obsessed Oxfordian could see was torture seconds into a grandstanding attempt to endure it. Today's report confirms that even the interrogators saw waterboarding sessions against 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Muhammad as "a series of near drownings":

    Ujamaadam Serwer @AdamSerwer

    This is what Dick Cheney and his fan club described as not torture.

    But there's so much more. Here are some practices the Army's interrogation manual (now) expressly prohibits—practices U.S. forces, their hired goons, and their international proxies have all been accused of using since 9/11:

    • Forcing the detainee to be naked, perform sexual acts, or pose in a sexual manner.
    • Placing hoods or sacks over the head of a detainee; using duct tape over the eyes.
    • Applying beatings, electric shock, burns, or other forms of physical pain.
    • "Waterboarding."
    • Using military working dogs.
    • Inducing hypothermia or heat injury.
    • Conducting mock executions.
    • Depriving the detainee of necessary food, water, or medical care.

    And more. Detainees under U.S. supervision in places like Guantanamo have turned up dead, with legs battered to the point of liquefaction. This excerpt from today's Senate report is illustrative:

    Other detainees have been handed over to sadism-happy global allies and simply disappeared. As security reporter Spencer Ackerman put it for Wired last year: "More Than 50 Countries Helped the CIA Outsource Torture." From today's report:

    Spencer Ackerman @attackerman

    A Yemeni named Walid al-Qadasi said this happened to him in CIA custody in Afghanistan:

    The tragic truth of the matter is that we don't know the full extent of what awful **** was done to people in the name of American security, and nothwithstanding today's release, we probably never will.

    Why did we torture people?

    Ostensibly, it was to extract intelligence out of terrorists to prevent future attacks against Americans. In the face of years of evidence disputing this thesis, much of the op-ed and TV pushback from Bush-era architects of the torture policy amounts to: "Nuh-uh." The amount of ink spilled over whether torture is "effective" in the past decade and a half has been breathtaking. (Not as breathtaking as waterboarding, of course.)

    The Senate report released today, however, again says torture was ineffective: Every one of 20 major cases cited as successes by torture defenders was overblown or "found to be wrong in fundamental respects." Worse, the report says, the CIA deliberately lied to perpetuate the idea that inflicting pain and distress got **** done:

    Ujamaadam Serwer @AdamSerwer

    Senate report claims Bush WH was misled about effectiveness of torture. Dick Cheney seems ok with that

    But lefty security reporter Marcy Wheeler, formerly of The Intercept, points out that U.S. officials have historically cited another justification: "exploitation," an ominous catchall referring to captors' use of prisoners for, well, whatever. Want to know specifics? Too bad. Here's what the definition looks like in a previous Senate torture report:

    Perhaps exploitation includes coercing prisoners to work for U.S. interests after their release. Perhaps it includes forced participation in U.S. messaging—or, as Wheeler bluntly puts it, "propaganda."

    How can anybody defend this?

    First, by denying that it's torture. Remember the "enhanced interrogation techniques" meme? (Early rumors that even today's Senate report would avoid the word "torture" were, in fact, untrue; the word appears 131 times.)

    Alex Seitz-Wald @aseitzwald

    Word count: "Rendition" 159. "Torture" 131. "Waterboard" 275. "Mislead" 6. "Criminal" 35. "Brutal" 2. "War Crimes" 35. "Failure" 5.

    But defining torture down is not good enough for our uniformed service members. The Army now tells its soldiers to not only respect existing laws and regulations, but to use a moral litmus test: "If the proposed approach technique were used by the enemy against one of your fellow soldiers, would you believe the soldier had been abused?"

    Of course, many torture defenders argue that these techniques were in fact adapted from practices U.S. service members voluntarily endure when they opt to take SERE training: "survival, evasion, resistance, and escape" schooling. But those schools are meant to instruct pupils on how to endure torture by American enemies, who presumably would stoop to such brutal means. And the researcher who adapted those techniques for interrogation told the New Yorker back in 2005 how much he regretted doing so.

    Alex Kingsbury @alexkingsbury

    Soldiers in training, being voluntarily waterboarded, is not comparable to interrogation of the unwilling.

    , by denying that it's torture when you use it against your allegedly animalistic, inhuman "enemy." This is the gutter-id reasoning of many of our countrymen who voted for the Cheneys and defended the Haydens. Here's a self-identified former county Republican chairman from Georgia who claims to have served in Iraq and Afghanistan:

    Elias Isquith @eliasisquith

    Libertarian hero & defender of civil liberties Rand Paul has said basically nothing about the CIA & torture http://bit.ly/160ssci

    theo herrera @TheoTherrera8

    @eliasisquith @Salon we need to use more torture on these animals...you liberals seem to embrace our enemies
    kt @ktelinator

    @TheoTherrera8 @eliasisquith @Salon humbly asking because i'm curious: liberalism doesn't work for what goal that "more torture" does?
    theo herrera @TheoTherrera8

    @ktelinator @eliasisquith @Salon in my opinion the way we used to conduct warfare was more effective...kindness is lost on these guys

    , by pretending some fucking good comes out of it. Proponents have long argued that "enhanced" interrogation of Al Qaeda members Hassan Ghul and Khalid Sheikh Muhammad led to the jihadi courier who led Americans to find and kill Osama bin Laden. Except Ghul spilled about the courier before those techniques were used, and Muhammad offered a bevy of false information to interrogators while under duress.

    Senate report: Torture produced faulty intelligence because detainees lied

    It didn't help that they'd already been in custody for years and any information they could provide was likely stale by the time the waterboard came out.

    , many of torture's defenders are having a meta-argument: that regardless of what was done in the past, no good will come out of releasing this report now. It may inflame those darned angry primitive Mooslins to kill helpless Marines.

    Hugh Hewitt @hughhewitt

    Calls/emails blistering @SenFeinstein for proposed release of report. If Americans die as a result of this stunt, responsibility 4 it clear
    Sound familiar? That's because it was used as an argument against releasing photos of prisoner abuses by U.S. soldiers at Abu Ghraib. Weirdly, it also mirrors the Obama administration's stance when it blamed the 2012 Benghazi U.S. consulate attacks on an incendiary anti-Muslim video on YouTube—an argument ridiculed by many of the conservatives who are opposing today's torture-report release.

    Will Tuesday's release change anything?

    No. For one thing, it's being painted as partisan, which is kind of laughable, since plenty of Democrats join most Republicans in defending the infliction of pain on captives. (A few Republicans and most independents have also come out against torture—"This is not America," Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), a member of the Senate intelligence committee, told CNN today.)

    For another thing, everybody's really tired of war and wants to move on from what America did and had done to it. And those Americans that are willing to pay much attention are the pro-torture type. Since 2005, torture has steadily gained more popularity among U.S. poll respondents. More than two-thirds said torture was justified in some circumstances earlier this year. Torture, in other words, was more popular than President Obama and Congress combined.

    Finally, getting most Americans to care about swarthy captives from foreign countries with a different religion after September 11 is asking a lot. The Bush administration never lost an election by suggesting otherwise.

    So what can we do now?

    It may seem perverse, but the only way to even extract an acknowledgement of wrongdoing from—or attach a never-ending stigma of guilt to—bloodthirsty man-jackals like Richard Cheney is to pardon them for their role in justifying and encouraging the torture of fellow human beings.

    ACLU executive director Anthony Romero takes this tack in a recent New York Times op-ed, arguing that at this point only immunity will enable honesty. By doing nothing now, Romero says, the government is "essentially granting tacit pardons for torture." Issuing official pardons for torturers "may be the only way to establish, once and for all, that torture is illegal."

    If nothing else, there's something morally powerful about offering forgiveness to the worst disgracers of American values and humane sensibility. Forgiveness is not easy, which is precisely what distinguishes it from the brutality it addresses.


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    17 Disgraceful Facts Buried In The Senate’s 600 Page Torture Report

    December 9, 2014

    The Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the CIA’s extensive use of torture reveals that the agency regularly misled the White House and Congress about the information it had obtained from detainees and used techniques that are far more brutal than it — or former Bush administration officials — had previously acknowledged.

    For instance, President George W. Bush insisted that “[t]his government does not torture people” and claimed that the intelligence it produced was instrumental to preventing terrorism on American soil and capturing high-value targets, including Osama bin Laden. But the Committee’s five year investigation — and examination of more than six million CIA documents — reveals all of those assertions to be false.

    For its part, the CIA acknowledged that it “did not always live up to the high standards that we set for ourselves” and “made mistakes” in how it ran the program, particularly “early on” when the CIA “was unprepared and lacked the core competencies required.” However, it insisted that “there are too many flaws for [this report] to stand as the official record of the program” and strongly disputed “that the agency’s assessments were willfully misrepresented in a calculated effort to manipulate.”

    Republicans are similarly shielding the agency from criticism, claiming that the report is “ideologically motivated and distorted recounting of historical events.” “The fact that the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation program developed significant intelligence that helped us identify and capture important al-Qa’ida terrorists, disrupt their ongoing plotting, and take down Usama Bin Ladin is incontrovertible,” Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said in a statement.
    Below are just some of the most damning findings from the Committee’s report:

    1. Torture did not lead the CIA to the courier who ultimately helped capture Osama bin Laden.

    “The most accurate information on Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti — facilitator whose identification and tracking led to the identification of UBL’s compound and the operation that resulted in UBL’s death — “obtained from a CIA detainee was provided by a CIA detainee who had not yet been subjected to the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques; and CIA detainees who were subjected to the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques withheld and fabricated information about Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti.” [Page 379]

    2. CIA personnel objected to torture techniques, but were “instructed” by the CIA headquarters to continue.

    “The non-stop use of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques was disturbing to CIA personnel at DETENTION SITE GREEN. These CIA personnel objected to the continued use of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques against Abu Zubaydah, but were instructed by CIA Headquarters to continue using the techniques…”Several on the team profoundly affected.. .some to the point of tears and choking up. [Page 473]

    3. The two psychologists who helped the CIA create the torture techniques earned over $81 million.

    “In 2006, the value of the CIA’s base contract with the company formed by the psychologists with all options exercised was in excess of $180 million; the contractors received $81 million prior to the contract’s termination in 2009. In 2007, the CIA provided a multi-year indemnification agreement to protect the company and its employees from legal liability arising out of the program. The CIA has since paid out more than $1 million pursuant to the agreement.” [Page 11]

    4. Colin Powell was not briefed on CIA interrogation methods because he would “blow his stack”.

    “At the direction of the White House, the secretaries of state and defense – both principals on the National Security Council – were not briefed on program specifics until September 2003. An internal CIA email from July 2003 noted that “… the WH [White House] is extremely concerned [Secretary] Powell would blow his stack if he were to be briefed on what’s been going on.” Deputy Secretary of State Armitage complained that he and Secretary Powell were “cut out” of the National Security Council coordination process.” [Page 7]

    5. The CIA used rectal feeding on detainees.

    “At least five CIA detainees were subjected to “rectal rehydration” or rectal feeding without documented medical necessity. …Majid Khan’s “lunch tray” consisting of hummus, pasta with sauce, nuts, and raisins was “pureed” and rectally infused. [Page 4]

    6. CIA leadership refused to punish an officer who killed a detainee during torture session.

    “On two occasions in which the CIA inspector general identified wrongdoing, accountability recommendations were overruled by senior CIA leadership. In one instance, involving the death of a CIA detainee at COBALT, CIA Headquarters decided not to take disciplinary action against an officer involved because, at the time, CIA… In another instance related to a wrongful detention, no action was taken against a CIA officer because, “[t]he Director strongly believes that mistakes should be expected in a business filled with uncertainty,” and “the Director believes the scale tips decisively in favor of accepting mistakes that over connect the dots against those that under connect them.” In neither case was administrative action taken against CIA management personnel.” [Page 14]

    7. The CIA tortured innocent people.

    “Of the 119 known detainees that were in CIA custody during the life of the program, at least 26 were wrongfully held. Detainees often remained in custody for months after the CIA determined they should not have been detained….Other KSM [Khalid Sheikh Mohammed] fabrications led the CIA to capture and detain suspected terrorists who were later found to be innocent.” [Page 485]

    8. The CIA held an “intellectually challenged man” to use as leverage against his family.

    “[A]n “intellectually challenged” man whose CIA detention was used solely as leverage to get a family member to provide information, two individuals who were intelligence sources for foreign liaison services and were former CIA sources, and two individuals whom the CIA assessed to be connected to al-Qa’ida based solely on information fabricated by a CIA detainee subjected to the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques.” [Page 12]

    9. The CIA intentionally mislead the media to “shape public opinion.”

    “The CIA’s Office of Public Affairs and senior CIA officials coordinated to share classified information on the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program to select members of the media to counter public criticism, shape public opinion, and avoid potential congressional action to restrict the CIA’s detention and interrogation authorities and budget.” [Page 8]

    10. CIA officers threatened to kill and rape detainees’ mothers.

    “CIA officers also threatened at least three detainees with harm to their families—to include threats to harm the children of a detainee, threats to sexually abuse the mother of a detainee, and a threat to “cut [a detainee's] mother’s throat.” [Page 4]

    11. The CIA dismissed information that wasn’t obtained through torture, even though it proved to be true.

    “KSM’s reporting during his first day in CIA custody included an accurate description of a Pakistani/British operative, which was dismissed as having been provided during the initial “‘throwaway’ stage” of information collection when the CIA believed detainees provided false or worthless information.’” [Page 82]

    12. CIA torture techniques included mock burials and use of insects.

    “(1) the attention grasp, (2) walling, (3) facial hold, (4) facial slap, (5) cramped confinement, (6) wall standing, (7) stress positions, (8) sleep deprivation, (9) waterboard, (10) use of diapers, (11) use of insects, and (12) mock burial.” [Page 32]

    13. Some interrogators had previously admitted to sexual assault.

    “The Committee reviewed CIA records related to several CIA officers and contractors involved in the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program, most of whom conducted interrogations. The Committee identified a number of personnel whose backgrounds include notable derogatory information calling into question their eligibility for employment, their access to classified information, and their participation in CIA interrogation activities. In nearly all cases, the derogatory information was known to the CIA prior to the assignment of the CIA officers to the Detention and Interrogation Program. This group of officers included individuals who, among other issues, had engaged in inappropriate detainee interrogations, had workplace anger management issues, and had reportedly admitted to sexual assault.” [Page 59]

    14. One interrogator played Russian roulette.

    “Among other abuses…had engaged in ‘Russian Roulette’ with a detainee.” [Page 424]

    15. The CIA tortured its own informants by accident.

    “In the spring of 2004, after two detainees were transferred to CIA custody, CIA interrogators proposed, and CIA Headquarters approved, using the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques on one of the two detainees because it might cause the detainee to provide information that could identify inconsistencies in the other detainee’s story. After both detainees had spent approximately 24 hours shackled in the standing sleep deprivation position, CIA Headquarters confirmed that the detainees were former CIA sources. The two detainees had tried to contact the CIA on multiple occasions prior to their detention to inform the CIA of their activities and provide intelligence. [Page 133]

    16. The CIA tortured detainees in a dungeon.

    “Conditions at CIA detention sites were poor, and were especially bleak early in the program. CIA detainees at the COBALT detention facility were kept in complete darkness and constantly shackled in isolated cells with loud noise or music and only a bucket to use for human waste. Lack of heat at the facility likely contributed to the death of a detainee. The chief of interrogations described COBALT as a “dungeon.” Another senior CIA officer stated that COBALT was itself an enhanced interrogation technique.” [Page 4]

    17. The CIA spent hundreds of millions of dollars on the torture program.

    “CIA records indicate that the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program cost well over $300 million in non-personnel costs. This included funding for the CIA to construct and maintain detention facilities, including two facilities costing nearly $X million that were never used, in part due to host country political concerns. To encourage governments to clandestinely host CIA detention sites, or to increase support for existing sites, the CIA provided millions of dollars in cash payments to foreign government officials.” [Page 16]


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    CIA Torture Report: just the tip of the iceberg


    In the aftermath of the Senate’s damning report on the barbaric, inhumane interrogation techniques used by the CIA, it has been proven to the world that corruption and evil exists at the very highest levels.

    The Senate’s report on CIA torture or rather the “executive summary” which has been declassified does not make for easy reading. It is over 500 pages long and includes details with the ability to shock those who thought themselves familiar with the horrors of the CIA torture programme. The report reveals that use of torture in secret prisons run by the CIA across the world was even more extreme than previously exposed, and included “rectal rehydration” and “rectal feeding”, sleep deprivation lasting almost a week and threats to the families of the detainees. The “lunch tray” for one detainee, which contained hummus, pasta with sauce, nuts and raisins, “was ‘pureed’ and rectally infused”, the report says. One detainee whose rectal examination was conducted with “excessive force” was later diagnosed with chronic hemorrhoids, anal fissures and rectal prolapse. Investigators also documented death threats made to detainees. CIA interrogators, the committee charged, told detainees they would hurt detainees’ children and “sexually assault” or “cut a detainee’s mother’s throat”. At least one prisoner died as a result of hypothermia after being held in a stress position on cold concrete for hours. Victims were left so disturbed by their abuse that they made attempts at “self-mutilation”.[1][2][3]

    Although this particular Senate report does bring to the public attention the horrific nature of the torture programme, what has been published remains just the tip of the iceberg. It is after all less than a tenth of the full 6,000-page report. Significant numbers of those we know to have been victims of CIA torture are not named along with the countries which assisted the US in its programme. Notable among these is the UK. It is hopeful that more will emerge as people undertake detailed consideration and attempt to unpick the redactions, but at first look it appears that Britain, although mentioned in the summary, has somehow successfully avoided a public accounting for the part it played in facilitating rendition and torture. And it has to be asked if this was down to the strenuous efforts it made to lobby the Senate Committee which produced the report, in the hope of avoiding just that public embarrassment. Two documents, obtained by Reprieve,[4] may shed some light: one of them, a letter from then-Foreign Secretary William Hague, [5] confirms that the UK “made representations” to the Senate Committee regarding the potential disclosure of “UK material” in its report. It does not seem to require much reading between the lines to see this for what it is: an admission that Britain lobbied the US Senate Committee over what it would publish about the UK’s part in torture and rendition. The second document, obtained under Freedom of Information, shows the scale of that lobbying effort: the British Ambassador to the US was dispatched to meet and most likely plead with members of the committee an astonishing 21 times during the course of its work.[6]

    It is worth stressing that UK complicity in CIA “renditions” where prisoners were flown to countries where they could be subjected to torture, beyond the reach of the law, is not, as Jack Straw once said, the fantasy of conspiracy theorists.[7] Just a few years after these comments made by Jack Straw, David Miliband, the foreign secretary at the time, was forced to admit that the claims that Britain had not been involved in rendition were entirely false.[8] Detainees on CIA torture flights, he told parliament in 2008, had in fact landed on the British-owned territory of Diego Garcia.

    Human Rights organisations such as Reprieve [4] and CAGE [9] have for many years been working incredibly hard against the will of the government to expose such crimes in the form of exposing leaked flight paths and interviewing handlers in a number of different countries. Now that the US role in torture has confirmed what has been said for many years, we are not any closer toward accountability. Lives of victims and their families have been lost, turned upside down, yet there has been no apology, no sense of contrition by the perpetrators or prosecutions of those responsible for what has taken place. Likewise, we are not any closer in knowing the full role of British instigated torture and rendition around the world. A 213-page report compiled by the Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI), a New York-based human rights organisation, says that at least 54 countries co-operated with the global kidnap, detention and torture operation that was mounted after 9/11, many of them in Europe.[10] So widespread and extensive was the participation of governments across the world that it is now clear the CIA could not have operated its programme without their support. There is no doubt that high-ranking Bush administration officials bear responsibility for authorising human rights violations associated with secret detention and extraordinary rendition, and the impunity that they have enjoyed to date remains a matter of significant concern but responsibility for these violations does not end with the United States. Secret detention and extraordinary rendition operations, designed to be conducted outside the United States under cover of secrecy, could not have been implemented without the active participation of foreign governments. These governments too must be held accountable. The impunity with which intelligence agencies such as the CIA (and as time will probably reveal even MI6, MOSSAD and other agencies) is astounding, especially living in a technologically advanced era, yet here we have medieval practices taking place right under our noses, practices that were carried out to ‘protect the world and make it a safer place’.

    These revelations have legitimised an inbred culture of attitude that ‘We have the power to do what we want, and have no one to account us for it’. Take for example the Caesar revelations of prisoner torture and subsequent deaths in the dungeons in Syria by the Assad regime.[11] Not only was Syria a popular destination of rendition, but it also regularly undertakes brutal torture of its own political dissidents which has now extended to the streets in Syria during the ongoing civil war. If countries like the US are happy to send people to their countries for torture, what is stopping them from doing it to their own?

    The inferences that many world apocalyptic scenarios have been averted as a result of these illegal interrogations are laughable and highly unbelievable in the absence of concrete evidence – that is always the missing vital piece of the ‘safer world’ puzzle – kept from public view behind the excuse of ‘protecting national security’. Take for example the most poignant episode in this whole sordid venture, the torture and forced confession extracted from the Libyan Ibn al Sheikh Al Libi. This spurious information that alleged a link between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda was then used as the primary justification for the 2003 invasion of Iraq. No one has been held accountable for his maltreatment, nor for that illegal war. It was on this basis that two countries went to war with a nation where neither Al-Qaeda and now ISIS were previously.

    Whilst we are warmongering in the name of democracy, and solving the world’s ‘terrorism crisis’ internationally, domestically, we are guilty of depraved crimes that completely dehumanise those to whom we have a duty of care until at least we have proven their guilt – and even beyond guilt, there is a responsibility as the ‘modern western world’ to respect human rights and punish appropriately and humanely. Many of those tortured in Bagram and Guantanamo, including Moazzam Begg, the Outreach Director for CAGE were never guilty of a crime in the first place, who had to say the following:

    “’We should not treat this report as a historical account of some bygone era, these things are still happening today. Guantanamo is still open, as is Bagram, while renditions and disappearances by the Americans are still widespread.”

    “The undercutting and manipulation of international law by the United States and her allies now means that we live in world where torture, abuse and arbitrary killing have become the norm. The attack at Woolwich, the rise of IS and the its parading of detainees clad in orange jumpsuits are some of the enduring legacies of the past 13 years, and reminders that a borderless war where men, women and children can be arbitrarily killed or snatched away at night will always come back to haunt us.”[12]

    Asim Qureshi, Research Director at CAGE has even argued that the self-claimed Islamic State’s tactics have been taken directly from the American government in their use of torture techniques such as waterboarding and mock executions. Evidencing that the War on Terror and the impact of these torture policies affect mostly those who they claimed they sought to protect. In 2003, he completed his Masters dissertation on the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay with the following words:

    “If these soldiers are not afforded any of the protections that the Geneva Conventions seek to provide, then they would be not be bound to apply any of the other humanitarian standards relating to the conduct of hostilities. What would be seen is a backsliding of conduct where warfare would become increasingly brutal. It would thus make sense for the superpower States to reconsider the rules relating to armed conflicts, as if they do not, they will find their own soldiers in increasingly difficult situations, as those they face may not care to give them any form of protection. The ‘unlawful combatant’ must be deleted from legal speech, and instead a positive move should be made to understand the real nature of war to accommodate for its changing nature and complexities. This may require the powerful States to look past their own emphasis on sovereignty, and take into account real humanitarian issues. The result would be of the greatest benefit to those who are caught up in the politics of States, the combatants.”[13]


    Sheikh Khalid Yasin:

    What the Torture Report admits is only the tip of the iceberg and yet even what little we know is upsetting and angering - yes angering. Not an indulgent, worldly anger for a personal slight or injury; the anger we feel is the sort of anger that even the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) expressed when he invoked Allah against the leading persecutors of Muslims in his time. It is anger for the sake of Allah, anger for what was done to our brothers and it is quite frankly a sign of Iman.

    What I find more upsetting than the crude forms of torture used: extreme sleep deprivation, water boarding, electrocuting etc., is that the CIA and its allies have been using torture that has carefully been concocted and designed to completely humiliate MUSLIM MEN in particular taking into account their unique psyche.

    They know our brothers' chastity is something they guard carefully, so they rape them and stick things into their private-parts.

    They know that a Muslim man won't even walk around in front of his children unclothed, so they break him by stripping him naked and searching every cavity of his body, before locking him in a room packed full of his naked Muslim brothers - having to urinate and defecate in front of one another.

    They know that his wife is his world and his honour and so they make him hear a woman's screams- making him believe his wife is being raped in the next room.

    They know the shyness & modesty of our brothers - not to touch a woman who is haram to them. So they lock them in a room with naked prostitutes, who touch them & cavort all over them.

    They force him to show disrespect to the Qur'an.

    They know about our laws of cleanliness and najasah so they force our brothers to cover themselves with their own urine and faeces.

    إن الذين فتنوا المؤمنين والمؤمنات ثم لم يتوبوا فلهم عذاب جهنم ولهم عذاب الحريق

    "Indeed, those who have tortured the believing men and believing women and then have not repented will have the punishment of Hell, and they will have the punishment of the Burning Fire." [Qur'an 85:10]

    Allahummansur il-Islama wal Muslimeen.

    Allahumma 'alaika bi man dhalama ikhwatina fee kulli makanin Yaa rabbal 'aalameen.

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    Lessons From Prophet Muhammad to Stop Torture


    This week, America and the world were let in on the secret that everyone knew but no one would admit. The Senate Intelligence Torture Report unveiled 600 pages of the CIA's "enhanced interrogation tactics" on at least 119 suspects after 9/11. Above all, this report demonstrates the moral bankruptcy of our political leadership who approved, engaged or even encouraged these atrocities.

    Both American and International law forbid torture. Sadly, organizations the world over like the CIA and ISIS both engage in this barbaric act. Nearly 1400 years prior, however, Prophet Muhammad categorically forbade torture for any reason. While pre-Islam Arabia was known for its ongoing wars devoid of any ethics, Muhammad enacted practical methods to successfully and peacefully unite Arabia -- without torture.

    Were the world to adopt Muhammad's example of compassion, tolerance, and civility, such a torture report would not exist, because torture itself would not exist.

    Here are five lessons the CIA, ISIS and humanity at large can learn from Prophet Muhammad on how to stop torture.

    1. Stop engaging in pre-emptive war

    Prophet Muhammad forbade pre-emptive war, all forms of terrorism, violently revolting against a government no matter how unjust, and even went to the extent of forbidding civil disobedience lest it lead to violence. When Muslims faced incessant and brutal persecution in Mecca from 610-620, Muhammad forbade any violent or incendiary response to the governing authorities. He offered his companions three options -- remain and bear the persecution, try to change laws through peaceful argumentation, or leave.

    Many Muslims left -- some to Abyssinia where they sought and received refuge under the righteous Christian King Neghus. Others left to Medina, where they forged a peaceful alliance with the Jews and soon established a unified secular state governed by the Charter of Medina. Fighting was then only permitted in self-defense once Muslims were pursued and attacked, just as the Qur'an 22:40 allows: "Permission to fight is given to those against whom war is made, because they have been wronged -- and Allah indeed has power to help them." Once in defensive war, the Qur'an only permits killing active combatants, as elaborated next.

    2. Stop justifying collateral damage

    Drone strikes, indiscriminate bombing, and collateral damage have each sadly become part of the American military experience. Prophet Muhammad categorically condemned any act of violence in which civilians, property, or places of worship were harmed.

    Following Muhammad's guidance, Abu Bakr the first Khalifa commanded to the Muslim army about to embark on battle,

    "O people! I charge you with ten rules; learn them well... for your guidance in the battlefield! Do not commit treachery, or deviate from the right path. You must not mutilate dead bodies. Neither kill a child, nor a woman, nor an aged man. Bring no harm to the trees, nor burn them with fire, especially those which are fruitful. Slay not any of the enemy's flock, save for your food. You are likely to pass by people who have devoted their lives to monastic services; leave them alone."

    As history's first major figure to condemn collateral damage in word and in deed, Prophet Muhammad demonstrated a high precedent that even the most advanced nations today cannot match. Today's leaders can end the war atrocities engulfing our world by following Muhammad's example of justice and compassion.

    3. Stop indefinite detention for POWs

    The Afghan and Iraq wars are long over. Yet, America continues to maintain numerous POWs in Guantanamo Bay, and likely in other undisclosed locations. Prophet Muhammad categorically condemned this practice. After permitting Muslims to only fight in self-defense, the Qur'an 47:5 next commands Muslims to release POWs immediately as war comes to an end.

    Maintaining POWs well after the war has ended creates distrust and animosity among allies and enemies alike, and is beneath the standard of a civilized country. Rather than usurp human rights with indefinite detention, rather than provide propaganda material to extremists, rather than violate its own Constitution and international law, we should all learn from Prophet Muhammad's example, and justly release POWs.

    4. Stop mistreating POWs

    POWs, during and after the war must be treated with the dignity all human beings deserve. Historian Sir William Muir well records how Prophet Muhammad commanded his companions to treat POWs:

    The Refugees had houses of their own, received the prisoners with kindness and consideration. "Blessings on the men of Medina!" said one of these in later days: "they made us ride, while they themselves walked afoot; they gave us wheaten bread to eat when there was little of it, contenting themselves with dates." It is not surprising, therefore, that some of the captives, yielding to these influences, declared themselves Believers, and to such their liberty was at once granted. The rest were kept for ransom. Such as had nothing to give were liberated without payment; but a service was required... To each were allotted ten boys, to be taught the art of writing; and the teaching was accepted as a ransom.

    Mind you, this was at a time in Arabia when Muslims captured during battle suffered the fate of torture and death. Yet, in response, Muslims demanded the ransom of education, fed POWs with their own food and sheltered them with their own shelter. Once war ended, Muhammad immediately released all POWs. This is how he brought lasting peace to a former Arabian wasteland engulfed in constant war.

    5. Stop justifying torture

    Nothing justifies the torture the CIA meted out to those 119 human beings. Indeed, in response to those arguing safety, the report concludes that America was not made any safer as a result of these barbaric practices. This was just one among many reasons Prophet Muhammad categorically forbade torture.

    For example, as recorded in Sahih Muslim, "Hisham ibn Hakim passed by some people in Syria who had been made to stand in the sun and had oil poured over their heads. He asked, "What is this?" It was said,

    "They are being punished for not paying taxes." Hisham said: I heard Prophet Muhammad say: "Verily, Allah will torture those who torture people in this world." Likewise, Jabir ibn Abdullah reported that Prophet Muhammad commanded: "Do not torture the creation of Allah the Exalted."

    Indeed, Prophet Muhammad's compassion extended beyond humans as he also specifically forbade torturing animals, declaring, "A woman was punished because of a cat she had imprisoned until it died; thus, she entered Hellfire because of it. She did not give it food or water while it was imprisoned, neither did she set it free to eat from the vermin of the earth."


    It is not a lack of intelligence, but a lack of morality that permitted this barbaric act of torture to occur at all. The CIA, ISIS, and indeed the world at large can learn volumes about compassion, justice, mercy, and morality from Prophet Muhammad, the man who successfully brought peace to a warring world.


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    Romanian ex-spy chief acknowledges CIA had ‘black prisons’ in country

    Ioan Talpes, who led SIE agency, says Bucharest cooperated but ‘took no interest’ in sites as country was trying to join Nato

    A top official from Romania has for the first time confirmed that the CIA had “at least” one prison in the country.

    Ioan Talpes, the former head of the country’s intelligence service said the CIA had “centres” in Romania, including a transit camp or compound, where prisoners were kept before being moved to other locations. He is the first Romanian official to confirm the information in the CIA torture report last week, which stated the existence of at least one “black site” in which prisoners were held and probably tortured.

    Successive governments have spent years denying the rumours, even after last week’s US Senate report said there had been a CIA prison in Romania.

    Talpes said the transit camp was set up following detailed discussions with Romanian authorities. He told Germany’s Spiegel Online there was one, possibly two locations in the country in which “it is probably that people were imprisoned, and treated in an inhumane manner” between 2003 and 2006.

    Talpes, 70, was head of Romania’s foreign intelligence service, SIE, between 1992 and 1997 and for four years until 2004, was head of the president’s office with responsibility for national security.

    He told the German news site that he had continuous discussions with CIA and US military officials about closer cooperation between them and Romania. The main tenet of the conversations was always about giving the CIA the ability to carry out its own activities, he added.

    But he denied knowing where the CIA centres had been or that torture had been carried out in them, and said Romania had “explicitly taken no interest in knowing what the CIA did there”.

    His country had been particularly keen at the beginning of negotiations to prove its willingness to cooperate in the hope that it would help it to achieve Nato membership. Romania joined Nato in March 2004. “It was the Americans’ business what they did in these places,” Talpes said.

    Dick Marty, who was appointed by the Council of Europe to investigate alleged illegal CIA activities in Europe, accused Romania in 2005 of hosting CIA prisons for terrorist suspects. The accusations were repeated by Amnesty International. The 9/11 chief planner Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is one of the prisoners believed to have been held in Romania.

    Romania’s former president Ion Illiescu said this week he had no knowledge of the CIA prisons. However Talpes said he had informed Illiescu himself in 2003 and 2004 that the Americans were carrying out “certain activities” on Romanian soil.


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    The One Man Jailed For CIA Torture Tried To Expose It

    The Justice Department is unlikely to prosecute anyone connected to the brutal torture techniques outlined in a Senate report released on Tuesday, but the one man already sitting in jail in connection with the CIA's interrogation program tried to draw public attention to it.

    In an interview with ABC News in 2007, former CIA agent John Kiriakou was one of the first to acknowledge the existence of the CIA's torture program. Federal authorities brought criminal charges against him in 2008 for revealing the name of a covert agent to a reporter. Kiriakou pleaded guilty to those charges in 2012 and is currently serving a 30-month federal prison sentence.

    "I believe I was prosecuted not for what I did but for who I am: a CIA officer who said torture was wrong and ineffective and went against the grain," Kiriakou said last year. Federal authorities say Kirakou had caused a security breach by leaking the name of another agent.

    White House press secretary Josh Earnest said on Tuesday that the Department of Justice would have to determine whether to bring charges against officials involved in the CIA interrogation program. But charges seem unlikely. Attorney General Eric Holder concluded a three-year investigation into the program in 2012, saying he would not charge anyone involved in waterboarding or other forms of torture.

    After the Senate Intelligence Committee released a summary of its torture report on Tuesday, there were calls from the international community to prosecute those responsible for the torture program.

    Under international law, the U.S. is obliged to prosecute torture "where there is sufficient evidence to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction," Ben Emmerson, the United Nations Human Rights Council’s special investigator on counterterrorism and human rights, said in a statement. "States are not free to maintain or permit impunity for these grave crimes."


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    Afghan Taliban releases statement condemning attack on Pakistani school

    December 16, 2014

    The Afghan Taliban has released a statement, attributed to "Zabihullah Mujahid," the group's official spokesman, condemning the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan's attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar today.

    The statement was released on the Afghan Taliban's official Urdu website. The Pakistani Taliban is not named in the short statement, but the Afghan Taliban says it expresses "sorrow over the tragedy and grief for the families of the victims."

    "Innocent men, women and children were killed intentionally" and this is against "Islamic principles." The Afghan Taliban claims it has "always condemned the killing of innocent people and children."

    Of course, the Afghan Taliban regularly kills innocent people. For example, the United Nations reported in July that there were approximately 4,853 civilian casualties in Afghanistan in the first six months of 2014. The UN attributed 74 percent of these casualties to anti-government elements, including the Taliban, and said that the "onus" was on the Taliban and other anti-government forces to reduce civilian casualties.

    Still the Afghan Taliban, led by Mullah Omar, has been attempting to avoid high-profile attacks on civilians. In a message celebrating the end of Ramadan earlier this year, Omar stressed, "Every caution should be taken to protect life and property of the public during [jihadist] operations, so that, God forbid, someone is harmed." Omar said that the Taliban's "Department of Prevention of Civilian Casualties should seriously pay attention to its task to prevent civilian casualties." [See LWJ report, Analysis: Mullah Omar addresses governance of Afghanistan, war against 'invaders' in new message.]

    Omar's speech shows that the Afghan Taliban is sensitive to the criticism that its operations cause far more damage to civilians than its opponents do. Like al Qaeda and other jihadist groups, the Afghan Taliban is attempting to win additional hearts and minds for its cause. And the attack on the school in Peshawar, where dozens of children were slaughtered, will likely reduce, not increase, popular support for the jihadists' goals.

    The inner workings of the relationship between the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban groups are not clear. The Pakistani Taliban and its leader, Mullah Fazlullah, are openly loyal to Mullah Omar.

    In October, for instance, several Pakistani Taliban commanders reportedly swore bayat (oath of allegiance) to the Islamic State's Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, thereby breaking their previous allegiance to Omar. The circumstances surrounding this defection remain murky. [See LWJ report, Discord dissolves Pakistani Taliban coalition.]

    However, the Pakistani Taliban released a statement saying that Mullah Fazlullah had previously pledged his organization's loyalty to the "Emir of the Believers Mullah Muhammad Omar." This was a not so subtle indication that the Pakistani Taliban's existing leadership was not going to break ranks with the Afghan Taliban leader in favor of Baghdadi.

    It remains to be seen if the Afghan Taliban's condemnation of the school assault has any additional ramifications, or is merely rhetoric.


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    ‘Rectal Feeding’ Has Nothing to Do with Nutrition, Everything to Do with Torture


    The CIA torture report lists ‘rectal feeding’ as a legitimate means of nourishing detainees. But the practice has no scientific backing, and is nothing but a torture method.

    There is enough contained in the newly-released Senate report on CIA torture practices to shock anyone’s conscience. News that CIA interrogators threatened violence against the children or parents of detainees, made them stand in stress positions on broken feet, and deprived them of sleep for up to a week at a time is appalling on its face. One needs no medical expertise to parse the horrors described.

    But what of “rectal feeding”? At first blush, this practice may have the appearance of legitimacy in cases where detainees refused to eat or drink. One man was put in a head-down position and Ensure was instilled into his rectum. In another case, a whole plate of uneaten food (including nuts, hummus and raisins) was pureed and inserted rectally. While these incidents may sound unpleasant, one might plausibly conclude that this was an acceptable means of hydrating and nourishing recalcitrant prisoners.

    This conclusion would be false. There is no legitimate medical use of “rectal feeding.” And the medical professionals involved in these cases surely knew it.

    The gastrointestinal (GI) tract performs different digestive functions are various different locations. Even the brief time spent chewing exposes foods to enzymes that begin to break it down. The acidic environment of the stomach, as well as enzymes produced there and by other organs, break down the proteins, fats and sugars further. As digesting food passes through the small intestine, it mixes with chemicals from the liver, and nutrients are absorbed.

    None of this happens in the large intestine, of which the rectum is the final segment. While water, electrolytes and sugars can be absorbed before fully-digested food is expelled, the actual digestion occurs meters away. Even following legitimate medical procedures such as gastric bypass, if improperly digested food enters a part of the GI tract not equipped to handle it, it can cause diarrhea and pain (a condition bluntly termed “dumping syndrome”).

    Any undigested food inserted into the rectum would simply sit there, only to be expelled back out again. No trained medical provider could possibly expect to nourish a patient this way. In the two decades since I first entered medical school, I have never seen anyone even suggest such a thing. (I checked with a pediatric gastroenterologist of my acquaintance to be sure there were no obscure medical application for this kind of “feeding.” He confirmed that there is not.) Medical personnel involved in these procedures participated in them knowing they were more consistent with a particularly crass episode of South Park rather than any legitimate medical application.

    Even if one accepts the highly dubious notion that anyone believed “rectal feedings” were a legitimate means of nourishing someone, there was no reason to consider such extreme measures in the first place. The rule of thumb in medicine is “if the guts works, use it,” meaning that it’s best to use the stomach to hydrate a patient if it’s functioning properly. There is no indication that these detainees couldn’t have had tubes inserted into their stomachs through their noses for the purposes of feeding them, assuming that respecting their right to refuse food had already been thrown out the window. For hydration, an IV would have been effective, as CIA medical officers conceded.

    What those same medical officers acknowledge is that using the rectum to hydrate prisoners (which would, in contrast to feeding, at least work) was an effective means of behavior modification. These procedures weren’t undertaken because they were necessary. They were done to give a thin patina of ersatz legitimacy to what is otherwise flagrant sexual assault. The details differ but the intent is the same as in a high-profile case of police brutality.

    The treatment of these detainees is a national disgrace. The participation of medical personnel is an egregious violation of medical ethics. Those who did so used their medical training not to care for patients, but to abet their abuse. “Rectal feeding” belongs alongside waterboarding and sleep deprivation on the list of torture methods, and everyone who participated in it knew it at the time.


    Torturer Confession: I Can’t Be Forgiven for Abu Ghraib

    The Torture Report Reminds Us of What America Was

    DEC. 9, 2014

    BETHLEHEM, Pa. — I SPENT this semester teaching creative writing at Lehigh University. I’ve been a soldier, a police officer and an interrogator. So hearing students call me “Professor” and assigning homework was a significant change of pace.

    But the course’s title, Writing War, kept me from straying too far from the memories that have haunted me over the last decade. I am grateful to Lehigh for the opportunity to teach the course. The school’s willingness to put a veteran in the classroom is the very thing this country needs to be doing in order to collectively process what the last 13 years of war have wrought. But teaching a class about war reminded me daily that I am no college professor.

    I was an interrogator at Abu Ghraib. I tortured.

    Abu Ghraib dominates every minute of every day for me. In early 2004, workers inside Abu Ghraib were scrambling to cover the murals of Saddam Hussein with a coat of yellowish paint. I accidentally leaned up against one of those walls. I still wear the black fleece jacket with the faded stain. I still smell the paint. I still hear the sounds. I still see the men we called detainees.

    Last month, my students at Lehigh read “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien. During class I talked about the things American soldiers carried in Iraq. I brought in a cigar box filled with the trinkets and mementos I had purchased from Iraqi vendors at Baghdad International Airport. I brought along the black fleece jacket.

    When I asked the students to share their memories of the release in 2004 of the Abu Ghraib photographs showing the abuse of detainees, I received the sort of looks students give when they think they should know something and are too embarrassed to admit they don’t. Most avoided eye contact, some gave a sort of noncommittal nod, while others went for pure honesty and just yawned.

    It was my first encounter with a generation that doesn’t consider the release of the Abu Ghraib photographs to be a critical moment in their lives. I don’t fault them. They were in elementary school at the time. It’s something for history books. It’s something their parents talk about. It’s an answer on a test.

    As I looked at their blank faces, I realized I could let myself feel a powerful sense of relief. Abu Ghraib will fade. My transgressions will be forgotten. But only if I allow it.

    I’ve published articles in newspapers detailing our abusive treatment of Iraqi detainees. I’ve done interviews on TV and radio. I’ve spoken to groups from Amnesty International, and I’ve confessed everything to a lawyer from the Department of Justice and two agents from the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command. I’ve said everything there is to say. It’s not hard to pretend the best thing to do is put it all behind me.

    I stood before the class that day tempted to let apathy soften the painful truths of history. I no longer had to assume the role of the former interrogator at Abu Ghraib. I was a professor at Lehigh University. I could grade papers and say smart things in class. My son could ride the bus to school and talk to his friends about what his father does for a living. I was someone to be proud of.

    But I’m not. I was an interrogator at Abu Ghraib. I tortured.

    Eventually I encouraged the students to track down the photos from Abu Ghraib and record their reactions in creative essays. We spent time talking about the abuses that took place and I even exposed them to some of my own writing. They still called me “Professor,” but I suspect they no longer thought of me as one.

    Today, the Senate released its torture report. Many people were surprised by what it contained: accounts of waterboardings far more frequent than what had previously been reported, week long sleep deprivation, a horrific and humiliating procedure called “rectal rehydration.” I’m not surprised. I assure you there is more; much remains redacted.

    Most Americans haven’t read the report. Most never will. But it stands as a permanent reminder of the country we once were.

    In some future college classroom, a professor will require her students to read about the things this country did in the early years of the 21st century. She’ll assign portions of the Senate torture report. There will be blank stares and apathetic yawns. There will be essays and writing assignments. The students will come to know that this country isn’t always something to be proud of.


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    The Detainee Abuse Photos Obama Didn’t Want You To See

    If you thought the Senate’s ‘torture report’ was shocking, imagine the prospect of the Obama administration releasing hundreds, maybe thousands of photographs depicting detainee abuse.

    The Obama administration is withholding hundreds, perhaps even thousands of photographs showing the U.S. government’s brutal treatment of detainees, meaning that revelations about detainee abuse could well continue, possibly compounding the outrage generated by the Senate “torture report” now in the public eye.

    Some photos show American troops posing with corpses; others depict U.S. forces holding guns to people’s heads or simulating forced sodomization. All of them could be released to the public, depending on how a federal judge in New York rules—and how hard the government fights to appeal. The government has a Friday deadline to submit to that judge its evidence for why it thinks each individual photograph should continue to be kept hidden away.

    The photographs are part of a collection of thousands of images from 203 investigations into detainee abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan and represent one of the last known secret troves of evidence of detainee abuse. While the photos show disturbing images from the Bush administration’s watch, it is the Obama administration that has allowed them to remain buried—all with the help of a willing Congress.

    The president may have entered office promising a new era of transparency—and was even prepared to release at least 21 of the photos in 2009. But Obama pulled back at the last minute at the urging of his top commander in Iraq, who worried the graphic images could generate a backlash against U.S. troops.

    “We’re not dismissive of the fact that some people could react badly to the publishing of the photographs,” said the ACLU’s Jameel Jaffer, the lead lawyer in a decade-long legal dispute with the government over the photos. But this does not mean, he continued, that there should be a “massive heckler’s veto that terrorist organizations can wield over the public’s right to know.”

    “The public has a right to know what happened in these military detention facilities,” Jaffer added, “in the same way it has a right to know about what happened at the CIA black sites.”

    The photos depict the ways that Americans were treating detainees when they were captured and transported, and the way they were treated in U.S. custody. Former Sen. Joe Lieberman has stated that the government had nearly 2,100 photos from these investigations into mistreatment of detainees.

    The ACLU first filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit in 2004, demanding government information on both the military’s treatment of detainee treatment and on detainees who died in U.S. custody. The case wound its way through the judicial system. And in September 2008, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit ordered the release of a 21-photo subset.

    By April 2009, Obama was preparing to disclose those images. An ACLU lawyer at the time called it “a sign that [the Obama administration] is committed to more transparency."

    Obama seemed willing, even though the photo trove contained horrors, according to former administration officials, military records, and news accounts at the time.

    Some depict U.S. troops posing for “trophy” photos with dead bodies; others, with rifles and pistols held to live detainees’ heads. (At least one soldier serving in Afghanistan tried to excuse his actions by saying he was “joking”; another called the pictures “something cool to remember our time there.”) A third soldier described a different photograph depicting her “as if [she] was sticking the end of a broom stick into the rectum of a restrained detainee.”

    A number of these pictures were later revealed to be from the notorious Abu Ghraib detention facility, where U.S. troops famously abused their Iraq captives in the early days of the Iraq War. But the remaining photos are not from Abu Ghraib—they came from investigations into detainee abuse from all around Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Top officials—including then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen—were horrified by the images of alleged abuse that extended far beyond Abu Ghraib.

    “Despite our best efforts, a misguided and misled few have managed to tarnish that reputation and breach the very trust we have worked so hard to earn. I am appalled by even the suggestion that someone in an American uniform would behave in such a way,” Mullen later wrote in a memo to America’s military service chiefs and combatant commanders.

    “We haven’t all absorbed or applied all the lessons of Abu Ghraib,” he added.

    In May 2009, however, the president had an abrupt change of heart. Obama went to the South Lawn of the White House, and told reporters, “The publication of these photos would not add any additional benefit to our understanding of what was carried out in the past by a small number of individuals. In fact, the most direct consequence of releasing them, I believe, would be to further inflame anti-American opinion and to put our troops in greater danger.”

    The decision stunned Obama supporters who had believed his assertion that his administration would be the most transparent in history. What caused the president to change his mind?

    In the closing dying days of the Bush administration, there were significant negotiations by the Bush administration’s Department of Defense and the Justice Department about what to do about the appellate court’s ruling to release the photos.

    After the Obama White House inherited the case, it was first confronted with a decision whether to the release of the photographs in the spring of 2009.

    Former administration officials recall that Obama’s team was initially sympathetic to the idea of releasing the small sample of the photos that the ACLU wanted. White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel had no objection. Nor did the president’s counsel. Nor did the Justice Department’s leadership. Nor did the president. Even Defense Secretary Gates, at least for a time, was open to the notion.

    But in Iraq, there was a different reaction. According to McClatchy Newspapers, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maiki told U.S. officials that “Baghdad will burn” if the photos were released.

    Gen. Raymond Odierno, America’s top general on the ground in Iraq, raised strong objections, too. Odierno found a sympathetic ear both in Gates and in the president, who responded positively to the general’s concern that the release of the photos could jeopardize American lives.

    Following the president’s change of heart, the Obama administration challenged the release of the photos on national-security grounds. (The White House declined the comment for this story.)

    Soon thereafter, Congress passed a law called the Protected National Security Documents Act (PNSDA) to allow the secretary of defense to certify that the publication of certain photographs could endanger the lives of Americans, and in so doing, prevent the release of the photos. The certification, which lasts three years, was renewed by then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in 2012. Obama’s nominee for secretary of defense, and Ash Carter, will be confronted with a similar decision in 2015.

    In order to withhold the photographs, the secretary of defense must certify that photographs could cause harm to Americans. Panetta did this with a simple, terse statement in 2012, covering all the pictures—as if all the photos were still potential American-killers, despite the passage of time and the withdrawal of troops from Iraq. That struck the ACLU—and the judge in the case, Alvin Hellerstein—as a specious argument. “The government failed to show that it had adequate basis for the certification,” he wrote in August.

    Hellerstein has given the government a Friday, Dec. 19 deadline to submit evidence that the secretary of defense has individually certified each photograph to be a danger to national security.

    At stake is not just the 21 photos that were originally ordered to be released. As Judge Hellerstein has noted, if the ACLU is successful the government could be forced to disclose the thousands of photographs that stem from those 203 investigations into the alleged mistreatment of detainees in American custody.

    Obama’s decision that may have been defensible in 2009, with more than 186,000 American troops at the time in Iraq and Afghanistan. But today, five years later, there are less than a tenth that number serving in those two countries. And while U.S. officials warned about reprisal attacks in response to the “torture report” and other documentation of American atrocities, that backlash has so far failed to materialize.

    Which leads to the question: Can the secretary of defense legitimately call the disclosure of every single one of these photos a harm to American troops? And if not, when will the photos be released?

    "We have a strong argument that the government hasn't met its burden under the PNSDA, and the principles underlying the Freedom of Information Act favor the release of the photos," argued the ACLU’s Jaffer. “To accept the government's argument, that information about government misconduct should be suppressed whenever there is some risk that someone, somewhere in the world will be upset by it, is a formula for the suppression of all sorts of information that are critical to our democracy."


  18. #18
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    No one is reading the CIA torture report, so we turned it into 11 fun memes


    On Tuesday, the Senate Intelligence committee finally released its long-awaited report on the CIA's use of torture on detainees.It's a horrific read detailing how the agency subjected detainees, many of whom were only held due to inaccurate information, to inhuman treatment and then repeatedly lied to the White House and congressional officials about the program's effectiveness.The report deserves to be shared far and wide—but it's a 525-page report chock full of bureaucratic language. Boring! To make it more sharable, we've compiled a set of memes that totally illustrates some of the report's most important and eye-catching takeaways. Isn't sharing fun?! [Weeps into hands.]


    More @ http://www.imagebam.com/gallery/r2rg...wjcf7hm6kvllxd

  19. #19
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    One Solider that blew wistled on CIA torture: 'Stripped naked, kept in solitary': Manning tortured like terrorist

    US authorities tortured Chelsea Manning with barbaric CIA techniques, which posed a threat to her psychological health, the Welsh aunt of the jailed whistleblower revealed to local media.Before her trial for providing WikiLeaks with the largest cache of classified information in US history, Chelsea Manning was humiliated in a similar way that terrorist suspects were, her Welsh relatives told WalesOnline on Sunday.“What really hurt me was the treatment Chelsea received in Quantico two years before the trial: stripped naked, kept in solitary confinement, made to stand in a corner, everything taken away,” said Sharon Staples, Manning’s aunt.

    Her revelation echoed the 2012 report of UN special rapporteur Juan Mendez, who ruled that “the alleged prolonged solitary confinement … was … a violation of Manning’s right to physical and psychological integrity,” as well as of presumption of innocence.

    The allegations by Manning’s family add further to the growing calls to investigate US interrogation techniques, as well as the role British intelligence played in the process.
    The summary of a CIA report, released this week, revealed the agency’s harsh torture methods – including freezing inmates to death, sleep deprivation, rectal feeding and waterboarding.

    Susan Manning, mother of the former intelligence analyst for the US Army, said: “Chelsea will be 27 years old on 17 December and this will be the fifth birthday she’s spent in prison. It breaks my heart to think of her missing out on her freedom, all because she told the truth instead of covering it up.”“Chelsea was brought up to be truthful,” she added. “When she was small, her grandmother lived with us and she always said to the children: ‘If you can’t tell the truth, don’t bother speaking’.”

    Welsh Secretary of State Stephen Crabb, who attended Tasker Milward school in the Welsh county of Pembrokeshire, where Manning studied for four years, said there can be “no justification whatsoever for the use of torture, neither in military nor civilian cases.” He added that the concerns raised about Chelsea Manning’s treatment deserve to be addressed.

    Manning, who was jailed for 35 years on a number of charges including espionage, is being supported by human rights advocates, among them Amnesty International.The Manning Family Fund, based in Wrexham, Wales, has been raising money for three years and has helped finance Chelsea’s local relatives’ visits to the prison."Chelsea Manning’s leaks included evidence of how illegal CIA renditions and torture were being carried out and covered up with the complicity of many countries,” said Genny Bove, the fund’s co-founder.
    "Now we have even more graphic and shocking evidence of CIA involvement in torture with this week’s senate report. Chelsea Manning shouldn’t be in prison."


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    Last edited by islamirama; Jan-14-2017 at 01:45 PM.

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    Senate report on CIA torture shows government doesn't even need to hide its conspiracies anymore

    It's astonishing that there are still people in the US who believe that government conspiracies are only the focus of those with tinfoil hats in their wardrobe. To some extent, I understand the revulsion: the internet has become a cesspool of factless conspiracy theories. Just stay on Facebook long enough and you're sure to see one pop up in your newsfeed sooner or later.

    With that said, just because some conspiracy theories are nonsense doesn't mean they should all be dismissed, which is unfortunately the very thing that seems to be happening. CNN, for example, published an article back in 2013 lumping those who think the Feds are plotting to abolish the Second Amendment in with those concerned about the US government targeting its own citizens with aerial drones. One of these issues is extraordinarily exaggerated, whereas the other is a very real and serious problem, as the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights have pointed out.

    Even so, baseless conspiracies and real conspiracies continue to receive the same treatment in the mainstream media and, more alarmingly, in the academic world, where the very notion that "real conspiracies" are an actual problem in our society has been brushed off as unworthy of prolonged focus. For instance, Dr. Chris Baird of the University of Massachusetts tells us that "real conspiracies are quickly dismantled by the justice system", are "well documented by mainstream scientists, journalists, and historians", only involve a "handful of people", are "rarely successful", and "fall apart before they even get started" or are "exposed and dismantled".

    When I demolished these assertions in a previous essay, I referred primarily to the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, which was a well-documented and incredibly successful conspiracy to mislead the American public into supporting the occupation of an oil-rich country - a conspiracy that ultimately resulted in the deaths of more than 100,000 Iraqi civilians. And yet, not a single person has been held accountable. From President Bush - who has spent retirement painting portraits of dogs - right down to the neoconservative "think tanks" that drew up the pre-9/11 plans, all conspirators have thus far slipped off the hook.

    But that happened almost a decade ago, and while other government conspiracies have certainly taken place during the time in between, none have been so utterly brazen as the CIA's use of "enhanced interrogation" (torture) and its subsequent response to coming under investigation for it.

    According to the US Senate Intelligence Committee's 2014 report on the topic, CIA officials subjected detainees to beatings, mock executions, insects, sleep deprivation, hours of forced standing, music torture, rectal rehydration, waterboarding, diaper wearing, threats of violence against family members, and a host of other atrocities which would undoubtedly be labeled as war crimes were the victims Americans instead of Arab men from Muslim countries. And while it may be true that these actions in and of themselves might not fall under the definition of a conspiracy, the CIA's efforts to hide and mislead the outside world regarding their heinous misdeeds certainly does.

    When the agency was first facing scrutiny back in 2005, it destroyed evidence of interrogation sessions. Less than ten years later, when the Senate Intelligence Committee announced its desire to examine CIA interrogation techniques, the CIA quickly initiated an intimidation campaign. Members of the Committee were not only spied on, but the CIA even tried to remove potentially incriminating documents related to torture off the computers of investigators. Additionally, the Senate's final report notes that the CIA provided inaccurate information "to the White House, Congress, the Justice Department, the CIA inspector general, the media, and the American public about the program." Why would the agency go to such great lengths to sweep their activities under the carpet if they knew they did nothing wrong and that there was nothing to hide?

    Because, unsurprisingly, there was plenty to hide - and none of it had anything to do with protecting "national security" - as we are commonly told. Aside from the brutalities mentioned earlier and the CIA's attempts at hiding them, the Senate Intelligence Committee also found that in a number of cases, the CIA tortured innocent people:

    "Of 119 known detainees in CIA custody during its program of harsh interrogation, at least 26 were wrongly held, the committee found."

    Why the CIA was torturing at all should be puzzling given that in 1989, a report from the agency to Congress stated that "inhumane physical or psychological techniques are counterproductive because they do not produce intelligence and will probably result in false answers." Such findings were again confirmed by the Senate's report. According to investigators, the CIA's own records show that 7 of 39 detainees subjected to especially aggressive interrogation yielded no intelligence, and that others provided useful information without being tortured.

    Possibly most damning of all in building a case that this whole thing reeks of a monstrous conspiracy is that the Senate found the CIA's behavior wasn't the result of a "few bad apples" but of a system which permitted and even condoned torture: "The fact is that senior officials in the United States government solicited information on how to use aggressive techniques, redefined the law to create the appearance of their legality, and authorized their use against detainees."

    If government conspiracies are so challenging to pull off, if they are exposed and dismantled, if the justice system wastes no time in swooping in and holding evildoers accountable, then where is it on CIA torture?

    The deafening sound of crickets chirping provides an answer. As the Guardian reported back in 2012, "Obama himself took the first step in formalizing the full-scale immunity he intended to bestow on all government officials involved even in the most heinous and lethal torture" by decreeing "absolute immunity for any official involved in torture provided that it comported with the permission slips produced by Bush Department of Justice lawyers which authorized certain techniques."

    Does it get any more blatant than this? Here we have 6,000 pages of evidence, a conspiracy to mislead investigators and cover up wrongdoing, and all of it carried out on the taxpayer's dime. Yet the consequences are practically nonexistent. In fact, the only CIA officer condemned to time behind bars is the one who first confirmed the agency's use of waterboarding to the press because he was so outraged by it. Other than that, nobody from the CIA has been punished, and the same could be said for members of the Bush administration. Even the Obama administration deserves criticism - not just for failing to hold CIA torturers to task, but worse, for overseeing its own share of human rights abuses, namely through the disgusting force-feeding of Guantanamo Bay inmates.

    Professor Noam Chomsky - hardly one to be spotted rambling about shape-shifting lizard people controlling the government - calls conspiracies the "normal workings of institutions". It's a conspiracy, he says, when the board of General Motors gets together to discuss their plans for the year. But that example is obviously far less insidious than, say, the CIA chaining people to walls or forcing them to wear diapers.

    Claims of conspiracies should only be accepted based on the level of evidence backing them up. Similarly, claims that government conspiracies are almost always taken down by the justice system should also only be accepted with sufficient evidence - evidence which seems to be lacking. Nonetheless, one thing is certain: Successful conspiracies no longer rely on the old stereotype of shady figures meeting in back rooms and alleyways under the cover of darkness. No, as the CIA case clearly proves, even when the brightest of lights illuminates the worst government atrocities, it's still no guarantee that those involved will be brought to justice.

    As Ryan Cooper of The Week concludes in his piece on the subject, "We arguably have the worst of all possible worlds: explicit acknowledgment that a conspiracy to conduct illegal torture was carried out at the very highest levels of government, and equally explicit acknowledgment that nobody will be prosecuted for terrible crimes. The message is that the CIA is above the law."



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