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  1. #21
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    About Half of Americans See CIA Interrogation Methods as Justified

    Democrats Divided over CIA’s Post-9/11 Interrogation Techniques Following the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on CIA interrogation practices in the period following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, 51% of the public says they think the CIA methods were justified, compared with just 29% who say they were not justified; 20% do not express an opinion.The new national survey by the Pew Research Center, conducted Dec. 11-14 among 1,001 adults, finds that amid competing claims over the effectiveness of CIA interrogation methods, 56% believe they provided intelligence that helped prevent terrorist attacks, while just half as many (28%) say they did not provide this type of intelligence.Partisan divides on these questions are wide. A large majority of Republicans (76%) say the interrogation methods used by the CIA after 9/11 were justified. Democrats are divided – 37% say the methods were justified, while 46% disagree. About twice as many liberal Democrats (65%) as conservative and moderate Democrats (32%) say the CIA’s interrogation techniques were not justified.Overall, the public expresses the most doubt not about the CIA methods and program itself, but about the Senate committee’s decision to release its report: as many call the decision to publicly release the findings the wrong decision (43%) as the right decision (42%).While the report on the CIA’s interrogation methods captured much of Washington’s attention, it was not the public’s most closely followed story last week. Overall, 23% followed news about the release of the Senate report on CIA interrogations very closely; more (35%) paid very close attention to news about protests around the country in response to police-related violence.

    Race, Gender and Age Differences in Views of CIA Methods

    Opinions about the CIA’s post-9/11 interrogation methods are divided by race, gender and age. Nearly six-in-ten whites (57%) say the methods were justified, while 26% say they were not justified. Blacks and Hispanics’ views are more divided: 42% of blacks say the methods were justified compared with 38% who say they were unjustified. Among Hispanics, 43% say the CIA’s methods were justified vs. 30% who think they were unjustified.Young people also are divided over the CIA’s post-9/11 methods: 44% of those under 30 say they were justified while 36% disagree. Among those 50 and older, most (60%) think the methods were justified.Men say the CIA’s interrogation methods were justified by a 57%-28% margin. Women are somewhat less supportive: 46% call the methods used by the CIA following the September 11th terrorist attacks justified, while 30% say they were unjustified.Among the roughly quarter of adults (23%) who followed news about the release of the Senate committee’s report on CIA interrogation very closely, far more think the CIA’s methods were justified (59%) than unjustified (34%). Among those who f0llowed this news less closely, 49% say the CIAs tactics were justified, 27% unjustified, while 23% do not express an opinion.Comparable shares of Republicans (27%), Democrats (23%) and independents (22%) tracked news about the release of the Senate report very closely.Partisan divides on this question are wider than those seen across demographic groups. By an overwhelming 76%-12% margin, Republicans view the CIA interrogation methods as justified. Support among Democrats is nearly 40 points lower: just 37% call the interrogations justified, compared with 46% who say there were not justified. Somewhat more independents say the CIA actions were justified (49%) than not (30%).

    Partisan Divide Over CIA’s Interrogation Methods

    Differences between Republicans and Democrats over whether or not the CIA methods were justified extend to other questions about the program.About three-quarters of Republicans (73%) say CIA interrogation methods provided intelligence that helped prevent terrorist attacks, compared with just 15% who say they did not do this. By contrast, Democrats are evenly split; 43% say the interrogations led to intelligence that helped prevent terror attacks, while 40% say that they did not.And partisans take differing views on the Senate committee’s decision to publicly release the CIA report. Republicans call it the wrong decision by a 64%-26% margin, while Democrats say it was the right decision (56%-29%).

    Democrats Internally Divided over CIA Interrogations

    Liberal Democrats are much more skeptical about the CIA methods and program than are conservative and moderate Democrats.Overall, 65% of liberal Democrats say they were not justified, while just 25% say that they were. The balance of opinion among conservative and moderate Democrats is much different: 48% say the CIA interrogations were justified compared with 32% who say they were not.Similarly, fewer liberal Democrats (35%) than conservative and moderate Democrats (53%) believe the CIA interrogations provided intelligence that helped prevent terrorist attacks. And on the question of whether the Senate Intelligence Committee was right to publicly release their report, 71% of liberal Democrats call this the right decision, compared with about half of conservative and moderate Democrats (48%).By contrast, within the Republican Party broad majorities of both conservative Republicans and moderate and liberal Republicans say the CIA interrogation methods were justified and provided intelligence that helped prevent terrorist attacks.

    About the Survey

    The analysis in this report is based on telephone interviews conducted December 11-14, 2014 among a national sample of 1,001 adults, 18 years of age or older, living in the continental United States (500 respondents were interviewed on a landline telephone, and 501 were interviewed on a cell phone, including 306 who had no landline telephone). The survey was conducted by interviewers at Princeton Data Source under the direction of Princeton Survey Research Associates International. A combination of landline and cell phone random digit dial samples were used; both samples were provided by Survey Sampling International. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish.

    Respondents in the landline sample were selected by randomly asking for the youngest adult male or female who is now at home. Interviews in the cell sample were conducted with the person who answered the phone, if that person was an adult 18 years of age or older. For detailed information about our survey methodology, see http://people-press.org/methodology/The combined landline and cell phone sample are weighted using an iterative technique that matches gender, age, education, race, Hispanic origin and region to parameters from the 2012 Census Bureau’s American Community Survey and population density to parameters from the Decennial Census. The sample also is weighted to match current patterns of telephone status (landline only, cell phone only, or both landline and cell phone), based on extrapolations from the 2013 National Health Interview Survey. The weighting procedure also accounts for the fact that respondents with both landline and cell phones have a greater probability of being included in the combined sample and adjusts for household size among respondents with a landline phone. Sampling errors and statistical tests of significance take into account the effect of weighting.The following table shows the unweighted sample sizes and the error attributable to sampling that would be expected at the 95% level of confidence for different groups in the survey:Sample sizes and sampling errors for other subgroups are available upon request.In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.


  2. #22
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    CIA photographed detainees naked before sending them to be tortured

    Classified pictures showing CIA captives bruised, blindfolded and bound raise new questions about US’s willingness to use ‘sexual humiliation’ on suspects

    March 28, 216

    The CIA took naked photographs of people it sent to its foreign partners for torture, the Guardian can reveal.

    A former US official who had seen some of the photographs described them as “very gruesome”.The naked imagery of CIA captives raises new questions about the seeming willingness of the US to use what one medical and human rights expert called “sexual humiliation” in its post-9/11 captivity of terrorism suspects. Some human rights campaigners described the act of naked photography on unwilling detainees as a potential war crime.Unlike video evidence of CIA torture at its undocumented “black site” prisons that were destroyed in 2005 by a senior official, the CIA is said to retain the photographs.In some of the photos, which remain classified, CIA captives are blindfolded, bound and show visible bruises. Some photographs also show people believed to be CIA officials or contractors alongside the naked detainees.It is not publicly known how many people, overwhelmingly but not exclusively men, were caught in the CIA’s web of so-called “extraordinary renditions”, extra-judicial transfers of detainees to foreign countries, many of which practised even more brutal forms of torture than the US came to adopt. Human rights groups over the years have identified at least 50 people the CIA rendered, going back to Bill Clinton’s presidency.It is also unclear how many of those rendition targets the CIA photographed naked.The rationale for the naked photography, described by knowledgeable sources, was to insulate the CIA from legal or political ramifications stemming from their brutal treatment in the hands of its partner intelligence agencies.Stripping the victims of clothing was considered necessary to document their physical condition while in CIA custody, distinguishing them at that point from what they would subsequently experience in foreign custody – despite the public diplomatic assurances against torture that the US demonstrably collected from countries with a record of torturing detainees.

    The Guardian is aware of the identities of some of the detainees photographed naked and is choosing not to disclose them out of concern for their safety and dignity.“Is the naked photography a form of sexual assault? Yes. It’s a form of sexual humiliation,” said Dr Vincent Iacopino, the medical director of Physicians for Human Rights.Iacopino has not seen the nude photographs but raised grave concerns. “It’s cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment at a minimum and may constitute torture,” he said.International human rights law, to include the Geneva conventions, forbids photographing prisoners except in extremely limited circumstances related to their detention, to include anything that might compromise their dignity.“Photographing or videotaping detainees in US custody unrelated to the processing of prisoners or the management of detention facilities can constitute a violation of the laws of war, including the Geneva conventions, in some cases,” said Nathaniel Raymond, a researcher at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative and an expert on detainee abuse.“Any evidence that the CIA or any other US government agency intentionally photographed naked detainees should be investigated by law enforcement as a potential violation of domestic and international law.”The naked photographs from rendition targets are distinct from previously identified caches of torture photos from the US military and the CIA. The renditions remain the most secret aspect of the CIA’s since-discontinued apparatus of detentions, prisoner transfers and abusive interrogations.In 2015, attorneys for the former black-site detainees now charged with war crimes at Guantánamo Bay learned of the existence of up to 14,000 photographs the CIA took and maintains of their former detainees. That cache is not believed to contain photographs of people the agency rendered to allied intelligence services. All of those photos remain undisclosed to the public.The 500-page portion of the Senate’s landmark investigation into George W Bush-era CIA torture that the government released in 2014 dealt overwhelmingly with the CIA’s detentions and interrogations, keeping the rendition program a secret. But the report’s 318th footnote reveals that the CIA photographed the people it captured and sent to other countries.

    The Senate footnote reads: “There are also few CIA records detailing the rendition process for detainees and their transportation to or between detention sites. CIA records do include detainee comments on their rendition experiences and photographs of detainees in the process of being transported.” However, the Senate footnote does not go on to acknowledge that some of the subjects were naked when they were photographed.The CIA is known to have employed nudity in other aspects of its custody of terrorism suspects.The Senate investigation revealed that the CIA “routinely” stripped its own detainees nude, although Justice Department officials did not formally approve the practice until 2005. Often the nudity occurred in tandem with other torture techniques, such as shackling and frigid conditions, leading in at least one case to a detainee’s death.

    Officials in the George W Bush-era US Justice Department considered humiliation central to keeping detainees nude, although they insisted that doing so did not imply any threat of sexual violence.“This technique is used to cause psychological discomfort, particularly if a detainee, for cultural or other reasons, is especially modest,” a Justice Department official observed in 2005 during the course of an internal debate about retaining or abandoning the torture techniques. The official, in a memo declassified early in the Obama administration, considered forced nudity distinct from “any acts of implicit or explicit sexual degradation”. The distinction was less clear in practice. The Senate report documented that CIA officials inserted pureed food into detainees’ anuses, a procedure the agency alleges was a medically necessary practice called “rectal rehydration” but which human rights advocates consider sexual assault. The “dehydration” left detainee Mustafa Hawsawi, who is held at Guantánamo currently facing a US military tribunal in connection with the 9/11 attacks, with a rectal prolapse and related persistent medical problems.The CIA declined to comment for this story.



    What else can you expect from uncivilized immoral and barbaric savages.

  3. #23
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    The CIA naked photos scandal is a wake-up call

    Trevor Timm

    Guardian revelations about the degrading treatment of prisoners should matter to all Americans. They’re doing this in our name

    Just as the ugly spectre of torture has reared its head once again in the US presidential race, the Guardian has revealed shocking new details of the US government’s brutality during the Bush era.

    As the Guardian’s Spencer Ackerman reported today, the CIA took photographs of its prisoners while they were naked, bound and some bruised, just before they were to be shipped off to some of the world’s worst dictators at the time – which included Assad, Mubarak and Gaddafi – for torture. The photos were described by a former US official as “very gruesome”.

    The report is a stark reminder that the US continues to keep secret, to this day, some of the worst actions of the Bush administration. And it’s all the more relevant given that after the tragic terrorist attack in Brussels, torture has once again become central to the US political debate. On national television immediately following the attacks, the Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump again called for waterboarding – a war crime Japanese soldiers were prosecuted for after the second world war. Trump has also repeatedly claimed he would do “much worse” than waterboarding to captives as president.

    Almost worse is the fact that the US media is again feeding into the idea that this should even be up for debate. Today Show anchor Savannah Guthrie, in an interview with Trump, said “some people think that kind of harsh interrogation technique” – the GOP’s cowardly euphemism for illegal torture – “works … and others say that it doesn’t work.” Really? Can she – or anyone – point to a single interrogation expert who thinks torture “works”, besides Bush administration hacks who have never interrogated anyone in their lives?

    But let’s put aside the immoral question of “does torture work” for a minute, because it’s essentially like asking “does slavery work”. Waterboarding and other forms of torture used by the US during the Bush administration are blatantly illegal – by statute, by treaty and by the constitution.

    But because the Obama administration shamefully refused to prosecute the architects of the torture program – and the Justice Department lawyers who gave them legal cover – war crimes are now merely portrayed as a policy dispute between the two political parties.

    Right now, the full Senate CIA torture report, which may shed more light on the photographs that the Guardian reported on, remains locked in a Justice Department safe, where it has sat untouched and unread by investigators in a cynical attempt to prevent it from being made available to the public through the Freedom of Information Act. Separately, the Obama administration has been fighting the ACLU tooth and nail over the release of another set of photos showing how the US military tortured prisoners in overseas prisons shortly after 9/11. A judge has repeatedly ordered the government to release them, but they have been dragging their feet for months.

    And so it falls to courageous whistleblowers and investigative journalists to expose the truth. And it’s a truth that all Americans need to hear. Stripping suspects, taking humiliating photographs of them, sending them around the world into the hands of torturers: these sound like the actions of a crazed dictatorship. They should be the stuff of nightmares. In fact, they’re the stuff of American policy in the 21st century. This is the latest in a series of wake-up calls. We ignore it at our peril.


  4. #24
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    CIA ‘accidentally’ destroys torture report, whistleblower questions how that can happen

    The CIA’s internal watchdog “inadvertently” deleted its only copy of the Senate report on torture techniques employed by the agency in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks – and did so while the Justice Department insisted in court that copies were being stored. For more on this, former CIA analyst-turned-whistleblower John Kiriakou joins RT America’s Simone Del Rosario.

  5. #25
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    ‘Sodomized’ Guantánamo captive to undergo rectal surgery


    GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, CUBA An alleged accomplice in the Sept. 11 terror attacks is to undergo surgery this week for decade-old damage from his “sodomy” in CIA custody, his attorney says.

    Defense attorney Walter Ruiz, a Navy Reserve officer, disclosed the upcoming surgery for his client, Mustafa al Hawsawi, 48, on the eve of pretrial hearings Tuesday.

    Ruiz said a case prosecutor informed him of the procedure over the weekend. Defense lawyers have been litigating over conditions at the remote prison and, in the case of their client, have specifically sought medical intervention to treat a rectal prolapse that has caused Hawsawi to bleed for more than a decade.

    The disclosure comes days after The New York Times published a detailed account of former CIA and Guantánamo captives grappling with the aftereffects of torture.

    Ruiz said the surgery would take place at 9 p.m. Friday for apparent “force-protection reasons,” an expression that suggests it was scheduled for after-hours at the Navy base hospital, a distance from the Detention Center Zone. He said Hawsawi was denied a request to have a member of his legal team on standby near the surgery. The detention center spokesman, Navy Capt. John Filostrat, would not comment. “I prefer not to discuss the legal aspects of this issue,” he said by email Tuesday.Hawsawi was captured in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, in March 2003 and was held by the CIA until his delivery to Guantánamo in September 2006. He is alleged to have helped the hijackers with money, Western clothing, travelers’ checks and credit cards.

    He has sat gingerly on a pillow at the war court since his first appearance in 2008. But the reason was not publicly known until release of a portion of the so-called Senate Torture Report on the CIA program in December 2014, which described agents using quasi-medical techniques called “rectal rehydration” and “rectal re-feeding.”

    “Mr. Hawsawi was tortured in the black sites. He was sodomized,” Ruiz told reporters Monday evening, advising them to “shy away from terms like rectal penetration or rectal rehydration because the reality is it was sodomy,” he said. Since then, he said, he has had “to manually reinsert parts of his anal cavity” to defecate.

    “When he has a bowel movement, he has to reinsert parts of his anus back into his anal cavity,” Ruiz said, which “causes him to bleed, causes him excruciating pain.”

    As a result, the five-foot-five-inch man has fasted and at times withered to below the 100 pounds he weighed upon his arrival at Guantánamo from a CIA black site.

    Ruiz said the Saudi has other medical problems dating back to his years in the CIA black sites including “cervical degeneration,” neck damage from being thrown into a wall, an approved interrogation tactic called “walling.” His lawyer argues that not only should his client’s neck damage be treated, but his treatment should be explored as part of an eventual trial that could decide whether to execute the five men accused of perpetrating the worst terror attack on U.S. soil.

    Lawyers argue that the treatment after capture should disqualify the military court from ordering the alleged plotters’ execution.


    Classified Evidence: US Soldiers Raped Boys In Front Of Their Mother

    (TheAntiMedia) According to a number of global mainstream media sources, the Pentagon is covering up a disturbing video that was never made public with the rest of the recent torture report.

    According to various well respected journalists, including Seymour Hersh, the appalling video was recorded at Abu Ghraib, the notorious US torture dungeon in Iraq that made headlines roughly a decade ago, when the inhumane tactics being used at the prison were exposed.

    Sadly, it seems that the evidence released years ago was only scratching the surface.

    While the video has remained under wraps thus far, Hersh says it is only a matter of time before it comes out.

    Giving a speech at the ACLU last week after the senate torture report was initially released, Hersh gave some insight into what was on the Pentagon’s secret tape.

    In the most revealing portion of his speech he said that:

    “Debating about it, ummm … Some of the worst things that happened you don’t know about, okay? Videos, um, there are women there. Some of you may have read that they were passing letters out, communications out to their men. This is at Abu Ghraib … The women were passing messages out saying ‘Please come and kill me, because of what’s happened’ and basically what happened is that those women who were arrested with young boys, children in cases that have been recorded. The boys were sodomized with the cameras rolling. And the worst above all of that is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking that your government has. They are in total terror. It’s going to come out.”

    “It’s impossible to say to yourself how did we get there? Who are we? Who are these people that sent us there? When I did My Lai I was very troubled like anybody in his right mind would be about what happened. I ended up in something I wrote saying in the end I said that the people who did the killing were as much victims as the people they killed because of the scars they had, I can tell you some of the personal stories by some of the people who were in these units witnessed this. I can also tell you written complaints were made to the highest officers and so we’re dealing with a enormous massive amount of criminal wrongdoing that was covered up at the highest command out there and higher, and we have to get to it and we will. We will. You know there’s enough out there, they can’t (Applause). …. So it’s going to be an interesting election year.”

    Put into context with another speech that Hersh gave earlier this year, it becomes clear that the women who witnessed these young boys being raped were actually their mothers.

    At a speech in Chicago this past June Hersh was quoted as saying:

    “You haven’t begun to see evil… horrible things done to children of women prisoners, as the cameras run.”

    Other stories at the London Guardian also talked of young Iraqi detainees getting violently raped by US soldiers.

    Ten years ago when the initial Abu Ghraib scandal was in the news, the Guardian published the testimony of an Abu Ghraib detainee who allegedly witnessed one of these brutal attacks.

    Former detainee Kasim Hilas said in their testimony that:

    “I saw [name blacked out] fucking a kid, his age would be about 15-18 years. The kid was hurting very bad and they covered all the doors with sheets. Then when I heard the screaming I climbed the door because on top it wasn’t covered and I saw [blacked out], who was wearing the military uniform putting his dick in the little kid’s ass, I couldn’t see the face of the kid because his face wasn’t in front of the door. And the female soldier was taking pictures.”

    Now, over a decade later the evidence of these events are beginning to surface, but the Department of Defense is still doing their best to keep it under the radar. That is why now more than ever, it is important to keep the pressure on and force the release of this evidence, while the torture report is fresh in the minds of the general population.


    Hersh: Children sodomized at Abu Ghraib, on tape


    After Donald Rumsfeld testified on the Hill about Abu Ghraib in May, there was talk of more photos and video in the Pentagon’s custody more horrific than anything made public so far. “If these are released to the public, obviously it’s going to make matters worse,” Rumsfeld said. Since then, the Washington Post has disclosed some new details and images of abuse at the prison. But if Seymour Hersh is right, it all gets much worse.

    Hersh gave a speech last week to the ACLU making the charge that children were sodomized in front of women in the prison, and the Pentagon has tape of it. The speech was first reported in a New York Sun story last week, which was in turn posted on Jim Romenesko’s media blog, and now EdCone.com and other blogs are linking to the video. We transcribed the critical section here (it starts at about 1:31:00 into the ACLU video.) At the start of the transcript here, you can see how Hersh was struggling over what he should say:“Debating about it, ummm … Some of the worst things that happened you don’t know about, okay? Videos, um, there are women there.

    Some of you may have read that they were passing letters out, communications out to their men. This is at Abu Ghraib … The women were passing messages out saying ‘Please come and kill me, because of what’s happened’ and basically what happened is that those women who were arrested with young boys, children in cases that have been recorded. The boys were sodomized with the cameras rolling. And the worst above all of that is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking that your government has. They are in total terror. It’s going to come out.”

    “It’s impossible to say to yourself how did we get there? Who are we? Who are these people that sent us there? When I did My Lai I was very troubled like anybody in his right mind would be about what happened. I ended up in something I wrote saying in the end I said that the people who did the killing were as much victims as the people they killed because of the scars they had, I can tell you some of the personal stories by some of the people who were in these units witnessed this.

    I can also tell you written complaints were made to the highest officers and so we’re dealing with a enormous massive amount of criminal wrongdoing that was covered up at the highest command out there and higher, and we have to get to it and we will. We will. You know there’s enough out there, they can’t (Applause). …. So it’s going to be an interesting election year.”Notes from a similar speech Hersh gave in Chicago in June were posted on Brad DeLong’s blog. Rick Pearlstein, who watched the speech, wrote: “[Hersh] said that after he broke Abu Ghraib people are coming out of the woodwork to tell him this stuff. He said he had seen all the Abu Ghraib pictures. He said, ‘You haven’t begun to see evil…’ then trailed off. He said, ‘horrible things done to children of women prisoners, as the cameras run.’ He looked frightened.”

    So, there are several questions here: Has Hersh actually seen the video he described to the ACLU, and why hasn’t he written about it yet? Will he be forced to elaborate in more public venues now that these two speeches are getting so much attention, at least in the blogosphere? And who else has seen the video, if it exists — will journalists see and report on it? did senators see these images when they had their closed-door sessions with the Abu Ghraib evidence? — and what is being done about it?

    (Update: A reader brought to our attention that the rape of boys at Abu Ghraib has been mentioned in some news accounts of the prisoner abuse evidence. The Telegraph and other news organizations described “a videotape, apparently made by US personnel, is said to show Iraqi guards raping young boys.” The Guardian reported “formal statements by inmates published yesterday describe horrific treatment at the hands of guards, including the rape of a teenage Iraqi boy by an army translator.”)


    Last edited by islamirama; Jan-14-2017 at 01:44 PM.

  6. #26
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    How U.S. Torture Left a Legacy of Damaged Minds

    Beatings, sleep deprivation, menacing and other brutal tactics have led to persistent mental health problems among detainees held in secret C.I.A. prisons and at Guantánamo.


    OCTOBER 8, 2016

    Before the United States permitted a terrifying way of interrogating prisoners, government lawyers and intelligence officials assured themselves of one crucial outcome. They knew that the methods inflicted on terrorism suspects would be painful, shocking and far beyond what the country had ever accepted. But none of it, they concluded, would cause long lasting psychological harm.

    Fifteen years later, it is clear they were wrong.

    Today in Slovakia, Hussein al-Marfadi describes permanent headaches and disturbed sleep, plagued by memories of dogs inside a blackened jail. In Kazakhstan, Lutfi bin Ali is haunted by nightmares of suffocating at the bottom of a well. In Libya, the radio from a passing car spurs rage in Majid Mokhtar Sasy al-Maghrebi, reminding him of the C.I.A. prison where earsplitting music was just one assault to his senses.

    And then there is the despair of men who say they are no longer themselves. “I am living this kind of depression,” said Younous Chekkouri, a Moroccan, who fears going outside because he sees faces in crowds as Guantánamo Bay guards. “I’m not normal anymore.”

    After enduring agonizing treatment in secret C.I.A. prisons around the world or coercive practices at the military detention camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, dozens of detainees developed persistent mental health problems, according to previously undisclosed medical records, government documents and interviews with former prisoners and military and civilian doctors. Some emerged with the same symptoms as American prisoners of war who were brutalized decades earlier by some of the world’s cruelest regimes.

    Those subjected to the tactics included victims of mistaken identity or flimsy evidence that the United States later disavowed. Others were foot soldiers for the Taliban or Al Qaeda who were later deemed to pose little threat. Some were hardened terrorists, including those accused of plotting the Sept. 11 attacks or the 2000 bombing of the American destroyer Cole. In several cases, their mental status has complicated the nation’s long effort to bring them to justice.

    Americans have long debated the legacy of post-Sept. 11 interrogation methods, asking whether they amounted to torture or succeeded in extracting intelligence. But even as President Obama continues transferring people from Guantánamo and Donald J. Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, promises to bring back techniques, now banned, such as waterboarding, the human toll has gone largely uncalculated.

    At least half of the 39 people who went through the C.I.A.’s “enhanced interrogation” program, which included depriving them of sleep, dousing them with ice water, slamming them into walls and locking them in coffin-like boxes, have since shown psychiatric problems, The New York Times found. Some have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, paranoia, depression or psychosis.

    Hundreds more detainees moved through C.I.A. “black sites” or Guantánamo, where the military inflicted sensory deprivation, isolation, menacing with dogs and other tactics on men who now show serious damage. Nearly all have been released.

    “There is no question that these tactics were entirely inconsistent with our values as Americans, and their consequences present lasting challenges for us as a country and for the individuals involved,” said Ben Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser.

    The United States government has never studied the long-term psychological effects of the extraordinary interrogation practices it embraced. A Defense Department spokeswoman, asked about long-term mental harm, responded that prisoners were treated humanely and had access to excellent care. A C.I.A. spokesman declined to comment.

    This article is based on a broad sampling of cases and an examination of hundreds of documents, including court records, military commission transcripts and medical assessments. The Times interviewed more than 100 people, including former detainees in a dozen countries. A full accounting is all but impossible because many former prisoners never had access to outside doctors or lawyers, and any records about their interrogation treatment and health status remain classified.

    Researchers caution that it can be difficult to determine cause and effect with mental illness. Some prisoners of the C.I.A. and the military had underlying psychological problems that may have made them more susceptible to long-term difficulties; others appeared to have been remarkably resilient. Incarceration, particularly the indefinite detention without charges that the United States devised, is inherently stressful. Still, outside medical consultants and former government officials said they saw a pattern connecting the harsh practices to psychiatric issues.

    Those treating prisoners at Guantánamo for mental health issues typically did not ask their patients what had happened during their questioning. Some physicians, though, saw evidence of mental harm almost immediately.

    “My staff was dealing with the consequences of the interrogations without knowing what was going on,” said Albert J. Shimkus, a retired Navy captain who served as the commanding officer of the Guantánamo hospital in the prison’s early years. Back then, still reeling from the Sept. 11 attacks, the government was desperate to stave off more.

    But Captain Shimkus now regrets not making more inquiries. “There was a conflict,” he said, “between our medical duty to our patients and our duty to the mission, as soldiers.”

    After prisoners were released from American custody, some found neither help nor relief. Mohammed Abdullah Saleh al-Asad, a businessman in Tanzania, and others were snatched, interrogated and imprisoned, then sent home without explanation. They returned to their families deeply scarred from interrogations, isolation and the shame of sexual taunts, forced nudity, aggressive body cavity searches and being kept in diapers.

    Mr. Asad, who died in May, was held for more than a year in several secret C.I.A. prisons. “Sometimes, between husband and wife, he would admit to how awful he felt,” his widow, Zahra Mohamed, wrote in a statement prepared for the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. “He was humiliated, and that feeling never went away.”

    ‘A Human Mop’

    In a cold room once used for interrogations at Guantánamo, Stephen N. Xenakis, a former military psychiatrist, faced a onetime Qaeda child soldier, Omar Khadr. It was December 2008, and this evaluation had been two years in the making.

    The doctor, a retired brigadier general who had overseen several military hospitals, had not sought the assignment. The son of an Air Force combat veteran, he debated even accepting it. “I’m still a soldier,” General Xenakis recalls thinking. Was this good for the country? When he finally agreed, he told Mr. Khadr’s lawyers that they were paying for an independent medical opinion, not a hired gun.

    Mr. Khadr, a Canadian citizen, had been wounded and captured in a firefight at age 15 at a suspected terrorist compound in Afghanistan, where he said he had been sent to translate for foreign fighters by his father, a Qaeda member. Years later, he would plead guilty to war crimes, including throwing a grenade that killed an Army medic. At the time, though, he was the youngest prisoner at Guantánamo.

    He told his lawyers that the American soldiers had kept him from sleeping, spit in his face and threatened him with rape. In one meeting with the psychiatrist, Mr. Khadr, then 22, began to sweat and fan himself, despite the air-conditioned chill. He tugged his shirt off, and General Xenakis realized that he was witnessing an anxiety attack.

    When it happened again, Mr. Khadr explained that he had once urinated during an interrogation and soldiers had dragged him through the mess. “This is the room where they used me as a human mop,” he said.

    General Xenakis had seen such anxiety before, decades earlier, as a young psychiatrist at Letterman Army Medical Center in California. It was often the first stop for American prisoners of war after they left Vietnam. The doctor recalled the men, who had endured horrific abuses, suffering panic attacks, headaches and psychotic episodes.

    That session with Mr. Khadr was the beginning of General Xenakis’s immersion into the treatment of detainees. He has reviewed medical and interrogation records of about 50 current and former prisoners and examined about 15 of the detainees, more than any other outside psychiatrist, colleagues say.

    General Xenakis found that Mr. Khadr had post-traumatic stress disorder, a conclusion the military contested. Many of General Xenakis’s diagnoses in other cases remain classified or sealed by court order, but he said he consistently found links between harsh American interrogation methods and psychiatric disorders.

    Back home in Virginia, General Xenakis delved into research on the effects of abusive practices. He found decades of papers on the issue — science that had not been considered when the government began crafting new interrogation policies after Sept. 11.

    At the end of the Vietnam War, military doctors noticed that former prisoners of war developed psychiatric disorders far more often than other soldiers, an observation also made of former P.O.W.s from World War II and the Korean War. The data could not be explained by imprisonment alone, researchers found. Former soldiers who suffered torture or mistreatment were more likely than others to develop long-term problems.

    By the mid-1980s, the Veterans Administration had linked such treatment to memory loss, an exaggerated startle reflex, horrific nightmares, headaches and an inability to concentrate. Studies noted similar symptoms among torture survivors in South Africa, Turkey and Chile. Such research helped lay the groundwork for how American doctors now treat combat veterans.

    “In hindsight, that should have come to the fore” in the post-Sept. 11 interrogation debate, said John Rizzo, the C.I.A.’s top lawyer at the time. “I don’t think the long-term effects were ever explored in any real depth.”

    Instead, the government relied on data from a training program to resist enemy interrogators, called SERE, for Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape. The military concluded there was little evidence that disrupted sleep, near-starvation, nudity and extreme temperatures harmed military trainees in controlled scenarios.

    Two veteran SERE psychologists, James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, worked with the C.I.A. and the Pentagon to help develop interrogation tactics. They based their strategies in part on the theory of “learned helplessness,” a phrase coined by the American psychologist Martin E. P. Seligman in the late 1960s. He gave electric shocks to dogs and discovered that they stopped resisting once they learned they could not stop the shocks. If the United States could make men helpless, the thinking went, they would give up their secrets.

    In the end, Justice Department lawyers concluded that the methods did not constitute torture, which is illegal under American and international law. In a series of memos, they wrote that no evidence existed that “significant psychological harm of significant duration, e.g., lasting for months or even years” would result.

    With fear of another terrorist attack, there was little incentive or time to find contrary evidence, Mr. Rizzo said. “The government wanted a solution,” he recalled. “It wanted a path to get these guys to talk.”

    The question of what ultimately happened to Dr. Seligman’s dogs never arose in the legal debate. They were strays, and once the studies were over, they were euthanized.

    A Sense of Drowning

    Mohamed Ben Soud cannot say for certain when the Americans began using ice water to torment him. The C.I.A. prison in Afghanistan, known as the Salt Pit, was perpetually dark, so the days passed imperceptibly.

    The United States called the treatment “water dousing,” but the term belies the grisly details. Mr. Ben Soud, in court documents and interviews, described being forced onto a plastic tarp while naked, his hands shackled above his head. Sometimes he was hooded. One C.I.A. official poured buckets of ice water on him as others lifted the tarp’s corners, sending water splashing over him and causing a choking or drowning sensation. He said he endured the treatment multiple times.

    Mr. Ben Soud was among the early captives in the C.I.A.’s network of prisons in Afghanistan, Thailand, Poland, Romania and Lithuania.

    Again and again, he said, he told the American interrogators that he was not their enemy. A Libyan, he said he had fled to Pakistan in 1991 and joined an armed Islamist movement aimed at toppling Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s dictatorship. Pakistani and United States officials stormed his home and arrested him in 2003. Under interrogation, he said, he denied knowing or fighting with Osama bin Laden or two senior Qaeda operatives.

    In 2004, the C.I.A. turned Mr. Ben Soud over to Libya, which imprisoned him until the United States helped topple the Qaddafi government seven years later. In interviews, he and other Libyans said they were treated better by Colonel Qaddafi’s jailers than by the C.I.A.

    Today, Mr. Ben Soud, 47, is a free man, but said he is in constant fear of tomorrow. He is racked with self-doubt and struggles to make simple decisions. His moods swing dramatically.

    “‘Dad, why did you suddenly get angry?’ ‘Why did you suddenly snap?’” Mr. Ben Soud said his children ask. “‘Did we do anything that made you angry?’”

    Explaining would mean saying that the Americans kept him shackled in painful contortions, or that they locked him in boxes — one the size of a coffin, the other even smaller, he said in a phone interview from his home in Misurata, Libya. They slammed him against the wall and chained him from the ceiling as the prison echoed with the sounds of rock music.

    “How can you explain such things to children?” he asked.

    Mr. Ben Soud, along with a second former C.I.A. prisoner and the estate of a third,is suing Dr. Mitchell and Dr. Jessen in federal court, accusing them of violating his rights by torturing him. In court documents, Dr. Mitchell and Dr. Jessen argue, among other things, that they played no role in the interrogations.

    Mr. Ben Soud was one of the men identified in a 2014 Senate Intelligence Committee report as having been subjected to the C.I.A.’s “enhanced interrogation techniques.” Condemning the methods as brutal and ineffective in extracting intelligence, the report noted that interrogators also used unapproved tactics such as mock executions, threats to harm prisoners’ children or rape their family members, and “rectal feeding,” which involved inserting liquid food supplements or purées into the rectum.

    Senate investigators did not set out to study the psychological consequences of the harsh treatment, but their unclassified summary revealed several cases of men suffering hallucinations, depression, paranoia and other symptoms. The full 6,000-page classified report offers many more examples, said Daniel Jones, a former F.B.I. analyst who led the Senate investigation.

    “The records we reviewed clearly indicate a connection between their treatment in C.I.A. custody and their mental state,” Mr. Jones said in an interview.

    At least 119 men moved through the C.I.A. jails, where the interrogations were designed to disrupt the senses and increase helplessness — factors that researchers decades earlier had said could make people more susceptible to psychological harm. Forced nudity, sensory deprivation and endless light or dark were considered routine.

    Many of those men were later released without charges, unsure of why they were held. About one in four prisoners should never have been captured, or turned out to have been misidentified by the C.I.A., Senate investigators concluded. Khaled el-Masri, a German citizen, is the best known case.

    Macedonian authorities arrested him while he was on vacation in December 2003 and turned him over to the C.I.A. Mr. Masri said officials beat him, stripped him, forced a suppository into him and flew him to a black site in Afghanistan. He was held for months, he said, in a concrete cell with no bed, and endured more beatings and interrogations.

    Years later, Mr. Masri’s nightmares are accompanied by a paralyzing tightness in his chest, he said. “I have been suffering from absent-mindedness, amnesia, inability to memorize, depression, helplessness, apathy, loss of interest in the future, slow thinking, and anxiety,” Mr. Masri wrote in an email.

    Ms. Mohamed, the widow of Mr. Asad, the Tanzanian businessman, said he returned home paranoid and anxious.

    “He used to forget things that he never would have forgotten before,” she wrote recently. “For example, he would talk with someone on the phone and later forget to whom he had been talking.”

    Mr. Asad believed the C.I.A. seized him because he once rented space in a building he owned to Al Haramain Foundation, a Saudi charity later linked to financing terrorism. Interrogators questioned him repeatedly about the charity, he said in legal papers, then released him with no explanation.

    “Mohammed’s personality changed after his detention,” his wife wrote. “Something tiny would happen and he would blow up — he would be so angry — I had never ever seen him like this before. At these times, he would come close to crying, and he would withdraw to be alone.”

    ‘Still Living in Gitmo’

    Today at Guantánamo Bay, the Caribbean landscape is reclaiming the relics of the American detention system. Weeds overtake fences in abandoned areas of the prison complex. Guard towers sit empty. It is eerily quiet.

    President Obama banned coercive questioning on his second day in office and his administration has whittled the prison population to 61, down from nearly 700 at its peak. Interrogations ended long ago. Except for the so-called high-value detainees, kept in a building hidden in the hills, most of the remaining prisoners share a concrete jail called Camp 6.

    Asked about their psychological well-being, Rear Adm. Peter J. Clarke, the commander at Guantánamo, said in an interview: “What I observe are detainees who are well adjusted, and I see no indications of ill effects of anything that may have happened in the past.”

    In the early years of Guantánamo, interrogators used variations on some of the C.I.A.’s tactics. The result was a combination of psychological and physical pressure that the International Committee of the Red Cross found was “tantamount to torture.”

    Capt. Richard Quattrone of the Navy, who left his post as the prison’s chief medical officer in September, said his staff mostly dealt with detainees’ anxiety over whether they would be released. “I’ve talked to some of my predecessors,” he said in an interview, “and from what they say, it’s vastly different today.”

    About 20 detainees are cleared for release. Another 10 are being prosecuted or have already been convicted in military commissions. The fate of the remaining men, including some of the high-value prisoners, is unclear. For now they are considered too dangerous to release, but have not been charged.

    For some men who have been released, Guantánamo is not easily left behind. Mr. Chekkouri, a Moroccan living in Afghanistan in 2001, was held for years as a suspected member of a group linked to Al Qaeda. He said he was beaten repeatedly at a United States military jail in Kandahar and forced to watch soldiers do the same to his younger brother.

    Mr. Chekkouri is a Sufi, a member of a mystical Islamic sect that has been oppressed by Al Qaeda and others. At Guantánamo, he was kept in isolation.

    When he asserted his innocence, he said, interrogators threatened to turn him over to the Moroccan authorities, who have a history of torture. The Americans warned that his family in Morocco could be jailed and abused, he said, and showed him execution photos. Interrogators repeatedly made him believe his transfer was imminent, he said. “It’s time to say goodbye,” interrogation files cited in court documents say. “Morocco wants you back.”

    After he was released last year, the United States gave him a letter saying it no longer stood by information that he was a member of a Qaeda-linked group in Morocco. Despite diplomatic assurances that he would face no charges, Morocco jailed him for several months late last year and he continues to fight allegations that he thought were behind him.

    Now, he is under a psychiatrist’s care and takes antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs. He complains of flashbacks, persistent nightmares and panic attacks. He also suffers an embarrassing inability to urinate until it becomes painful. It started, he said, when he was left chained for hours during interrogations and soiled himself. His doctors say there is nothing they can treat.

    “They tell me everything is normal,” he said. “Your brain is playing games. It is something mental. You’re still living in Gitmo. It’s fear.”

    Mr. Chekkouri saw psychiatrists at Guantánamo, but he said he did not trust them. He and others believed the doctors shared information about medical problems with interrogators. In one case, a psychiatrist prescribed the antipsychotic medication olanzapine to a prisoner. He then suggested that interrogators exploit a side effect, food cravings, according to another military doctor who later reviewed the records.

    Normally, such information would be confidential, but Guantánamo’s dual missions of caring for prisoners and extracting information created conflicts. Over time, the military created two mental health teams. One, led by psychiatrists, was there to heal. The other, called the Behavioral Science Consultation Team, was led by psychologists with a very different mission.

    On Sept. 3, 2003, after a teenager named Mohammed Jawad was seen talking to a poster on the wall, an interrogator called for a consultation with a BSCT (pronounced “Biscuit”) psychologist. Mohammed’s age at the time is in dispute. The military says it captured him at 17; his lawyer says he was more likely 14 or younger. However old, he was pleading for his mother.

    When the psychologist arrived, the goal was not to ease the young man’s distress, but to exploit it.

    “The detainee comes across as a very immature, dependent individual, claiming to miss his mother and his young siblings, but his demeanor looks like it is a resistance technique,” the psychologist wrote, according to notes seen by The Times. “He tries to look as if he is so sad that he is depressed. During today’s interrogation, he appeared to be rather frightened, and it looks as if he could easily break.”

    The psychologist, who was not identified in the notes, recommended that Mr. Jawad be kept away from anyone who spoke his language. “Make him as uncomfortable as possible,” the psychologist advised. “Work him as hard as possible.”

    The guards placed him in isolation for 30 days. They then subjected him to the “frequent flier program,” a method of sleep deprivation. Guards yanked Mr. Jawad from cell to cell 112 times, waking him an average of every three hours, day and night, for two weeks straight, according to court records.

    After being held for years, Mr. Jawad was charged in 2007 with throwing a grenade that wounded American soldiers. But the evidence collapsed. The military prosecutor, Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld, withdrew from the case and declared that there was no evidence to justify charges. “There is, however, reliable evidence that he was badly mistreated by U.S. authorities, both in Afghanistan and at Guantánamo, and he has suffered, and continues to suffer, great psychological harm,” he wrote in a letter to the court.

    Katherine Porterfield, a New York University psychologist, found Mr. Jawad to have PTSD after examining him in 2009. Seven years after his capture, she said, he suffered from flashbacks and anxiety attacks. A panel of military doctors disagreed. Medical records from Guantánamo include repeated notes such as “no psych issues at this time,” or the prisoner “denied any psych problem.”

    The military dropped all charges against Mr. Jawad, who is now living in Pakistan. He declined to discuss his mental health. But in a series of text messages, he wrote: “They tortured us in jails, gave us severe physical and mental pain, bombarded our villages, cities, mosques, schools.” He added, “Of course we have” flashbacks, panic attacks and nightmares.

    Ignoring a Link

    It has been difficult to determine the scale of mental health problems at Guantánamo, much less how many cases are linked to the treatment the prisoners endured. Most medical records remain classified. Anecdotal accounts, though, have emerged over the years.

    Andy Davidson, a retired Navy captain who served as the chief psychologist treating prisoners at Guantánamo from July to October 2003, said most appeared to be in good health, but he still saw “an awful lot” of mental health issues there.

    “There were definitely guys who had PTSD symptoms,” he said in an interview. “There were definitely guys who had poor sleeping, nightmares. There were guys who were definitely shell shocked with a thousand-mile stare. There were guys who were depressed, avoidant.”

    One of the few official glimpses into the population came in a 2006 medical journal article. Two military psychologists and a psychiatrist at Guantánamo wrote that about 11 percent of detainees were then receiving mental health services, a rate lower than that in civilian jails or among former American prisoners of war. The authors acknowledged, however, that Guantánamo doctors faced significant challenges in diagnosing mental illness, most notably the difficulty in building trust. Many prisoners, including some with serious mental health conditions, refused evaluation and treatment, the study noted, which would have lowered the count.

    Five years later, General Xenakis and Vincent Iacopino, the medical director for Physicians for Human Rights, published research about nine prisoners who exhibited psychological symptoms after undergoing interrogation tactics — a hose forced into a mouth, a head held in a toilet, death threats — by American jailers.

    The two based their study on the medical records and interrogation files of the prisoners, all of whom had arrived at Guantánamo in its first year, had never been in C.I.A. custody, and were never charged with any crimes. In none of those cases, the study said, did Guantánamo doctors document any inquiries into whether the symptoms were tied to interrogation tactics.

    Today in Tangier, Morocco, Ahmed Errachidi runs two restaurants, has a wife and five children and has been free for nearly a decade. The United States military once asserted that he trained at a Qaeda camp in early 2001, but the human rights group Reprieve later produced pay stubs showing that he had been working at the time as a cook in London.

    Mr. Errachidi had a history of bipolar disorder before arriving at Guantánamo, and after being held in isolation there, he said, he suffered a psychotic breakdown. He told interrogators that he had been Bin Laden’s superior officer and warned that a giant snowball would overtake the world.

    Guantánamo still lurks around corners. Recently, at a market in Tangier, the clink of a chain caused a paralyzing flashback to the prison, where Mr. Errachidi was forced into painful stress positions, deprived of sleep and isolated. On chilly nights, when the blanket slips off, he is once again lying naked in a frigid cell, waiting for his next interrogation.

    “All I can think of is when are they going to take me back,” Mr. Errachidi said in an interview. He compared his treatment by the Americans to being mugged by a trusted friend. “It is very, very scary when you are tortured by someone who doesn’t believe in torture,” he said. “You lose faith in everything.”

    Guantánamo, particularly during its early years, operated on a system of rewards and punishments to exploit prisoners’ vulnerabilities. That manipulation, taken to extremes, could have dangerous effects, as in the peculiar case of Tarek El Sawah.

    An Egyptian who said he was a Taliban soldier, Mr. Sawah was captured while fleeing bombing in Afghanistan in 2001 and turned over to the United States. He arrived at Guantánamo in May 2002. Though his brother, Jamal, said he had no history of mental problems, Mr. Sawah began shrieking at night, terrified by hallucinations.

    When he began defecating and urinating on himself, soldiers would hose him down in front of other detainees, a nearby prisoner stated in court documents. Mr. Sawah said he was given antipsychotic drugs, sometimes forcibly.

    After his breakdown, interrogators found Mr. Sawah eager to talk. “‘Bring me good things to eat,’” he told them. They delivered McDonald’s hamburgers or Subway sandwiches, multiple servings at a time.

    Mr. Sawah became a prized informant, though the value of what he offered is disputed, and he says he fabricated stories, including that he was a Qaeda member. He ballooned from about 215 pounds to well over 400 pounds, records show. When the interrogations ended and he was placed in a special hut for cooperators, the food kept coming. His jailers had to install a double-wide door for him.

    Mr. Sawah called it a competition between the interrogators, who used food as an incentive, and the doctors, who told him to lose weight. He developed coronary artery disease, diabetes, breathing disorders and other health problems, court records show.

    In 2013, General Xenakis examined him and, in a plea for better medical treatment, told a judge that “Mr. El Sawah’s mental state has worsened and he appears apathetic with diminished will to live.” The military responded that he was offered excellent medical care but refused it.

    Today in Bosnia, Mr. Sawah, 58, complains of frequent headaches and begs a doctor for antidepressants. His mood fluctuates wildly. Though he has lost weight, his eating remains compulsive. Over dinner with a reporter after a daily Ramadan fast, he ate a steak, French fries, a plate of dates and figs, a bowl of chicken soup, spinach pie, slices of bread, the uneaten portion of another steak, another bowl of soup, two lemonades, a Coke and nearly an entire cheese plate, six or seven slices at a time.

    “He’s unbalanced,” said his brother, who lives in New York. “He needs care. Mental care. Physical care.”

    Mr. Sawah does not blame American soldiers for his treatment. “They were afraid of me, afraid for their life,” he said. “Guantánamo on both sides was just very scared people who want to live.”

    Complicating Trials

    In a war-crimes courtroom at Guantánamo Bay in January 2009, five men sat accused of plotting the Sept. 11 attacks. They were avowed enemies of the United States, who had admitted to grievous bloodshed. They had also been subjected to the most horrific of the government’s interrogation tactics.

    During a courtroom break, one of the men, Ammar al-Baluchi, asked to speak with a doctor. Xavier Amador, a New York psychologist who was consulting for another defendant, met with him. As they talked, Mr. Baluchi’s eyes darted around the room, according to a summary of Dr. Amador’s notes obtained by The Times. Mr. Baluchi said he struggled to focus, described “terrifying anxiety” and reported difficulty sleeping.

    Dr. Amador noted that Mr. Baluchi seemed to meet the criteria for PTSD, anxiety disorder and major depression. “No one can live like this,” Mr. Baluchi told him.

    Mr. Baluchi, 39, was captured by Pakistani officers in April 2003. Though he was described as willing to talk, the C.I.A. moved him to a secret prison and immediately applied interrogation methods reserved for recalcitrant prisoners. In court documents and Mr. Baluchi’s handwritten letters, he described being naked and dehydrated, chained to the ceiling so only his toes touched the floor. He endured ice-water dousing and said he was beaten until he saw flashes of light and lost consciousness. He recalls punches from his guards whenever he drifted asleep.

    Today, his lawyer said, Mr. Baluchi associates sleep with imminent pain. “Not only did they not let me sleep,” Mr. Baluchi wrote in a letter provided by the lawyer, “they trained me to keep myself awake.”

    Guantánamo physicians have prescribed Mr. Baluchi antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs and sleeping pills, according to his lawyer, James G. Connell III, who sends him deodorants and colognes to keep flashbacks at bay. “The whole time he was in C.I.A. custody, you’re sitting there, smelling your own stink,” Mr. Connell said. “Now, whenever he catches a whiff of his own body odor, it sets him off.”

    General Xenakis, who is consulting on the case, found that Mr. Baluchi had PTSD and that he showed possible signs of a brain injury that may be linked to his beatings.

    He said Mr. Baluchi needed a brain scan, which the military opposes. The test would likely prompt more hearings, which could further complicate a trial.

    “Having caused these problems in the first place, now the United States has to deal with them at the military commissions,” Mr. Connell said. “And that takes time.”

    The compromised mental status of several other prisoners, like Mr. Baluchi, has affected the military proceedings against them.

    Ramzi bin al-Shibh, who admits helping plan the Sept. 11 attacks, has said he believes the military is tormenting him with vibrations, smells and sounds at Guantánamo.

    Military doctors there have found him to be delusional, and records indicate that his symptoms began in C.I.A. custody, after brutal tactics and years of solitary confinement.

    But Mr. bin al-Shibh refused to meet with doctors to assess his competency and insists he is sane, so the case continues.

    Lawyers have similarly raised questions about Abd al-Nashiri’s psychological state. Accused in the U.S.S. Cole bombing, he was subjected to waterboarding, mock execution, rectal feeding and other techniques — some approved, some not — at C.I.A. sites. Even after internal warnings that Mr. Nashiri was about to go “over the edge psychologically,” the C.I.A. pressed forward.

    Over the years, government doctors have diagnosed Mr. Nashiri with anxiety, major depression and PTSD. His lawyers do not dispute his competency to stand trial, though no such trial is imminent. His torture and mental decline, though, could make it harder for prosecutors to win a death sentence.

    When the Walter Reed doctors evaluated Mr. Nashiri, “they concluded that he suffers from chronic, complex, untreated PTSD,” his lawyer told a military judge in 2014. “And they attributed it to his time in C.I.A. custody.”

    Interrogation’s Shadow

    In Libya today, a former C.I.A. prisoner named Salih Hadeeyah al-Daeiki struggles to focus, and his memory fails him. He finds himself confusing the names of his children. Sometimes, he withdraws from his family to be alone.

    A survivor of the C.I.A. interrogation in the Salt Pit, Mr. Daeiki says he was kept naked, humiliated and chained to the wall as loud music blared. Sleep is difficult now, but when it comes, his interrogators haunt him there.

    “Something is strangling me or I’m falling from high,” he said in an interview. “Or sometimes I see ghosts following me, chasing me.”

    Last year, a video surfaced showing Colonel Qaddafi’s son, Saadi, being blindfolded and forced to listen to what sounded like the screams of other prisoners inside Al Hadba, a prison holding members of the former regime — Libya’s own high-value detainees. Someone beat the soles of his feet with a stick.

    As the scene unfolded, Mr. Daeiki appeared on the screen.

    The beating was a mistake, he later acknowledged, but he did nothing to stop it. The goal was to collect intelligence to prevent bloodshed, he said.

    He was an interrogator now.


  7. #27
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    Why America will torture again

    Ryan Cooper

    December 10, 2014

    After years of research and investigation, followed by more years of delays and roadblocks, the Senate report on the CIA torture program has finally been released. As I've been writing for months, the basic outline of the results were known in advance: the CIA tortured a lot of people, accomplished nothing by it, and lied through its teeth to defend itself and the program.

    However, the sheer weight of all the horrifying details contained in the report, coupled with the credibility of its presentation, gives it a new and devastating impact. In particular, the grotesque and lawless incompetence of it all puts what's at stake here in stark relief: the rule of law, and the security of American democracy. And, unfortunately, the report does little to change the fact that both these things will remain under threat well into the future.

    Before we dig into the details, a few facts to keep in mind. First, the use of torture in the Bush era was not limited to the CIA. The military also tortured people in Iraq, most notoriously at Abu Ghraib prison, and in Afghanistan in various places (though the CIA was often involved in those incidents as well). Second, torture was not only a tool of interrogation. It was also used to brutalize people into spying for the U.S. occupation, and to create false reports of a link between Iraq and al Qaeda to justify President Bush's war of aggression. Finally, the report itself has been fairly heavily redacted, and we're only seeing the executive summary (the full version is over 6,000 pages). By no means is this the full picture. As a former interrogator at Abu Ghraib put it, "I assure you there is more."

    On to the three main qualities that characterize the CIA's behavior in this appalling era of U.S. history. Fair warning: this is going to be very ugly.

    1. Brutality

    I've been studying CIA abuses for quite some time now, but I was still shocked at the depths of the depravity in this report. Here are a few samples.

    CIA waterboarding was brutal in the extreme:

    The waterboarding technique was physically harmful, inducing convulsions and vomiting. Abu Zubaydah, for example, became "completely unresponsive, with bubbles rising through his open, full mouth." Internal CIA records describe the waterboarding of Khalid Shaykh Mohammad as evolving into a "series of near drownings." [p. 3]

    The CIA repeatedly raped people in its custody. When detainees refused water or attempted self-harm in protest at their treatment, one officer wrote that anally raping them with fluids and food was an effective route to behavioral control: "[w]hile IV infusion is safe and effective, we were impressed with the ancillary effectiveness at rectal infusion on ending the water refusal in this case." One detainee was so brutally raped that his anus and colon were permanently damaged [p 100]:

    Another detainee was threatened with sexual abuse of his family [p. 70]. This may have been a result of the CIA hiring interrogators with "workplace anger management issues" or those who "had reportedly admitted to sexual assault." It refused to vet those people [p. 59].

    The CIA tortured at least one detainee to death. He was named Gul Rahman, and after being abused with "sleep deprivation, auditory overload, total darkness isolation, and rough treatment," he was left overnight with nothing but a sweatshirt and froze to death. Afterwards, the CIA lied about Rahman's death, then recommended the local station chief get a $2,500 bonus for "consistently superior work" [pp. 54-55].

    As Andrew Sullivan wrote, "This is Nazi-level criminality and brutality. This is unimaginable sadism." It's no wonder some of the CIA officers were so disturbed they requested transfers out of the program.

    2. Incompetence

    The CIA obtained practically no intelligence from torture, and stymied no pending attacks as a result. The report is very clear on this point. Staffers on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) examined 20 cases the agency has held up as justification for it program, and found all of them flawed and highly misleading. As Ali Soufan (an experienced FBI interrogator) points out, the torture program was "designed by bureaucrats with no experience with al Qaeda, by people who had never met a terrorist, let alone interrogated one."

    But perhaps even worse than that was the sheer carelessness that marked every aspect of the program. The report reads something out of Mobutu's Zaire, chronicling an interrogation program that was run with little regard for even the most basic office management. Here are some examples.

    The CIA tortured a detainee — a man named Ramzi bin al-Shibh — without even asking him to cooperate first, an initial interrogation that was used as a "template" [p. 76-77].

    The CIA detained numerous innocent people:

    Of the 119 known detainees, at least 26 were wrongfully held and did not meet the detention standard in the September 2001 Memorandum of Notification (MON). These included an "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 Qaeda based solely on information fabricated by a CIA detainee subjected to the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques. Detainees often remained in custody for months after the CIA determined that they did not meet the MON standard. CIA records provide insufficient information to justify the detention of many other detainees. [p. 12]

    The CIA tortured some of their own informants by accident. Two men repeatedly tried to contact the CIA to provide intelligence and inform the agency of their whereabouts. But after being taken into custody, they were tortured for 24 hours anyway, because the messages they sent were not translated until after the interrogation had begun [p. 133].

    The CIA leadership was repeatedly warned by its own members about the program: "CIA officers regularly called into question whether the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques were effective," concluding they didn't produce good intelligence [p. 2]. Needless to say, their warnings were not heeded.

    The CIA paid $80 million to two consultant psychologists to design and later run the bulk of the program even though they had no experience in interrogation or terrorism. Outsourcing at its finest.

    If you ever wanted to know what an interrogation program run by a profoundly stupid alcoholic sociopath with a wide sadistic streak would look like, this is it.

    3. Mendacity

    The report concludes that the CIA lied constantly about this program, to everyone.

    The CIA lied to President Bush about the effectiveness of torture [p. 203]. The agency also lied to the Department of Justice, telling the Office of Legal Counsel that no senators had objected to the program. But some — including Ron Wyden of Oregon and John McCain of Arizona — had [pp. 4-5, 447].

    Numerous CIA officials, including Directors George Tenet, Michael Hayden and Porter Goss [pp. 444-445], lied to Congress, mostly about the effectiveness or extent of the program. The report concludes with a 37-page appendix carefully explaining how Hayden's April 12, 2007, testimony before SSCI was riddled with falsehoods.

    The CIA lied to the American people by manipulating the media. The agency did this, naturally, by illegally leaking selective classified information that portrayed the program in a positive light [pp. 8-9].

    This is only a tiny fraction of the horrors and deception contained in this report. And again, if anything, it probably understates the atrocities.

    A quick note about the critics of the report, which include the CIA, Republicans on the SSCI who drafted a dissenting report, and various Bush-era officials who were involved in the program, like Dick Cheney and Jose Rodriguez. They all say in one way or another that the report is wrong. The problem with giving these people an honest hearing is that there is obviously a lot of self-interest and self-preservation involved. The fact is that the SSCI's credible documentation fits well what we know about torture from outside investigations and detailed academic studies. It's safe to discard the torture apologist arguments that this program was lawful or effective.

    The big question is what this means for the future. Torture is extremely illegal (no matter what Bush's Justice Department said) — but as the blog emptywheel points out, so is perjury, making false statements as a government employee, and obstruction of justice, all of which has continued up to this year. (It is worth keeping in mind that there is no statute of limitations on torture that is known to risk or cause serious injury or death.) Any halfway competent prosecutor would be able to roll up half the agency with those tools and this report.

    But the only person who has gone to jail over this program is the man who exposed it in the first place: John Kiriakou, for leaking classified documents. Nobody gets prosecuted when they leak classified information to win public support for war crimes, but a decent and honorable whistleblower got 30 months in federal prison.

    It's time to start treating the CIA for what it is: a clear and present danger to the United States as a democratic nation. The CIA has proved time and again that it is a rogue institution that follows its own destructively idiotic instincts — and the post-9/11 era has been no different.

    A legislature with even the slightest scrap of dignity or self-respect would at a minimum immediately undertake a complete reorganization of the security apparatus, followed by a truth and reconciliation commission. Better yet, an official war crimes tribunal.

    But we're not going to do that. Republicans overwhelmingly support torture as affirmatively good policy, which means the only change we'll see with the incoming Congress is more deference to CIA goons. The executive won't punish anyone, either — President Obama, to his shame, has already ruled that out, again. And much of the mainstream media is incapable of treating this subject seriously. John Yoo, author of the worst legal memos in American history justifying the torture program, gets a respectful hearing on Morning Joe. Michael "37 pages of lying" Hayden gets kid glove treatment in Politico.

    Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the chair of the SSCI, says the point of the report is to prevent torture from ever happening again. But without any accountability, it's just as likely that America will torture again in the future.


    The lack of any official condemnation for CIA torture ensures it will happen again


    The details shocked. Shackled prisoners were treated like cattle, watched by their CIA interrogators. Testimony from one observer stated that men blindfolded and tied “were made to run down a steep hill, at the bottom of which were three throws of concertina barbed wire. The first row would hit them across the knees and they would plunge head first into the second and third rows of wire”.

    This wasn’t CIA torture after the September 11 attacks, exposed in detail in a recent Senate report, but the Phoenix programme, instituted by the CIA and US, Australian and South Vietnamese militaries in Vietnam between 1965 and 1972 to “neutralise” the Vietcong. The result was more than 60,000 people tortured and killed. No senior politicians, generals or decision-makers were prosecuted for these crimes. A culture of immunity, despite occasional media and public outrage, thrived across the US.

    Questioned before a US House operations subcommittee in the late 1960s to investigate widespread Phoenix-inspired torture, future CIA head William Colby used language that sounds familiar today. It’s just the official enemy that has changed. The “collateral damage” was justified, he said. Phoenix was “an essential part of the war effort … designed to protect the Vietnamese people from terrorism.”

    In 2007, decades after its cessation, the CIA was still worried that the public felt Phoenix was an “unlawful and immoral assassination programme targeting civilians.” Instead, they claimed, it was “pacification and rural security programmes”.

    Compare this to today’s CIA head, John Brennan, who defends his agency’s behaviour in the “war on terror” as doing a “lot of things right.” This arrogance only exists in an environment that doesn’t punish those who sanction abuses at the highest level and a mainstream media that gives equal time to torturers while virtually ignoring the victims. American torture’s grim legacy in Afghanistan is one of the least reported aspects of the last decade.

    While it was the French who first introduced electrical torture to Vietnam, it was the Americans, writes journalist Mike Otterman in his book American Torture, who advised the Vietnamese “how to make the torture more painful and effective. Under American supervision, Vietnamese interrogators often combined electrical torture with sexual abuse”.

    Otterman reminds us that US torture wasn’t an invention after the terror attacks of 2001 but part of a continuum of unaccountable US cruelty from Latin America to Asia, the Middle East and beyond. It’s revealing that this pedigree is so rarely explained or investigated in the rush to condemn (or praise, depending on your worldview) Washington-directed brutality under George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

    This history is relevant during the current debate over post September 11 torture. The Senate report is an important contribution to the public record but the lack of any prosecution, censure or official condemnation goes to the heart of modern political culture. Obama has acquiesced in this position. The effect, writes journalist Andrew Sullivan, is that America has ensured that these crimes will occur again: “That will be part of his legacy: the sounds of a torture victim crying in the dark, and knowing that America is fine with it.”

    A culture that celebrates television shows such as 24, Homeland and Spooks, where torture is central to capturing the bad guys and glamorises its use, makes real-life torment easier to justify or ignore. An Amnesty poll this year found 29% of Britons, higher than in Russia, Brazil and Argentina, believed torture could be justified to protect the public.

    A Washington Post-ABC News poll taken after the release of the Senate torture report found that 59% of Americans felt that the CIA’s treatment of suspected terrorists was justified. This is in spite of the fact that one of the key findings in the US Senate report was that CIA torture was ineffective in hunting down extremists. Evidence from a US Senate armed services committee report into torture in 2009 found that such abuses were only guaranteed in bringing false confessions.

    The Senate torture report has brought a handful of politicians demanding full transparency of their government’s role since 2001. The head of Britain’s Commons intelligence and security committee, Sir Malcolm Rifkind, wants Washington to release all documents showing London’s role in the CIA’s rendition programme though it’s sad he acknowledges London’s relative weakness when “requesting” the USA to hand over the details.

    The silence has been deafening in Australia with no major politicians demanding openness from Canberra on its role under former prime minister John Howard in sanctioning the illegal incarceration of David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib. Independent MP Andrew Wilkie is one of the few modern politicians with a history of questioning the pernicious role of group-think in government. In 2004, he published a searing book, Axis of Deceit, on Australia’s real reason for overthrowing Saddam Hussein, and it wasn’t weapons of mass destruction. Thus far Wilkie has not commented on the CIA report, although he has accused the Abbott government of crimes against humanity for its treatment of asylum seekers.

    The failure to punish torturers in the US fits neatly into a wider social malaise. The powerful don’t go to jail; it’s the weak that suffer for their foibles. The lack of any substantial prosecutions for Wall Street illegality is symptomatic of the rot inside the political class. Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi’s shows in his book The Divide how this occurs. “Obsessed with success and wealth and despising failure and poverty”, he argues, “our society is systematically dividing the population into winners and losers, using institutions like the courts to speed the process.”

    When “we” break the law, it’s with benign intent and good intentions (an editorial in the Australian makes this spurious case). But when “they” do it, they’re criminals who should be punished. Elites protect elites. Where was the outcry when the CIA hired private mercenary company Blackwater after 9/11 to assassinate “enemies” in Afghanistan?

    Instead of trials for those accused of endorsing torture, we’re left with articles, essays and works like The Trial of Donald Rumsfeld, “a prosecution by book”, written by the Centre for Constitutional Rights’ Michael Ratner. It’s a solid tome but desperately short of what’s required in a healthy democracy for individuals at the highest levels of government who order harsh crimes.

    The ability of the state to retroactively justify illegal behavior when caught is a feature of every nation on earth, not just the US. But demanding other countries abide by international law, when western nations so blatantly ignore it, is the height of hypocrisy. The shocking details in the US Senate report demand accountability but there’s little public appetite for it.

    Retired Navy JAG John Hutson warned in 2008 against trials for post 9/11 crimes because “people would lawyer up”, a tacit admission that the legal system is gamed by the wealthy and powerful to escape justice. There’s hardly a more illustrative example of the modern state’s failure.


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    Germany Files War Crimes Against Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld And Other CIA Officials

    By Ryan Denson on December 21, 2014

    If President Obama won’t do it, someone else will. Thankfully, a human rights group in Berlin, The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, has begun the process of indicting members of the Bush Administration by filing criminal complaints against the architects of the Admin’s torture program.

    Calls for an immediate investigation by the German human rights group was started after outrage ensued on the case of a German citizen, Khalid El-Masri, who had been captured by CIA agents in 2004 because of a mistaken identity mix-up and was tortured at a secret prison in Afghanistan.

    Wolfgang Kaleck, the general secretary of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, said:

    “By investigating members of the Bush administration, Germany can help to ensure that those responsible for abduction, abuse and illegal detention do not go unpunished.”

    In an interview with “Democracy Now
    ,” Michael Ratner, president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights and chairman of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, said that he believes Cheney, among others, have no defense for torturous actions and should be indicted:

    “I strongly disagree that Bush, Cheney, et al., would have a defense. This wasn’t like these memos just appeared independently from the Justice Department. These memos were facilitated by the very people — Cheney, etc. — who we believe should be indicted. This was part of a conspiracy so they could get away with torture. But that’s not the subject here now.”

    “Secondly, whatever we think of those memos, they’re of uselessness in Europe. Europe doesn’t accept this, quote, ‘golden shield’ of a legal defense. Either it’s torture or it’s not. Either you did it or you didn’t. And that’s one of the reasons, among others, why we’re going to Europe and why we went to Europe to bring these cases through the European Center.”

    Ratner then hit the nail on the head regarding America’s dangerous exceptionalism path down the road:

    “But, of course, you know, Cheney just showed us exactly why you have to — have to prosecute torture. Because if you don’t prosecute it, the next guy down the line is going to torture again. And that’s what Cheney said: ‘I would do it again.'”

    Khalid El-Masri was on vacation in Skopje, in Macedonia, when he was pulled off of a bus by government agents, sodomized with a drug, and taken to the secret base that was identified only as Cobalt in the CIA torture report. After four months, and after the United States learned of the mistaken identity, they left him there and continued to torture him. They held him further because the U.S. realized they had been torturing the wrong man. Afterwards, they released him, dropping him off somewhere to resume his life.

    El-Masri in his own words, in the same interview with “Democracy Now:”

    [translated] I was the only one in this prison in Kabul who was actually treated slightly better than the other inmates. But it was known among the prisoners that other prisoners were constantly tortured with blasts of loud music, exposed to constant onslaughts of loud music. And they were—for up to five days, they were just sort of left hanging from the ceiling, completely naked in ice-cold conditions. The man from Tanzania, whom I mentioned before, had his arm broken in three places. He had injuries, trauma to the head, and his teeth had been damaged. They also locked him up in a suitcase for long periods of time, foul-smelling suitcase that made him vomit all the time. Other people experienced forms of torture whereby their heads were being pushed down and held under water.

    He finished the interview with some pretty damning words that should make George Bush, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice and Donald Rumsfeld shudder:

    “And let me just say, Germany — whatever happened before, between the NSA spying on Germany and the fact that their citizen has now been revealed to have been kept in a torture place, when it was known that he was innocent, I’m pretty sure that Germany is going to take this very seriously.“


    CIA analyst at the center of torture report is outed. She's not 'Maya'

    In the film 'Zero Dark Thirty' she was known as 'Maya,' the CIA analyst who spent years tracking down Osama bin Laden. Her story is more complicated with its ties to rendition and torture, and now several news outlets have revealed her identity.

    By Brad Knickerbocker, Staff writer DECEMBER 21, 2014

    In the film ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ she was known as ‘Maya,’ the CIA analyst who spent years doggedly tracking down Osama bin Laden, then identifying his body when US Navy Seal Team Six killed him during a raid in Pakistan.

    In real life, however, her story is more complicated with ties to the rendition and torture of terrorist suspects, as well as a missed opportunity to head off the attacks of 9/11. And now she’s been forced out of the shadows with several news outlets revealing her identity.

    Most recently, that’s the website The Intercept, whose stated missions are “to provide a platform to report on the documents previously provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden” and “to produce fearless, adversarial journalism across a wide range of issues.”

    For years, the CIA has argued forcibly against naming the analyst, frequently referred to as a bin Laden expert. Some outlets, including the Associated Press have agreed to use only her middle name – Frances – since both her first and last names are unusual and easily identifiable.

    We would strongly object to attaching anyone’s name given the current environment,” CIA spokesperson Ryan Trapani told The Intercept in an email. In a follow-up voicemail he added: “There are crazy people in this world and we are trying to mitigate those threats.”

    In reply, Glenn Greenwald and Peter Maass wrote Friday, “The Intercept is naming [the analyst] over CIA objections because of her key role in misleading Congress about the agency’s use of torture, and her active participation in the torture program (including playing a direct part in the torture of at least one innocent detainee). Moreover, [the analyst] has already been publicly identified by news organizations as the CIA officer responsible for many of these acts.”

    The analyst is noted (but not named) in the unclassified summary of the recent Senate Intelligence Committee’s so-called torture report.

    “Her name was redacted at least three dozen times in an effort to avoid publicly identifying her,” NBC News reported last week. “In fact, much of the four-month battle between Senate Democrats and the CIA about redactions centered on protecting the identity of the woman, an analyst and later ‘deputy chief’ of the unit devoted to catching or killing Osama bin Laden, according to US officials familiar with the negotiations.”

    “The expert is no stranger to controversy,” NBC reported. “She was criticized after 9/11 terrorist attacks for countenancing a subordinate's refusal to share the names of two of the hijackers with the FBI prior to the terror attacks. But instead of being sanctioned, she was promoted.

    Writing in The New Yorker under the headline “The Unidentified Queen of Torture,” Jane Mayer reports that the analyst, who is still in a position of high authority over counterterrorism at the CIA, “appears to have been a source of years’ worth of terrible judgment, with tragic consequences for the United States.”

    Writes Mayer (who does not name the analyst): She dropped the ball when the CIA was given information that might very well have prevented the 9/11 attacks; she gleefully participated in torture sessions afterward; she misinterpreted intelligence in such a way that it sent the CIA on an absurd chase for Al Qaeda sleeper cells in Montana. And then she falsely told congressional overseers that the torture worked.”

    “According to sources in the law-enforcement community who I have interviewed over the years, and who I spoke to again this week, this woman … had supervision over an underling at the agency who failed to share with the FBI the news that two of the future 9/11 hijackers had entered the United States prior to the terrorist attacks,” Mayer writes. “Amazingly, perhaps, more than thirteen years after the 9/11 attacks, no one at the CIA has ever been publicly held responsible for this failure.”

    Still working in the shadows as the head of the CIA’s Global Jihad unit, with a civilian rank equivalent to a military general, the analyst at this point is in no position to defend herself.


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    The CIA Didn’t Just Torture, It Experimented on Human Beings

    Reframing the CIA’s interrogation techniques as a violation of scientific and medical ethics may be the best way to achieve accountability.

    By Lisa Hajjar
    DECEMBER 16, 2014

    Human experimentation was a core feature of the CIA’s torture program. The experimental nature of the interrogation and detention techniques is clearly evident in the Senate Intelligence Committee’s executive summary of its investigative report, despite redactions (insisted upon by the CIA) to obfuscate the locations of these laboratories of cruel science and the identities of perpetrators.

    At the helm of this human experimentation project were two psychologists hired by the CIA, James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen. They designed interrogation and detention protocols that they and others applied to people imprisoned in the agency’s secret “black sites.”

    In its response to the Senate report, the CIA justified its decision to hire the duo: “We believe their expertise was so unique that we would have been derelict had we not sought them out when it became clear that CIA would be heading into the uncharted territory of the program.” Mitchell and Jessen’s qualifications did not include interrogation experience, specialized knowledge about Al Qaeda or relevant cultural or linguistic knowledge. What they had was Air Force experience in studying the effects of torture on American prisoners of war, as well as a curiosity about whether theories of “learned helplessness” derived from experiments on dogs might work on human enemies.

    To implement those theories, Mitchell and Jessen oversaw or personally engaged in techniques intended to produce “debility, disorientation and dread.” Their “theory” had a particular means-ends relationship that is not well understood, as Mitchell testily explained in an interview on Vice News: “The point of the bad cop is to get the bad guy to talk to the good cop.” In other words, “enhanced interrogation techniques” (the Bush administration’s euphemism for torture) do not themselves produce useful information; rather, they produce the condition of total submission that will facilitate extraction of actionable intelligence.

    Mitchell, like former CIA Director Michael Hayden and others who have defended the torture program, argues that a fundamental error in the Senate report is the elision of means (waterboarding, “rectal rehydration,” weeks or months of nakedness in total darkness and isolation, and other techniques intended to break prisoners) and ends—manufactured compliance, which, the defenders claim, enabled the collection of abundant intelligence that kept Americans safe. (That claim is amply and authoritatively contradicted in the report.)

    As Americans from the Beltway to the heartland debate—again—the legality and efficacy of “enhanced interrogation,” we are reminded that “torture” has lost its stigma as morally reprehensible and criminal behavior. That was evident in the 2012 GOP presidential primary, when more than half of the candidates vowed to bring back waterboarding, and it is on full display now. On Meet the Press, for example, former Vice President Dick Cheney, who functionally topped the national security decision-making hierarchy during the Bush years, announced that he “would do it again in a minute.”

    No one has been held accountable for torture, beyond a handful of prosecutions of low-level troops and contractors. Indeed, impunity has been virtually guaranteed as a result of various Faustian bargains, which include “golden shield” legal memos written by government lawyers for the CIA; ex post facto immunity for war crimes that Congress inserted in the 2006 Military Commissions Act; classification and secrecy that still shrouds the torture program, as is apparent in the Senate report’s redactions; and the “look forward, not backward” position that President Obama has maintained through every wave of public revelations since 2009. An American majority, it seems, has come to accept the legacy of torture.

    Human experimentation, in contrast, has not been politically refashioned into a legitimate or justifiable enterprise. Therefore, it would behoove us to appreciate the fact that the architects and implementers of black-site torments were authorized at the highest levels of the White House and CIA to experiment on human beings. Reading the report through this lens casts a different light on questions of accountability and impunity.

    The “war on terror” is not the CIA’s first venture into human experimentation. At the dawn of the Cold War, German scientists and doctors with Nazi records of human experimentation were given new identities and brought to the United States under Operation Paperclip. During the Korean War, alarmed by the shocking rapidity of American POWs’ breakdowns and indoctrination by their communist captors, the CIA began investing in mind-control research. In 1953, the CIA established the MK-ULTRA program, whose earliest phase involved hypnosis, electroshock and hallucinogenic drugs. The program evolved into experiments in psychological torture that adapted elements of Soviet and Chinese models, including longtime standing, protracted isolation, sleep deprivation and humiliation. Those lessons soon became an applied “science” in the Cold War.

    During the Vietnam War, the CIA developed the Phoenix program, which combined psychological torture with brutal interrogations, human experimentation and extrajudicial executions. In 1963, the CIA produced a manual titled “Kubark Counterintelligence Interrogation” to guide agents in the art of extracting information from “resistant” sources by combining techniques to produce “debility, disorientation and dread.” Like the communists, the CIA largely eschewed tactics that violently target the body in favor of those that target the mind by systematically attacking all human senses in order to produce the desired state of compliance. The Phoenix program model was incorporated into the curriculum of the School of the Americas, and an updated version of the Kubark guide, produced in 1983 and titled “Human Resource Exploitation Manual,” was disseminated to the intelligence services of right-wing regimes in Latin America and Southeast Asia during the global “war on communism.”

    In the mid-1980s, CIA practices became the subject of congressional investigations into US-supported atrocities in Central America. Both manuals became public in 1997 as a result of Freedom of Information Act litigation by The Baltimore Sun. That would have seemed like a “never again” moment.

    But here we are again. This brings us back to Mitchell and Jessen. Because of their experience as trainers in the military’s Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape (SERE) program, after 9/11 they were contacted by high-ranking Pentagon officials and, later, by lawyers who wanted to know whether some of those SERE techniques could be reverse-engineered to get terrorism suspects to talk.

    The road from abstract hypotheticals (can SERE be reverse-engineered?) to the authorized use of waterboarding and confinement boxes runs straight into the terrain of human experimentation. On April 15, 2002, Mitchell and Jessen arrived at a black site in Thailand to supervise the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, the first “high-value detainee” captured by the CIA. By July, Mitchell proposed more coercive techniques to CIA headquarters, and many of these were approved in late July. From then until the program was dry-docked in 2008, at least thirty-eight people were subjected to psychological and physical torments, and the results were methodically documented and analyzed. That is the textbook definition of human experimentation.

    My point is not to minimize the illegality of torture or the legal imperatives to pursue accountability for perpetrators. Rather, because the concept of torture has been so muddled and disputed, I suggest that accountability would be more publicly palatable if we reframed the CIA’s program as one of human experimentation. If we did so, it would be more difficult to laud or excuse perpetrators as “patriots” who “acted in good faith.” Although torture has become a Rorschach test among political elites playing to public opinion on the Sunday morning talk shows, human experimentation has no such community of advocates and apologists.


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    A federal lawsuit against the psychologists behind the CIA torture program is going to trial.



    August 17, 2017

    NEW YORK — In a first for a case involving CIA torture, the American Civil Liberties Union announced a settlement today in the lawsuit against the two psychologists who designed and implemented the agency’s brutal program. A jury trial was scheduled to begin on September 5, after the plaintiffs successfully overcame every attempt by the psychologists to have the case dismissed.

    The lawsuit was brought by the ACLU on behalf of Suleiman Abdullah Salim, Mohamed Ahmed Ben Soud, and the family of Gul Rahman, who froze to death in a secret CIA prison. The three men were tortured and experimented on using methods developed by the CIA-contracted psychologists, James Mitchell and John “Bruce” Jessen.

    “This is a historic victory for our clients and the rule of law,” said ACLU attorney Dror Ladin. “This outcome shows that there are consequences for torture and that survivors can and will hold those responsible for torture accountable. It is a clear warning for anyone who thinks they can torture with impunity.”

    The full terms of the settlement agreement are confidential.

    “We brought this case seeking accountability and to help ensure that no one else has to endure torture and abuse, and we feel that we have achieved our goals,” the plaintiffs said in a joint statement praising the settlement. “We were able to tell the world about horrific torture, the CIA had to release secret records, and the psychologists and high-level CIA officials were forced to answer our lawyers’ questions. It has been a long, difficult road, but we are very pleased with the results.”

    Until now, every lawsuit trying to hold people accountable for the CIA torture program has been dismissed at initial stages because the government successfully argued that letting the cases proceed would reveal state secrets. But unlike previous cases, this time the Justice Department did not try to derail the lawsuit. The defendants attempted to dismiss the case multiple times, but the court consistently ruled that the plaintiffs had valid claims.

    “Government officials and contractors are on notice that they cannot hide from accountability for torture,” said Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU National Security Project. “Our clients’ groundbreaking case has changed the legal landscape. It showed that the courts are fully capable of handling lawsuits involving abuses committed in the name of national security.”

    The case was filed in October 2015, basing its legal claims on the declassified facts in the executive summary of the Senate report on CIA torture. During the lawsuit’s discovery process, dozens of new documents detailing the torture program were unearthed, and the case forced former senior CIA officials Jose Rodriguez and John Rizzo — in addition to Mitchell and Jessen themselves — to testify about torture during depositions.

    “Thanks to our clients’ commitment and bravery their stories are public, as are new details about the design and implementation of the CIA torture program,” said ACLU attorney Steven Watt. “This settlement is a testament to their perseverance and will help them heal.”

    In the court’s ruling earlier this month sending the case to trial, the judge wrote, “The evidence would support a finding Defendants designed the [enhanced interrogation techniques] to be used on detainees, and thus they clearly had knowledge they would be so used.”

    In addition to torturing prisoners themselves, Mitchell and Jessen trained other CIA personnel in their methods. In 2005, they founded a company that the CIA contracted with to run its entire torture program, including supplying interrogators for the agency’s secret “black site” prisons. The government paid the company $81 million over several years.

    “I am so glad to help our clients make a difference through this case,” said Lawrence Lustberg of the law firm Gibbons PC. “We have long partnered with the ACLU in torture transparency and accountability litigation, and it is deeply satisfying to have come this far.”

    The plaintiffs sued Mitchell and Jessen under the Alien Tort Statute — which allows federal lawsuits for gross human rights violations — for their commission of torture; cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment; nonconsensual human experimentation; and war crimes.

    As part of the settlement, the plaintiffs and defendants agreed to the following joint statement:

    “Drs. Mitchell and Jessen acknowledge that they worked with the CIA to develop a program for the CIA that contemplated the use of specific coercive methods to interrogate certain detainees.

    “Plaintiff Gul Rahman was subjected to abuses in the CIA program that resulted in his death and in pain and suffering for his family, including his personal representative Obaidullah. Plaintiffs Suleiman Abdullah Salim and Mohamed Ahmed Ben Soud were also subjected to coercive methods in the CIA program, which resulted in pain and suffering for them and their families.

    “Plaintiffs assert that they were subjected to some of the methods proposed by Drs. Mitchell and Jessen to the CIA, and stand by their allegations regarding the responsibility of Drs. Mitchell and Jessen.

    “Drs. Mitchell and Jessen assert that the abuses of Mr. Salim and Mr. Ben Soud occurred without their knowledge or consent and that they were not responsible for those actions. Drs. Mitchell and Jessen also assert that they were unaware of the specific abuses that ultimately caused Mr. Rahman's death and are also not responsible for those actions.

    “Drs. Mitchell and Jessen state that it is regrettable that Mr. Rahman, Mr. Salim, and Mr. Ben Soud suffered these abuses.”

    The attorneys representing the plaintiffs are Shamsi and Ladin of the ACLU National Security Project and Watt of the ACLU Human Rights Program; Emily Chiang of the ACLU of Washington; Lustberg, Kate Janukowicz, Daniel McGrady, and Avram Frey of the law firm Gibbons PC; Paul Hoffman of Schonbrun, Seplow, Harris & Hoffman LLP, Los Angeles; Anthony DiCaprio of the Law Office of Anthony DiCaprio; and Jeffry Finer of the Center for Justice, Spokane, Washington.

    More information on the case is here:


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    How Covert Agents Infiltrate the Internet to Manipulate, Deceive, and Destroy Reputations

    Glenn Greenwald | February 24 2014

    One of the many pressing stories that remains to be told from the Snowden archive is how western intelligence agencies are attempting to manipulate and control online discourse with extreme tactics of deception and reputation-destruction. It’s time to tell a chunk of that story, complete with the relevant documents.

    Over the last several weeks, I worked with NBC News to publish a series of articles about “dirty trick” tactics used by GCHQ’s previously secret unit, JTRIG (Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group). These were based on four classified GCHQ documents presented to the NSA and the other three partners in the English-speaking “Five Eyes” alliance. Today, we at the Intercept are publishing another new JTRIG document, in full, entitled “The Art of Deception: Training for Online Covert Operations.”

    By publishing these stories one by one, our NBC reporting highlighted some of the key, discrete revelations: the monitoring of YouTube and Blogger, the targeting of Anonymous with the very same DDoS attacks they accuse “hacktivists” of using, the use of “honey traps” (luring people into compromising situations using sex) and destructive viruses. But, here, I want to focus and elaborate on the overarching point revealed by all of these documents: namely, that these agencies are attempting to control, infiltrate, manipulate, and warp online discourse, and in doing so, are compromising the integrity of the internet itself.

    Among the core self-identified purposes of JTRIG are two tactics:

    to inject all sorts of false material onto the internet in order to destroy the reputation of its targets; and

    to use social sciences and other techniques to manipulate online discourse and activism to generate outcomes it considers desirable. To see how extremist these programs are, just consider the tactics they boast of using to achieve those ends: “false flag operations” (posting material to the internet and falsely attributing it to someone else), fake victim blog posts (pretending to be a victim of the individual whose reputation they want to destroy), and posting “negative information” on various forums. Here is one illustrative list of tactics from the latest GCHQ document we’re publishing today:

    Other tactics aimed at individuals are listed here, under the revealing title “discredit a target”:

    Then there are the tactics used to destroy companies the agency targets:

    GCHQ describes the purpose of JTRIG in starkly clear terms: “using online techniques to make something happen in the real or cyber world,” including “information ops (influence or disruption).”

    Critically, the “targets” for this deceit and reputation-destruction extend far beyond the customary roster of normal spycraft: hostile nations and their leaders, military agencies, and intelligence services. In fact, the discussion of many of these techniques occurs in the context of using them in lieu of “traditional law enforcement” against people suspected (but not charged or convicted) of ordinary crimes or, more broadly still, “hacktivism”, meaning those who use online protest activity for political ends.

    The title page of one of these documents reflects the agency’s own awareness that it is “pushing the boundaries” by using “cyber offensive” techniques against people who have nothing to do with terrorism or national security threats, and indeed, centrally involves law enforcement agents who investigate ordinary crimes:

    No matter your views on Anonymous, “hacktivists” or garden-variety criminals, it is not difficult to see how dangerous it is to have secret government agencies being able to target any individuals they want – who have never been charged with, let alone convicted of, any crimes – with these sorts of online, deception-based tactics of reputation destruction and disruption. There is a strong argument to make, as Jay Leiderman demonstrated in the Guardian in the context of the Paypal 14 hacktivist persecution, that the “denial of service” tactics used by hacktivists result in (at most) trivial damage (far less than the cyber-warfare tactics favored by the US and UK) and are far more akin to the type of political protest protected by the First Amendment.

    The broader point is that, far beyond hacktivists, these surveillance agencies have vested themselves with the power to deliberately ruin people’s reputations and disrupt their online political activity even though they’ve been charged with no crimes, and even though their actions have no conceivable connection to terrorism or even national security threats. As Anonymous expert Gabriella Coleman of McGill University told me, “targeting Anonymous and hacktivists amounts to targeting citizens for expressing their political beliefs, resulting in the stifling of legitimate dissent.” Pointing to this study she published, Professor Coleman vehemently contested the assertion that “there is anything terrorist/violent in their actions.”

    Government plans to monitor and influence internet communications, and covertly infiltrate online communities in order to sow dissension and disseminate false information, have long been the source of speculation. Harvard Law Professor Cass Sunstein, a close Obama adviser and the White House’s former head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, wrote a controversial paper in 2008 proposing that the US government employ teams of covert agents and pseudo-”independent” advocates to “cognitively infiltrate” online groups and websites, as well as other activist groups.

    Sunstein also proposed sending covert agents into “chat rooms, online social networks, or even real-space groups” which spread what he views as false and damaging “conspiracy theories” about the government. Ironically, the very same Sunstein was recently named by Obama to serve as a member of the NSA review panel created by the White House, one that – while disputing key NSA claims – proceeded to propose many cosmetic reforms to the agency’s powers (most of which were ignored by the President who appointed them).

    But these GCHQ documents are the first to prove that a major western government is using some of the most controversial techniques to disseminate deception online and harm the reputations of targets. Under the tactics they use, the state is deliberately spreading lies on the internet about whichever individuals it targets, including the use of what GCHQ itself calls “false flag operations” and emails to people’s families and friends. Who would possibly trust a government to exercise these powers at all, let alone do so in secret, with virtually no oversight, and outside of any cognizable legal framework?

    more at : https://theintercept.com/2014/02/24/jtrig-manipulation/

  12. #32
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    I am in Guantánamo Bay. The US government is starving me to death

    I haven’t had food in my stomach for 23 days. The 20 September was the day they told us they would no longer feed us. They have decided to leave us to waste away and die instead.

    I am in so much pain every minute that I know it can’t go on much longer. Now as each night comes, I wonder if I will wake up in the morning. When will my organs fail? When will my heart stop? I am slowly slipping away and no one notices.

    There is a man who is in charge of all the medical staff. I don’t know his name but they call him the senior medical officer. He was the one who called us all in and told us they would stop feeding us. As soon as he took over I knew he was bad news and now he has decided to end our lives.

    I don’t have many days left

    I started hunger strike because I was so frustrated, so depressed – I have been locked up here so far from my family for 15 years. I have never been charged with a crime and I have never been allowed to prove my innocence. Yet I am still here. And now Donald Trump says that none of us – the 26 “forever” prisoners who have apparently committed no crime, but merit no trial – will ever leave here so long as he is in charge.

    Some will say I brought the pain on myself. But how can that be? I did not ask to be brought here. I did not do anything that justified being kidnapped and hauled half way around the world. It is true that there have been times when I thought I would be better off dead. This was the only peaceful way I thought I could protest. What I really want, for me and for the other men here, is justice. Certainly, I never wanted to die in the pain I’m now in.

    They have stopped feeding us before but this time feels different. They want to stop the hunger strike by any means. They keep repeating: if you lose part of your body that is your choice; if you are damaged, that is your choice. They intend to leave us until we lose a kidney or another organ. They will wait until we are damaged. Maybe until we are too damaged to live.

    Just over a week ago, on 29 September, I collapsed and they called a “code yellow” – that’s what they call it. I’ve seen it before but this is the first time the code has been for me. Still I got no treatment. Still they continue to starve me. I can’t walk anymore. My hip joints are swollen and it is too painful. I am so tired and so weak.

    The worst thing is, the medical staff aren’t recording anything. They don’t check how close I may be to death. The nurses are writing nothing down. They don’t reply when I ask them if they’ve recorded my missed meals. They should be there to care, but they don’t care.

    These days have been the most terrifying of my 15 years in this place. We are used to torture here but this is so slow and so cruel. The people who are supposed to look after us are hurting us. I have been reduced to pleading for my life. I am asking for anyone out there to talk about what’s going on here. To ask why Trump is letting us slowly die. I don’t have many days left.

    These words were dictated by Khalid Qasim from Guantánamo Bay to his attorney, Shelby Sullivan-Bennis. of the human rights organization Reprieve. Khalid Qassim has been held at Guantánamo Bay for 15 years. He has never been charged with a crime or had the chance to prove his innocence at trial. Khalid comes from a small town in Yemen and travelled to Afghanistan in search of work in 2000. He was detained by Afghan police and handed over the US forces in a case of mistaken identity. It emerged later that the US offered large financial incentives to local law enforcement to hand over Arab prisoners for interrogation.


  13. #33
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    Why the Return of American Torture Is Inevitable

    The “War on Terror” has changed, but we’re still afraid.

    Once upon a time, if a character on TV or in a movie tortured someone, it was a sure sign that he was a bad guy. Now, the torturers are the all-American heroes. From 24 to Zero Dark Thirty, it’s been the good guys who wielded the pliers and the waterboards. We’re not only living in a post-9/11 world, we’re stuck with Jack Bauer in the 25th hour.

    In 2002, Cofer Black, the former Director of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center, told a Senate committee, “All I want to say is that there was ‘before’ 9/11 and ‘after’ 9/11. After 9/11 the gloves come off.” He wanted them to understand that Americans now live in a changed world, where, from the point of view of the national security state, anything goes. It was, as he and various top officials in the Bush administration saw it, a dangerous place in which terrorists might be lurking in any airport security line and who knew where else.

    Dark-skinned foreigners promoting disturbing religions were driven to destroy us because, as President George W. Bush said more than once, “they hate our freedoms.” It was “them or us.” In such a frightening new world, we were assured, our survival depended in part on brave men and women willing to break precedent and torture some of our enemies for information that would save civilization itself. As part of a new American creed, we learned that torture was the price of security.

    These were the ruling fantasies of the era, onscreen and off. But didn’t that sorry phase of our national life end when Bush and his vice president Dick Cheney departed? Wasn’t it over once Barack Obama entered the Oval Office and issued an executive order closing the CIA black sites that the Bush administration had set up across the planet, forbidding what had euphemistically come to be called “enhanced interrogation techniques?” As it happens, no. Though it’s seldom commented upon, the infrastructure for, the capacity for, and the personnel to staff a system of institutionalized state torture remain in place, ready to bloom like a desert plant in a rain shower the next time fear shakes the United States.

    There are several important reasons why the resurgence of torture remains a possibility in post-Bush America:

    * Torture did not necessarily end when Obama took office.
    * We have never had a full accounting of all the torture programs in the “war on terror.”
    * Not one of the senior government officials responsible for activities that amounted to war crimes has been held accountable, nor were any of the actual torturers ever brought to court.

    Torture Did Not Necessarily End When Obama Took Office

    The president’s executive order directed the CIA to close its detention centers “as expeditiously as possible” and not to open any new ones. No such orders were given, however, to the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), a clandestine force composed of elite fighters from several branches of the US armed forces. JSOC had run its own secret detention centers in Iraq. At Camp Nama, interrogations took place in the ominously named “Black Room.” According to the New York Times, the camp’s chilling motto was “no blood, no foul.” JSOC is presently deployed on several continents, including Africa, where gathering “intelligence” forms an important part of its duties.

    The president’s executive order still permits “rendition”—the transfer of a terror suspect to another country for interrogation, which in the Bush years meant to the prisons of regimes notorious for torture. It does, however, impose some constraints on the practice. Such “transfers” must be approved by a special committee composed of the director of national intelligence, the secretary of defense, the secretary of state, the secretary of homeland security, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It is to be chaired by the attorney general. The committee must not “transfer… individuals to other nations to face torture or otherwise for the purpose, or with the effect, of undermining or circumventing the commitments or obligations of the United States to ensure the humane treatment of individuals in its custody or control.”

    This last constraint, however, has been in place at least since 1994, when the Senate ratified the U.N. Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment. That did not prevent the rendition of people like Maher Arar, an innocent Canadian citizen sent by the United States to Syria, where he endured 10 months of torture in an underground cell. Nor did it save Binyam Mohammed, whose Moroccan jailers sliced his chest and penis with a scalpel—once a month for 18 months, according to British human rights lawyer Andy Worthington.

    Nor has the CIA itself been prepared to end all its torture programs. In his confirmation hearings, Obama’s first CIA director Leon Panetta told members of Congress that “if the approved techniques were ‘not sufficient’ to get a detainee to divulge details he was suspected of knowing about an imminent attack, he would ask for ‘additional authority’ to use other methods.” It is, however, unlikely that such “other methods” could be brought to bear on the spur of the moment. To do so, you need an infrastructure and trained personnel. You need to be ready, with skills honed.

    Torture, though by another name, still goes on in the American prison complex at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. President Obama came into office promising to close Guantánamo within a year. It’s a promise he repeats occasionally, but the prison is still open, and some detainees are still being held indefinitely. Those who use the only instrument they have to resist their hellish limbo—a hunger strike—are strapped into chairs and force-fed. In case you think such “feeding” is a humanitarian act, Guantánamo prisoner Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel described the experience in a New York Times op-ed in April 2013:

    “I will never forget the first time they passed the feeding tube up my nose. I can’t describe how painful it is to be force-fed this way. As it was thrust in, it made me feel like throwing up. I wanted to vomit, but I couldn’t. There was agony in my chest, throat, and stomach. I had never experienced such pain before. I would not wish this cruel punishment upon anyone.”

    The US has a long history of involvement with torture—from its war in the Philippines at the dawn of the twentieth century on. It has also, as in Latin America in the 1960s, trained torturers serving other regimes. But until 9/11 top officials in this country had never publicly approved of torture. Whatever might happen behind closed doors (or in training sessions provided by the School of the Americas, for example), in public, everyone—government officials, the press, and the public—agreed that torture was wrong.

    That consensus no longer exists today. After 9/11 those “gloves” came off. Waterboarding prisoners who might have information about a plot that could threaten us was a “no brainer” for Vice President Dick Cheney, and he wasn’t alone. In those years, torture, always called “enhanced interrogation techniques” (a phrase the media quickly picked up), became a commonplace, even celebrated, feature of our new landscape. Will it remain that way?

    We Have Never Had a Full Accounting of All the Torture Programs Used in the “War on Terror”

    Thanks to the work of persistent reporters, we now know many pieces of the torture puzzle, but we still have nothing like a complete, coherent narrative. And if we don’t know just what happened in those torture years, we are unlikely to be able to dismantle the existing infrastructure, which means we won’t be able to keep it from happening again.

    In addition, the accounts of journalists and historians are not sufficient, as they don’t bear any government imprimatur. They are not “the official story.” They do not represent an attempt on the part of the government, and hence the nation, to come fully to grips with this past. An official account of what happened could, however, lay the groundwork for a national consensus against the future use of torture.

    Forty years ago, congressional investigations of the CIA’s Phoenix Program (in which tens of thousands of Viet Cong were tortured and murdered) resulted in some new constraints on the Agency’s activities. President Gerald Ford issued an executive order prohibiting the CIA from engaging in “political assassinations” or experimenting with drugs on human subjects. President Jimmy Carter amended that order to prohibit assassination in general. These edicts, combined with the oversight provided by the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, were supposed to rein in the CIA’s most egregious acts.

    Nevertheless, we now know that a rejuvenated CIA has run a full-scale torture program, kidnapped terror suspects off global streets, and still oversees drone assassination campaigns in Pakistan and Yemen. In addition, it continues to resist Congressional oversight of its torture activities. As yet, the Agency, tasked with “vetting” a 6,000-page report on its “interrogation methods” prepared by the Senate Intelligence Committee, has refused to allow the release of any part of the account. Even Dianne Feinstein, the committee’s chair, often considered the “senator from national security,” was moved to offer an extraordinary denunciation on the floor of the Senate of the CIA’s interference with committee computers.

    Recently, the Washington Post reported some leaked details from the report the committee has been struggling unsuccessfully to get released, including information on a previously undocumented form of CIA torture: shoving a prisoner’s head into a tub of ice water or pouring that water all over a person’s body. (Immersion in cold water is a torture method I first came across in 1984 when interviewing a Nicaraguan who had been kidnapped and tortured by US-backed and -trained Contra guerrillas.)

    We don’t have anything like the full story of the CIA’s involvement in torture, and the CIA is only one agency within a larger complex of agencies, military and civilian. We can’t dismantle what we can’t see.

    None of the High Government Officials Responsible for Activities That Amount to War Crimes Has Been Held Accountable; Nor Have Any of the Actual CIA Torturers

    When it comes to torture, President Obama has argued that “nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past,” but this is simply not true. One thing that could be gained would be a public consensus that the United States should never again engage in torture. Another might be agreement that officials who are likely guilty of war crimes should not be allowed to act with impunity and then left free to spend their post-government years writing memoirs or painting themselves bathing.

    Retired Major General Antonio Taguba, whose military career was cut short by his report on US abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, wrote in the preface to a June 2008 report by Physicians for Human Rights, “After years of disclosures by government investigations, media accounts, and reports from human rights organizations, there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes. The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account.”

    Years later, with a different administration in its second term, this question has been answered. They will not. Nor will the actual CIA torturers, since the Obama Justice Department has dismissed all cases involving their brutal interrogations, even two that resulted in the deaths of prisoners.

    This is not to say that no one has been sent to prison because of the CIA’s torture programs. Former CIA analyst John Kiriakou is presently serving 30 months in federal prison for revealing the name of a covert CIA operative, while blowing the whistle on the Agency’s torture operations. From his prison cell, he has called for a special prosecutor to bring the architects of the torture program to justice.

    Living in a Cowardly New World

    The post-9/11 United States is no brave new world, but a terrified one. We are constantly reminded of the dangers we face and encouraged to believe that torture will keep us safe. Americans have evidently seen just enough—between revelations of fact and fictional representations—to become habituated to the idea that torture is a necessary cost of safety. Indeed, polls show that Americans are more supportive of using torture today than they were at the height of the “war on terror.”

    In these years, “safety” and “security” have become primary national concerns. It’s almost as if we believe that if enough data is collected, enough “really bad guys” are tortured into giving up “actionable intelligence,” we ourselves will never die. There is a word for people whose first concern is always for their own safety and who will therefore permit anything to be done in their name as long as it keeps them secure. Such people are sometimes called cowards.

    If this terrified new worldview holds, and if the structure for a torture system remains in place and unpunished, the next time fear rises, the torture will begin anew.


  14. #34
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    Appointment of torture programme head Gina Haspel as CIA Director will make torture the ‘new normal’

    Posted by CAGE on March 15, 2018

    London – The appointment of a torture advocate and participant in the CIA rendition, interrogation and detention programme as the new director of the CIA will provide cover and impunity to a legacy of torture that still remains unaddressed.

    It has been widely reported that Gina Haspel ran the USA’s overseas torture programmes in Thailand where suspects Abu Zubaydah and Abdur Rahim al-Nashiri, who are both mentioned in the now infamous Senate Committee report into torture, were waterboarded, deprived of sleep and confined in coffin-like boxes for extended periods.

    The resurgence of the torture debate can be traced back to the failure of the Obama administration to adequately hold torturers to account for the roles they played, as detailed in the Senate Torture Report in 2014.

    Trump has set the bar even lower, giving carte blanche for despots and dictators to adopt torture as the “new normal” while encouraging its use again domestically.

    Moazzam Begg, outreach director for CAGE, said:

    “Donald Trump has already made clear to the world that he believes “torture works” and that medieval techniques like waterboarding are the very least he would authorise if he had his way. With the appointment of Gina Haspel, his belief in torture and impunity for taking part in war crimes is now a reality.”

    “Haspel was also stationed in Britain for many years and worked closely with British intelligence services. At a time when the role of foreign agents involved in criminality on British soil is headline news, the extent of MI5’s knowledge of and potential complicity in Haspel’s role needs to be made clear to the British public.”

    “The nomination of Haspel as head of the CIA must be challenged at every level otherwise torture will become the new norm. If she is chosen to head the CIA, the world must know how the way was paved for an architect of the global torture program, to lead the world’s most powerful intelligence service.”



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