Saturday, May 30, 2009

"I want to be absolutely clear with our people, and the world: The United States does not torture. It's against our laws, and it's against our values"

George Bush - United States of America President declares, in September 6, 2006:
"I want to be absolutely clear with our people, and the world: The United States does not torture. It's against our laws, and it's against our values. I have not authorized it - and I will not authorize it."

On Thursday, April 16, President Barack Obama authorized the release of four documents written by the Office of Legal Counsel in Bush administration’s Department of Justice.
The memos construct a legal justification for "The Torture Program" ("enhanced interrogation techniques").

As "the torture program" is exposed, more will come to light about those who participated in it.

An overview of the "torture program" is given in the documentary "Torturing Democracy" - HERE


And some interesting interviews about the topic with Bill Moyers- PBS - can be watched HERE .
Bill Moyers has spoken with many legal and policy experts: international lawyers Phillipe Sands and Scott Horton, investigative journalist Jane Mayer, former Bush administration official Jack L. Goldsmith, reporter Mark Danner and constitutional scholar Bruce Fein, and others.

BILL MOYERS JOURNAL's complete coverage of torture and the rule of law can be watched at:

Accountability and a Legacy of Torture - Fault Lines aired May 30, 2009

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

"Torture does not save lives.Torture costs us lives," says the Senior Military Interrogator of the Elite Task that tracked down Al-Zarqawi

Former Interrogator Rebukes Cheney for Torture Speech - HERE
Dick Cheney says that torturing detainees has saved American lives but those on the field say that Cheney's torture policy was directly responsible for the deaths of hundreds if not thousands of American and allies servicemen and women.

Matthew Alexander was the senior military interrogator for the task force that tracked down Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq and, at the time, a higher priority target than Osama bin Laden. Mr. Alexander has personally conducted hundreds of interrogations and supervised over a thousand of them.

"Torture does not save lives. Torture costs us lives," Mr. Alexander said in an exclusive interview at Brave New Studios (HERE). "And the reason why is that our enemies use it, number one, as a recruiting tool...These same foreign fighters who came to Iraq to fight because of torture and abuse....literally cost us hundreds if not thousands of American lives."

Documents reaveal that U.S. Interrogators May Have Killed Dozens of people under Torture

Most of the deaths documented up to now appear to have involved military or CIA personnel .

"Homicide presents legal issues impossible to ignore. Attorney General Eric Holder and the Department of Justice cannot conclude their deliberations about Bush-era torture policies without closely investigating the homicide cases tied to them. One cannot speak glibly of “policy differences” and “looking forward” and “distraction” when corpses are involved." - By John Sifton (UK)

Full story:
The Bush Administration Homicides - by John Sifton - HERE

Dozens Tortured to Death by US military and CIA personnel: The story HERE

Senate Panel's Report Links Detainees' Murders to Bush's Torture Policy - HERE

Monday, May 25, 2009

"Torture on Trial" - a Link TV original production

"Torture on Trial" is a Link TV original production that investigates
the history of interrogations in the "War on Terrorism", and the
growing movement calling for accountability for those who authorized
and participated in torture.
Featured guests include:

George Hunsinger - Founder of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture
Jane Mayer - Staff Writer with The New Yorker & Author of "The Dark Side"
Mark Danner-UC Berkeley Journalism Prof., Author "Torture and Truth" & The NYReview of Books
Elisa Massimino - Executive Director of Human Rights First
Col. Lawrence Wilkerson (Ret.) - Former Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell
Maj. Matthew Alexander - U.S. Air Force Interrogator

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Murder and Torture - The Canadian Military in Somalia: Torture, Murder and Inquiry

'Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.'
George Santayana , 1905 - Life of Reason, Reason in Common Sense, Scribner's, 1905, page 284

Shidane Abukar Arone was a Somali teenager who was tortured and beaten to death by Canadian soldiers in the Canadian Base in Somalia, on 17 March 1993.

Arone was caught on March 16 attempting to steal supplies from the Canadian base. Two members of the Canadian Military Base, Master Corporal Clayton Matchee and Private Kyle Brown, bound Arone and tortured him over the next several hours. Ultimately, he died of his injuries.

While the military initially claimed Matchee and Brown had acted alone, it was later revealed that sixteen others had visited the tent while Arone was captive, including superior officers.

At first DND officials told the media that Arone had likely died from natural causes. It took several weeks for the Canadian people to become aware of the actual events in Somalia.

An inquiry officially known as The Somalia Commission of Inquiry began in 1994 after public outcry.

The military disengagement from accountability and evasion strategies permeated the inquiry where Air Force General Jean Boyle blamed his subordinates for wrong doing.

It ran until 1997 when it was cut short by the government in the months before the 1997 election.The inquiry was never able to examine top level governmental decision-making, nor did it actually examine the alleged events in Somalia.

"Conspicuously absent from the report is anything on the most sensitive aspect of the Somalia affair — the torture and murder of Shidane Arone."
[Somalia debacle a high-level cover-up - The CBC Digital Archives Website- Canadian Broadcasting Corporation - [Page consulted on May 23, 2009.] -

See Rex Murphy's piece: The Somalia affair-
"Macho thuggery," scapegoating, blockading requests for information, and evasive testimony taint the noble pursuit of peacekeeping."

The CBC Digital Archives - WATCH HERE
[Page consulted on May 23, 2009.]

"We promised them peacekeepers,and in some cases, we sent them thugs."

Reference: "Bloody and contemptuous images"- The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) Digital Archives Website.

[Page consulted on May 23, 2009.]


The Somalia Inquiry heard from witness who testified that the lack of accountability sent the wrong message to the troops and that military police were deliberately stalled from investigating a shooting by Canadian soldiers of unarmed Somalins in the back, killing one Somalian and wounding another that took place just 12 days before the torture and murder of Shidane Arone.

"Somalia investigation hit 'inexplicable delay'" - Broadcast Date: March 10, 1997

The CBC Digital Archives- WATCH HERE - [Page consulted on May 23, 2009.]

The Killing Of a Somali Jars Canada - The New York Times - Feb 11, 2006 - by CLYDE H. FARNSWORTH
[Page consulted on May 23, 2009.]

Final Report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Deployment of Canadian Forces to Somalia- [Page consulted on May 23, 2009.]

CBC Archives - The Somalia Affair -
[Page consulted on May 23, 2009.]

Somalia Cover-Up; A Commissioner's Journal 1997 by Peter Desbarats - Publisher: McClelland & Stewart (November 15, 1997)- ISBN-10: 0771026846

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Canadian Intelligence:"if prosecution is not viable, there are other techniques"- Listen to a dramatic reading of "DARK DAYS"-by Kerry Pither

Dark Days: The Story of Four Canadians Tortured
in the Name of Fighting Terror - by Kerry Pither


Dark Days tells the story that goes from how CSIS and RCMP harassed Canadian citizens, squeezing them out of Canada and later sending questions to their tormentors in foreign jails like the infamous Far' Falastin in Syria.

It is the story of Canadian national security investigations gone terribly wrong, told through the experiences of four of its targets: Ahmad El Maati, Abdullah Almalki, Maher Arar and Muayyed Nureddin.

After discovering they were of interest to Canadian investigators these Canadian Muslim men were detained overseas and subjected to brutal torture. They were all interrogated using questions from Canadian agencies — all were accused of links to terrorism but no evidence has been produced to back these accusations. All were eventually released without charge and returned to Canada. All want to clear their names and rebuild their lives, and to do so, they need to know who did this to them, and more importantly, why.

Listen to a dramatic reading of an excerpt of the book HERE

Or visit the authors site at:

The Military involvement in Torture - What is next and the role of American General Odierno and others - "There’s a lot to hide"

The American military establishment and its complicity in torture is coming to light and pressure is increasing to avoid accountability.
In an interview with Jane Mayer , American investigative journalist and author of The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals, and British attorney Philippe Sands, author of Torture Team: Rumsfeld’s Memo and the Betrayal of American Values , Mayer and Sands discuss the Obama danger of becoming part of a cover-up and about the fact that the issue of torture is not going to go away.
So tells History in the case of torture in other countries like Chile, where even the once powerful General August Pinochet had to face Justice and was arrested in London in October 16, 1998 , for torture and other human rights violations during his 1973-1990 regime.
In the case of the General, regardless the open support of influential personalities like Margaret Thatcher, who campaigned for his release since his arrest in London, and regardless the "debt" she believes the UK owed him for being an ally during the 1982 Falklands War, the General was not above the Law and was arretsed and brought to Justice. (article HERE)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Torture - not a matter of Right and Left. A matter of Right and Wrong!

In US, more than 50 major organizations join the campaign to disbar the "Torture Lawyer"

Advocacy Groups Seek Disbarment of ex-Bush Lawyers- New York Times - May 18, 2009 - HERE

Full text at: Velvet Revolution - Disbar The Torture Lawyers Now (HERE)

Behavioral Scientist Designed Torture Program, including psycho-cultural approach to exploiting prisoners' religion-Destroying the "Bad Apples Theory

As the participation of Doctors and Psychologists in the CIA Torture becomes evident and the "bad apple" theory of the torture is detroyed, a post at Invictus Blog is worth reading:

"Bad Apples"? The Interrogation of Abu Ghraib Internee #151363 -
(original post HERE)

The following is an example of the requested approval for exceptions to the interrogation policy at Abu Ghraib, in this case made on behalf ofthe interrogation plan for internee #15163, a (presumably young) Syrian male. Such requests meant that extraordinary means were to be used, i.e., torture, and needed, per Pentagon policy, approval by the higher ups. This request was made by Col. Thomas Pappas, commander of the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade, Iraq, to Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez.

The version here comes from A big H/T for my finding this document goes to Dr. Steven Miles, where a large excerpt and analysis of the document can be found on pp. 56-57 of his excellent book, Oath Betrayed: America's Torture Doctors (UC Press, 2009).

Miles notes:

It is reasonable to infer that a behavioral scientist helped design this proposal. At the time is was written, the Abu Ghraib BSCT [Behavioral Science Consultation Team] was functional and psychological monitoring of interrogations was being done. The plan contains a psycho-cultural approach to exploiting a prisoner's religion.

As you read, note the integration of MPs into the interrogation "plan." When the guards said they were instructed by military intelligence and others to "soften up" the prisoners, they were given short shrift by the media and the public. Here is documentary proof of planning of the Abu Ghraib torure from high up, and only months before the scandal over it broke.

In the following document, I have taken the liberty of emphasizing some text in bold.

MEMORANDUM THRU Commander, CJTF- , ATTN: C2 (AETV-CJ2), BG(P) Fast, Victory Base, Iraq, APO AE 09342

Commander, CJTF- , ATTN: StaffJudge Advocate (AETV-JA), COL Warren, Victory Base, Iraq, APO AE 09342

FOR Commander, CJTF- 7, LTG Sanchez, Victory Base, Iraq, APO AE 09342

SUBJECT: Request for Exception to CJTF- 7 Interrogation and Counter Resistance Policy

1. Request exception to the CJTF - 7 Interrogation and Counter Resistance Policy to authorize the Joint Interrogation and Debriefing Center (JDIC) interrogator to be authorized to use the Fear up Harsh and isolation approaches during interrogations with the following detainee.

a. Name: J[redacted] K[redacted]

b. ISN: 151363

c. Date request employment of approach: As soon as possible.

d. Circumstances of capture: Detainee is a Syrian male [redacted] years of age, captured in an attempted IED attack in Baghdad, IZ. Detainee is an admitted foreign fighter who came to commit Jihad against Coalition Forces in Iraq. He was captured with [approx. four words redacted] and [approx. three words redacted] while attempting to set up an IED.

e. Assessment of detainee: Detainee is at the point where he is resigned to the hope that Allah will see him through this episode in his life, therefore he feels no need to speak with interrogators. Detainee will not answer open ended questions, has a smug attitude and is running counter approaches on interrogators. Detainee needs to be put in a position where he will feel that the only option to get out of jail is to speak with interrogators.

f. Potential information: Detainee can provide information related to safe houses facilitators, financing, recruitment and operations of foreign fighter smuggling into Iraq. Detainee can also potentially provide names and target information of local facilitators in Ar-Ramadi. Detainee can also confirm information provided from others captured with him.

g. Limitations of approach: Detainee will be interrogated in the Camp Vigilant Steel site. Detainee argues that Allah is the only one that can decide his fate. Interrogators will establish control of detainee by allowing detainee to take this stance then implement a Fear up harsh approach. Interrogators will reinforce the fact that we have attempted to help him time and time again and that they are now putting it in Allah' s hands. Interrogators will at a maximum throw tables, chairs, invade his personal space and continuously yell at the detainee. Interrogators will not physically touch or harm the detainee, will take all necessary precautions that all thrown objects are clear of the detainee and will not coerce the detainee in any way. If the detainee has not broken yet, interrogators will move into the segregation phase of the approach. Interrogators will coordinate with Military Police guards in the segregation area prior to initiation of this phase. For the segregation phase of the approach the MPs will put an empty sandbag onto the prisoners head before moving him out of Vigilant B. This measure will be for force protection purposes and transporting the detainee to the segregation area by HMMWV. MPs will be transporting the detainee with the interrogators present. During transportation, the Fear up Harsh approach will be continued, highlighting the Allah factor. Interrogators will take all necessary precautions in conjunction with the MPs to ensure detainees safety during transport. Upon arrival at site, MP guards will take him into custody. MP working dogs will be present and barking during this phase. Detainee will be strip searched by guards with the empty sandbag over his head for the safety of himself, prison guards, interrogators and other prisoners. Interrogators will wait outside the room while detainee is strip searched. Interrogators will watch from a distance while detainee is placed in the segregation cell. Detainee will be put on the adjusted sleep schedule (attached) for 72 hours. Interrogations will be conducted continuously during this 72 hour period. The approaches which will be used during this phase will include, fear up harsh, pride and ego down, silence and loud music. Stress positions will also be used in accordance with CJTF- 7 IROE in order to intensify the approach.

2. The approval for this approach is essential due to the information this detainee possesses. It will greatly enhance and expedite the collection effort in support of CJTF - 7 Intelligence requirements and could potentially save countless lives of American soldiers in the future.

3. POC for this action is CPT Fitch, 205th MI Bde SJA at DNVT 302-559-4031 or via SIPR at or CPT Wood, JIDC Interrogation OIC, at DNVT 302-559- 1764 or via SlPR at


Exception to the CJTF- 7 Interrogation and Counter Resistance Policy is granted/not granted.

Request for Exception to CJTF - 7 Interrogation and Counter Resistance Policy


This document totally destroys the "bad apple" theory of the torture, if it hasn't been adequately destroyed already. But sometimes documents speak their own tremulous truth, in ways that even well-written journalism cannot.

Feel free to pass this one around.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

CIA - The Torture Program: Psychologists Who Devised US Torture Program Had No Interrogation Experience, Were Paid $1000/Day by CIA

Physicians for Human Rights: -May 1, 2009 - HERE
ABC News, April 30, 2009 - HERE

Bruce Jessen, left, and JimMitchell
As Senate Reports confirm Rumsfeld responsible for Torture Program (HERE), more revelations about the program emerge and calls for an for an independent, outside investigation of the American Psychological Association's (APA) ties to the Pentagon also increase. (HERE)

According to current and former government officials, the CIA’s secret torture program was designed by Psychologists James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen. They were paid $1000/day to design and implement the US torture program.

ruce Jessen and Jim Mitchell, now working out of an unmarked office building in Spokane, Washington, together founded Mitchell Jessen and Associates . They are both former military officers who had no interrogation experience, as per former U.S. officials who say the two men were essentially the architects of the CIA’s interrogation plan.

“The whole intense interrogation concept that we hear about, is essentially their concepts,” according to Col. Steven Kleinman, an Air Force interrogator….

But it turns out neither Mitchell nor Jessen had any experience in conducting actual interrogations before the CIA hired them.

“They went to two individuals who had no interrogation experience,” said Col. Kleinman. “They are not interrogators.”

Michael Rolince, former section chief of the F.B.I.'s International Terrorism Operations, says that the tactics were a "voodoo science" .

According to a person familiar with the methods, the basic approach was to "break down [the detainees] through isolation, white noise, completely take away their ability to predict the future, create dependence on interrogators."(Vanity Fair, Katherine Eban, July 17, 2007)

Mitchell and Jessen were first exposed in July 2007 (article HERE) as the CIA psychologists who reversed engineered US military SERE training methods for the Bush administration’s torture program.

"The reverse-engineered SERE tactics that had been designed by Mitchell and Jessen, road-tested in the C.I.A.'s black sites, and adopted in Guantánamo were being used in Iraq as well. One intelligence officer recalled witnessing a live demonstration of the tactics. The detainee was on his knees in a room painted black and forced to hold an iron bar in his extended hands while interrogators slapped him repeatedly. The man was then taken into a bunker, where he was stripped naked, blindfolded, and shackled. He was ordered to be left that way for 12 hours."

(Rorschach and Awe, by Katherine Eban, Vanity Fair, July 17, 2007 - HERE)

SERE stands for Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape; it is a training program for US military personnel at risk of capture. As part of the program, trainees are subjected to harsh and abusive psychological interrogation methods — largely derived from Cold War techniques employed by Soviet and Chinese interrogators to extract false confessions.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Torture - Socializing with atrocities

Robert Jay Lifton is an American psychiatrist and author, chiefly known for his studies of the psychological causes and effects of war and political violence.

Author of "The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide", the first in-depth study of how medical professionals rationalized their participation in atrocities like the Holocaust, from the early stages of the T-4 Euthanasia Program to the extermination camps.

His studies of the behavior of people who had engaged in torture and/or war crimes, both individually and in groups, concluded that such crimes do not require any unusual degree of personal evil or mental illness, and are nearly sure to happen given certain conditions (either accidental or deliberately arranged) which Lifton called "atrocity-producing situations".

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The meaning of Words and the Euphemism for Torture - The US "Enhanced Interrogation" Techniques

If a Rapist called rape an "enhanced seduction technique" would you buy it?

Ted Koppel , BBC World News America - an analysis of US torture. Using the "enhanced interrogation Technique" euphemisms for torture makes it legal?

An analysis by Ted Koppel, BBC News can be watched HERE.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Involuntary psychotropic drug used as part of the "Enhanced Interrogations" Experiment

'Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.'
George Santayana , 1905 - Life of Reason, Reason in Common Sense, Scribner's, 1905, page 284

After this month's release of American Justice Department memo(and HERE) that explicitly approved the use of drugs on prisoners and as revelations emerge that top Bush administration officials gave the intelligence "community" and Pentagon a "green light" to torture, evidence mounts that CIA and Special Operations Command interrogators used mind-altering drugs on those to be "interrogated".

As new evidence emerges of the same patterns of abuse, a look at the Canadian involvement in CIA abuses can be informative. From the complicity in torture to the complicity in Human Experiments by the CIA, the Canadian Government has a documented History of participation in such abuses.

Some information about these facts :

The human experiments discussed in the following clip were conducted by American doctor Ewan Cameron at McGill University's renowned Allen Memorial Institute in the 1950s and 1960s. Canadian MP David Orlikow's wife was one of the victims of Ewan Cameron.

The experiments at McGill University were part of a larger project by the U.S. mind-control research program called MK-ULTRA. The Canadian government also provided funding for the project.The clip starts with a CBC interview with Canadian MP David Orlikow, whose wife was a victim of the CIA experiments in Canada :


Watch an extract of the program CBC - THE HOUR - w/George Stroumboulopoulos, aired January 9, 2007:

"The Hour" with George Stroumboulopoulos, aired an interview with one of the Canadian victims of CIA experiments in Canada. A story hard to believe and really disturbing but a piece of the Canadian long cooperation with the CIA. It involves drugs, brainwashing, and the CIA.

. In 1998, author Anne Collins published In the Sleep Room about the brainwashing experiments in Canada. Her book inspired the CBC miniseries The Sleep Room which aired in 1998 and won the Gemini for best TV movie or mini-series. An interview with Anne Collins was aired in 2007.

The story was also the theme of a CBC Documentary - WATCH an extract of CBC The Fifty Estate documentary:

. CBC Television's The Fifth Estate first tackled this story in a March 11, 1980 program. The episode of The Fifth Estate referred to in the above clip was aired on Jan., 17, 1984 and followed up on the question of compensation for the victims of Cameron's tests.

The recent new revelations about the use of drugs and other abuses by the CIA have started to emerge since 2004, at least.

And as more evidence emerges, one can only conclude that the long History of abuses by the CIA and its acomplices is far from over. Are MKULTRA style criminal experiments back?

PS: Recently , mass graves containing the remains of indigenous children where found across Canada. Among the sites is the Allan Memorial Institute, McGill University, a MKULTRA experimental centre. Mass grave of children killed there were found north of building, on southern slopes of Mount Royal behind stone wall.(HERE)

Some articles and participants in the "Enhanced Interrogation" Program follows:

On April 22, 2008, The Washington Post published an article where the Pentagon denied the allegations now being confirmed.(HERE)

Also in April 2008 an article by published the opinion of some experts:

“The use of these drugs was anticipated and discussed in the memos of January and February 2002 by DoD, DoJ, and White House counsel using the same language and rationale. The executive branch memos laid a comprehensive and reiterated policy foundation for the use of interrogational drugs", says Stephen Miles, a University of Minnesota bioethicist and author of “Oath Betrayed: Torture, Medical Complicity, and the War on Terror.”

“I came across some evidence that they were using mind-altering drugs, to regress the prisoners, to ascertain if they were using deception techniques, to break them down,” said Jeffrey S. Kaye, a clinical psychologist who works with torture victims at Survivors International in San Francisco.

At that point it was still unknown if psychologists are involved as among those "health" professionals who involuntarily administered drugs. But , as mentioned in an article by Stephen Soldz in 2008 (HERE) one "should remember that, thanks partly to military support, a number of psychologists can now legally prescribe drugs. And some of those prescribing psychologists were with the Behavioral Science Consultation Teams [BSCTs] at Guantanamo. It also should be remembered that in 2003 the American Psychological Association co-sponsored with the CIA an invitation-only Science of Deception Workshop that discussed, among other topics, "What pharmacological agents are known to affect apparent truth-telling behavior?" CIA consultant torturers James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen were among those invited to attend, as were several of their superiors."

But hard evidence that U.S. interrogators today have been employing hallucinogens, like the LSD the CIA tested on unwitting subjects for at least 20 years beginning in the 1940s, had yet to surface.

In A Question of Torture, historian Alfred W. McCoy tracks the nightmarish world of the CIA's Project ARTICHOKE and its later metastasis, MKULTRA through two distinct, though overlapping phases:

First, esoteric, often bizarre experiments with hypnosis and hallucinogenic drugs, from 1950 to 1956; then, more conventional research into human psychology until 1963 when the agency compiled the fruits of this costly investigation in a definitive interrogation manual. (Alfred W. McCoy, A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation from the Cold War to the War on Terror, New York: Metropolitan Books, 2006, p. 26)

Some extra notes on the usual participants in the "interrogation" program follows:

The US military involvement in the torture scandal has been revealed from a long time now . (HERE)

The privatisation of interrogation and intelligence-gathering first came to light during the investigation of the killing of four private contractors in Falluja on March 31, 2004 . By that time, the investigation named two US contractors, CACI International Inc and the Titan Corporation.

By then Titan, based in San Diego, described itself as a "a leading provider of comprehensive information and communications products, solutions and services for national security".CACI, which has headquarters in Virginia, claims on its website to "help America's intelligence community collect, analyse and share global information in the war on terrorism".

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Torture Policy - CIA homicides

Intelligence Services ...

An article : "The Bush Administration Homicides" - by John Sifton

is a private investigator and attorney based in New York. His firm, One World Research, carries out research for law firms and human-rights groups, including in South Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa. He has conducted extensive investigations into the CIA interrogation and detention program.

For five years as a researcher for Human Rights Watch and reporter, John Sifton helped investigate homicides resulting from the Bush administration’s torture policy. His findings include:

• An estimated 100 detainees have died during interrogations, some who were clearly tortured to death.

• The Bush Justice Department failed to investigate and prosecute alleged murders even when the CIA inspector general referred a case.

• Sifton’s request for specific information on cases was rebuffed by the Bush Justice Department, though it was “familiar with the cases.”

• Attorney General Eric Holder must now decide whether to investigate and prosecute homicides, not just cases of torture.

A simple fact is being overlooked in the Bush-era torture scandal: the number of cases in which detainees have been tortured to death. Abuse did not only involve the high-profile cases of smashing detainees into plywood barriers (“walling”), confinement in coffin-like boxes with insects, sleep deprivation, cold, and waterboarding. To date approximately 100 detainees, including CIA-held detainees, have died during U.S. interrogations, and some are known to have been tortured to death.

A review of homicide cases, however, shows that few detainee deaths have been properly investigated. Many were not investigated at all. And no official investigation has looked into the connection between detainee deaths and the interrogation policies promulgated by the Bush administration.

Yet an important report by the Senate Armed Services Committee, declassified in April 2009, explains in clear terms how Bush-era interrogation techniques, including torture, once authorized for CIA high-value detainees, were promulgated to Guantánamo, Iraq, and Afghanistan, where (as reporter Jason Leopold recently noted at The Public Record) the policies have led to homicides.

The killings, at least some of them, have hardly been kept secret. As early as May-June 2003, The New York Times and Washington Post reported on deaths of detainees in Afghanistan. Two detainees at Bagram air base died after extensive beatings by U.S. troops in December 2002—a case reported by The New York Times and that was also the subject of the Oscar-winning documentary Taxi to the Dark Side. Another death involved a man beaten to death by a CIA contractor at a base in Asadabad, in eastern Afghanistan, in June 2003.

In September 2004, the Crimes of War Project, working with investigative journalist Craig Pyes, uncovered a torture murder in Gardez, Afghanistan, in March 2003. Jamal Naseer, a soldier in the Afghan Army, died after he and seven other soldiers were mistakenly arrested. Those arrested with Naseer later said that during interrogations U.S. personnel punched and kicked them, hung them upside down, and hit them with sticks or cables. Some said they were doused with cold water and forced to lie in the snow. Nasser collapsed about two weeks after the arrest, complaining of stomach pain, probably an internal hemorrhage.

In May 2005, as a researcher for Human Rights Watch, I reported on several other cases of torture homicides, including a case in which the military claimed a detainee had died because he was “bitten by a snake.”

To the best of my knowledge, the first death of a U.S. detainee in custody occurred in August 2002—an Afghan detainee named Mohammad Sayari killed by four U.S. military personnel. I first learned about the Sayari case in 2005, reading through a Department of Defense document obtained via a Freedom of Information Act case by the American Civil Liberties Union. The document contained a short description of the incident: A captain and three sergeants “murdered Mr. [Sayari] after detaining him for following their movements in Afghanistan.” The section of the document detailing the result of the investigation was redacted.

More than three years after the murder, human-rights groups and I pressed the military for an explanation. The Army revealed that commanders had declined to prosecute any of the four men implicated in the case, although one of the four soldiers received an “administrative reprimand.” In 2006, additional documents obtained by the ACLU disclosed that the Army investigation had found probable cause to recommend charges of murder and conspiracy against the four Special Forces soldiers. According the investigation, the four soldiers had captured the detainee, a civilian noncombatant, and shot him, presumably after interrogating him. (Investigators also recommended dereliction-of-duty charges against three of the men and a charge of obstruction of justice against the highest-ranking, a captain, who admitted to destroying evidence of the crime.) Inexplicably, without a court martial, the case was closed. The captain received a letter of reprimand for “destroying evidence.”

In February 2006, a review by Human Rights First determined that almost 100 detainees died in U.S. custody in Afghanistan and Iraq facilities as of 2005, and that almost half of the cases were clearly homicides. Several cases discussed in the report were clear cases of torture homicides.

To take one example, in December 2003, a 44-year-old Iraqi man named Abu Malik Kenami died in a U.S. detention facility in Mosul, Iraq. As reported by Human Rights First, U.S. military personnel who examined Kenami when he first arrived at the facility determined that he had no preexisting medical conditions. Once in custody, as a disciplinary measure for talking, Kenami was forced to perform extreme amounts of exercise—a technique used across Afghanistan and Iraq. Then his hands were bound behind his back with plastic handcuffs, he was hooded, and forced to lie in an overcrowded cell. Kenami was found dead the morning after his arrest, still bound and hooded. No autopsy was conducted; no official cause of death was determined. After the Abu Ghraib scandal, a review of Kenami’s death was launched, and Army reviewers criticized the initial criminal investigation for failing to conduct an autopsy; interview interrogators, medics, or detainees present at the scene of the death; and collect physical evidence. To date, however, the Army has taken no known action in the case.

Another infamous case from Iraq involved a CIA “ghost” detainee named Manadel al-Jamadi, who was tortured to death by a CIA interrogation team at Abu Ghraib prison in November 2003. Pictures of Abu Ghraib guards Charles Graner and Sabrina Harman posing with al-Jamadi’s dead body, the so-called Ice Man, were among the most notorious of the Abu Ghraib photographs published in April 2004. A CIA officer named Mark Swanner and an interpreter led the team that interrogated al-Jamadi. Nine Navy personnel were also implicated. An autopsy conducted by the U.S. military five days after al-Jamadi’s death found that the cause: “blunt force injuries complicated by compromised respiration.” Reporting by The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer and NPR’s John McChesney revealed that al-Jamadi was strung up from handcuffs behind his back, a torture tactic sometimes called a “Palestinian hanging.” After an investigation, the CIA referred the case to the Department of Justice for possible criminal prosecution of the CIA personnel involved, but no charges were ever brought. Prosecutors accused 10 Navy personnel of the crime; nine were given nonjudicial punishments, such as rank reductions and letters of reprimand, and a 10th was acquitted.

The government is not unaware of these homicides. In April 2006, a colleague of mine at Human Rights Watch and I met with Department of Justice criminal-division officials and requested information and updates on this case and several others. Justice officials were familiar with these cases, but our pleas for information were rejected.

There may be other CIA homicides yet uncovered. One case of concern involves a detainee in the CIA’s detention program named Hassan Ghul, a Pakistani who was arrested in northern Iraq in January 2004. Ghul’s interrogation was discussed in one of the May 10, 2005, Office of Legal Counsel memos signed by OLC head Steven Bradbury. Ghul’s name is mostly redacted but appears by mistake in one part of the memo.

I am starting to suspect that Ghul might be dead. After all, his name was redacted from the OLC memo, unlike that of other CIA detainees now at Guantánamo. Why would the CIA be afraid of mentioning Ghul? CIA doctors appear to have determined that Ghul was in poor health when he was captured, in fact, too unhealthy to be waterboarded. Unlike other former CIA detainees, human-rights groups have not confirmed that he was rendered to Pakistan or to a third country. Did the CIA perhaps torture Ghul to death? We do not know. He has now completely disappeared.

The CIA appears to have had some close calls with detainees dying. The May 10, 2005, Bradbury memo suggests that one of the CIA’s detainees—likely Abu Zubaydah or Khalid Sheikh Mohammad—stopped breathing or lost consciousness at one point during their waterboarding: According to the CIA’s Office of Medical Services, in their “limited experience… extensive sustained use of the waterboard can introduce new [possibly lethal] risks.” (To the best of our knowledge, the only “experience” the CIA has with waterboarding being used extensively or in a sustained manner, is with Abu Zubaydah and Khalid Shaikh Mohammad). The memo explains: “Most seriously, for reasons of physical fatigue of psychological resignation, the subject may simply give up, allowing excessive filling of the airways and loss of consciousness. An unresponsive subject should be righted immediately, and the integrator should deliver a sub-xyphoid thrust to expel the water. If this fails to restore normal breathing, aggressive medical intervention is required….” The memo also notes that CIA doctors present during waterboarding sessions stood by with necessary equipment to perform a tracheotomy if necessary: “[W]e are informed that the necessary emergency medical equipment is always present—although not visible to the detainee—during any application of the waterboard.”

It would be overly simplistic to suggest that every detainee death in U.S. custody and every act of abuse was part of an authorized and ordered interrogation program designed and run from the highest levels of the Bush administration. Some deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan appear to have involved military or CIA personnel going “off the rails” and engaging in abusive conduct beyond what even White House lawyers had in mind when they crafted their “enhanced interrogation” policies. And some torture techniques were already in use in Afghanistan and spread there earlier than they were even formally approved.

Yet directly or directly, abuse spread and worsened—detainees started dying. Unlike torture, however, homicide is an uncomplicated crime. A criminal homicide occurs when a person or set of persons simply causes the death of another without legal justification. There is little nuance, little room for escape. Once a person is dead, the killer and those assisted him, those who solicited his crime or aided or abetted it, are accomplices.

The bottom line is that many detainee homicides in Iraq and Afghanistan were the direct result of approval and orders from the highest levels of government, and that high officials in the government are accomplices. Any meaningful investigation of those homicides would reveal the initial authorizations and their link to the homicides.

Homicide presents legal issues impossible to ignore. Attorney General Eric Holder and the Department of Justice cannot conclude their deliberations about Bush-era torture policies without closely investigating the homicide cases tied to them. One cannot speak glibly of “policy differences” and “looking forward” and “distraction” when corpses are involved.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Canada, a country with two tiers of citizenship ? Some to be tortured and some to be "respected"?

The Iacobucci Inquiry’s report into the El Maati, Almalki and Nureddin cases has corroborated author Kerry Pither’s account of Canadian complicity in torture.

Canadian participation in Torture has been reported all over the world in the last years, from Syria to Guantanamo.

BBC News - "Canadian 'role in Syria torture" -

Even recent news show that Canadian Secret Intelligence Services - CSIS - still uses information that might have been obtained by torture

On May 13, 2009 - A READING OF "Dark Days: The Story of Four Canadians Tortured in the Name of Fighting Terror" by Kerry Pither, followed by a discussion and book signing, will take place at 7:00 p.m., Wednesday, May 13, 2009 at Eckhardt-Gramatte Hall at the University of Winnipeg.


“All of Canada’s Muslim communities live in the shadow of what happened to Maher Arar and these other Muslim men. Their stories have left many of us asking whether in Canada there are two tiers of citizenship, and two levels of democracy, depending on your name, your faith, or your family roots.”—Obby Khan

She will be joined on stage by local Winnipeg personalities Terry MacLeod, host of “Information Morning” on CBC Radio One 89.3 and Ibrahim (Obby) Khan, Winnipeg Blue Bombers offensive lineman #60.

"Dark Days tells the story of a Canadian national security investigation gone wrong through the eyes of four of its targets: Ahmad El Maati, Abdullah Almalki, Maher Arar and Muayyed Nureddin. The book chronicles how all four men were accused of terrorist links, detained overseas and subjected to brutal torture while being interrogated with questions from Canadian agencies. No evidence was ever produced to back the allegations against them and all were eventually released and returned to Canada."

“Most Canadians know about Maher Arar, but few know the extent to which there was a pattern behind his case — that what happened to him happened to at least three other Canadians too,” said Pither.

“All of these men are still working for justice, to clear their names and move on with their lives. For Arar, it’s waiting for the Obama administration to accept responsibilty for its role and clear his name, and for El Maati, Almalki and Nureddin it’s about waiting for an apology from the Canadian government for its role in their ordeals,” said Pither. “And for all of us, it’s about ensuring the changes are made to stop this from happening again.”

Pither’s book, shortlisted for the Arthur Ellis Award last week, has received high praise in Canada and from around the world. Best-selling spy-master John Le Carré, whose most recent work A Most Wanted Man was praised as “one of the most sophisticated fictional responses to the war on terror yet published”(The Guardian, UK), says of Pither’s Dark Days: “Sober, well written and horrific. Grit your teeth and read. These are your rights too.”The Independent’s Robert Fisk, one of the world’s leading experts on the relationship between the West and the Middle East, says Pither’s book is “brilliant,” and a “must read.”

“All of Canada’s Muslim communities live in the shadow of what happened to Maher Arar and these other Muslim men,” said Khan. “Their stories have left many of us asking whether in Canada there are two tiers of citizenship, and two levels of democracy, depending on your name, your faith, or your family roots.”

“It’s exciting to have this event in Winnipeg to help spread awareness about what happened, and about what needs to be done to prevent this from happening again,” he added.

Admission is free, thanks to local sponsors: Amnesty International - Winnipeg chapter; Canadian Federation of Students - Manitoba; Council of Canadians; CKUW 95.9 FM; Islamic Social Services Association Inc. - Canada; Mayworks; McNally Robinson Booksellers; Peace Alliance Winnipeg; University of Manitoba Student’s Union; University of Winnipeg Students Association.