For many people who lived in Houston in the early 1970s, trick or treat brings up memories of "The Candy Man," serial killer Dean Corll. He, along with accomplices David Brooks and Wayne Henley (YouTube), kidnapped, raped, and tortured to death 27 boys between the ages of thirteen and eighteen between 1970 and 1973. Thirty-seven years after the bodies of their victims were discovered in mass graves in southwest Houston and the Bolivar Peninsula, three still were unidentified until recently when the efforts of forensic anthropologist Sharon Derrick identified victim ML73-3349, now known to be Randall Lee Harvey.
For nearly 20 years, Chicago has known about police torture of suspects. Torture at the city's notorious Area 2, under Commander Jon Burge, resulted in numerous false confessions in the 1980s, including the men who became known as the Death Row 10. The Death Row 10 case was among the reasons former Gov. George Ryan's called a moratorium on capital punishment in Illinois in 2000 and pardoned four in 2003. Burge, fired in 1993, retired to Florida on his police pension, where he seemed to escape any measure of justice. Until today. [more inside]
"Torturing Democracy" is a new documentary which details how the government set aside the rule of law in its pursuit of harsh interrogations of suspected terrorists. You can watch it online or on some PBS affiliates, but PBS won't run it nationally until January 21, 2009. Scott Horton suspects that may be because PBS is afraid of political retaliation. [Via]
Sami al-Haj, The TV cameraman, 38, was never charged with any crime, nor was he put on trial; his testimony makes it clear that he was held in three prisons for six-and-a-half years – repeatedly beaten and force-fed – not because he was a suspected "terrorist" but because he refused to become an American spy. There is the worrying fact of medical complicity in his torture. (previously 1, 2) [more inside]
Psychology Group Changes Policy on Interrogations. The American Psychological Association has adopted a measure prohibiting its members from participating in interrogations of terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay and other military prisons where detainees have been tortured (previously). [Via Paper Chase]
Presidential Crimes: Moving on is not an option. "In deciding about legal redress, we need to be clear about the large stakes in our decision. The very multiplicity of the apparent crimes, the sheer array of arguably broken laws, is dizzying. But that multiplicity must be faced, for in it we will see that what got in President Bush’s way was not any one law but the rule of law itself. It is the rule of law that has been put in jeopardy by a project of executive domination; it is the rule of law that will continue to be in peril; and it is only, therefore, by addressing the crimes through legal instruments—through a formal, legal arena, and not simply through the electoral repudiation of bad policy—that the grave and widespread damage stands a chance of being repaired."
2009: A True Story. "My name is Sara Ford and I am 18 years old. I moved to California at the end of last year. Before the first attacks... before everything changed." [Via] [more inside]
You may have read by now the official lie about this treatment, which is that it “simulates” the feeling of drowning. This is not the case. You feel that you are drowning because you are drowning—or, rather, being drowned, albeit slowly and under controlled conditions and at the mercy (or otherwise) of those who are applying the pressure.Christopher Hitchens, Iraq War supporter, militant atheist, and now volunteer subject of waterboarding. With video.
The "a few bad eggs" theory crushed - ACLU summarizes the Justice Department Inspector General's report. "This new report should become exhibit A at the next congressional hearing on the Bush administration's use of torture," said Christopher Anders, Senior Legislative Counsel to the ACLU. ... "The questions are who did what and what crimes were committed. This Justice Department report helps answer both questions." [more inside]
Beyond the Torture Debate On May 6th the American Strategy Program hosted an event with Philippe Sands, Professor of International Law at University College London and Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, former Chief of Staff for Colon Powell. Mr. Sands was in DC to testify to the House Judiciary Committee about the findings in his new book, Torture Team, which examines the legal implications of the Bush administration's policy of torture. Col. Wilkerson was on hand for commentary on the subject. The event was moderated by Patrick Doherty, deputy director of the American Strategy program. The event was recorded and posted by the New America Foundation to YouTube. It is 1 hr 31 minutes long, but well worth it. [more inside]
Amnesty International recently staged a real waterboarding session to reinforce its campaign to get this type of torture stopped.
Amnesty claims its commercial is the "video the CIA doesn’t want you to see”.Starting this month the commercial will show in Britain in movie theaters during the previews. Possibly NSFW.
The CIA's Odd Man Out: CIA station chief Bob Lady coordinated the secret kidnapping of Islamic militant Abu Omar in Milan and Omar's "extreme rendition" to Egypt where he was tortured. Italy indicted various CIA agents; Lady is on the run in Central America, abandoned by the agency. The twist: Lady opposed the mission all along. And Abu Omar will probably end up with Lady's home in the foothills of the Alps. [more inside]
“You could almost see their dicks getting hard as they got new ideas." A Vanity Fair reporter investigates the chain of command that tossed out the Geneva Conventions and instituted coercive interrogation techniques -- some might call them torture or even war crimes -- in Bush's Global War on Terror. UC Berkeley law professor John Yoo's now-obsolete 81-page memo to the Pentagon in 2003 [available as PDFs here and here] was crucial, offering a broad range of legal justifications and deniability for disregarding international law in the name of "self-defense." Others say that Yoo was just making "a clear point about the limits of Congress to intrude on the executive branch in its exercise of duties as Commander in Chief." [previously here and here.]
The Woman Behind the Camera. Film maker Errol Morris, and the New Yorker's Philip Gourevitch look at Sabrina Harman, photographer, and Army MP in Iraq. [more inside]
Music has been used in American military prisons and on bases to induce sleep deprivation, "prolong capture shock," disorient detainees during interrogations—and also drown out screams. Based on a leaked interrogation log, news reports, and the accounts of soldiers and detainees, here are some of the songs that guards and interrogators chose.
During the Philippine-American War at the turn of the 20th century, American soldiers used a torture method called "the water cure" to extract information from Filipino fighters. [via brijit]
Five myths about torture In a Washington Post column, Darius Rejali, author of Torture and Democracy, explains why five beliefs about torture are wrong. In a Harper's interview, he answers six questions. "Yes, torture does migrate, and there are some good examples of it both in American and French history. The basic idea here is that soldiers who get ahead torturing come back and take jobs as policemen, and private security, and they get ahead doing the same things they did in the army. And so torture comes home. Everyone knows waterboarding, but no one remembers that it was American soldiers coming back from the Philippines that introduced it to police in the early twentieth century." [more inside]
Citing the organization's "sharp shift in values and direction," Ken Pope, prominent member of the American Psychological Association (and a former chair of its Ethics Committee), resigned his membership on February 6. He's the latest of a growing number of professional psychologists who have quit APA in protest of its position on the use of psychologists in government interrogations in the "War on Terror."
In testimony before the House Judiciary Committee yesterday, US Attorney General Michael Mukasey refused to investigate allegations of illegal waterboarding and wiretapping, arguing that the Justice Department could not investigate or prosecute somebody for acting in reliance on a Justice Department opinion, such as those written by John Yoo authorizing torture, even if that opinion turned out to be wrong and the behavior criminal. (The former head the Office of Legal Counsel has described these memos as "advance pardons" for lawbreaking.) Mukasey also told the Committee that he would not enforce contempt citations against former White House officials who refused to respond to Congressional subpoenas.
fuck yeah. Canada has joined Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International in adding the U.S. and Israel to their list of countries who torture. Have we learned our lesson?
I Waterboard! If I had the choice of being waterboarded by a third party or having my fingers smashed one at a time by a sledgehammer, I'd take the fingers, no question.
Black Panther: The Revolutionary Art of Emory Douglas, the Black Panther Party's Minister of Culture from 1967 to 1979. Douglas is still alive and making posters for the cause, in this case the San Francisco 8, who were arrested earlier this year for the murder of a police officer in 1971 -- despite the fact that evidence was thrown out of federal court in 1976 because "officers stripped the men, blindfolded them, beat them and covered them in blankets soaked in boiling water," and "used electric prods on their genitals." The SF Weekly published a detailed 5-page story about the case in November 2006.
Last week, the Chicago Reader laid off four of its best journalists: John Conroy (previously), Harold Henderson, Tori Marlan, and Steve Bogira. The cuts almost certainly mark the beginning of the end of the paper's role in Chicago as an investigative force and a corruption watchdog. The New York Times responds with a salute to Conroy and a defense of muckraking's relevance. [more inside]
Al Odah v. U.S. and Boumediene v. Bush go before SCOTUS Streaming on C-Span today. The Center for Constitutional Rights (great podcast) will argue before the Supreme Court today:
Immediately after the Supreme Court’s decision in Rasul, The Center for Constitutional Rights and cooperating counsel filed 11 new habeas petitions in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia on behalf of over 70 detainees. These cases eventually became the consolidated cases of Al Odah v. United Statesand Boumediene v. Bush, the leading cases determining the significance of the Supreme Court’s decision in Rasul, the rights of non-citizens to challenge the legality of their detention in an offshore U.S. military base, and the constitutionality of the Military Commissions Act of 2006.
Wael Abbas is an Egyptian blogger and anti-torture activist who recently won a journalism award for his documenting police brutality in Egypt, which led to the conviction of two police officers. In Egypt, blogging can get you arrested, and Abbas has taken enormous risks. But now YouTube has removed his videos and suspended his account after receiving complaints (possibly from the Egyptian government) about their graphic content, and Yahoo has disabled his email account. Evidently YouTube is not the ally human rights advocates had hoped it would be.
John Ashcroft stands up to prove waterboarding isn't torture, by offering to lie down for his own waterboarding. Well, that is, he offers he'd do it if it were necessary, and if he could survive the torture. Is that a brave offer, an admission that US has resulted in deaths, or both? Daniel Levin, one of Ashcroft's subordinates at the Department of Justice, went further, actually undergoing waterboarding himself. He survived it -- but his career didn't, after he he concluded torture was "abhorrent". [more inside]
unsubscribe-me.org is not what you might first think it is from the name. (SL-non-YTP)
Torture didn't work in Renaissance Europe. And it doesn't work now. Real historic accounts of real people being tortured in the 16th and 17th centuries, and it composes a body of fact and experience that speaks directly to the present.
Yes. One-link you tube, but screw it, you have to hear this incredible rant. I didn't think the media had it in it anymore.
Risking all: the Burmese jokers who laugh in the face of danger. In Burma (Myanmar), comedians are targets in the junta's war on words. [Via BB.] [more inside]
On October 28, the Pope will beatify (certify as Blessed) several martyrs of the Spanish Civil War, among them Gabino Olaso Zabala. Only thing is, Zabala is known to have participated in the torture of a fellow priest. Disturbingly, some Catholics are rallying behind a man who never publicly regretted his abusive past.
Fort Hunt's Quiet Men Break Silence on WWII. After 60 years of silence, the World War II veterans who interrogated Nazi prisoners of war at Fort Hunt are telling their story. [Via The Reality-Based Community.] [more inside]
Secret U. S. Endorsement of Severe Interrogations. The New York Times has a 4000-word report today on secret Justice Department opinions--never previously disclosed--authorizing severe interrogation methods. Congress has outlawed cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment; in response, Justice declared that the CIA's most extreme interrogation methods are not cruel, inhuman, and degrading. These secret opinions, issued in 2005, are still in effect. Most lawmakers did not know they existed. White House response: "This country does not torture."
Depicting Europe, an essay in The London Review of Books by UCLA history professor Perry Anderson, criticizes the European Union as a neo-liberal economist's wet dream and unthinking lackey of the United States. [more inside]
The Black Sites. "A rare look inside the C.I.A.’s secret interrogation program."
Rorschach and Awe. "America's coercive interrogation methods were reverse-engineered by two C.I.A. psychologists who had spent their careers training U.S. soldiers to endure Communist-style torture techniques. The spread of these tactics was fueled by a myth about a critical 'black site' operation."
"REwind: A Cantata for Voice, Tape and Testimony" debuts tomorrow night in New York. South African composer Philip Miller listened to hundreds of hours of audio cassettes from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings - the testimonies of torture victims, as well as their torturers who were given pardon in exchange for their testimony - and composed music around the samples he selected. It premiered in Capetown in late 2006; utterly haunting excerpts available here and here.
The Interrogation Documents - a collection of available records relating to U.S. interrogation policies. (via) (previously)
"Is any jury going to convict Jack Bauer? I don't think so. So the question is really whether we believe in these absolutes. And ought we believe in these absolutes. ... I don't care about holding people. I really don't." Justice Scalia on 24 and torture. 24 and torture previously.
How General Antonio Taguba, who investigated the Abu Ghraib scandal, became one of its casualties. Whether the President was told about Abu Ghraib in January (when e-mails informed the Pentagon of the seriousness of the abuses and of the existence of photographs) or in March (when Taguba filed his report), Bush made no known effort to forcefully address the treatment of prisoners before the scandal became public, or to reëvaluate the training of military police and interrogators, or the practices of the task forces that he had authorized. Instead, Bush acquiesced in the prosecution of a few lower-level soldiers. The President’s failure to act decisively resonated through the military chain of command: aggressive prosecution of crimes against detainees was not conducive to a successful career. In January of 2006, Taguba received a telephone call from General Richard Cody, the Army’s Vice-Chief of Staff. “This is your Vice,” he told Taguba. “I need you to retire by January of 2007.” No pleasantries were exchanged, although the two generals had known each other for years, and, Taguba said, “He offered no reason.” (A spokesperson for Cody said, “Conversations regarding general officer management are considered private personnel discussions. General Cody has great respect for Major General Taguba as an officer, leader, and American patriot.”) “They always shoot the messenger,” Taguba told me. “To be accused of being overzealous and disloyal—that cuts deep into me. I was being ostracized for doing what I was asked to do.”
Reaping What We Sow? Right now, White House lawyers are working up new rules that will govern what CIA interrogators can do to prisoners in secret. Those rules will set the standard not only for the CIA but also for what kind of treatment captured American soldiers can expect from their captors, now and in future wars. Before the president once again approves a policy of official cruelty, he should reflect on that.Charles C. Krulak was commandant of the Marine Corps from 1995 to 1999. Joseph P. Hoar was commander in chief of U.S. Central Command from 1991 to 1994. (Washington Post)
Some other opinions. (youtube) Thoughtful commentary. More.
Some other opinions. (youtube) Thoughtful commentary. More.