From Chicago to Gitmo
February 19, 2015 6:26 PM   Subscribe

A Chicago detective who led one of the most shocking acts of torture ever conducted at Guantánamo Bay was responsible for implementing a disturbingly similar, years-long regime of brutality to elicit murder confessions from minority Americans. Part one. Part two. This is not the first time the Chicago police have been accused of torture.
posted by AceRock (36 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
 
Oh, Chicago police. Even thoroughly ensconced in privilege I never felt safe around you.
posted by wotsac at 7:05 PM on February 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


motherfuckers gonna motherfuck.
posted by localroger at 7:06 PM on February 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


a nation of bad apples...
posted by ennui.bz at 7:13 PM on February 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


There are so many things about this that are horrifying and shameful and every possible kind of awful.

But I was particularly struck by this: (Less officially, Zuley has also referred to himself as a senior Guantánamo interrogator and special-projects team chief in an Amazon.com book review.)

It's the only review he made (under that name, at least). He proudly identifies himself as

"LCDR Richard Zuley, USN (Ret)
Former EUCOM LNO, senior interrogator
and Special Projects Team Chief,
Joint Task Force – Guantanamo (2002-2004)"

and I just don't even know what to say about someone like this. I am horrified and also not surprised that he rose to power in both civilian police and military arenas.
posted by rtha at 7:21 PM on February 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm not sure if this says more about Guantanamo or about the Chicago PD. It's just a clusterfuck of awful.
posted by BungaDunga at 7:30 PM on February 19, 2015


It's easy to be glib or flippant about this-there are more and more leaks every year about the government pulling heinous shit (guantanamo, the NSA, etc). But why? Why are we accepting this behavior- why is our response "Yeah I knew this was going on we just have proof now". What in the world made us so complacent? cop shows? Media coverage? I feel like the main character in a Ray Bradbury novel, running around trying to make people understand, while everyone just shrugs and goes "motherfuckers gonna motherfuck". Does it really have to be that way?
posted by FirstMateKate at 7:33 PM on February 19, 2015 [28 favorites]


There is no darker crime than the crime committed under color of law. Zuley and those like him must be punished and punished harshly.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:35 PM on February 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


None of these people will ever see the inside in a prison cell but that's not the worst part. The worst part is that none of them even realize they've done anything wrong.
posted by ob1quixote at 7:56 PM on February 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


The worst part is that none of them even realize they've done anything wrong.

No. The worst part is that we call them heroes.
posted by surazal at 8:09 PM on February 19, 2015 [20 favorites]


I feel like the main character in a Ray Bradbury novel, running around trying to make people understand, while everyone just shrugs and goes "motherfuckers gonna motherfuck". Does it really have to be that way?

I think a lot of the problem in general (not talking specifically about policing issues) is that there's a sense that nothing can be done. The process of making legal change is perceived as rotten to the core, with the lawmakers as wholly owned subsidiaries of the people we would like to inflict change on. Provided we want to work within the law, what exactly are we to do? It feels hopeless. The people who are doing the evil hold all of the cards.

With regard to police issues specifically, we know that politicians aren't generally going to put pressure on police because to do so would almost certainly mean their removal from office at the next opportunity. And we know for sure that cops won't put pressure on other cops, because no cop wants to end up on the "them" side of the militarized us vs. them mentality that all of the nation's major metropolitan police forces have adopted. This is a bit less hopeless since there's at least been so much public outcry, but as long as cops keep getting away with unprovoked murder in front of multiple witnesses and sometimes even on film, it really makes me feel like they're untouchable. Why try to fight back if the best case scenario is that nothing happens (and the worst case scenario is, of course, that a cop gets away with your murder in front of multiple witnesses and possibly even on film)?

I know that it's not actually hopeless (or at least I try to remind myself of that), but these thoughts are definitely the prevailing sentiment among my friends and acquaintances.
posted by IAmUnaware at 10:07 PM on February 19, 2015 [7 favorites]


People have spent over a decade trying to get some kind of compensation from the city of Chicago for the victims of John Burge.

There've got a majority of aldermen now backing an ordinance for reparations, but Rahm Emanuel has stalled it in the city council.

Oh, and the mayoral election is next week.

http://chicagotorture.org
posted by scrod at 11:47 PM on February 19, 2015 [5 favorites]


You know would be natural activists on this issue?

Conservatives.

They should want to crack down on people who A) allow violent criminals to run free and B) are the cause of unnecessary drain on tax revenues.

But for some reason they're too busy complaining that the president's speeches do too little to anger & incite Muslims around the world to hate our country.

That and fixating on using the heavy hand of government immigration policy to weaken groups these same "conservatives" are conducting market transactions with - directly or indirectly.

It almost seems like some conservatives aren't that tied to any principles at all.
posted by univac at 12:30 AM on February 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


Some of this is the American view of how to treat criminals, which is... pretty old school. Throw them in prison and let them rot, right? Since that clearly does no good to the imprisoned, it's not for them, it's to encourage others not to go there. And for that to work, it doesn't really matter who goes down. As long there's a body count in gaol roughly equivalent to the crimes out there, then the job's done.

So the police force's - and to some extent the judiciary's - job is to find the bodies. Do that, and you're a good cop. So why be too nice about how you do it? Your part in that machine. Sometimes you get to be a bigger part of another machine, if you and it are compatible.

It is all part of a particularly horrific whole...

Fixing it? Very hard, but others have fixed worse things from far worse starting points. Find heroes to emulate, find like minds to work alongside, make it a holy cause. Know what you want to do and why, know how you want to do it, know the enemy.Expect a helluva fight, every step of the way, first with yourself and your despair, then with those around you and their apathy and antipathy, and if you win those two really hard battles, those who you start to threaten. They're the ones whose entire way of life you're going to take away, and they've got everything on their side. Or nearly so.

How much work is that? How much sober, disciplined, frustrating, slow, work? It's not Hollywood, You can't cut to a montage.

It sounds utterly impossible. If nobody had done it before, it doubtless would be. But they have, so it isn't, and you can start tomorrow if you like. But that means this shit goes on a day longer than it has to, so you could start today. Find a hero. find a friend, find a path.

If you want to.
posted by Devonian at 1:45 AM on February 20, 2015


In law school, I took a course that involved, in part, the professor trying out some ideas he had about the relationship between the war on crime and the war on terror that ultimately led to this paper. To paraphrase him far too generally, he sees much of the war on terror as an exporting of the tactics used in the American justice system generally. It's an interesting perspective, and I think ultimately a fairly persuasive one.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:02 AM on February 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


What in the world made us so complacent?

A few things.

First of all, not everyone in America agrees with you. Broad swaths of the population do indeed think torture is a morally acceptable act, especially when it is to "get the bad guys."

But ok, let's just talk about progressives or the left or whatever demographic you think is or should be concerned about these issues and willing to act on them.

I think it should be pointed out there there are some organizations that actively oppose torture and police brutality and whatever else. But clearly they're not enough to stop what's going on. That takes political power that these organizations do not have.

People can clearly see that there's costs to political action. This isn't just someone getting up in your face when you're handing out flyers. When you're talking about going up against police, against the state, you're talking about facing some serious push back. Like, surveillance, tax audits, lawsuits, harassment, intimidation, defamation, violence, etc. This likely means losing reputation, probably some of your health and sanity, maybe friends and family. I would offer the Black Panthers -- regardless of what you think about them -- as a case in point of an organization that tried to go up against the police and was crushed. Or we could find other examples, like Occupy. That isn't a price that most people are willing to pay for a political cause.

And for all of this trouble, what is the likelihood of success? It's not the case that you can make an appeal to the average person: "Make this sacrifice and you'll have a guarantee of winning our objectives." In all probability, the more powerful faction is going to win. The chances of major transformations taking place is slim to none.

The existing political landscape is also not favorable. The groupings that are supposedly "progressive" in this country are hopelessly bought off. I have Democrats in mind, specifically. So reformist or centrist politicians are of little help, especially when getting an incipient movement up and running. Maybe they'll want to take credit for the movement when they sign the resultant bill into law or whatever, but in the mean time chances are they'll be lining up with the status quo against you -- or waffling, waiting to see which way the winds are blowing, at the very best.

So that leaves the people that, traditionally, have been crazy or stubborn enough to persist in progressive political action despite the daunting task facing them. That is, the left: socialists, communists, etc. And, if you haven't noticed, there's not a lot of these people around anymore. That's the result both of a policy of active repression and a weakening of the traditional power base of these factions: labor. With the decline of industrial labor in America over the past half century there has been a concomitant decline in the politics growing out of the power of that demographic.

So, this is the reality that any incipient progressive movement needs to reckon with. You have few allies, little chance of success, high likelihood of a serious counterattack if you get anywhere near potentially achieving anything... it's grim.

Therefore, I don't think people are "complacent," per se. It's not as if, given the chance to change society for the better, most people wouldn't do it. And it's not as if there aren't plenty of people well informed about these issues. Regular people recognize all of the above and are simple making a rational calculation: "Either I could go on with my family and my career and suffer a marginally worse political existence over time, or I could bet the farm on struggle." It's not surprising that most people make the choice they do.

Cop shows and the rest of the propaganda apparatus certainly don't help, but I think it makes sense to find the roots of the issue in the material conditions of people's existence rather than ideology.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 6:11 AM on February 20, 2015 [10 favorites]


The worst part is that none of them even realize they've done anything wrong.
No. The worst part is that we call them heroes.


We actually don't even call them.

Other than Burge, the Chicago police torturers got off scott-free and they all, even including Burge, will still get their pensions. So even when there is clear, known evidence of torture and the use of the state capital punishment system to attempt to murder falsely convicted men those people not only get away with it they get paid and keep getting paid for doing it. Even better for some reason the police involved were not named nor were the criminal conspirators who actively engaged in an ongoing coverup that ran out the clock on the statute of limitations. So they have a right to privacy that nobody else gets. They are in effect a Multi-level Mutli-governent-branch Special Privileges Citizen Bind Torture Kill Task Force that likely still has many members in positions at many levels of government including leadership, judiciary and police.

I wouldn't even be surprised if they secretly awarded themselves medals and campaign ribbons.
posted by srboisvert at 7:19 AM on February 20, 2015


But why? Why are we accepting this behavior- why is our response "Yeah I knew this was going on we just have proof now".

Because look, Dancing With The Stars is on. I can't be bothered with this stuff. Now move out of the way, I can't see Lola Falana dance with Kenny Rogers.
posted by damnitkage at 7:19 AM on February 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


So I skipped to the end to see if this useless fuck died accidentally falling down an open elevator shaft or something similar and noticed that the author has written in the third-to-last paragraph that "Much as Barack Obama likes to say that “America doesn’t torture”" and that links to a 2008 article. The article does have Obama saying that very thing, but a much more up-to-date (2014) statement by Obama completely admits torture. I don't have time to read the whole thing, but are there any other instances of the author not checking facts in the article?
posted by Zack_Replica at 8:42 AM on February 20, 2015


But why? Why are we accepting this behavior-
No. The worst part is that we call them heroes.


Who's this "we"?

The same "we" that went to war in Iraq? The same "we" that negotiates international trade agreements? The same "we" that enables high finance and industrial oligarchs to steal the surplus wealth of the working class?

When Marx talked about false consciousness in terms of self-identification with the rulers by the ruled, I'm pretty sure he meant this too.
posted by clarknova at 10:29 AM on February 20, 2015












Okay, so this "black site"...if it's been an open secret for so long, how is it that there haven't been any legal challenges to the practice? I've read the article twice, and there are lots of references to it being illegal and against the police department's own regulations, but despite all that the lawyers whose clients' Constitutional rights were clearly violated seem to stop at the ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ stage.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:26 AM on February 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


As per the title of the now-deleted post about the "black site": Chicago mayoral elections are today.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:28 AM on February 24, 2015


This reminds me of the temporary 'holding facility' that the assbags here created during the G20.
On February 2, 2013, John Hubbard was taken to Homan Square. Hubbard never walked out. The Chicago Tribune reported that the 44-year old was found “unresponsive inside an interview room”, and pronounced dead. The Cook County medical examiner’s office could not locate any record for the Guardian indicating a cause of Hubbard’s death. It remains unclear why Hubbard was ever in police custody.
In a just society, heads would fucking roll for this.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:55 AM on February 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


Okay, so this "black site"...if it's been an open secret for so long, how is it that there haven't been any legal challenges to the practice? I've read the article twice, and there are lots of references to it being illegal and against the police department's own regulations, but despite all that the lawyers whose clients' Constitutional rights were clearly violated seem to stop at the ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ stage.

My guess - for the most part, the police make sure the people they bring there are extremely marginalized or otherwise incentivized not to complain.
posted by sallybrown at 9:56 AM on February 24, 2015


The article itself says that people they talked to didn't want their names used because they feared police retaliation.

Fire 'em all and start over from scratch.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:05 AM on February 24, 2015


You don't fuck with the CPD or there will be consequences. Everyone I know who's worked with them grudgingly accepts this. They're a powerful Chicago gang, essentially.
posted by naju at 10:33 AM on February 24, 2015


[A few comments removed; if you want to talk about a deletion, that's totally fine but it's contact form or metatalk stuff, please don't turn threads on the blue into metadiscussions.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:52 AM on February 24, 2015


Chicago has two major daily newspapers, the Sun-Times and the Tribune. How is it that it took a British newspaper to dig this up?
posted by mhum at 10:54 AM on February 24, 2015


Because the CPD is a highly armed gang of vicious thugs who think nothing of erasing the cause of arrest and cause of death of someone in their custody at a clandestine prison.

How supremely fucked up is it that a journalist in the United States of fucking America could seriously have to be concerned about being disappeared?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:58 AM on February 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


Chicago has two major daily newspapers, the Sun-Times and the Tribune. How is it that it took a British newspaper to dig this up?

It was only last October that a prominent reporter quit the Sun-Times because the paper wouldn't back him up in face of intimidation for the governor.

It's not easy to be a local muckraker.
posted by sparkletone at 11:19 AM on February 24, 2015




“If you’re submitting budget proposals for a law enforcement agency, for an intelligence agency, you’re not going to submit the proposal that ‘We won the war on terror and everything’s great,’ cuz the first thing that’s gonna happen is your budget’s gonna be cut in half. You know, it’s my opposite of Jesse Jackson’s ‘Keep Hope Alive’—it’s ‘Keep Fear Alive.’ Keep it alive.”
-- FBI assistant director Thomas Fuentes

Confidential informant played key role in fbi foiling its own terror plot
posted by jeffburdges at 7:58 AM on February 27, 2015


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