Chicago police detain Americans at abuse-laden 'black site'
February 24, 2015 10:42 AM   Subscribe

The Chicago Police Department has been since "the late 1990s" operating a secret, off-the-books black site at Homan Square where prisoners can be disappeared to to be interrogated and tortured.
The Chicago police department operates an off-the-books interrogation compound, rendering Americans unable to be found by family or attorneys while locked inside what lawyers say is the domestic equivalent of a CIA black site.

The facility, a nondescript warehouse on Chicago’s west side known as Homan Square, has long been the scene of secretive work by special police units. Interviews with local attorneys and one protester who spent the better part of a day shackled in Homan Square describe operations that deny access to basic constitutional rights.

Alleged police practices at Homan Square, according to those familiar with the facility who spoke out to the Guardian after its investigation into Chicago police abuse, include:
  • Keeping arrestees out of official booking databases.
  • Beating by police, resulting in head wounds.
  • Shackling for prolonged periods.
  • Denying attorneys access to the “secure” facility.
  • Holding people without legal counsel for between 12 and 24 hours, including people as young as 15.
At least one man was found unresponsive in a Homan Square “interview room” and later pronounced dead.
posted by Pope Guilty (131 comments total) 79 users marked this as a favorite
 
I remember when the KGB were the bad guys.

Back in the '80s, we used to ask how a populace could tolerate people being disappeared, and so much happening extrajudicially. Now we know.
posted by straw at 10:44 AM on February 24, 2015 [59 favorites]


In a not-entirely-unrelated story: Chicagoans, today is your chance to vote for someone other than Rahm.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:45 AM on February 24, 2015 [19 favorites]


I think this FPP should stay - it's leading on HuffPo and many other places, and is quickly gaining wings. It's a significant story.
posted by naju at 10:45 AM on February 24, 2015 [7 favorites]


I remember when the KGB were the bad guys.

Back in the '80s, we used to ask how a populace could tolerate people being disappeared, and so much happening extrajudicially. Now we know.


I'd probably not make that equivalence to someone who actually lived in the Soviet Union, lest their eyes roll so hard they actually fall out.
posted by sideshow at 10:46 AM on February 24, 2015 [24 favorites]


People have been trying to tell stories like this to local media for years. I'm glad someone elsewhere finally decided to listen.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:49 AM on February 24, 2015 [13 favorites]


(Also, the bulleted items above happen at on-the-record CPD places too. And on the streets. And in people's homes.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:50 AM on February 24, 2015 [8 favorites]


How have the courts permitted this to continue for so long?
posted by leotrotsky at 10:50 AM on February 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


How have the courts permitted this to continue for so long?

As opposed to their otherwise sterling record on curbing police abuses of civil liberties and the right to due process? We literally live in a country where police can walk up to a child playing in a park, shoot him to death on camera, and walk away with no legal consequences. There's no more room for hyperbole.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:59 AM on February 24, 2015 [167 favorites]


So much for the Democrats being the party of civil liberties.
posted by Renoroc at 11:00 AM on February 24, 2015 [5 favorites]


Has anyone ever put together a super-cut drawn from police procedurals during the last decade, where torture has been threatened by the investigating cops? (as a cool, heroic act) I feel like it could be many hours long.
posted by bonobothegreat at 11:02 AM on February 24, 2015 [18 favorites]


I think it was the Honorable Richard J. Daley who put it best, "Gentlemen, let's get this thing straight, once and for all. The policeman is not here to create disorder. The policeman is here to preserve disorder."
posted by octobersurprise at 11:02 AM on February 24, 2015 [10 favorites]


Now that this thread is back, I think this comment is more appropriate here:

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


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 11:04 AM on February 24, 2015 [32 favorites]


I honestly don't know why I was still shocked and surprised by this article, but I was. Body cams aren't going to fix this.
posted by Phire at 11:04 AM on February 24, 2015 [7 favorites]


And all along, crime in Chicago went up, only dropping when the departments did some blatant stat-juking. It would be one thing if all these violations of civil rights actually prevented violent crime, but it doesn't even seem to do that.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 11:06 AM on February 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


It would be one thing if all these violations of civil rights actually prevented violent crime

...would it, really?
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 11:07 AM on February 24, 2015 [62 favorites]


Has anyone ever put together a super-cut drawn from police procedurals during the last decade, where torture has been threatened by the investigating cops?

Along with the scenes where the cops strongly infer that a citizen asking for a lawyer means they're guilty?
posted by Thorzdad at 11:07 AM on February 24, 2015 [10 favorites]


It's no coincidence that The Blacklist is the most-watched show on television. This shit is insidious beyond measure.
posted by OverlappingElvis at 11:09 AM on February 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


It would be one thing if all these violations of civil rights actually prevented violent crime, but it doesn't even seem to do that.

If the police successfully prevented crime, they'd be out of a job. Think they want that?
posted by entropone at 11:09 AM on February 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


What Phire said.

And what first came to mind the first time this was posted earlier:

Argentina.
posted by infini at 11:10 AM on February 24, 2015 [4 favorites]


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?

My guess is that this facility (which is described as an "open secret" in the Guardian piece) was known to local reporters, but that these reporters (who often seem to see themselves as an arm of the city administration and "on side" with the police) didn't consider it newsworthy. Thank god for the Guardian.
posted by enn at 11:11 AM on February 24, 2015 [9 favorites]


As George Carlin always said, rights are an illusion.
posted by dry white toast at 11:11 AM on February 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


When the authorities act like the rule of law doesn't exist, is it really any surprise that the citizens act the same way? The CPD make it clear, every single day, what they think of those living in Chicago's disadvantaged neighborhoods. There are parallels to geopolitics with Guantanamo - when you ignore human rights and wage war on countries with false pretenses, treating entire populations as inhuman and disposable, is it any wonder some segments of them radicalize?
posted by naju at 11:12 AM on February 24, 2015 [13 favorites]


It's no coincidence that The Blacklist is the most-watched show on television.

The Blacklist is the most-watched show on television because James Spader is fucking awesome.
posted by entropicamericana at 11:13 AM on February 24, 2015 [20 favorites]


It would be one thing if all these violations of civil rights actually prevented violent crime, but it doesn't even seem to do that.

No, no it wouldn't. Rights are guaranteed to everyone, no matter what. That's the whole point. The argument you're making is exactly the argument people use to justify torture.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:13 AM on February 24, 2015 [31 favorites]


Fucking police management. They are the worst. They are putting their own people at risk on top of everything else. And this shit never gets you anything usable, ever.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:15 AM on February 24, 2015 [4 favorites]


I keep wanting to believe #notallpolice. My parents have been part of law enforcement (admittedly the peripheries) doing good work. My dad is a social worker, advocating for kids in the foster system. My mom worked for the courts in criminal justice. I know good cops. I believe that they're out there.

What makes me sick is that we voluntarily give up our civil liberties, and then we get shit like this. And we all know that when people get power, and they're living in a corrupt system, that it leads to horrible, horrible things.

I think people become police officers because they want to help people. I think that being in that system, meeting some really terrible people, and being frustrated with how badly our criminal justice system works, that some become embittered, racist and violent.

But this. This needs to be shut down.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:15 AM on February 24, 2015 [9 favorites]


Chicago has two major daily newspapers, the Sun-Times and the Tribune.

The Sun-Times is going through yet another round of downsizing right now. They are going to shrink from the current bloated staff level of about 70 full-timers to a perl script and a homeless guy with a smart phone.
posted by srboisvert at 11:15 AM on February 24, 2015 [45 favorites]


We need to watch what we say on social media. Popping propaganda is now [redactism]. Daily Beast.
posted by infini at 11:16 AM on February 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


This is terrifying. We *seriously* need some sort of civil department, under government control, tasked with protecting citizens from this kind of wantonly illegal activity. Kidnapping? Extraordinary rendition of US citizens, right on American soil?

Can we deploy the National Guard to Chicago to protect people from these "Pol-ice"?
posted by mrgoat at 11:16 AM on February 24, 2015 [5 favorites]


The Tribune on the other hand endorsed Bruce Rauner the man with the invisible but entirely predictable plan. So Chicago isn't exactly a great place for traditional media.
posted by srboisvert at 11:17 AM on February 24, 2015


How is it that it took a British newspaper to dig this up?

The Guardian's had articles aimed at US and Australian domestic audiences for a while now. It's hopefully a sign of the way the global news market is maturing, but quite possibly it could be something that turns out to be a flop.
posted by ambrosen at 11:18 AM on February 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


This is the sort of thing that happens when you view the constitution as an obstacle instead of as a set of guiding principles.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 11:21 AM on February 24, 2015 [9 favorites]


We *seriously* need some sort of civil department, under government control, tasked with protecting citizens from this kind of wantonly illegal activity.

And prosecuting criminals regardless of whether they wear a badge.
posted by Gelatin at 11:23 AM on February 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


I think people become police officers because they want to help people. I think that being in that system, meeting some really terrible people, and being frustrated with how badly our criminal justice system works, that some become embittered, racist and violent

While that may be true for some, maybe even most if we're being charitable, the opposite is also true. Some embittered, racist and violent people become cops because they know they are entering a system where they will be allowed to act on these impulses, often with impunity. Hell, they'll even get paid for it.
posted by billiebee at 11:23 AM on February 24, 2015 [12 favorites]


I am shockingly unsurprised and wondering what other US cities do this. New York and LA at least.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:24 AM on February 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


Bear in mind that Spencer Ackerman, who reported this story and the rest of the series on the CPD, is American.
posted by asterix at 11:24 AM on February 24, 2015 [5 favorites]


The CPD is a powerful Chicago gang, essentially, and operate as such. That's not a secret. The beatings, shady deals, interrogation tactics, etc. are long-standing and predate 9/11. It's grudgingly accepted that you don't fuck with the CPD or run with a major exposé, or there will be severe consequences. No local newspaper is willing to lose all access, cooperation and privileges for a compelling story.
posted by naju at 11:25 AM on February 24, 2015 [8 favorites]


Unsurprisingly, a CPD detective working as a reservist at Gitmo is linked to false confessions and rights trampling both at Gitmo and back home.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 11:27 AM on February 24, 2015 [4 favorites]


Can the federal government pursue RICO charges against CPD management for these activities?
posted by a lungful of dragon at 11:28 AM on February 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


Another story on the CPD lieutenant and his links to Gitmo.[via]
posted by klarck at 11:31 AM on February 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


Seems like something the President of the United States, Defender of the Constitution, and Chicago politician Barack Obama should comment on. Seems like he should be furious. Should be surprised. Should demand changes.
posted by General Tonic at 11:33 AM on February 24, 2015 [38 favorites]


Can the federal government pursue RICO charges against CPD management for these activities?

The bigger question is, will they?

I'd almost like to believe that this horrid situation might be, at last, one thing that could benefit from the current divided government. Rather than endless hearings on Benghazi!!!, the Republican Congress might see an opportunity to embarrass Obama by proxy through investigating Chicago police corruption.
posted by Gelatin at 11:33 AM on February 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


Some embittered, racist and violent people become cops because they know they are entering a system where they will be allowed to act on these impulses, often with impunity. Hell, they'll even get paid for it.

Part of the problem, too, is that this becomes self-replicating; there are a lot of people who want to help their communities who don't think that becoming a police officer is a good way to do that. Why would you want to be associated with a group as awful as the Chicago PD? So good people who might be able to help stay away because they're disgusted or scared and everything gets worse.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 11:34 AM on February 24, 2015 [10 favorites]


I know good cops. I believe that they're out there.

The thing is, do those cops know of bad cops? Have they tried to get them removed? If not, then they aren't good cops.

I'm increasingly of the mind that reform simply isn't possible.
posted by rhizome at 11:35 AM on February 24, 2015 [55 favorites]


I'd probably not make that equivalence to someone who actually lived in the Soviet Union, lest their eyes roll so hard they actually fall out.

Yesterday the U.S. Supreme Court gave their seal of approval to secret courts in which secret evidence is presented. Today we learn that at least one of your police forces has a black site where prisoners are held without charges or communication, and on at least one occasion killed with impunity. At least one member of that same police force was responsible for the torture and death of inmates during "enhanced interrogations" at the extrajudicial Guantanamo Bay facility, again with impunity.

The US houses 22% of the world's prisoners, vastly outstripping their nearest competitors both in raw numbers and percentage of population, who are used as cheap or free labor whenever it is convenient and who practically speaking are nonpersons with no rights. Minorities of any stripe - black people, gays, trans people, frequently children - can be and are killed with impunity by the police, who will virtually never see disciplinary action, much less charges laid.

None of this is hyperbole. These are the facts on the ground, as lived by many people whose primary character flaw is not being as affluent and white as I'm guessing you are. And if not having to line up for produce or having color TVs makes up for it to your eyes, well, have fun with that.

"Maybe better than the Soviet Union" is not where I think the bar should be set, for what it's worth.
posted by mhoye at 11:37 AM on February 24, 2015 [172 favorites]


We literally live in a country where police can walk up to a child playing in a park, shoot him to death on camera, and walk away with no legal consequences.

Shoot a child in a park and then stand by while he bleeds to death, tackling his sister when she tries to help him.

Glenn Greenwald in linking to this story on Twitter:

One of the most under-appreciated trends: how War on Terror tactics have been imported onto US soil for domestic use.
posted by ryanshepard at 11:38 AM on February 24, 2015 [30 favorites]


I'm increasingly of the mind that reform simply isn't possible.

Honestly, to an extent I agree with you, but what are the actual options? It's easy to make a statement like this but it seems more like a rhetorical flourish than a suggestion for how to proceed as a society (although, again, in some cases I agree). Should we actually just fire everyone and start over? Maybe we should. Certainly there are crazier options, like letting the status quo continue.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 11:39 AM on February 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


I think a lot lately about surveillance.

In lots of ways, surveillance is terrible. If you have enough data about a person, you can predict and influence their choices, profiting at their expense without them ever knowing. You can analyze social networks and use this information to disrupt and neutralize political actions before they gain momentum. You can inconvenience people by cracking down on their petty transgressions, embarrass them by publishing their foibles. You can seriously wreck a person's life by digging up real dirt, like a taste for alcohol, drugs, or transgressive porn. Perhaps they had or have a secret love affair, or just non-mainstream sexual practices like swinging, an open relationship, an "understanding" with their spouse. Maybe they just lost their cool one time and yelled at their kid. Not to mention the terrible damage that is wrought upon the psyche by trying to survive in such a regime.

But, surveillance can also serve the public good. The dream is that with enough information, we can trace the spread of diseases, or detect unsafe products in the marketplace. Maybe we could be safe from muggings, robbery, and hit-and-run collisions. Hopefully, surveillance would keep us safe from police murder or from being disappeared into a domestic black site. Imagine the peace of mind knowing with certainty that wrongs against you and your loved ones would be swiftly, accurately, and fairly brought to justice.

It's clear that right now, surveillance does not serve the common good. Direct recordings of police murder have been met with, if anything, escalation of violence committed by the police upon the people. It has been clear that police have never wanted to be recorded in their work, countless encounters with photographers, journalists, and bystanders attest to this. Before the murder of Eric Garner, there must have been some seed of doubt, saying, "Better make sure that no one records this." Now that doubt is extinguished, officers know with certainty that even if recorded, their most flagrant misdeeds with go unpunished, or even be rewarded. This result must surely embolden the state and its enforcers.

This is doubly bad because not only is it entrenching the power of a corrupt state, it's robbing us of the potential of a good technology, one which, turned to the right purpose, should reduce corruption and increase safety.
posted by rustcrumb at 11:40 AM on February 24, 2015 [12 favorites]


The CPD make it clear, every single day, what they think of those living in Chicago's disadvantaged neighborhoods.

It isn't even just the disadvantaged neighborhoods that they think little of (though they do get it much much worse and are the focus of law enforcement attention).

My wife and I were nearly run over by Secretary of Commerce's entourage in Lincoln Park on the street with many of the most expensive mansions in Chicago as they careened through a four-way-stop-signed intersection. No sirens. No flashing-lights. Just a toxic mix of imperial self importance, state and city cops and ex-cops who are willing to run over millionaires kids too because they are so used to breaking the law with impunity they likely don't even consider obeying it. And I don't mean 'nearly run over' in the casual exaggeration way. I mean it in the "If my wife hadn't grabbed my arm I would have under the wheels of the federal government" way.

The mayor's security detail routinely gets caught by red-light cameras that have been installed by the city in their locations near parks and schools supposedly to address children's safety. So the mayor's safety, fleeing in terror from non-existent threats?, trumps the actual safety of children from the real threat of speeding SUVs.

I will never call the police in Chicago unless I see serious physical violence because I don't want to bring that shit into my life or anybody elses no matter how bad a person they are. If I get mugged I won't call the cops. If I get punched I won't call the cops. If I see a car being stolen I won't call the cops. In my previous two countries I was the guy who called the cops because I knew they would stop the bad stuff. Here I won't make the call because I fear they will start even worse stuff.
posted by srboisvert at 11:42 AM on February 24, 2015 [68 favorites]


Seems like something the President of the United States, Defender of the Constitution, and Chicago politician Barack Obama should comment on.

We have to look forwards as opposed to looking backwards.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:49 AM on February 24, 2015 [12 favorites]


It's clear that right now, surveillance does not serve the common good. Direct recordings of police murder have been met with, if anything, escalation of violence committed by the police upon the people.

Don't mistake data points for statistical evidence. And similarly, as people have said in response to claims that 2014 was a terrible year, don't mistake the exposure of corruption for an increase in corruption.

Requiring police to use always-on cameras will reveal a lot of bad stuff, but last I checked there's good evidence saying that it affects officer behavior in positive ways.
posted by tychotesla at 11:50 AM on February 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


Reform is possible, but people have to go beyond Retweeting to make something happen.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:55 AM on February 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


So let's do it!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:55 AM on February 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


How have the courts permitted this to continue for so long?

Because the cops are doing the job they are being paid to do. Part of that job is taking flack from the public. I wish the reporters on these stories would stop wasting time trying to get juicy quotes from the cops and spend some time talking to the judges who signed off on cases pushed through this facility. Judges are often a toxic combination of arrogant and stupid, especially at the municipal level.

The issue is not the cops, but all of the polite "civil society" that is running the cops. It's the same way street dealers and "soldiers" take the big risks while the gangsters running the show live in the suburbs; going after the cops just reinforces the system.
posted by ennui.bz at 11:55 AM on February 24, 2015 [8 favorites]


I think people become police officers because they want to help people.

I'm not so sure anymore. I think this used to be true. But nowadays, with the seemingly-endless stories of police being able to abuse & kill people without consequence? What good, altruistic person wants to be associated with thugs like these? I wonder how many just wash out of the force after they realize they can't fight it from within. It seems like we've entered a loop where power-hungry bullies hire/promote other power-hungry bullies. We won't be able to get out of it until there are real consequences for their actions, and real protections for whistleblowers.

If you want to help people, become a firefighter, not a cop.
posted by desjardins at 11:56 AM on February 24, 2015 [16 favorites]


don't mistake the exposure of corruption for an increase in corruption.

By the same token, though, you shouldn't mistake the exposure of corruption for accountability for corruption.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:57 AM on February 24, 2015 [16 favorites]


Fucking police management. They are the worst.

The problem is lack of transparency, which allows some police departments to do whatever the fuck they want without fear of investigation or reprisal, including illegal operations against American citizens that our own military is barred from taking. And who's to blame for that? Oh, it's not management. It's the fucking police unions.

Chicago Police Union Sues To Stop Police Misconduct Records From Going Public

And that's just the shit the cops bothered to document!

They illegally detained and tortured civilians. For years. But hey, it's okay. It's not like the cops are gearing up for war against the American people... oh wait.... Widespread militarization of Illinois police forces uncovered. How America’s Police Became an Army: The 1033 Program
posted by zarq at 11:58 AM on February 24, 2015 [6 favorites]


Someone will blow the whistle on this - and one of Obama's big campaign promises was to protect Whistle-blowers, so this will all come to light.

Oh wait...
posted by Flood at 11:59 AM on February 24, 2015 [6 favorites]


I'm no fan of Obama lately when it comes to shit like this, but the kind of fear that people have for blowing the whistle in this instance is more about protection from physical harm than the legal consequences.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:03 PM on February 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm not so sure anymore. I think this used to be true. But nowadays, with the seemingly-endless stories of police being able to abuse & kill people without consequence?

It's worth noting that Chicago police have been torturing arrestees for decades, and it has gone largely unpunished.
posted by ryanshepard at 12:04 PM on February 24, 2015 [9 favorites]


"Maybe better than the Soviet Union" is not where I think the bar should be set, for what it's worth.

And I hope this isn't too much of a derail, but the Soviet Union had its own tendency to promote itself as "maybe better than the United States." I recall watching some archival Soviet news broadcasts from the 1980s and happening across one that covered what the newsreader described as "massive demonstrations [protests] in front of the White House against anti-union action" (I don't recall much more clarity than that). The footage they had was like twelve people with some cardboard signs and was utterly unconvincing.

And I recall thinking to myself, Vremya would have had a field day with Occupy Wall Street, and I think that would have been brilliant. Sometimes it takes the foreign media picking up on massive discontent and asking some American power-holders "Um, what the hell?" for anything to get done.

I think the same would have been true about the Ferguson protests and protests against police brutality since. Despite its utter failure to deal with racism internally, the Soviet Union shone a really powerful spotlight into racism and how power structures kept institutional racism alive, and sometimes trying to not look quite so bad as your geopolitical adversary can make you act a little less terrible.
posted by thegears at 12:05 PM on February 24, 2015 [5 favorites]


The invaluable Charles Pierce leads his blog post with a big photo of Rahm Emanuel in the midst of a group of cops.
posted by Gelatin at 12:08 PM on February 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


(I'm not happy with Rahm, but the CPD's history of torture and oppression and racism FAR predates his tenure).

There is an annual police accountability report/forum in Chicago (run by the local chapter of the American Constitution Society), which brings the head of the Chicago Police Independent Review Authority into a public forum. There is also a group with unprecedented access to prisons to look at conditions but ultimately, there is neither objective oversight nor effective sanctioning mechanism. And no matter how much outrage over this you see here or on Twitter, the people who control in the political process in Chicago believe that citizens are terrified of crime and want the police to be feared, respected, obeyed and not in a position where bad guys get loose on technicalities. I suspect most people who are listened to in the political process are more concerned with the CTA in their neighborhood than police brutality. And while the "important" constituents might express shock at this terrible thing, it's not really ever going to hurt them or get their side street plowed in a snowstorm, so they are not going to agitate against or march for reform.

I work in criminal justice reform and you'd be surprised how little support or engagement we get outside of a very small few like-minded organizations and our donors.

Relatedly, Date & Society Research Institute released a report today on body-worn camera to bring accountability to police, noting we really can't yet predict the impact it might have.
posted by crush-onastick at 12:18 PM on February 24, 2015 [6 favorites]


Literally all I can say is "What. The. Fuck?"
posted by wierdo at 12:40 PM on February 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


There’s this whole meta-conversation I want to have about:

a) How this is a Chicago story finally covered by an international paper
b) How this is finally getting local attention because of inter(national) shame
c) How this can really only happen because of the web and how even “media gatekeepers” are empowered by technology.

But I’d rather that not happen for a while until the more important things are discussed.

And of course, the premise is that this story would have to be covered heavily by the local news; it doesn't seem to have been mentioned much at all yet. I wonder if we’ll ever get to b).
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:43 PM on February 24, 2015 [9 favorites]


Won't you please come to Chicago just to sing?

Yep, not much new here.
posted by cccorlew at 12:45 PM on February 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


This needs to be taken apart brick by brick. Mr. Rahm, tear down that wall!
posted by jonp72 at 12:45 PM on February 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


If it's OK to torture bad guys who are Afghans or Iraqis, it is no large leap of logic to deciding it's OK to torture bad guys who are Americans, or Chicagoans, or people in my own neighborhood presumably. It's very sad. We tortured some folks.
posted by bukvich at 12:47 PM on February 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


the CPD's history of torture and oppression and racism FAR predates his tenure

Oh, yeah -- if memory serves me correctly, the late Mike Royko wrote about it in Boss, his superb biography of Richard J. Daley. But it's safe to say that Emanuel hasn't been a crusader against corruption in the CPD. Some of these incidents must have happened on his watch.
posted by Gelatin at 12:49 PM on February 24, 2015 [1 favorite]




You have the right not to be killed
Murder is a crime!
Unless it was done by a
Policeman or aristocrat
Know Your Rights
posted by j_curiouser at 1:21 PM on February 24, 2015 [5 favorites]


Somewhat related concerning a scary police department.

"COP FIGHTS TO KEEP HIS SECRET MERCENARY ARMY."
posted by clavdivs at 1:49 PM on February 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


"I will never call the police in Chicago unless I see serious physical violence because I don't want to bring that shit into my life or anybody elses no matter how bad a person they are."

My parents grew up mostly in Chicago and the first out-of-state place they moved to was Milwaukee. I remember them talking about getting a flat on the side of the road and being terrified when the police came, only to have the cop clear traffic around them and try to help with the tire. They had literally no conception of the police as anything but a bunch of thugs who were there to crack skulls and take bribes.
posted by klangklangston at 2:00 PM on February 24, 2015 [25 favorites]


And this shit never gets you anything usable, ever.

Sure, nothing useful for the courts but for the cops, it's a huge perk. Just got yelled at for doing your job and need a place to unwind? Take your latest perp down to the fun house and beat the living shit out of them. No one will know.

This has nothing to do with the law as a process, nobody thinks this is how it works. This is just humanity at it's worst, and they happen to be the police which is kind of scary.
posted by doctor_negative at 2:10 PM on February 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


This has nothing to do with the law as a process ABSOLUTELY which is why prosecutors have little interest in calling it out. By and large it does not interfere with their cases but trying to take down CPD for abusive, abhorrent practices? That's going to put a huge damper on their prosecutions.

As for why this sort of torture does not really impact prosecutions, well, that's a long complicated story. Part of it is the legitimate rules of evidence, appropriately applied and the practicalities of what SAa need to make a case. Part of it is the legitimate rules of evidence, INAPPROPRIATELY applied. Part of it is collusion. Part of it is the coercive nature of the plea bargaining system in our courts. Part of it is judges who are almost primarily former SAa, rather than PDs. Part of it is the thinness of the fiction of a presumption of innocence. In short, it's seriously complicated as to why this does not fuck up prosecutions as much as it should.

The Burge cases are still wrapping up in the appeals process, by the way. Although many are winning victories on appeal, they were all convicted despite the torture being a not-terribly-secret secret.
posted by crush-onastick at 2:21 PM on February 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


"COP FIGHTS TO KEEP HIS SECRET MERCENARY ARMY."

That article starts out bizarre and disturbing and just keeps going.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:28 PM on February 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


Oh, yeah -- if memory serves me correctly, the late Mike Royko wrote about it in Boss, his superb biography of Richard J. Daley. But it's safe to say that Emanuel hasn't been a crusader against corruption in the CPD. Some of these incidents must have happened on his watch.

Guess what family gave Rahm his start in politics?
posted by srboisvert at 2:31 PM on February 24, 2015


He had won the victory over himself. He loved Officer Friendly.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 2:34 PM on February 24, 2015 [5 favorites]


Dirty Harry was working in the wrong city.
posted by CynicalKnight at 2:49 PM on February 24, 2015


And of course, the premise is that this story would have to be covered heavily by the local news; it doesn't seem to have been mentioned much at all yet.

Yeah, there was more mainstream coverage of the most recent we-really-wanted-to-spike-this-story Snowden leak than this. Which means news organizations are more scared of CPD and Rahm Emanuel than the NSA/DOJ.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 3:09 PM on February 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


leotrotsky: "How have the courts permitted this to continue for so long?"

In Cook County criminal court? Jesus Christ. There's a book. Nobody cared.

(Last year everyone kept complaining the Cary Agos-at-Cook-County-Courthouse-processing plot on The Good Wife was too unrealistic. It was all lifted directly from that book.)

This is literally the least surprising thing in the world if you follow Chicago courts & cops.

"Chicago has two major daily newspapers, the Sun-Times and the Tribune."

The Tribune was completely ruined by Sam Zell (as reported by David Carr) and the Sun-Times has no fucking staff left and was too busy endorsing its ownership for governor over the objections of the editorial staff.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 3:23 PM on February 24, 2015 [13 favorites]


Good follow-up interview with Tracy Siska in The Atlantic:
Why wasn't the press covering it?

Siska: I think that many crime reporters in Chicago have political views that are right in line with the police. They tend to agree about the tactics needed by the police. They tend to have by one extent or the other the same racist views of the police—a lot of urban police (not all of them by any stretch, but a lot of them) embody racism.
posted by AceRock at 3:23 PM on February 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


Back in the '80s, we used to ask how a populace could tolerate people being disappeared, and so much happening extrajudicially. Now we know.

I'm guessing divide and conquer, and the invention of the idea of “whiteness”. The in-group (“whites”) are unlikely to be disappeared, and if made aware of the disappearances, dismiss them as hysterical overreaction to the police defending liberty and property rights. The out-group (whom, incidentally, the in-group has been taught to see as a clear and present danger to be contained) are a population under occupation and what they think don't enter into it.
posted by acb at 3:27 PM on February 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


The new Republican governor's new budget is demanding Illinois cities make crippling cuts, a big chunk of which is going to have to come from public safety. They were just releasing preliminary numbers today -- $133.2 million for Chicago, $5.2 million for Cook County. I guess Chicago knows where to start with its cuts. It's going to be the one city in the state going, "Yeah, we feel okay about less cops."
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 3:34 PM on February 24, 2015


We have to look forwards as opposed to looking backwards.
We do look pretty backwards right now, don't we?
posted by roystgnr at 3:39 PM on February 24, 2015 [10 favorites]


We have to look forwards as opposed to looking backwards.

Of course. Now is not the time to play the "blame game"!
posted by thelonius at 3:41 PM on February 24, 2015 [5 favorites]


Which means news organizations are more scared of CPD and Rahm Emanuel than the NSA/DOJ.

I don't see why they wouldn't be. The NSA puts a little effort into keeping black sites secret, disappearing people properly, etc. before they torture and kill you. The CPD just grabs you off the street, drives to a warehouse, and beats you to death with a pipe, apparently. The warehouse wasn't even really a secret.
posted by mrgoat at 4:17 PM on February 24, 2015 [1 favorite]




On the other hand... Chicago Sun-Times reporter quits claiming political interference by owner
(hilariously enough published by The Guardian)
posted by Strass at 4:40 PM on February 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


The Sun-Times article has reached a new height for chutzpah:

"And unlike other Chicago police facilities over the years, no allegations of torture have been reported in the media in connection with Homan Square."
posted by The Gaffer at 4:41 PM on February 24, 2015 [8 favorites]


Klang, as a Milwaukeean, I am in a sort of awe at the MPD being a beacon of citizen policing.
posted by The Gaffer at 4:42 PM on February 24, 2015


"The Guardian story didn’t allege that Church suffered from physical abuse at Homan Square other than his complaint that his left wrist was handcuffed to a bar behind a bench and his ankles were cuffed together."

You know, for seventeen hours. Totes not abuse.

"And unlike other Chicago police facilities over the years, no allegations of torture have been reported in the media in connection with Homan Square."

If you're on the CPD's side... not helping. "No no! You all have it wrong. We torture everywhere else. We keep it way quiet at our black site."
posted by mrgoat at 4:46 PM on February 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


Oh and,

"The Guardian also ominously noted that John Hubbard, 44, was found unresponsive in an interview room at Homan Square and pronounced dead on Feb. 2, 2013. The Guardian said the Cook County medical examiner’s office couldn’t locate a record indicating his cause of death."

You can't find a record of why a man died in your interrogation room. Just... no idea. It's a weird mystery. But!

"But on Tuesday, the office told the Sun-Times that Hubbard died of an accidental heroin overdose. He was taken into custody after he allegedly bought drugs from an undercover officer, arrest records show."

Oh, that's better. "He overdosed on heroin that we sold him, while we denied him medial attention and locked him in a cage" is just... this is the CPD's defense?
posted by mrgoat at 5:05 PM on February 24, 2015 [17 favorites]


Sun-Times: Everything in the Guardian article is a lie

That's very misleading. The stories' headline is "Chicago Police deny report of secret interrogation compound at Homan Square site", and the article reports the statements from the Chicago police. The word "lie" does not appear in the article, which is not an editorial. In fact, the only thing I see about this on their opinion page is a link, labelled "Other Voices", to this Alternet story .
posted by thelonius at 6:02 PM on February 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


That's very misleading. The stories' headline is "Chicago Police deny report of secret interrogation compound at Homan Square site", and the article reports the statements from the Chicago police. The word "lie" does not appear in the article, which is not an editorial.

Posting the link with the text given was misleading, and it's a fair point that the article doesn't specifically contend that the police are telling the truth.

But it's just feckless reporting to reiterate what the Chicago Police state officially without even pointing out, for instance, what mrgoat said above. It's one thing to point out things that were overblown in the Guardian article; it's another not to at least admit there's some suspicious stuff going on that hasn't yet been properly explained by the police.
posted by thegears at 6:15 PM on February 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


How is it that it took a British newspaper to dig this up?

The Guardian would insist that it's a not a British newspaper in this instance but acting as a US one. The report was made by one of their all-American journalists operating out of their US division/wing/subsidiary/whatever based in NYC.
posted by Bwithh at 6:22 PM on February 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


Which means news organizations are more scared of CPD and Rahm Emanuel than the NSA/DOJ.

Coughbrianwilliamscough.

(Sorry, this video is currently unavailable on this device at this time.)

I'd rather tango with DOJ
Anyday.
posted by clavdivs at 6:35 PM on February 24, 2015


Right now, Rahm is beating his next closest competitor in the mayoral election by a handy margin, but it's looking likely he'll come up short of the majority vote needed to avoid a runoff election (which would apparently be Chicago's first). Voter turnout was perhaps unsurprisingly historically low, but I think a runoff will be good for a number of reasons.
posted by sparkletone at 6:42 PM on February 24, 2015


On the other hand... Chicago Sun-Times reporter quits claiming political interference by owner (hilariously enough published by The Guardian)

Previously on Metafilter.
posted by sparkletone at 6:55 PM on February 24, 2015


AP's calling the election, saying a runoff will be happening.
posted by sparkletone at 7:09 PM on February 24, 2015


Drinky Die: We have to look forwards as opposed to looking backwards.

Vote Hillary 2016!
posted by anemone of the state at 8:53 PM on February 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


Both the Sun-Times and the Tribune articles seem remarkably similar: "Move on, nothing to see here".
posted by anemone of the state at 9:06 PM on February 24, 2015


"He overdosed on heroin that we sold him, while we denied him medial attention and locked him in a cage" is just... this is the CPD's defense?"

I took this to mean that the CPD sells low-quality drugs.

(And yeah, Dave McKinney was all over state media and social media - literally within ten minutes of his blog post going up it appeared 20 times in my Facebook feed and four times in my RSS - we did not need the London press for that one!)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:18 PM on February 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


Vremya would have had a field day with Occupy Wall Street

I take it you haven't been watching RT lately.
posted by benzenedream at 11:19 PM on February 24, 2015


I do think the public's fascination with police procedural TV shows gives the cops an insane amount of good publicity to counter their actual awful selves. Who doesn't love smart, gorgeous Kate Beckett, whose only interest is the truth? Etc., etc., etc., etc.
posted by maxwelton at 11:27 PM on February 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


The Guardian would insist that it's a not a British newspaper in this instance but acting as a US one. The report was made by one of their all-American journalists operating out of their US division/wing/subsidiary/whatever based in NYC.

Indeed, the US division is autonomous enough to have won a Pulitzer (not open to foreign news companies).
posted by acb at 2:37 AM on February 25, 2015


Both the Sun-Times and the Tribune articles seem remarkably similar: "Move on, nothing to see here".

If this is all they do, I'll get my pitchfork. They should do some real investigation. I just think it's not a red flag when they report that the cops deny the story. Maybe they have a history of ignoring stories about police abuse that I'm not aware of, however.
posted by thelonius at 4:00 AM on February 25, 2015


Now is not the time to play the "blame game"!

Every time a supposedly legitimate reporter and editor allows that nonsense into his or her publication, they should lose a finger, as the Yakuza is said to do.

(Seriously, when I was in high school journalism class we were taught about non-answers and not to bother printing them. My sole regret about not having stuck with journalism as a profession is that I am not now in a position to fire people who publish such content-free dreck. All I can do is not give money to NPR.)
posted by Gelatin at 5:42 AM on February 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


I have been noticing for a long time how the "blame game" is always A-OK for non-governmental criminals, who face decades in prison for drug crimes, but it mysteriously becomes a moral failing when applied to anyone near power.
posted by thelonius at 6:23 AM on February 25, 2015 [5 favorites]


It's almost like society is designed to establish an in-group and out-group and give the in-group unjustifiable and inexcusable power and privilege.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:05 AM on February 25, 2015 [7 favorites]


I do think the public's fascination with police procedural TV shows gives the cops an insane amount of good publicity to counter their actual awful selves.

Yeah, it seems like the majority of police procedurals lean heavily toward portraying cops as succeeding despite the constraints of the system, which -- obviously and irrefutably -- was designed by communist, effete liberals to let criminals off the hook at every juncture.

What's interesting to me is that although it has mostly been people in marginalized groups talking about abuses of police power over the last few decades, you had working and middle class white males speaking cynically about the police way back in the earlier parts of the 20th century: Hammet and Chandler frequently had cops doing the same kinds of things these Chicago police are accused of doing to working class and middle class whites.

And it wasn't portrayed as maverick cops doing this only because it's the only way to keep the streets safe. They were portrayed as sadists who did it because they could and they enjoyed it -- you could easily picture any of the people they worked over with sand-filled hoses saying what The Comedian said to Hooded Justice: "This is what you like, huh? This is what gets you hot." (See also: Abu Ghraib)

It's been simultaneously amusing and horrifying to see my upper middle class white friends and family slowly come around to the same dim view of the justice system I've had since middle school as stories like this come to light. But I feel the same as those in this thread who feel we have little hope of meaningful reform. I really think all we can do is keep our heads down and hope we never come to the attention of the "justice" apparatus.
posted by lord_wolf at 9:04 AM on February 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


“I'm increasingly of the mind that reform simply isn't possible.”

Chicago ain’t ready for reform, boys! Yeeeha!
*Does the Paddy Bauler jig*

FTA: “CPD [Chicago police department] abides by all laws, rules and guidelines pertaining to any interviews of suspects or witnesses...”

Oh, phew. That’s reassuring. Thanks boys. Man, thought there might have been a problem there given the long history we have of beating on suspects.

“You can seriously wreck a person's life by digging up real dirt, like a taste for alcohol, drugs, or transgressive porn.”

Actually, there’s a technique of developing false leads like this to determine who one’s enemies might be. Frequenting a gay bar, say. Or appearing to cheat on one’s spouse (with the understanding that the spouse knows you’re going to a hotel room with someone or trolling dating sites, etc, as this sort of dodge) and waiting to get threatened with it. Once you are, of course, you can set the ball rolling to snare them. Easiest way to nail someone is when they think they’ve got you wrapped up. Just makes someone shit themselves when you pull the reveal. It's a nice way to spend a weekend. (What?)
It is a marvelous way to see who your friends are too.

“In my previous two countries I was the guy who called the cops because I knew they would stop the bad stuff. Here I won't make the call because I fear they will start even worse stuff.”


Well, here’s the thing. There are good cops in Chicago. But it really is like Gotham City. No, really. (New York doesn't have a lot of alleys).

Just take a minute and think about being a cop - a good cop - in Batman’s home town.
With no Batman.

Real pain in the ass, innit? The corruption in Chicago, as Lenny Bruce once said, is so profound that it’s thrilling.

I mean it really is beyond big city corruption, past action movie corruption, into cartoony super-villain level corruption.

And it is mostly, as ennui.bz – said “civil society”: the judges, prosecutors, county government, the democratic machine, everyone and their mother (literally ) is shaving corners.

Hell, 3 of our 5 last governors were prosecuted. Know what that means? The other 2 got away with it.
And don’t get me started on the money end with the developers, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.…seriously, why tf y’all think I’m a Republican (locally) anyway?
In Cook County that’s a ½ step from being a bomb-throwing anarchist. But the campaign finance laws are a joke. The public meetings should have a “yakkity sax” soundtrack they’re so farcical.
And that’s just the nominal “good guys.”

On top of the capacity for actual physical violence and retaliation for arrest the gangs, drug dealers, etc. have TREMENDOUS economic pull and political influence
And they’re covered (you good cop you) by your bosses.

There’s a difference between only using one tool such as a hammer and seeing all problems as nails and being given only one tool to do a job and demanding that that tool and only that tool be used.
On top of which there’s unrest (caused, no doubt at least in part by the corrupt oppression), which you can’t just let slide, justified as a social reaction or not, you can’t let innocent people get beaten by mobs or whatnot. (Some of those were in tourist and high-shopping areas. The Magnificent Mile is more or less Chicago’s front street)
And on top of that there’s actual, y'know, crime.

Plenty of people do go into policing in order to do good. Certain systems, and Chicago is certainly one of them, create an atmosphere to root out positive change and make law enforcement de facto thugs to enforce an inequitable oppressive system. By design, yeah.
Which is why so many people, y'know, stop being Chicago cops. And why so many who remain are, well, what they are.

So, what’s the move there good cop? You know the bent cops are working people over to get them to toe the line – that’s a given.
So would you, at some point, like Harvey Bullockgo after the criminals the same way?
If only to get some semblance of justice you know the courts aren’t going to deal out? If only because you do it by the books and you’re going to be on the hook for it, or your job, or your family. You arrest someone you know is going to walk two seconds after he comes in the door, there’s got to be some temptation to put a black bag on his head.

Doesn’t justify it of course. But there are no white knights here in Gotham.

I’d love to be Batman. So would lots of people. Unfortunately, I think we’d wind up being more like the Punisher. As with much of the police force, corrupt or not.

I mean, look at it this way: The Ceasefire program. Works great. Academically proven methodology. Absolutely shown to factually reduce violent crime.
Defunded.

Think the rank and file are all agiggle because that means they're going to catch more fire from actual/potential murderers?

The same system. It's designed to perpetuate that distance and antagonism. I mean, you can't have police and the community going around liking each other. God knows they might collaborate and look for systemic reforms without that fear.
Chicago ain't ready for it.
posted by Smedleyman at 9:24 AM on February 25, 2015 [5 favorites]




As a cis white male from a stereotypical 'good family' I was raised to believe the police are our friends. I am having serious doubts about this belief recently.
posted by Jacen at 10:15 AM on February 25, 2015


One commentator offers this term for the story: chitanamo.
posted by doctornemo at 11:01 AM on February 25, 2015


doctornemo: "One commentator offers this term for the story: chitanamo."

Around here folks are going with the shorter "Chitmo" (like "Gitmo").
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:21 PM on February 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


"Chitmo"

Fun to say, too.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 12:23 PM on February 25, 2015


"Klang, as a Milwaukeean, I am in a sort of awe at the MPD being a beacon of citizen policing."

Yeah, I recently heard that Milwaukee's PD kills more unarmed black men per capita than any other large PD (it was on a TAL episode, so correct me if my memory's faulty).
posted by klangklangston at 12:40 PM on February 25, 2015


"Chitmo": that's pretty catchy.
We should see t-shirts with that blazoned logo any hour now.
posted by doctornemo at 1:26 PM on February 25, 2015


@Smedlyman (as long as he doesn't shoot cops, the Cops Loved "Frank Castle" I feel bad for Soap, he had no hope)
posted by NiteMayr at 1:44 PM on February 25, 2015


klang, I don't remember hearing that (though it wouldn't surprise me if true), but that TAL episode did state (correctly) that Wisconsin imprisons more black men per capita than any other state.
posted by desjardins at 3:30 PM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]




The mayor's security detail

This...breaks my brain.

Security detail? for a mayor? I'm pretty sure the mayor of seattle just drives himself around in his own car. You know, like a normal person.

What trumped up bullshit paranoia led to their being a mayoral motorcade? just... what? that's part of the fucking problem in and of itself.
posted by emptythought at 4:13 PM on February 26, 2015 [4 favorites]


Toronto's current and former-but-one mayors frequently take/took public transit.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 5:07 PM on February 26, 2015


Two days later and this still has not developed national news traction. Obviously not significant news.
Oh look. Beyonce isn't wearing a bra.
posted by notreally at 5:32 PM on February 26, 2015


Security detail? for a mayor? I'm pretty sure the mayor of seattle just drives himself around in his own car. You know, like a normal person.

I know he had a secret service detail as Chief of Staff. I would assume this was still that same detail, but have no real idea.
posted by sparkletone at 9:48 PM on February 26, 2015


There are manned CPD vehicles parked 24/7 both in front of and in the alley behind his house. Additional, non-uniformed (classic black suits, could be Secret Service) security comes on site in unmarked black SUVs whenever someone from the family (I assume) is being dropped off or picked up. There is also a two-car "no park zone" in front of his house. I wonder how much protection the mayor of NYC gets.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 7:46 AM on February 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


“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 7:59 AM on February 27, 2015 [1 favorite]




Inside Chicago's legacy of police abuse: violence 'as routine as traffic lights'
Ironically, the Chicago police department opened the aperture for a broader look into its behavior unto itself Sunday, releasing a three-page “factsheet” attempting to refute the result of investigations by the Guardian. The press release likened Homan Square’s “several standard interview rooms” to those of the “more than 25 CPD facilities throughout the city”, implying that the facility is more consistent with typical police practices than a departure from them.

Chicagoans, particularly black and brown citizens, lament that as all too true – that being interrogated and abused, frequently without public notice or legal counsel, has transformed the denial of constitutional rights in their city into a kind of disturbing norm.
posted by XMLicious at 10:12 AM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]




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