Tag Archives | Torture

Italian Court Ups Sentences for 23 CIA Agents

Italy Kicks the CIAThe AFP reports, via Yahoo! News:

An Italian court on Wednesday upped the sentences for 23 CIA agents convicted in absentia of abducting an Egyptian imam in one of the biggest cases against the US “extraordinary rendition” program.

The 23 CIA agents, originally sentenced in November 2009 to five to eight years in prison, had their sentences increased to seven to nine years on appeal in what one of the defence lawyers described as a “shocking blow” for the US.

They were also ordered to pay 1.5 million euros (2.0 million dollars) in damages to the imam and his wife for the 2003 abduction.

Washington has refused to extradite the agents, who all remain at liberty but now risk arrest if they travel to Europe.

Osama Mustafa Hassan, a radical Islamist opposition figure better known as Abu Omar, was snatched from a street in Milan in 2003 in an operation coordinated by the CIA and the Italian military intelligence agency SISMI.

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WikiLeaker Bradley Manning’s Brutal Detention

manningHere’s what America has in store whistle-blowers — Despite not being charged with a crime, 22-year-old Army private and alleged WikiLeaker Bradley Manning has spent the past seventh months imprisoned under some of the most extreme, brutal conditions possible: total isolation for 23 hours a day, every day, while being dosed with antidepressants to prevent his mind from snapping. Salon takes a look at Bradley’s background and his current fate, which it says is undoubtedly torture:

Bradley Manning, the 22-year-old U.S. Army Private accused of leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks, has never been convicted of that crime, nor of any other crime. Despite that, he has been detained at the U.S. Marine brig in Quantico, Virginia for five months — and for two months before that in a military jail in Kuwait — under conditions that constitute cruel and inhumane treatment and, by the standards of many nations, even torture.

Interviews with several people directly familiar with the conditions of Manning’s detention, ultimately including a Quantico brig official (Lt.

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WikiLeaks Revelation: The U.S. Tortured an Innocent Man and Threatened Germany to Not Prosecute the Torturers

While the U.S. media simultaneously wrings its hands over whether Julian Assange should get life imprisonment or the death penalty and claims WikiLeaks revealed nothing important except about Iran's WMD ambitions, Scott Horton reports at Harper's:
Over the Christmas-New Year’s holiday in 2003, Khaled El-Masri traveled by bus to Skopje, Macedonia. There he was apprehended by border guards who noted the similarity of his name to that of Khalid al-Masri, an Al Qaeda agent linked to the Hamburg cell where the 9/11 attacks were plotted. Despite El-Masri’s protests that he was not al-Masri, he was beaten, stripped naked, shot full of drugs, given an enema and a diaper, and flown first to Baghdad and then to the notorious “salt pit,” the CIA’s secret interrogation facility in Afghanistan. At the salt pit, he was repeatedly beaten, drugged, and subjected to a strange food regime that he supposed was part of an experiment that his captors were performing on him. Throughout this time, El-Masri insisted that he had been falsely imprisoned, and the CIA slowly established that he was who he claimed to be. Over many further weeks of bickering over what to do, a number of CIA figures apparently argued that, though innocent, the best course was to continue to hold him incommunicado because he “knew too much.”...
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WikiLeaks Revelation: The U.S. State Department Obstructed Spanish Torture Investigations

Coat of Arms of SpainMore from Scott Horton at Harper’s:

In Spain, the WikiLeaks disclosures have dominated the news for three days now. The reporting has been led by the level-headed El País, with its nationwide competitor, Público, lagging only a bit behind. Attention has focused on three separate matters, each pending in the Spanish national security court, the Audiencia Nacional: the investigation into the 2003 death of a Spanish cameraman, José Cuoso, as a result of the mistaken shelling of Baghdad’s Palestine Hotel by a U.S. tank; an investigation into the torture of Spanish subjects held at Guantánamo; and a probe into the use of Spanish bases and airfields for extraordinary renditions flights, including the one which took Khaled El-Masri to Baghdad and then on to Afghanistan in 2003.

These cables reveal a large-scale, closely coordinated effort by the State Department to obstruct these criminal investigations. High-ranking U.S. visitors such as former Republican Party Chair Mel Martinez, Senator Judd Gregg, and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano were corralled into this effort, warning Spanish political leaders that the criminal investigations would “be misunderstood” and would harm bilateral relations.

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Did The U.S. Conduct “Pharmacological Torture” At Guantanamo?

194940355_ad9685afacTruthout claims that the military forced prisoners in Guantanamo Bay to take dangerously large doses of a controversial anti-malarial drug, as a form of “pharmaceutical waterboarding.” Was this a medical error? Being overcautious in regards to a potential malaria outbreak? Or the use of drugs as a tool for torture?

The US military administered the drug despite Pentagon knowledge that mefloquine caused severe neuropsychiatric side effects, including suicidal thoughts, hallucinations and anxiety. The drug was used on the prisoners whether they had malaria or not.

The revelation, which has not been previously reported, was buried in documents publicly released by the Defense Department (DoD) two years ago as part of the government’s investigation into the June 2006 deaths of three Guantanamo detainees.

Army Staff Sgt. Joe Hickman, who was stationed at Guantanamo at the time of the suicides in 2006, and has presented evidence that demonstrates the three detainees could not have died by hanging themselves, noticed in the detainees’ medical files that they were given mefloquine.

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No Holiday at Fort Benning, Home of the School For Terror

This past weekend saw the annual protest at Fort Benning, Georgia, home to the notorious School of the Americas, a/k/a the School for Terror (famous alumnae include Manuel Noriega). According to the New York Times, the number of protesters this year was far lower than a few years ago when Martin Cohen included Fort Benning in his disinformation book, No Holiday: 80 Places You Don't Want To Visit. To help try to boost interest in the effort to end the School of the Americas, now renamed as the “Department of Defense Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation” (Blackwater and other criminal corporations aren't the only ones who play that game), disinformation is pleased to bring you Martin's advice on attending next November's protest:
Soa logo

#28 No Holiday: Fort Benning, Georgia

Join the annual protest at the notorious School for Terror

How to get there: Fly or take the train to Atlanta, Georgia, and rent a car and drive to Fort Benning, about 85 miles (137 kilometers) southwest. The Commandant’s door is always open to visitors:

We invite you come to our campus, meet our students and faculty, and see our programs in action. Our motto is “Libertad, Paz y Fraternidad,” which means Freedom, Peace, and Brotherhood. Together we will make a difference in the region and the world.

The crazy paving entrance and the pink stucco mansion of the main block look more appropriate to a college summer camp than the school for assassins and torture techniques that it really is. What to see Not that you can see that from outside. But at least every November at Fort Benning there is a protest outside one of the gates, attended in past years by over 10,000 people, some of them bearing crosses with names of civilian victims of Fort Benning’s graduates carefully inscribed on them...
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Torture In The Middle Ages: Revisited

Torture rack in the Tower of London

Frank Thadeusz presents a light-hearted perspective of the common tortures of the Dark Ages:

A German researcher has studied medieval criminal law and found that our image of the sadistic treatment of criminals in the Dark Ages is only partly true. Torture and gruesome executions were designed in part to ensure the salvation of the convicted person’s soul.

Peter Nirsch would have been seen as a monster at any time in history. While traveling south through Germany, he had a penchant for cutting open pregnant women and removing their unborn babies. Nirsch butchered more than 500 people before he was captured near Nuremberg in September 1581.

The courts were not squeamish in their treatment of the serial killer. First he was tortured, and then hot oil was poured into his wounds. Then the culprit was tied to the rack, where his arms and legs were broken.

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Could ‘Decision Points’ Rewrite History?

Aaron Cynic writes at Diatribe Media:

Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern published a brilliant and damning piece regarding former President Bush’s upcoming memoir, Decision Points. In his essay, McGovern points out W’s little talked about “damn right” remarks he made when authorizing the waterboarding of terrorist Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Not only did W sign off on the form torture as an acceptable practice, but added “damn right” and asserted that the torture saved lives.

McGovern not only points out the glaring falsehood in that assertion, but shows exactly how the torture of prisoners became a recruiting tool for insurgents in Iraq. In addition, he rightly states that the under-reporting of the torture issue in the media, coupled with plenty of support (or shoulder shrugging) of the American public at large implicates us all. The essay comes on the heels of Bush’s related comments regarding the “lowest point” in his presidency, when Kanye West hurt his feelings by saying he didn’t care about black people during Hurricane Katrina.

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LA Prisons To Use Burning Heat Ray On Unruly Inmates

As if beatings from wardens and guards weren't bad enough... from Salon.com:
A device designed to control unruly inmates by blasting them with a beam of intense energy that causes a burning sensation is drawing heat from civil rights groups who fear it could cause serious injury and is "tantamount to torture." The mechanism, known as an "Assault Intervention Device," is a stripped-down version of a military gadget...
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Federal Judge Rules That CIA Can Cover Up Torture

Press release from the ACLU, via Common Dreams:

NEW YORK – July 15 – A federal judge today ruled that the government can withhold information from the public about intelligence sources and methods, even if those sources and methods were illegal. The ruling came in response to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) litigation filed by the American Civil Liberties Union for Justice Department memos that authorized torture, and for records relating to the contents of destroyed videotapes depicting the brutal interrogation of detainees at CIA black sites.

The government continues to withhold key information, such as the names of detainees who were subjected to the abusive interrogation methods as well as information about the application of the interrogation techniques. Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York today ruled that the government can continue to suppress evidence of its illegal program.

The following can be attributed to Jameel Jaffer, Deputy Legal Director of the ACLU:

“We are very dismayed by today’s ruling, which invests the CIA with sweeping authority to conceal evidence of its own illegal conduct.… Read the rest

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