Tag Archives | Torture

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:
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#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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How To Uncover CIA Spies

Nick Baumann and Daniel Schulman tell how human rights advocates investigating torture ended up snooping on the CIA—and in hot water with the feds, in Mother Jones:

The CIA probably doesn’t want you to know this, but unmasking its covert operatives isn’t as hard as you’d think. Just ask John Sifton. During a six-year stint at Human Rights Watch, the attorney and investigator was hot on the trail of the CIA and some of its most sensitive Bush-era counterterrorism programs, including extraordinary rendition, secret Eastern European detention sites, and the legally dubious and brutal methods used to extract information from detainees. “Even deep-cover CIA officers are real people, with mortgages and credit reports,” Sifton once told CQ Politics. For researchers with a trained eye for the hallmarks of a CIA alias, there are obvious giveaways: “A brand new Social Security number, a single P.O. box in Reston, Virginia. You disregard those and focus on the real persons who lie behind, and you can find them.”

Sifton’s talent for uncovering the CIA’s secrets may have served him well—but now, it also has set off a firestorm in the human rights community, prompted a backlash from congressional Republicans, and helped trigger a federal investigation headed by none other than Patrick Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor in the Valerie Plame affair.

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Two Minutes Hate: Spill, Baby, Spill

Nick Pell at Red Star Times writes:

How many of you have woken up over the last couple weeks and almost immediately thought: damn, the world is in the toilet? Me too. The last month or so has been perhaps one of the most horrible times I have ever experienced, with the beginning of the Iraq War being one of the few things that even comes close.

Whether or not it’s a Chinese curse, the adage about living in “interesting times” becomes more and more apt with each passing week. Despite how awful things are, there seems to be a lingering scent of resistance in the air. I concede that this could entirely be wish-fulfillment and solipsism on my part, but it seems as if things could explode at any second.

Explosions in and of themselves go nowhere, however. A political analysis and direction is necessary to make an explosion travel in the right direction.… Read the rest

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Paul Schaefer, Nazi Preacher Who Led Torture Cult In Chile, Dies

ARGENTINA-SCHAEFERDead at 89, Paul Schaefer sounds like a monster out of a horror movie, but he was terrifyingly real. Strangest detail: “He had a glass eye, having accidentally gouged out his right eye while trying to untie a shoelace knot with a fork.” The Washington Post reports:

Paul Schaefer, 89, a German-born evangelical preacher who was convicted of sexually abusing 25 children while leading one of the world’s most notorious anti-Semitic and apocalyptic sects, died April 24 of a heart ailment at a prison hospital in Chile.

His enclave in southern Chile, Colonia Dignidad…doubled during the 1970s and ’80s as a detention and torture center for opponents of right-wing dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet.

At the time of his death, Mr. Schaefer was still under investigation in the 1985 disappearance of mathematician Boris Weisfeiler, an American citizen who went missing while hiking near Colonia Dignidad.

Mr. Schaefer turned to preaching after serving in the German military during World War II.

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Game of Death: France’s Shocking TV Experiment (Video)

From Yahoo News:
Is a crusading French documentary maker striking a blow at the abusive powers of television — or simply taking reality TV to a new low of cynicism and bad taste? That's the question viewers across France are asking in light of Christophe Nick's new film Game of Death, which aired on French television Wednesday night. The documentary has generated a massive amount of attention — and naturally, courted controversy — because of the dilemma that faced contestants on a fake game show in the film: Would they allow themselves to be cajoled into delivering near-lethal electrical charges to fellow players, or rather follow their better instincts and refuse? Game of Death is an adaptation of an infamous experiment conducted by a team led by Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram in the 1960s. In order to test people's obedience to authority figures, the scientists demanded that subjects administer increasingly strong electric shocks to other participants if they answered questions incorrectly. The people delivering the shocks, however, didn't know that the charges were fake — the volunteers on the other end of the room were actors pretending to suffer agonizing pain. The point was to see how many people would continue following orders to mete out torture.
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Waterboarding For Dummies

MARK BENJAMIN writes on Salon:

Self-proclaimed waterboarding fan Dick Cheney called it a no-brainer in a 2006 radio interview: Terror suspects should get a “a dunk in the water.” But recently released internal documents reveal the controversial “enhanced interrogation” practice was far more brutal on detainees than Cheney’s description sounds, and was administered with meticulous cruelty.

Interrogators pumped detainees full of so much water that the CIA turned to a special saline solution to minimize the risk of death, the documents show. The agency used a gurney “specially designed” to tilt backwards at a perfect angle to maximize the water entering the prisoner’s nose and mouth, intensifying the sense of choking — and to be lifted upright quickly in the event that a prisoner stopped breathing.

The documents also lay out, in chilling detail, exactly what should occur in each two-hour waterboarding “session.” Interrogators were instructed to start pouring water right after a detainee exhaled, to ensure he inhaled water, not air, in his next breath.

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