And more. . .
We begin with a segment from Abby Martin’s Breaking the Set:
Why the Senate Torture Report Doesn’t Matter | Interview with David Remes
Abby Martin speaks with human rights lawyer, David Remes, about the contents of the newly released Senate torture report summary and how it will impact the future of the “war on terror”.
And from CBC News, a call for prosecution:
UN counterterrorism expert says U.S. officials must be prosecuted for CIA torture
Senior U.S. officials who authorized and carried out torture as part of former President George W. Bush’s national security policy must be prosecuted, a top United Nations special investigator said Wednesday.
Ben Emmerson, the UN’s special rapporteur on counterterrorism and human rights, said in addition that all CIA and other U.S. officials who used waterboarding and other torture techniques must be prosecuted.
He said the Senate intelligence committee report on the CIA’s harsh interrogation techniques at secret overseas facilities after the 9/11 terror attacks shows “there was a clear policy orchestrated at a high level within the Bush administration, which allowed to commit systematic crimes and gross violations of international human rights law.”
The New York Times covers leaks the spooks love:
Report Says C.I.A. Used Media Leaks to Advantage
The Central Intelligence Agency leaked classified material to reporters to shape the perception that its detention and interrogation program was an effective tool in thwarting terrorism, according to a Senate Intelligence Committee report released Tuesday.
The report also said that in 2002, a publication, revealed later on Tuesday to be The New York Times, agreed to withhold information about a secret prison in Thailand at the urging of the agency and Vice President Dick Cheney.
In addition to providing vivid details of the C.I.A.’s use of secret prisons and more aggressive torture methods than was previously known, the Senate report provides examples — in highly redacted form — of the interactions between the agency and journalists in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
The details in the report speak to tensions inside the government over the intelligence community’s dealings with the media. In some cases, the agency authorized the disclosure of classified information to journalists. Yet, in recent years, the government has investigated reporters and officials, including prosecuting a C.I.A. officer for leaking details of the torture program.
And from the Washington Post, debunking a myth:
Senate report disputes CIA account of Osama bin Laden search
The killing of Osama bin Laden in May 2011 was hailed by current and former CIA officials as the crowning justification for the use of harsh interrogation tactics. High-value detainees, when subjected to those methods, provided intelligence that the officials said helped lead the spy agency to a mysterious courier and, ultimately, to the terrorist leader himself.
The Senate Intelligence Committee report released Tuesday upends that version of history, providing an alternate case study that revives questions about the agency’s account. The report asserts that the role of harsh interrogation techniques was greatly exaggerated.
“A review of CIA records found that the initial intelligence obtained, as well as the information the CIA identified as the most critical — or the most valuable — on Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti, was not related to the use of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques,” investigators concluded.
The role the CIA detention and interrogation program played in the hunt for bin Laden is one of the most pivotal questions in assessing the effectiveness of the agency’s response to the Sept. 11 attacks. The Senate report notes that even in the weeks before the raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan, the CIA’s Office of Public Affairs had prepared “agreed-upon language” to be released that would stress “the critical nature of the detainee reporting in identifying bin Laden’s courier.”
The Los Angeles Times offers a frank assessment:
At CIA’s ‘Salt Pit’ prison, torture reigned with little oversight
The first detainee interrogated in the old abandoned brick factory north of Kabul became the model for what would later unfold in the cave-like halls of a CIA interrogation facility known as the “Salt Pit.”
Ridha Najjar, a suspected former bodyguard for Osama bin Laden, often was left alone in the shadows under a barrage of shrieking music, cold, shackled and hooded, his dark figure handcuffed to an overhead bar for 22 hours a day, according to a report released Tuesday by the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Later, another detainee, Gul Rahman, believed to have served in a security detail for an Afghan warlord, would die in the Salt Pit.
He was dragged though the dirt and grime of the corridors, his mouth taped, his clothes falling off. His captors slammed and punched him, and left him chained to a concrete floor in a sweatshirt but no pants. Officials labeled the death hypothermia, though his face, legs, shoulders and waist were cut and bruised.
A few months later in March 2003, with the outside world still unaware of the secret facility, a lead CIA officer who ordered Rahman to be shackled naked in his cell was presented a $2,500 “cash award” for his “consistently superior work,” the report states.
And a bottom line, summed up in a headline from the Los Angeles Times:
Senate report says CIA torture methods yielded no useful intelligence
The CIA’s brutal interrogations of terrorism suspects from 2002 to 2008 led to false confessions and fabricated information, produced no useful intelligence about imminent terrorist attacks and were so badly run that the CIA lost track of captives, according to a long-delayed Senate report released Tuesday.
TheLocal.de covers an error with great bodily harm:
CIA tortured German it mistook for a terrorist
A German citizen abducted and tortured by Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) agents in 2004 should never have been detained, a US Senate report published on Tuesday showed.
Khalid al-Masri was “rendered” – a term for extrajudicial transfers of prisoners – to the CIA in January 2004 after being arrested by Macedonian border authorities, who mistook him for an al-Qaeda suspect.
While in CIA custody he was severely beaten, stripped, shackled and sodomized with a suppository as part of a process the agency called “capture shock”.
He was later flown to a CIA site in Kabul, Afghanistan, where he was beaten, kicked and subjected to other abuse in a prison called the “Salt Pit”.
And the London Telegraph reports an admission:
Polish president admits Poland agreed to host secret CIA ‘black site’
- Alexander Kwasniewski, Poland’s president from 1995-2005, admits for the first time that Poland agreed to host a secret CIA ‘black site’
A former Polish president has admitted for the first time Poland agreed to host a secret CIA “black site” where terrorism suspects were held and allegedly tortured.
Alexander Kwasniewski, Poland’s president from 1995-2005, said he had permitted America to operate a base on Polish soil in the wake of the September 11 attacks but stressed there was “no agreement on torture”.
It is the first time a senior Polish politician in office during 2002-2003, when the base was operational, has conceded the CIA had a site in Poland.
For many years they issued flat denials about its existence despite a mountain of evidence indicating the base had existed, and allegations by former terrorism suspects that not only were they prisoners in Poland but also tortured there.
More from RT:
Poland: We hosted secret CIA torture prison
The damning report into CIA torture has led Poland to finally admit that it DID host a secret American prison – after years of denying it. It’s the first acknowledgement by a foreign country to hosting such a site.
TheLocal.at covers a partner in crime:
Austria complicit in US torture program
Austria was one of many European and Arab countries which was complicit in US torture programs, by supporting the secret and illegal transfer of detainees to some of its ‘black site’ prisons, according to a new report released on Tuesday.
The report is based on an in-depth investigation by the US senate, and was led by US Senator Dianne Feinstein, the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Although many parts of the report are redacted, or have code names instead of countries, reporters and analysts have combined other information to glean details of which countries were actively supporting the US in its program of secret prisons around the world, where torture was allegedly carried out by the CIA on a routine basis.
From Techdirt, torture profiteers:
Profiting Massively From Torture: Designers Of CIA Torture Program Raked In $81 Million (And Are Still Getting Money)
- from the how-do-they-sleep-at-night? dept
There are so many incredible things in the CIA Torture Report that will be discussed and analyzed over the next few weeks and months. But one that stands out to me is that the architects of the torture program were not only wholly unqualified to design it, but they profited massively from the program, to the tune of at least $81 million. And that number may go up, as they also are getting paid by the government for any legal issues related to the program, including over $1 million for legal fees associated with responding to the Senate Intelligence Committee investigation that resulted in this report.
The report uses pseudonyms for the two psychologists: Grayson Swigert and Hammond Dunbar. However, their names were actually revealed back in 2007: James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen. To say they were unqualified for the work of designing the torture program would be an understatement. While they were psychologists with the US Air Force’s “Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape” (SERE) program (which is supposed to help train US military personnel in case they’re captured), you’d think they’d actually have some relevant background with terrorism and/or interrogation. But, nope:
Neither psychologist had experience as an interrogator, nor did either have specialized knowledge of al- Qa’ida, a background in terrorism, or any relevant regional, cultural, or linguistic expertise. SWIGERT had reviewed research on “learned helplessness,” in which individuals might become passive and depressed in response to adverse or uncontrollable events. He theorized that inducing such a state could encourage a detainee to cooperate and provide information.
And from the Guardian, torture by others:
Rousseff in tears as Brazilian report details junta’s killings and torture
- Brazil’s president, herself tortured by 1970s military regime, breaks down as she says ‘new generations deserve truth’
Brazil’s National Truth Commission delivered a damning report on the killings, disappearances and torture committed by government agents during the country’s 1964-85 military dictatorship. It called for those responsible to face prosecution.
The 2,000-page report was delivered on Wednesday to President Dilma Rousseff, a former Marxist guerrilla who endured harsh torture and long imprisonment in the early 1970s.
“Under the military dictatorship, repression and the elimination of political opposition became the policy of the state, conceived and implemented based on decisions by the president of the republic and military ministers,” the report states. The commission “therefore totally rejects the explanation offered up until today that the serious violations of human rights constituted a few isolated acts or excesses resulting from the zeal of a few soldiers”.
Investigators spent nearly three years combing through archives, hospital and morgue records and questioning victims, their families and alleged perpetrators. The document represents Brazil’s most sweeping attempt yet to come to terms with the human rights abuses committed under the country’s military regime.
Who were trained by Uncle Sam, via BuzzFeed News:
The U.S. Spent Decades Teaching Torture Techniques To Brazil
The Latin American country’s National Truth Commission just produced its own torture report, which among other things documents the way American teachers taught Brazilian officers the theory and methods of torture.
U.S. military officials spent years teaching torture techniques to Brazil’s military, including throughout the South American giant’s lengthy period of military dictatorship, according to a new report.
After more than two years of investigation, the panel charged with documenting the human rights abuses committed under Brazil’s military dictatorship released its final report on Wednesday. The Brazilian report comes just a day after the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s own lengthy chronicle of the United States’ use of torture in prosecuting last decade’s War on Terror.
According to O Globo, the National Truth Commission (CNV) report documents how more than 300 members of the Brazilian military spent time at the School of the Americas, run out of Fort Benning near Columbus, Georgia. While there, attendees “had theoretical and practical lessons on torture, which would later be replicated in Brazil.”
teleSUR covers survivors arriving:
Mujica to Meet Guantanamo Refugees
- The President of Uruguay urged Obama to release political prisoners and end the Cuban embargo.
The ex-inmates of the Guantanamo prison that Uruguay has accepted will meet with President Jose Mujica, local media reported on Wednesday.
The meeting was expected to happen Wednesday afternoon at the military hospital which the refugees entered after arriving inthe South American country on Sunday, to undergo medical examinations.
Also on Wednesday, five of them were released from the hospital.
And the Los Angeles Times comes to a conclusion:
CIA torture report not likely to result in reforms or prosecutions
Amid a fresh call for a major shake-up at the highest levels of the CIA, the White House expressed support for agency Director John Brennan, who was the deputy executive director in 2002 when the interrogation program was designed and implemented.
The Justice Department defended its decision not to prosecute those involved, saying the report would not trigger reconsideration.
And in Congress, where lawmakers split along party lines over the accuracy of the findings and the wisdom of releasing the 500-page redacted summary, there were few signs of momentum behind legislation.
Techdirt goes down the rabbit hole:
GCHQ Follows NSA Into Paranoia — Just As Julian Assange Predicted
- from the cognitive-decline dept
One of the knock-on effects of Snowden’s leaks is that the NSA is terrified there might be more whistleblowers, and has taken extreme action in an attempt to reduce the risk of that happening by stripping 100,000 people of their security clearances. In other words, it no longer trusts huge swathes of the people it works with — hardly a healthy situation. Now it seems that GCHQ has succumbed to a similar paranoia about its employees:
GCHQ is sponsoring ways of identifying disgruntled employees and those who might go on to be a security threat through their use of language in things like office emails.
The article in the Gloucestershire Echo — the English county where GCHQ is located — explains how potential whistleblowers will be identified:
“research will investigate the use of techniques from the field of natural language processing to detect the early indicators of an insider’s threat.”
That means changes in the way a person communicates can give a clue that they are unhappy and perhaps prepared to do something to harm the organisation.
On to the year’s other major domestic story, via United Press International:
Medical students across U.S. hold ‘die-ins’ to protest racism
Medical students at the University of Pennsylvania blocked traffic as they joined a national “die-in” to protest the police killings of unarmed black men and racism in health care.
White-coated medical students from Harvard to the University of California held “die-ins” Wednesday to protest the deaths of unarmed black men and racism in health care.
The National White Coat Die-In involved scores of medical schools across the United States.
Lucy Ogbu Nwobodo, one of the organizers of the protest at the UC Davis Medical School in Sacramento, said the national discussion of the shooting of Michael Williams in Ferguson, Mo., and the chokehold death of Eric Garner in New York “have affected all of us.”
“We decided to come together as one voice to speak up about these issues,” Nwobodo told Capital Public Radio. “We believe that because it affects our patients outside of the hospital it’s just as important as what we see in the medical clinics.”
At Yale in New Haven, Conn., medical students spent 4 1/2 minutes lying on the ground, a minute for each hour Williams’ body remained on the street, and then, like Garner, shouted “I can’t breathe.” Jessica Minor, a medical student, said the protest was also aimed at the under-representation of minorities and women in medical school.
At the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, protesters stopped traffic. About 100 students blocked Walnut Street by lying down.
The same, this time in Old Blighty, via USA Today:
Londoners hold ‘die-in’ in support of U.S. protests
Hundreds of protesters rallied Wednesday at one of Europe’s largest shopping malls to show solidarity with U.S. demonstrations over the killing of unarmed black men by white officers.
Shouting “black lives matter” and “we can’t breathe,” the multiracial crowd marched through the Westfield center in west London and staged several “die-ins,” echoing recent protests in the U.S. at Macy’s Herald Square and Grand Central Station in New York City, as well as Union Station in Washington. Other protests in recent days have occurred in Berkeley, Calif.
The English protest was called by the London Black Revolutionaries, the National Union of Students Black Students’ Campaign and the London Campaign Against Police and State Violence.
From United Press International, another response:
Columbia Law School postpones exams after Garner, Ferguson grand jury decisions
Columbia Law School is granting final exam postponements to students who say they were traumatized by recent grand jury decisions not to indict white police officers responsible for killing unarmed black men in Ferguson, Mo., and Staten Island, N.Y.
The school’s interim dean, Robert E. Scott, announced the decision Saturday in an email to the school. He allowed the extensions after a petition was posted by The Columbia Law School Coalition of Concerned Students of Color on the same day.
“Recent events have unsettled our lives as students,” the petition read. “We have struggled to compartmentalize our trauma as we sit and make fruitless attempts to focus on exam preparation. We sit to study with the knowledge that our brothers and sisters are regularly killed with impunity on borders and streets; we sit to study with the understanding that our brothers and sisters are marching to have our humanity recognized and valued by a system that has continually failed us.”
And from Reuters, a win:
Chicago proposes chokehold ban in wake of U.S. protests
Chicago city council members have proposed a ban on the use of chokeholds by police officers working within city limits in an expansive proposal coming in the wake of the chokehold death of an unarmed black man being arrested in New York.
The proposal, which includes all security personnel such as deputy sheriffs, U.S. Marshals and private security guards, is the first among U.S. municipalities attempting to regulate arrest techniques after a grand jury last week declined to indict a New York City police officer in a chokehold death.
Council members in favor of the ban, which was introduced this week to the city’s finance committee, say they want Chicago in front of the issue of excessive police force that has resulted in street protests across the nation.
After the jump, Uncle Sam demands handover of emails in Ireland, then on to the hack of the year, first with FBI doubts about Pyongyang’s responsibility, word that a ransom demand came first, while Homeland Security warned Sony of possible North Korean retaliation, the film in question approved at the top, and a celebrity scandal emerges from the leaks, on to other malware, starting with a new version of an old curse, another new breed of malware, and a high level hacker cabal resurfaces, the FAA gives limited private drone us OK to four companies, another Palestinian tragedy and another provocation from the Israeli government, an African security investigation, on to Asia and American arms sale to Taiwan, Hong Kong braces for Occupy eviction, Brits angry at China for blocking a parliamentary Hong Kong visit, Chinese Game of Zones anger at Washington, and hints of a Beijing secret Game of Zones play, Chinese jets cross a Japanese line, a Chinese ballistic challenger, fears of a South Korean press crackdown, more fears over Japan’s new state secrets act amidst a right wing campaign against the press, while racists continue their Kyoto hate speech campaign, and Abe’s government steps up its campaign to whitewash war crimes abroad, cinematic Hitler love in Thailand, and a facesit-in protest in Old Blighty. . . Continue reading