And so much more. . .
To open, there’s an ap for that via the Associated Press:
‘Driving while black’ apps give tips for police stops
A “Driving While Black” smartphone application is set for release this month, but its developers say motorists should be careful when they use it.
“Do not reach for your phone when you are talking to police,” stressed attorney Melvin Oden-Orr, who created the app with another Portland lawyer and a software developer.
Avoiding any move that could make officers think you’re reaching for a gun is just one of the tips “Driving While Black” offers. And despite its attention-grabbing name, the common-sense advice it offers applies to motorists of all races.
The app describes how people can assert their civil rights with officers, enables drivers to alert friends and family with a push of a button that they’ve been pulled over, and includes a recording function to document the interaction.
Empirical policing from MIT Technology Review:
Researchers Will Study Police Confrontations Via Body Cameras
- UCLA scholars will analyze raw video and audio feeds to glean insights into effective policing
As more police are equipped with cameras on their bodies to capture footage of interactions with the public, a group of researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, has been given permission to study video and audio streams from one police department to learn how best to prevent confrontations from escalating.
Police body-cams have been proposed as ways to resolve allegations of needless use of force following the police shooting of an unarmed teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, and the death of a New York City man during his arrest for selling cigarettes illegally.
The White House last week pledged $75 million that police departments could use to buy 50,000 body cameras as a way to help “build and sustain trust” among civilians. But whether or not cameras will resolve disputes or improve trust, they could at least provide a wider window into how policing works.
From Channel 4 News, solidarity in London:
76 arrests at Eric Garner protests in London
Police have arrested 76 people who were part of a mass demonstration at Westfield shopping centre in London.
On to that torture thing, first with a “what if?” from the New York Times:
C.I.A. First Planned Jails Abiding by U.S. Standards
Just six days after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, President Bush signed a secret order that gave the Central Intelligence Agency the power to capture and imprison terrorists with Al Qaeda. But the order said nothing about where they should be held or how the agency should go about the business of questioning them.
For the next few weeks, as the rubble at ground zero smoldered and the United States launched a military operation in Afghanistan, C.I.A. officials scrambled to fill in the blanks left by the president’s order. Initially, agency officials considered a path very different from the one they ultimately followed, according to the newly released Senate Intelligence Committee report on the C.I.A.’s harsh interrogation program.
They envisioned a system in which detainees would be offered the same rights and protections as inmates held in federal or American military prisons. Conditions at these new overseas prisons would be comparable to those at maximum-security facilities in the United States. Interrogations were to be conducted in accordance with the United States Army Field Manual, which prohibits coerced, painful questioning. Everything at the prisons would “be tailored to meet the requirements of U.S. law and the federal rules of criminal procedure,” C.I.A. lawyers wrote in November 2001.
The Los Angeles Times covers the tortured semantics of somatic torture:
CIA struggled to keep rationalizing brutal interrogations, report shows
When CIA interrogators waterboarded their first prisoner, Al Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah, on Aug. 4, 2002, they justified the simulated drowning as a vital tool to extract secrets about future attacks against the United States.
But after 20 days of round-the-clock interrogation at a secret prison in Thailand, during which Zubaydah was repeatedly waterboarded in long sessions, slammed against walls, slapped, confined in a coffin-size box for 266 hours and chained in “stress positions,” the interrogators concluded the Saudi-born operative knew nothing about new plots.
At that point, the justification changed: Officials said the brutal treatment was necessary not to extract information, but to reassure themselves that Zubaydah already had told them everything he knew.
“Our goal was to reach the stage where we have broken any will or ability of subject to resist,” the interrogators said in an email to CIA headquarters. The goal was to get to “the point that we could confidently assess” that Zubaydah did “not possess undisclosed threat information,” they said.
From the New York Times, the inevitable:
Chinese Coverage of C.I.A. Torture Report Says It Highlights U.S. Hypocrisy
The report on the C.I.A.’s interrogations of terrorism suspects, released by the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, has received extensive coverage in China, which has long accused the United States of hypocrisy on human rights issues.
At a regular news briefing in Beijing on Wednesday, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Hong Lei, said that China “consistently opposes torture.”
“We believe that the U.S. side should reflect upon and rectify its relevant behavior, earnestly obey and implement the provisions of international conventions,” he said.
Another Asia voice from the Guardian:
Afghan president condemns ‘shocking’ and ‘inhumane’ torture described in CIA report
- Ashraf Ghani vows to defends the dignity of those who had been jailed in reminder of how impact of CIA interrogation programme still fuels anger
The Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, has described detailed revelations of US torture as “shocking” and “inhumane”, and demanded to know how many Afghans had been debased in grim facilities inside their own country.
The recently elected leader promised to defend the dignity of those who had been jailed, and gave notice that from the start of next year no foreign organisation would have the right to detain or torture Afghans.
“This is a vicious cycle. When a person is tortured in an inhumane way, the reaction will be inhumane,” Ghani told a specially convened news conference in Kabul. “There can be no justification for these kinds of actions and inhumane torture in today’s world.”
More tortuous spookspeak from the Washington Post:
CIA chief: ‘Unknowable’ whether ordinary interrogation would bring same intel gains
CIA Director John Brennan said Thursday that valuable information was obtained from detainees subjected to harsh interrogation techniques, but it remains “unknowable” whether conventional questioning alone could have led to the same intelligence gains.
In his first public comments since Tuesday’s release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the CIA detention program, Brennan also defended the use of so-called “enhanced” techniques as the “right” response at a time when the agency believed al-Qaeda was possibly preparing another wave of terrorism in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.
Brennan also directly challenged some of the reports main conclusions.
Where have we heard this before?:
Rummy’s more cadaverous other half weighs in via Techdirt:
Dick Cheney Says CIA Torture Report Is ‘Full Of Crap’ — Then Admits He Hasn’t Read It
- from the judging-a-book-by-its-cover dept
It’s no secret that those most closely responsible for the CIA’s torture program are pulling out all the stops to attack the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the program, trying out a variety of defenses from “it actually saved lives” to “it’s just a partisan hack job.” So it should come as no surprise that former Vice President Dick Cheney has been making the cable TV news appearances to help attack the report. After all, many have argued that the real person behind the torture program was Cheney and his staff — and to date, Cheney has insisted that everything that was done was perfectly reasonable and he’d do it again. Thus there’s no surprise when Cheney appears on Fox News (because, of course), to claim that the report is “a bunch of hooey” and “full of crap” and “deeply flawed” only to then admit “ I haven’t read the report.”
Even the Fox News interviewer was taken aback — and Cheney must have realized how stupid he looked, because he then tried to backtrack, arguing that he hadn’t read “all 6,000 pages,” but then saying he’d read “parts of it” and “summaries.” Yes, we’ve all read “summaries.” But some of us have sat down to read the whole 500 pages (minus the redacted bits, of course). You would hope that if Cheney was going on TV to respond to questions about the report that he might have done so as well, rather than just repeating the talking points handed out to folks associated with the program. Apparently not.
More inevitability from the New York Times:
U.S. Tells Court That Documents From Torture Investigation Should Remain Secret
The Obama administration has urged a court to reject a request to disclose thousands of pages of documents from a Justice Department investigation into the torture of detainees by the Central Intelligence Agency, including summaries of interviews with about 100 witnesses and documents explaining why in the end no charges were filed.
The administration made the filing late Tuesday in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by The New York Times, hours after the Senate Intelligence Committee made public a 524-page executive summary of its own investigation into C.I.A. torture. The committee based its report on a review of C.I.A. documents but did not conduct any interviews.
The Justice Department materials, the court filing revealed, include 10 reports and memorandums totaling 1,719 pages — more than three times the number of pages in the Senate report released Tuesday — as well as “numerous” pages of reports on interviews with current and former C.I.A. officials.
The London Telegraph covers acts of omission by commission:
Downing Street admits: CIA torture report redacted at request of British spies
- No 10 confirms British intelligence officials discussed redactions to torture report ‘on grounds of national security’
Key passages of report into the CIA’s torture programme were censored at the request of British spies, Downing Street has admitted, raising fears that the UK’s hand in the post-9/11 interrogation programme was covered up.
David Cameron’s spokesman admitted the Security Services asked their American counterparts to censor a US Senate report into the brutal interrogation of terror suspects at secret foreign prisons. It is understood the requests were granted.
John Brennan, the head of the CIA, tonight defended the “abhorrent” interrogation programme, saying the information helped locate Osama Bin Laden.
Mr Brennan said there was “strong concern” among foreign spy chiefs that the report was about to be made public. “Covert was something that they hoped was going to remain such,” he said.
And Channel NewsAsia Singapore covers an Asian denial:
Thailand denies existence of CIA black site
Thailand has long been accused by human rights groups of being one of a number of countries which hosted secret prisons run by the CIA to interrogate Al-Qaeda suspects in the years after the 9/11 attacks on New York
A senior Thai official on Thursday (Dec 11) flatly rejected longstanding claims the kingdom hosted a secret CIA prison after the publication of a US Senate report this week reignited controversy over Washington’s “black site” network.
Thailand has long been accused by human rights groups of being one of a number of countries which hosted secret prisons run by the CIA to interrogate Al-Qaeda suspects in the years after the 9/11 attacks on New York.
But Suwaphan Tanyuvardhan, a minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, rejected any suggestions that the Thai government had been complicit in running any “black sites”. “There has been no such thing as a secret prison or torture facilities in Thailand. Thai officials do not do these kind of actions,” he told reporters.
More semantic persiflage from the Washington Post:
‘Learned helplessness’: The chilling psychological concept behind the CIA’s interrogation methods
Of all the harrowing accounts and chilling examples in the U.S. Senate report on CIA interrogation practices, among the most striking was that of Abu Zubaydah. One of the first detainees in the war on terror, he was also one of the most vital. Lying in a bed in Thailand, he told FBI interrogators all about Khalid Sheik Mohammed — the mastermind of the Sept. 11th attacks.
But then the CIA showed up. Its team was accompanied by a psychologist. And he wanted to conduct a test that would get “Zubaydah to reveal everything by severing his sense of personality and scaring him almost to death,” reported Vanity Fair in 2007 in a groundbreaking story. So interrogators built a coffin and stuffed him inside it, the Senate report said, for 300 hours. He was waterboarded 83 times in 17 days. He was absolutely broken by the procedures — but not one significant plot was foiled as a result of his confessions.
Despite the failure of the interrogation methods, the psychological concept guiding them — called “learned helplessness” — lived on. With the guidance of two psychologists on contract to the CIA for $1,800 per day, the technique of stripping someone of their will would be applied to numerous additional prisoners in the coming years. Media reports have named the two psychologists: Jim Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, who in all earned $81 million in payment. They derived their approach from a well-known 1967 research paper by University of Pennsylvania psychologists.
And from the London Telegraph, more inevitability:
Russia calls for prosecutions over ‘inquisition-style’ CIA interrogation methods
Foreign ministry says “shocking” Senate report was “latest confirmation of gross, systemic human rights violations” by US authorities
Russia has called on the United States to punish those responsible for the use of “inquisition-style” interrogation methods in the “global war on terror”, as revealed in the US Senate report on torture this week.
Konstantin Dolgov, the human rights ombudsman of Russia’s foreign ministry, said the results of the “shocking” report were “the latest confirmation of gross, systemic human rights violations by the American authorities”.
The long-awaited torture report, published in 500-page summary form on Tuesday by the Senate’s intelligence committee, detailed brutal interrogation methods used by the CIA against al-Qaeda suspects
The Guardian covers the objects of the machine, free at last:
Guantánamo prisoners released to Uruguay: ‘We are so happy to be here’
Six former US detainees who were never charged with a crime, were flown to Uruguay on Sunday to begin new lives as refugees
Over the past 12 years, Ali al-Shaaban has experienced precious little human kindness. Detained in Pakistan as a suspected al-Qaida member in the months after the 9/11 terror attacks, he was transferred to the US military prison at Guantánamo Bay, where he was held for more than a decade.
This week, however, the 32-year old Syrian has been the subject of a wave of affection in a country half a world away from his homeland: government officials offer him warm embraces; total strangers wave to him and offer words of encouragement.
Shaaban is one of six Guantánamo prisoners who were flown to Uruguay on Sunday to begin new lives as refugees. The six – four Syrians, a Palestinian and a Tunisian – were never charged, and were cleared for release in 2009, but the US struggled to find countries willing to receive them until the Uruguayan president, José Mujica agreed to accept them.
The Associated Press covers culture war:
US co-opted Cuba’s hip-hop scene to spark change
In early 2009, a U.S. government contractor sent a Serbian music promoter to Cuba with these covert marching orders: Recruit one of Havana’s most notorious rappers to spark a youth movement against the government.
In communist Cuba, it was a project that could have landed Rajko Bozic in jail. So when he made his pitch to team up with hip-hop artist Aldo Rodriguez, Bozic left out the part about his true intentions — or that he was working for the U.S. Agency for International Development.
Dreadlocked, muscled and tattooed, Aldo, as he was known, was a hero in the hip-hop underground for lyrics protesting the Castro government’s grip on everyday life in songs like “El Rap Es Guerra,” or “Rap Is War,” words he tattooed on his forearm.
He and his group, Los Aldeanos, were about to unknowingly get sucked into a tug-of-war between Havana and Washington, as thousands of pages of documents obtained by The Associated Press and dozens of interviews show.
A video report from the Guardian:
USAid uses Cuban hip-hop to spark youth unrest
Hip-hop is latest covert weapon in the US government’s attempts to unseat Cuba’s communist government.
For more than two years, the American development aid organisation USAid has been secretly trying to infiltrate Cuba’s underground hip-hop movement. Like its previous efforts, including exploding cigars, poisoned milkshakes and the botched Bay of Pigs invasion, the attempt to co-opt rappers ended in ignominious failure, new documents have shown.
Grounded, via the Los Angeles Times:
European Union bans all Libyan airlines, citing safety risk
The European Union on Thursday banned all seven Libyan airlines from operating in the airspace of the 28-nation bloc, citing threats to flight operations while the country is plagued by violent militias battling for dominance.
“Recent events in Libya have led to a situation whereby the Civil Aviation Authority is no longer able to fulfill its international obligations with regard to the safety of the Libyan aviation sector,” European Union Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc said in a statement issued in Brussels.
“My priority in aviation is passenger safety, which is nonnegotiable, and we stand ready to help the Libyan aviation sector as soon as the situation on the ground will allow for this,” Bulc said.
After the jump, Spanish law formalizes immigrant expulsions and implements anti-protest fines, ISIS tries hostage corpse ransom, Cold War 2.0 on the Baltic, using the deplorable to justify the unspeakable in Old Blighty, the hack of the year yields Tinseltown tawdriness and other revelations, fighting POODLE attacks on your browser, Spanish law triggers a Google News departure, prosecution urged for Brazilian military dictatorship crimes, a legal victory for journalists in Sierra Leone, forced conversions alleged in India, freedom of information oversight defunding Down Under, a virginity test for Indonesian policewomen, North Korean kidnap leaks alleged, China memorial brings Japanese war crimes into the present, Hong Kong Occupy evicted with 247 arrests as some vow to return, China rejects a Vietnamese island claim, Washington pushes for a Japanese/South Korean rapprochement, a Hollywood film inspires a revisionist censorship cry in Japan, and Tojo nostalgia in Tokyo as Japan ups its military budget again. . . Continue reading