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Torture

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How did a person who should be in the criminal dock both in the US and in the International Criminal Court for running a torture prison get appointed the Director of the US Central Intelligence Agency? What is all the Washington talk about defending human rights when a torturer is put in charge of covert... Read More
Few Americans ever took in the vastness of the prison outsourcing system the administration of George W. Bush set up from Afghanistan to Iraq, Thailand to Poland, the island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean to Guantánamo Bay in Cuba. In those years, I began referring to that global network of prisons as our... Read More
What the Paintings by Its Prisoners Tell Us About Our Humanity and Theirs
We spent the day at a beach in Brooklyn. Skyscrapers floated in the distance and my toddler kept handing me cigarette filters she had dug out of the sand. When we got home, I checked my email. I had been sent a picture of a very different beach: deserted, framed by distant headlands with unsullied... Read More
Will Washington Never Learn?
Eight years ago, when I wrote a book on the first days of Guantanamo, The Least Worst Place: Guantánamo’s First 100 Days, I assumed that Gitmo would prove a grim anomaly in our history. Today, it seems as if that “detention facility” will have a far longer life than I ever imagined and that it,... Read More
Karen Greenberg first arrived at TomDispatch in January 2005 in tandem with defense attorney Joshua Dratel. Their book The Torture Papers was just being published and they were asking questions. Thirty-seven of them, to be exact, all pointed, all uncomfortable, all directed at then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, all focused on the Bush administration’s torture... Read More
Hired psychologists devised "enhanced interrogation techniques” to break prisoners
Given the intense media coverage over Charlottesville, a recent small headlinelargely escaped notice, but it could have a major impact on how Americans come to terms with the excesses that developed from the “global war on terror.” For the first time, several individuals closely associated with the CIA torture program were about to become answerable... Read More
Torture, Rendition, and Indefinite Detention Under Trump
When George W. Bush and Dick Cheney launched their forever wars -- under the banner of a “Global War on Terror” -- they unleashed an unholy trinity of tactics. Torture, rendition, and indefinite detention became the order of the day. After a partial suspension of these policies in the Obama years, they now appear poised... Read More
Where does Donald Trump stand on the use of torture by US security agencies? During the presidential election campaign he notoriously recommended a return to waterboarding, the repeated near-drowning of detainees that was banned by President Obama in 2009. But last week The New York Times reported that in an interview with its senior staff,... Read More
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has just released its report, “Extreme Measures: Abused Children Detained As National Security Threats.” https://www.hrw.org/report/2016/07/28/extreme-measures/abuses-against-children-detained-national-security-threats From my reading of the report, Israel and the US are the two worst abusers. Boko Haram is a distant third. Which country is the worst abuser, Israel or the US? Taking into account that the... Read More
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Should George Bush, Dick Cheney, and Others Be Jailed?
"The cold was terrible but the screams were worse," Sara Mendez told the BBC. "The screams of those who were being tortured were the first thing you heard and they made you shiver. That's why there was a radio blasting day and night." In the 1970s, Mendez was a young Uruguayan teacher with leftist leanings.... Read More
Let’s take a moment to think about the ultimate strangeness of our American world. In recent months, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz have offered a range of hair-raising suggestions: as president, one or the other of them might order the U.S. military and the CIA to commit acts that would include the waterboarding of terror... Read More
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The Shameful Ordeal of Abu Zubaydah
The allegations against the man were serious indeed. * Donald Rumsfeld said he was “if not the number two, very close to the number two person” in al-Qaeda. * The Central Intelligence Agency informed Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee that he “served as Usama Bin Laden’s senior lieutenant. In that capacity, he has managed a... Read More
Candidates Compete to Promise the Most Torture and Slaughter
From the look of the presidential campaign, war crimes are back on the American agenda. We really shouldn’t be surprised, because American officials got away with it last time -- and in the case of the drone warscontinue to get away with it today. Still, there’s nothing like the heady combination of a “populist” Republican... Read More
What a scam! Noam Scheiber and Patricia Cohen described it this way in a front-page New York Times report on how a small group of incredibly wealthy Americans funded their way into another tax universe: “Operating largely out of public view -- in tax court, through arcane legislative provisions and in private negotiations with the... Read More
An all-star cast teams up to spin their enhanced interrogation regime
Back in the days when I was a spy there were certain things that one just did not dwell upon. Everyone who worked in the field knew that there were episodes that it would be best not to recall, either because they were embarrassing, possibly unsavory, or even, more rarely, wildly successful though at a... Read More
cincinnatus1
The trillion dollar a year war on terror is a witness protection program for government felons
The United States already has by far the per capita largest prison population of any developed country but I am probably one of the few Americans who on this Independence Day would like to see a lot more people in prison, mostly drawn from politicians and senior bureaucrats who have long believed that their status... Read More
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The Secret Origins of the CIA’s Torture Program and the Forgotten Man Who Tried to Expose It
The witness reported men being hung by the feet or the thumbs, waterboarded, given electric shocks to the genitals, and suffering from extended solitary confinement in what he said were indescribably inhumane conditions. It’s the sort of description that might have come right out of the executive summary of the Senate torture report released last... Read More
Rambo! In my Reagan-era youth, the name was synonymous with the Vietnam War -- at least the Vietnam War reimagined, the celluloid fantasy version of it in which a tanned, glistening, muscle-bound commando busted the handcuffs of defeat and redeemed America’s honor in the jungles of Southeast Asia. Untold millions including the Gipper himself, an... Read More
There was a nasty dustup on Twitter between the Glenn Greenwald forces and sympathizers with Bashar al Assad concerning the case of Maher Arar—a Canadian citizen who was deported by the US to Syria, where he was detained for 9 months and tortured (he describes his treatment here)--and whether Syria under Assad had assisted the... Read More
Credit: Antiwar.com
Google’s Boycott Campaign Against War Photography and Alternative Media
What happens when a dynamic company, started by a couple of idealistic friends in grad school, succeeds so wildly that it becomes a mega-corporation that pervades the lives of hundreds of millions? In imperial America, it would seem, it eventually becomes corrupted, even captured. Tragically, that seems to be the unfolding story of Google. By... Read More
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From Torture to Drone Assassination, How Washington Gave Itself a Global Get-Out-of-Jail-Free Card
"The sovereign is he who decides on the exception,” said conservative thinker Carl Schmitt in 1922, meaning that a nation’s leader can defy the law to serve the greater good. Though Schmitt’s service as Nazi Germany’s chief jurist and his unwavering support for Hitler from the night of the long knives to Kristallnacht and beyond... Read More
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A Gallery of American Heroes
Why was it again that, as President Obama said, “we tortured some folks” after the 9/11 attacks? Oh, right, because we were terrified. Because everyone knows that being afraid gives you moral license to do whatever you need to do to keep yourself safe. That’s why we don’t shame or punish those who were too... Read More
Ali Saleh al-Marri is a convicted conspirator who entered the United States before 9/11 in order to create a dreaded sleeper cell here that might someday launch an attack on Americans similar to what we witnessed earlier this month in Paris. When the feds woke from their slumber on 9/11, they wisely began to search... Read More
cheney
It's All-American
Christmas week is possibly a good time to reflect on what kind of nation we have become. Americans are much given to think of themselves as exceptional, so much so that “exceptionalism” as a national attribute has entered the political vocabulary. Americans also like to think of themselves as generous, fair minded to a fault,... Read More
The Senate's investigation may only be the tip of the iceberg
The meticulously documented 528-page Senate Intelligence Committee report on the CIA’s secret rendition, detention, and interrogation program is remarkable for its candor. In blunt language it describes the horrors of the black site secret prisons and the efforts that were made to get terrorist suspects to talk. It effectively makes two overriding points, first that... Read More
Introduction: The US Senate Report documenting CIA torture of alleged terrorist suspects raises a number of fundamental questions about the nature and operations of the State, the relationship and the responsibility of the Executive Branch and Congress to the vast secret police networks which span the globe – including the United States. CIA: The Politics... Read More
The White House wanted to justify the 2003 invasion
The CIA tortured al-Qaeda suspects because it wanted evidence that Saddam Hussein was linked to 9/11 in order to justify the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The agency was under intense pressure from the White House and senior figures in the Bush administration to extract confessions confirming co-operation between the Iraqi leader and al-Qaeda, although... Read More
It came from the top and that’s never been a secret. The president authorized the building of those CIA “black sites” and the use of what came to be known as “enhanced interrogation techniques” and has spoken of this with a certain pride. The president’s top officials essentially put in an order at the Department... Read More
Its use is always wrong and, despite CIA justifications post 9/11, the information obtained from it is invariably tainted
The justifications for its actions given by the CIA since thepublication of the Senate report on torture are similar to those given by torturers down the ages. They claim that the information obtained by inflicting intolerable pain is of the greatest value and could not have been obtained by any other means. The information is... Read More
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Beyond the Senate Torture Report
It’s the political story of the week in Washington. At long last, after the endless stalling and foot-shuffling, the arguments about redaction and CIA computer hacking, the claims that its release might stoke others out there in the Muslim world to violence and “throw the C.I.A. to the wolves,” the report -- you know which... Read More
Torture is a crime under both American and international law. The Bush administration repeatedly broke the law from 2002 to 2006 by unleashing a wave of torture, kidnapping, and murder, all under the banner of its faux “war on terror.” “Terror” is a wonderfully useful propaganda term developed by the Israelis and adopted by the... Read More
Readers have asked for my take on the CIA torture report. There is so much information and commentary available that it is unnecessary. Igor Volsky http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article40428.htm provides a concise summary. President George W. Bush signed off on torture and then told the gullible people that “this government does not torture people.” The torture was horrific.... Read More
When the head of the CIA's torture unit decided to destroy videotapes of his team's horrific work, he unwittingly set in motion a series of events that led to the release this week of the most massive, detailed documentation of unlawful behavior by high-ranking government officials and intentional infliction of pain on noncombatants by the... Read More
The Senate Intelligence Committee released its long-awaited report on CIA torture of detainees and the reaction has been strong. While some still maintain that torture is justified, the emerging details of the program have left most of the country disgusted and ashamed. Many in the current Administration blame the Bush people for this dark chapter,... Read More
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David Copperfield is a CIA Contractor?
The crisis involving the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is a Godsend to politicians, which is probably why the threat actually posed by the group is being hyped as it is while the White House and Pentagon continue to change the meaning of commonly used English expressions to enable the attacking of just... Read More
In some respects, the recent admission by CIA Director John Brennan that his agents and his lawyers have been spying on the senators whose job it is to monitor the agency should come as no surprise. The agency's job is to steal and keep secrets, and implicit in those tasks, Brennan would no doubt argue,... Read More
Remember back in April, 2007, when then-CIA director George Tenet appeared on 60 Minutes, angrily telling the program host, “we don’t torture people”? Remember a few months later, in October, President George W. Bush saying, “this government does not torture people”? We knew then it was not true because we had already seen the photos... Read More
It sounded like the beginning of a bad joke: a CIA agent and a U.S. Special Operations commando walked into a barbershop in Sana... That’s the capital of Yemen in case you didn’t remember and not the sort of place where armed Americans usually wander out alone just to get a haircut. Here’s what we... Read More
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Still Living With Jack Bauer in a Terrified New American World
Once upon a time, if a character on TV or in a movie tortured someone, it was a sure sign that he was a bad guy. Now, the torturers are the all-American heroes. From 24 to Zero Dark Thirty, it’s been the good guys who wielded the pliers and the waterboards. We’re not only living... Read More
The River Kwai Passes Through Latin America and Washington
What a way to celebrate Torture Awareness Month! According to an Amnesty International Poll released in May, 45% of Americans believe that torture is “sometimes necessary and acceptable” in order to “gain information that may protect the public.” Twenty-nine percent of Britons “strongly or somewhat agreed” that torture was justified when asked the same question.... Read More
I’ll bet you didn’t know that June is “torture awareness month” thanks to the fact that, on June 26, 1987, the Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment or Punishment went into effect internationally. In this country, however, as a recent Amnesty International survey indicated, Americans are essentially living in Torture Unawareness... Read More
There is some horse-trading going on between the Central Intelligence Agency and the Senate Intelligence Committee over the packaging of the committee’s now notorious 6,300-page report on the CIA interrogation program. It is generally agreed that only the 500-page summary of the report will actually see the light of day—and even that will be heavily... Read More
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A Torture Story Without a Hero or an Ending
It’s mind-boggling. Torture is still up for grabs in America. No one questions anymore whether the CIA waterboarded one individual 83 times or another 186 times. The basic facts are no longer in dispute either by those who champion torture or those who, like myself, despise the very idea of it. No one questions whether... Read More
In mid-April, Abu Ghraib was closed down. It was a grim end for the Iraqi prison where the Bush administration gave autocrat Saddam Hussein a run for his money. The Iraqi government feared it might be overrun by an al-Qaeda offshoot that calls itself the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. By then, the... Read More
Despite grossly violating their oaths, CIA and military physicians escape professional censure
For me one of the most horrifying revelations about the torture carried out by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) at its black sites, and the military at its prisons, was that medical doctors not only stood by to monitor the process but were also involved in providing advice to make the torture both mentally and... Read More
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Status Quo at Gitmo
It was shortly after five o’clock on a Saturday morning last April. The prisoners in the communal cellblock at Camp 6 in Guantanamo Bay Prison had just gathered for morning prayers. Suddenly the overhead lights went out, the cell doors slammed shut and tear gas canisters exploded in the room. Military guards charged into the... Read More
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The Shock and Awing of America
A report released last Monday indicating that U.S. military doctors designed, enabled and engaged in the torture of detainees during both the Bush and Obama administrations highlights the urgency in revitalizing the debate around torture and abuse. The report found that the medical personnel allowed “cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment” of prisoners. –XO Torture is... Read More
The Constitution Project's report on detainee treatment is but a first step toward the truth—and reclaiming our...
Much of the world continues to regard the post-9/11 United States as a rogue nation because the so-called global war on terror, coupled with the Bush Doctrine, sent a clear message that Washington would intervene in other countries as necessary if it felt in any way threatened. The fully justified attack on Afghanistan and al-Qaeda... Read More
…The Battle of Algiers As the moving finger of chaos hovered over Mali and Algeria last week, I took another look at Gillo Pontecorvo’s 1966 masterpiece, The Battle of Algiers. I am somewhat puzzled that this movie is not at the heart of the Zero Dark Thirty debate. Because in many ways, perhaps intentionally, ZDT... Read More
Sometimes some folks who are supporting the unspeakable do protest too much. I have previously reviewed for TAC the book by former CIA senior officer Jose Rodriguez that sought to justify the use of “hard measures” against terrorist suspects. More recently, I again revisited the subject when the United States Senate Intelligence Committee completed a... Read More
Category Classics
The “war hero” candidate buried information about POWs left behind in Vietnam.
While other top brass played press agents for the administration’s war, William Odom told the truth about...
Which superpower is more threatened by its “extractive elites”?