From Bwtm

The Bush regime supports torture. This is just one of the may Scandals that represent the Culture of Corruption promoted by neo-conservitive Republican politicians and bureaucrats.

Torture is always wrong.

All torture is always wrong.


Professional Interrogators do not use torture. Information obtained by the use of torture is known to be unreliable and rarely of value.



Terrorists seek to spread terror. Torture, particularly secrete torture, spreads terror. To fight terror don't spread terror.

“If the detainee dies, you’re doing it wrong.” and other news

US-held terror suspects 'abused' The White House said the mistreatment of detainees has never been a policy. Medical examinations of former terror suspects held by US troops showed proof of physical and psychological torture, a US-based human rights group said.

When military officers at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, struggled in the fall of 2002 to find ways to get terrorism suspects to talk, they turned to the one agency that had spent several months experimenting with the limits of physical and psychological pressure: the Central Intelligence Agency. They took the top lawyer for the C.I.A.’s Counterterrorist Center to Guantánamo, where he explained that the definition of illegal torture was “written vaguely.” “It is basically subject to perception,” said the lawyer, Jonathan M. Fredman, according to meeting minutes released Tuesday at a Senate hearing. “If the detainee dies, you’re doing it wrong.”

CIA secret prisons and special rendition

House Passes Bill to Ban CIA's Use of Harsh Interrogation Tactics

December 14, 2007 The House approved legislation yesterday that would bar the CIA from using waterboarding and other harsh interrogation tactics, drawing an immediate veto threat from the White House and setting up another political showdown over what constitutes torture.

The measure, approved by a largely party-line vote of 222 to 199, would require U.S. intelligence agencies to follow Army rules adopted last year that explicitly forbid waterboarding. It also would require interrogators to adhere to a strict interpretation of the Geneva Conventions on the treatment of prisoners of war. The rules, required by Congress for all Defense Department personnel, also ban sexual humiliation, "mock" executions and the use of attack dogs, and prohibit the withholding of food and medical care.

The passage of the bill, which must still win Senate approval, fulfills a promise by House Democratic leaders to seek a ban on interrogation practices that have prompted the condemnation of human rights groups and many governments around the world. It comes amid a furor over the CIA's announcement a week ago that it destroyed in 2005 videotapes showing the use of harsh interrogation tactics on two terrorism suspects.

The White House vowed to veto the measure. Limiting the CIA to interrogation techniques authorized by the Army Field Manual "would prevent the United States from conducting lawful interrogations of senior al Qaeda terrorists to obtain intelligence needed to protect Americans from attack," the Office of Management and Budget said in a statement.

Key Republicans also opposed the measure. Rep. Peter Hoekstra (Mich.), the House intelligence committee's ranking GOP member, said applying the unclassified Army Field Manual to all interrogations would give terrorist groups full knowledge of U.S. interrogation techniques.

"Too many details on the counterterrorism programs that have kept America safe since 9/11 have already been illegally leaked," Hoekstra said. "Congress should not be in the business of voluntarily giving al-Qaeda or any of our adversaries our playbook."

The proposed prohibition on waterboarding is part of a House-Senate compromise on the Intelligence Authorization Act, which contains a budget for U.S. intelligence agencies and sets out intelligence priorities. The sprawling legislation would provide more money for linguists and analysts, require periodic reports on the nuclear programs of Iran and North Korea, and establish an intelligence inspector general to audit the activities of the 16 U.S. intelligence agencies.

"With the passage of this bill, the House is back in the business of conducting oversight of the intelligence community," said Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-Tex.), chairman of the House intelligence committee.

The CIA declined to comment on the bill's ban on waterboarding, an interrogation technique simulating drowning that the agency says it abandoned in 2003. CIA Director Michael V. Hayden has maintained that the agency's interrogation program has been small -- involving fewer than 100 detainees since 2002 -- and fully legal. He has also contended that the use of harsh interrogation techniques has provided leads on al-Qaeda's operations and has foiled terrorist plots.

The House's action yesterday drew praise from human rights groups, which have advocated for years that the CIA and other government agencies follow the military's rules for detentions and interrogations around the world. The Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 made the Army Field Manual applicable to all Defense Department employees, but it left a loophole allowing the CIA to use aggressive techniques barred by that document.

Jennifer Daskal, senior counterterrorism counsel for Human Rights Watch, said the CIA's admission that it had destroyed videotapes of interrogations of high-value suspects is one reason that the legislation is so important.

"It's unlikely the tapes would have been destroyed unless the CIA believed that they showed something that they needed to hide: interrogators engaging in practices that most of the world would consider torture," Daskal said.

Retired Army Gen. Paul J. Kern, a lead investigator of the abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, said he thinks that having two sets of standards for interrogation -- one for the CIA and another for the military -- has created problems of credibility and accountability. Kern, who signed a letter along with 27 other retired general officers asking the intelligence committees to hold the CIA to the military's rules, endorsed the standards set by the military.

"We ought to have one set of standards, period," Kern said.

Other provisions of the intelligence bill also drew criticism from the White House, including a measure that would require regular reports to Congress on the CIA's detention and interrogation methods, and on any Justice Department legal justifications for those methods.

This provision, the OMB said, would require from the president "information that may be constitutionally protected from disclosure," which, if made public, "could impair foreign relations [and] national security."

A new requirement that the administration provide an inventory of "Special Access Programs," which involve "the most sensitive information in the intelligence community," also drew an objection. Instead, the OMB statement offered briefings in a form to be established by the executive branch.

Psychologists to CIA: We condemn torture

In a rebuke of President Bush, the American Psychological Association has resolved to condemn brutal CIA and military interrogations.

By Mark Benjamin

August 15, 2007 The American Psychological Association, the world's largest professional organization of psychologists, is poised to issue a formal condemnation of a raft of notorious interrogation tactics employed by U.S. authorities against detainees during the so-called war on terror, from simulated drowning to sensory deprivation. The move is expected during the APA's annual convention in San Francisco this weekend.

The APA's anti-torture resolution follows a string of revelations in recent months of the key role played by psychologists in the development of brutal interrogation regimes for the CIA and the military. And it comes just weeks after news that the White House may be calling on psychologists once again: On July 20, President Bush signed an executive order restarting a coercive CIA interrogation program at the agency's "black sites." Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell has indicated that psychological techniques will be part of the revamped program, but that the interrogations would be subject to careful medical oversight. That oversight is likely to be performed by psychologists.

In fact, given what promises to be the continuing involvement of psychologists in coercive interrogation, there is intense infighting within the organization about whether simply condemning abusive tactics is enough. Some of the APA's 148,000 members think the anti-torture resolution put forward by APA leadership is too weak, and they are putting intense pressure on the organization's leadership to go a step further and ban psychologists from participating in detainee interrogations altogether. They have introduced their own resolution proposing a moratorium. "I and others think that a moratorium is essential to try to tell the government that psychologists are not going to participate in the interrogation of enemy combatants," said Bernice Lott, a member of the Council of Representatives, the APA's policy-making body. Others oppose the moratorium because they think psychologists must be involved in the interrogations to prevent abuse -- and because the government may just choose to use non-APA members for its interrogations, as has already happened.

Whether or not the APA imposes a moratorium at this weekend's convention, its Council of Representatives is likely to approve the resolution condemning specific interrogation techniques. A draft of the resolution obtained by Salon includes "an absolute prohibition" on psychologists directly or indirectly participating in interrogations that involve a list of coercive measures, including, but not limited to, mock executions; water-boarding; sensory deprivation; "hooding"; forced nudity; sexual humiliation; rape; cultural or religious humiliation; exploitation of phobias or psychopathology; stress positions; dogs; physical assault; slapping and shaking; exposure to extreme heat or cold; induced hypothermia; psychotropic drugs or mind-altering substances; isolation and sleep deprivation; threats of harm or death, or threats to members of an individual's family.

And even without a moratorium, adopting a resolution condemning specific interrogation techniques -- including some allegedly used by the CIA -- could be interpreted as a rebuke of the agency and the White House. Stephen Soldz, a faculty member at the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis, supports a moratorium. But he said the new condemnation of specific harsh tactics would in itself be "an advance because it would be a blow to the CIA." (The military last September disavowed the tactics and embraced a new interrogation field manual that expressly prohibits the coercive methods, but the CIA, under Bush's new executive order, seems to be going ahead full steam.)

But how much of a rebuke it would be is debatable. "It is somewhat of a rebuke, because it does name some interrogation techniques that have been used or advocated by the White House and the CIA," said Neil Altman, a former member of the APA's council. "But it still allows psychologists to continue to be part of a process which overall is cruel, inhuman and degrading," he added. "There is no due process. It is indefinite detention without being charged. The entire setting is cruel, inhuman and degrading."

Altman introduced the resolution calling for a moratorium. Last year, the American Medical Association and American Psychiatric Association banned doctors and psychiatrists from participating in coercive interrogation of so-called enemy combatants. Some psychologists warn, however, against the effects of following their sister organizations' example. The argument is that psychologists can make valuable contributions to an ethical, non-coercive interrogation built on establishing rapport with a prisoner. Michael Gelles, the former chief psychologist of the Navy Criminal Investigative Service, who played a key role in forcing the Pentagon to dial back the coercive techniques used at the military's Guantánamo prison in 2003, said psychologists should still be able to help ethical interrogators do their jobs. "Psychologists can help the interrogator think about how he directs questions in a rapport-based approach to facilitate the most accurate information," Gelles explained. They can also help determine if a subject is mentally ill, or even lying.

Gelles said he doesn't have any problem with condemning coercive interrogation techniques, but he called a moratorium "equivalent to throwing the baby out with the bath water."

What remains unclear is whether the APA leadership, headed by APA president Sharon Stephens Brehm, will even allow a vote on Altman's moratorium. That leadership is seen by some psychologists as too chummy with government interests and with the military in particular. Backers of the moratorium are set to meet with APA leadership before next weekend just to negotiate for the opportunity to bring their resolution up for a vote before the council.

And there is another worry. Psychologists interviewed by Salon noted a series of potential loopholes embedded in the resolution condemning CIA tactics. A simple example is the ban on isolation and sleep deprivation, favorite tactics of the CIA. But the resolution from Brehm and the APA leadership only forbids the methods when "used in a manner that adversely affects an individual's physical or mental health." There will be efforts in San Francisco to plug those loopholes, and to force a vote on a moratorium.

At least on paper, what happens in San Francisco could make a big difference to the CIA. Mike McConnell told Tim Russert on "Meet the Press" last month that under Bush's new executive order the CIA was going to continue to mentally pressure detainees, using a "psychological approach to causing someone to have uncertainty and in a situation where they will feel compelled to talk to you about what you're asking about." He insisted that the pressure did not amount to torture and there would be no permanent damage to prisoners, but admitted that "I would not want a U.S. citizen to go through the process."

McConnell assured Russert that the program would be "under medical supervision." And the executive order Bush signed to continue the CIA interrogation program calls for "effective monitoring of the program, including with respect to medical matters, to ensure the safety of those in the program."

But since doctors and psychiatrists have ruled themselves out, that leaves psychologists as the last of the medical professionals willing to support the interrogation of so-called high-value detainees. Presumably, what the APA deems unacceptable would make a big difference.

But it is unclear whether an APA resolution will have any effect on real-world interrogations conducted by the CIA. Salon reported in June that two CIA-employed psychologists, James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, were in the cross hairs of Senate investigators looking into the genesis of the brutal, and very similar, post 9/11 interrogation regimes developed by the CIA and the military.

Mitchell and Jessen are part of a cabal of psychologists associated with the military's secretive Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape program. The program trains soldiers to resist torture if captured by exposing them to brutal techniques employed by Cold War adversaries who would violate the Geneva Conventions to provoke confessions: water-boarding; forced nudity; stress positions; lengthy isolation; sleep deprivation; sexual humiliation. The plan was to reverse-engineer those techniques for use on real detainees.

The military employed the same game plan at the same time, suggesting high-level government coordination. A previously classified Department of Defense inspector general report released in May detailed efforts in 2002 by the Army Special Operations Command's Psychological Directorate to reverse-engineer SERE training for use at Guantánamo, including a September 2002 "SERE psychologist conference" at Fort Bragg to brief staff from Guantánamo on the use of SERE tactics.

But Mitchell and Jessen, the psychologists who helped the agency, are not APA members. So a resolution might not matter much to men like them.

Theoretically, a psychologist could lose his state-issued license for violating an APA resolution, regardless of APA membership, which might plant a seed of doubt in a psychologist's mind when he steps into a CIA interrogation booth. Military psychologists, for example, are required to maintain a state license.

But the CIA might not be so strict. When asked a series of questions on whether the CIA requires psychologists working with that agency to maintain a state license, CIA spokesman George Little responded, "On these questions, I decline to comment."

Still, psychologists predict that their colleagues -- even those employed by the CIA -- will be less inclined in the future to participate in harsh interrogations that have been explicitly condemned by the APA. "These are our rules and our professional ethics," said Brad Olson, president of the Divisions for Social Justice within the APA. "What this whole group of professionals believes does matter. What psychologists say they are willing to do and not willing to do does matter."

The simmering debate over interrogations inside the APA has been increasingly heating to a boil for several years. In 2005, a group of 10 psychologists drafted new APA ethics guidelines that condemned torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment -- but that also noted that psychologists helping interrogators were performing a "valuable and ethical role to assist in protecting our nation, other nations, and innocent civilians from harm." (Salon reported last summer that six of the 10 psychologists who drafted that policy had close ties to the military, including the chief of the Army Special Operations Command's Psychological Directorate, Col. Morgan Banks.)

Then last summer, the APA's council passed a resolution reaffirming a "condemnation of torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or cruel, inhuman, or degrading punishment wherever it occurs."

But the positions taken by the APA so far -- the ethics principles drafted by those 10 psychologists and the resolution last summer -- contain legal vagaries of the flavor repeatedly exploited by the Bush administration to pursue coercive interrogations in one theater or another. The concern among psychologists is that their profession is being dragged along for the ride. And that is what is driving the resolutions the psychologists are wrestling with now, to specifically outlaw individual interrogation techniques or even ban psychologists from interrogations altogether.

In its continued effort to fashion a legal defense of the CIA's interrogation program, the Bush administration has employed a dexterous strategy: decry international standards that ban detainee abuse as hopelessly "vague." Demand detailed clarifications from Congress, and then drive loopholes into those clarifications to allow coercive interrogations to continue.

The most recent example is the Military Commissions Act, a law signed by Bush last October that contains a detailed ban on prisoner abuse. Experts in international law have been scouring the bill for loopholes inserted by the Bush administration, including language that could give the administration wiggle room to inflict mental pain on detainees -- the specialty of the CIA. An example is a definition, apparently included at the behest of the White House, that seems to outlaw serious mental pain and suffering, but defines it as suffering that must be "serious and non-transitory."

"If I screw up your brains for two weeks, three weeks, a month, is that non-transitory?" Scott Silliman, a professor at Duke University School of Law who specializes in national security, asked rhetorically. Water-boarding is simulated drowning. It creates sudden, extreme, brief panic. "If I was defending someone in the CIA who was charged with water-boarding, I would make an argument that unless the government can prove that serious mental harm was prolonged and non-transitory -- which means permanent -- then there has been no offense." The executive order that Bush signed July 20 to continue the CIA interrogation program was written to comply with the Military Commissions Act.

The CIA will not comment on the future of the agency's high-value detainee interrogation program, or the possible role of psychologists. Little, the CIA spokesman, would say only that the program had been "implemented lawfully, with great care and close review -- including extensive discussion within the executive branch and oversight from Congress."

But whatever happens, it will be done in secret. Little confirmed that the CIA will not allow officials from the International Committee of the Red Cross to visit the agency's detention facilities or monitor detainees held by the agency. Simon Schorno, an ICRC spokesman in Washington, said his organization "deplores any form of undisclosed detention and repeats its call to have access to any person who might be detained by the United States."

He also said his organization remains concerned about people who have been held by the CIA since 9/11 but seem to have disappeared. In June, six human rights groups published the names of 39 such individuals believed to have been held by the CIA in secret locations. Said Schorno, "The ICRC remains gravely concerned by the fate of the persons previously held in the CIA detention program who remain unaccounted for."

Psychologists now have to decide if they still want to associate themselves with that kind of a program. Or if after six years of brutal interrogations, enough is enough.

"Psychologists have been involved one way or another in supporting the CIA in various forms of psychological torture for years," said Leonard Rubenstein, president of Physicians for Human Rights. "The issue is coming to a head because there are so many people within the profession who really feel that the whole integrity of the profession is at stake ... This is the profession coming to terms with itself."

Torture betrays America

By Charles C. Krulak and Joseph P. Hoar

May 18, 2007 Fear can be a strong motivator. It led Franklin Roosevelt to intern tens of thousands of innocent U.S. citizens during World War II; it led to Joseph McCarthy's witch hunt, which ruined the lives of hundreds of Americans. And it led the United States to adopt a policy at the highest levels that condoned and even authorized torture of prisoners in our custody.

Fear is the justification offered for this policy by former CIA Director George Tenet as he promotes his new book. Tenet oversaw the secret CIA interrogation program in which torture techniques euphemistically called “waterboarding,” “sensory deprivation,” “sleep deprivation” and “stress positions” – conduct we used to call war crimes – were used. In defending these abuses, Tenet revealed: “Everybody forgets one central context of what we lived through: the palpable fear that we felt on the basis of the fact that there was so much we did not know.”

We have served in combat; we understand the reality of fear and the havoc it can wreak if left unchecked or fostered. Fear breeds panic, and it can lead people and nations to act in ways inconsistent with their character.

The American people are understandably fearful about another attack like the one we sustained on Sept. 11, 2001. But it is the duty of the commander in chief to lead the country away from the grip of fear, not into its grasp. Regrettably, at Tuesday night's presidential debate in South Carolina, several Republican candidates revealed a stunning failure to understand this most basic obligation. Indeed, among the candidates, only John McCain demonstrated that he understands the close connection between our security and our values as a nation.

Tenet insists that the CIA program disrupted terrorist plots and saved lives. It is difficult to refute this claim – not because it is self-evidently true, but because any evidence that might support it remains classified and unknown to all but those who defend the program.

These assertions that “torture works” may reassure a fearful public, but it is a false security. We don't know what's been gained through this fear-driven program. But we do know the consequences.

As has happened with every other nation that has tried to engage in a little bit of torture – only for the toughest cases, only when nothing else works – the abuse spread like wildfire, and every captured prisoner became the key to defusing a potential ticking time bomb. Our soldiers in Iraq confront real “ticking time bomb” situations every day, in the form of improvised explosive devices, and any degree of “flexibility” about torture at the top drops down the chain of command like a stone – the rare exception fast becoming the rule.

To understand the impact this has had on the ground, look at the military's mental health assessment report released earlier this month. The study shows a disturbing level of tolerance for abuse of prisoners in some situations. This underscores what we know as military professionals: Complex situational ethics cannot be applied during the stress of combat. The rules must be firm and absolute; if torture is broached as a possibility, it will become a reality.

This has had disastrous consequences. Revelations of abuse feed what the Army's new counterinsurgency manual, which was drafted under the command of Gen. David Petraeus, calls the “recuperative power” of the terrorist enemy.

Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld once wondered aloud whether we were creating more terrorists than we were killing. In counterinsurgency doctrine, that is precisely the right question. Victory in this kind of war comes when the enemy loses legitimacy in the society from which it seeks recruits and thus loses its “recuperative power.”

The torture methods that Tenet defends have nurtured the recuperative power of the enemy. This war will be won or lost not on the battlefield but in the minds of potential supporters who have not yet thrown in their lot with the enemy. If we forfeit our values by signaling that they are negotiable in situations of grave or imminent danger, we drive those undecideds into the arms of the enemy. This way lies defeat, and we are well down the road to it.

This is not just a lesson for history. Right now, White House lawyers are working up new rules that will govern what CIA interrogators can do to prisoners in secret. Those rules will set the standard not only for the CIA but for what kind of treatment captured American soldiers can expect from their captors, now and in future wars. Before the president once again approves a policy of official cruelty, he should reflect on that.

It is time for us to remember who we are and approach this enemy with energy, judgment and confidence that we will prevail. That is the path to security, and back to ourselves.

Krulak was commandant of the Marine Corps from 1995 to 1999. Hoar was commander in chief of U.S. Central Command from 1991 to 1994.

Soviet-Era Compound in Poland Was Secret CIA Prison Site

By Larisa Alexandrovna and David Dastych, Raw Story
Posted on March 7, 2007, Printed on March 7, 2007

The CIA operated an interrogation and short-term detention facility for suspected terrorists within a Polish intelligence training school with the explicit approval of British and US authorities, according to British and Polish intelligence officials familiar with the arrangements.

Intelligence officials identify the site as a component of a Polish intelligence training school outside the northern Polish village of Stare Kiejkuty. While previously suspected, the facility has never been conclusively identified as being part of the CIA's secret rendition and detention program.

Only the Polish prime minister and top Polish intelligence brass were told of the plan, in which agents of the United States quietly shuttled detainees from other holding facilities around the globe for stopovers and short-term interrogation in Poland between late 2002 and 2004.

According to a confidential British intelligence memo shown to Raw Story, Prime Minister Tony Blair told Poland's then-Prime Minister Leszek Miller to keep the information secret, even from his own government.

"Miller was asked to keep it as tight as possible," the memo said.

The complex at Stare Kiejkuty, a Soviet-era compound once used by German intelligence in World War II, is best known as having been the only Russian intelligence training school to operate outside the Soviet Union. Its prominence in the Soviet era suggests that it may have been the facility first identified -- but never named -- when the Washington Post's Dana Priest revealed the existence of the CIA's secret prison network in November 2005.

Reached by telephone Monday, Priest would not discuss the allegations in her article beyond her original report.

CIA spokesman Paul Gimigliano would not confirm or deny any allegations about the Polish facility. He maintained the rendition program was legal and conducted "with great care."

"The agency's terrorist interrogation program has been conducted lawfully, with great care and close review, producing vital information that has helped disrupt plots and save lives," Gimigliano said Monday. "That is also true of renditions, another key, lawful tool in the fight against terror."

"The United States does not conduct or condone torture, nor does it transfer anyone to other countries for the purpose of torture," he added.

US intelligence officials confirmed that the CIA had used the compound at Stare Kiejkuty in the past. Speaking generally about the agency's program, a former senior official said the CIA had never conducted unlawful interrogations.

"We never tortured anyone," one former senior intelligence official said on condition of anonymity. "We sent them to countries that did torture, but not on this scale."

The official added that many agency staff had strong feelings about the rendition program. "Career people were really opposed to this."

All intelligence sources interviewed said the CIA is no longer operating a rendition or secret detainment program.

Polish intelligence officials declined to comment. Zbigniew Siemiatkowski, the former head of Polish intelligence, told a Polish news agency in 2005, however, that the CIA had access to two internal zones at the Stare Kiejkuty training school. Current and former Polish authorities have adamantly denied that Poland played any role in the clandestine program.

US, United Kingdom invited Poland to join program in 2002

In April 2002, according to British foreign intelligence sources (MI6), senior officials in the Bush and Blair administrations decided that the Bagram base near Kabul in Afghanistan could not operate successfully in the Bush administration's "no holds barred" policy towards suspected terrorists.

MI6 officials say the two administrations then decided to fly high-value suspected terrorists to secret gulags in Eastern Europe. The CIA-operated flights would pass through the air space of a number of countries -- among them Britain, Germany, Spain and Poland. European Union officials and human rights groups would later say these interrogations may have violated the Geneva Conventions and the United Nations Convention against Torture, to which the United States and Poland are both signatories.

After a series of secret meetings chaired by MI6 chief Sir John Scarlett in London and then-CIA Director George Tenet in Washington, Polish intelligence was invited to join the project, British and Polish intelligence sources say.

Authorities singled out a remote and infrequently used airfield in the Northern Polish town of Szymany for transit flights; a near-by Polish intelligence training school at Stare Kiejkuty would be used as an eventual detention-interrogation center for temporary detention and short-term interrogations.

The White House did not return two calls seeking comment. Tenet could not be reached.

Rendition programs were first employed by the Clinton administration in order to target suspected elements of al Qaeda. These covert operations, run out of the CIA, were used intermittently and on a limited basis. It was not until the Bush Administration that the use of extraordinary rendition became a matter of policy and was employed on a large scale.

The Szczytno-Szymany Airport

Szczytno-Szymany used to be a military airfield in northeastern Poland, one of many such airstrips that could accept the large Soviet-made military planes of the Warsaw Pact; before that, it had served as an airstrip for German Luftwaffe bombers targeting Warsaw in the Second World War. In 1996, seven years after Poland's communist government fell, the military airfield was turned into a private company: Airports "Mazury-Szczytno."

However, traffic wasn't heavy enough to provide decent income to the state and private owners of the airfield, so motorcycle and car races were organized on the tarmac; small-scale production and repairs also buttressed the company's budget.

But after the start of Operation Enduring Freedom -- the US military campaign against Afghanistan in response to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks - everything changed. In the years that followed, American planes began arriving from Afghanistan, continuing on to Morocco, Uzbekistan and Guantanamo Bay, according to Szymany locals and airport staff.

Then-Szymany airport manager Mariola Przewlocka told European Union investigators the flights were likely linked with the intelligence complex at Stare Kiejkuty, about 12 miles away from the airport.

Przewlocka said that whenever one of the suspected flights was scheduled to land, "orders were given directly by the regional border guards ... emphasizing that the airport authorities should not approach the aircraft and that military staff and services alone" would handle landings.

"Money for the services was paid in cash, sometimes as much as four times the normal charge," the former airport manager added. "Handling of the passengers aboard was carried out in a remote corner of the Szymany airstrip. People came in and out from four-wheel drive cars with shaded windows."

The cars were seen traveling to and from the Stare Kiejkuty intelligence facility, where British and Polish intelligence officials say US agents conducted short-term interrogations before shuffling prisoners to other locations.

Przewlocka also spoke in detail with the Chicago Tribune, whose correspondent traveled to Szymany last month.

"Secret prisons" were likely temporary "black sites"

Former European and US intelligence officials indicate that the secret prisons across the European Union, first identified by the Washington Post, are likely not permanent locations, making them difficult to identify.

What some believe was a network of secret prisons was most probably a series of facilities used temporarily by the United States when needed, officials say. Interim "black sites" -- secret facilities used for covert activities -- can be as small as a room in a government building, which only becomes a black site when a prisoner is brought in for short-term detainment and interrogation.

For example, detainees could be shuffled from a temporary black site in one country to a temporary black site in another country, never staying long enough at either to attract notice. Such an arrangement, sources say, would allow plausible deniability by the host country as well as the US. Investigators looking for a permanent facility would never find one. Such a site, sources say, would have to be near an airport.

Washington-based security expert and president of Global Security John Pike says short-term detention in already existing facilities would be "sensible tradecraft" and a more likely scenario than a network of specific, long term prisons.

"A short-term operation does not develop a big signature and you don't have a continual parade of people," said Pike. "When it becomes noticeable, they move it all."

"It's a shell game," he added.

Pressure from US and Britain to keep quiet

In the wake of the Washington Post expose, member countries of the European Union began to demand answers.

According to British and Polish intelligence officials, foreign journalists, and EU sources interviewed for this article, the countries participating in the US rendition and detention program and their governments were kept largely out of the loop. Officials say Bush and Blair administration contacts selectively chose politicians in the EU and other countries, keeping their respective governments in the dark.

Having only a select few members of the European Union aware of the program, coupled with the transience of the prison network, made it difficult for European Union investigators to verify allegations of secret detention sites.

A ten-member EU delegation traveled to Poland in November 2006 to investigate Szymany airport and the facility at Stare Kiejstuty. The team's report indicates that key government officials first agreed to meet with the delegates, but declined to do so after their arrival.

The delegates requested interviews of 20 Polish government officials, journalists and others, but were allowed to speak with only nine. Of those interviewed, only a handful could offer any substantive information.

One of the more interesting interviews came from former Szczytno-Szymany Airport chairman Jerzy Kos. According to the report, Kos stated that at the time the airport was under his authority, it belonged to the Military Property Agency and was leased by his company.

Kos stated that after a Boeing 737 landed on Sept. 22, 2003, a standard military procedure came into force under which Polish Border Guards determined the character of incoming flights and expedited certain arrivals.

"The military procedure was a simplified one, including provision for no customs clearance," Kos told investigators. He said he had "no information about the passengers as procedure was undertaken by soldiers and not the civilian airport staff."

Kos asserted that during his tenure from 2003 to 2004, Gulfstream planes transferring through the airport were treated as military flights in the same fashion as the Border Guards had handled the Boeing 737 in September 2003.

Air traffic controllers "had been informed by the Warsaw-based Air Traffic Agency that Gulfstream planes would land at the airport by fax," Kos told investigators.

Polish public television journalist Adam Krzykowski added more detail.

Krzykowski alleged that the September 2003 Boeing 737 carried a crew of seven and was joined at the Szymany airfield by five passengers who declared themselves businessmen. According to the EU report, Krzykowski maintained that all twelve "were American citizens."

"The Boeing flight was not subject to standard border control procedure, but to a ... simplified procedure [which] meant that no customs officers were present during the control and passengers were checked only on basis of a list delivered to the Border Guards," he said. "According to the Border Guards, such a procedure is used when a person has already been checked up on previously."

The final report of the European Union's investigation into Poland as well as the other countries alleged to be part of the rendition program can be read here. Most of those the EU sought to question did not cooperate with investigators, including suspected governments, journalists and key officials in the United States.

Dana Priest, the Washington Post reporter who received a Pulitzer Prize for her article exposing the CIA's secret detention centers, declined to speak with EU investigators.

"The Post never allows its reporters to testify to government inquiries no matter what government it is, so there was nothing unusual in that regard," Priest said Monday.

The only member of the Bush Administration given leave to discuss the program with the EU was Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who said she expected American allies to co-operate and keep quiet about sensitive anti-terrorism operations."

The Reopening of Szymany Airport

The "prime-time" for Szymany International Airport seems to have ended in 2006, when the investigation by the European Parliament was finished without a clear result or definitive proof of "CIA secret prisons" existing in Poland.

Polish officials refused to cooperate and vehemently denied any role in the CIA program. The airport company had to suspend its activities, due to a dispute over the ownership of the Szczytno-Szymany airfield.

In November 2006, the company signed a lease agreement with the Military Property Agency, which still owns the land and the facilities. This agreement opened the way for financing of the airport by the regional administration and the Polish government.

The Szymany airfield, now in civilian hands and allegedly free of "rendition flights," will soon become a regional airport. Its beautiful location in the Masurian Lakes Region will likely kindle its development, and the fame of its history surrounding secret CIA flights could certainly become an attractive tourist-catching slogan.

Deported man gets apology

Canadian tortured in Syria compensated $8.9 million

January 27, 2007 TORONTO -- Prime Minister Stephen Harper apologized Friday to a Syrian-born Canadian and said he would be compensated $8.9 million for Ottawa's role in his deportation by U.S. authorities to Damascus, where he was tortured and imprisoned for nearly a year.

Harper again called on Washington to remove Maher Arar from its no-fly and terrorist watch lists. He reiterated that Canada would keep pressing the United States to clear Arar's name.

"On behalf of the government of Canada, I want to extend a full apology to you and Monia as well as your family for the role played by Canadian officials in the terrible ordeal that you experienced in 2002 and 2003," Harper told reporters in Ottawa, referring to Arar's wife, Monia Mazigh, and their two children, who now live in British Columbia.

"I sincerely hope that these words and actions will assist you and your family in your efforts to begin a new and hopeful chapter in your lives," Harper said, adding that the compensation package also would pay Arar's estimated $1 million in legal fees.

Arar later thanked the Canadian government and his fellow citizens.

"The struggle to clear my name has been long and hard; my kids have suffered silently and I feel that I owe them a lot," he said. "Without the support of the Canadian people, I may never have come home and I would not have been able to stay strong and push for the truth."

Arar's case was an example of rendition, a practice in which the U.S. government sends foreign terrorism suspects to third countries for interrogation.

He was exonerated in September after a two-year public inquiry led by Associate Chief Justice of Ontario Dennis O'Connor. It found that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police wrongly labeled Arar as an Islamic fundamentalist and passed misleading and inaccurate information to U.S. authorities, which very likely led to Arar's arrest and deportation.

The report said the 37-year-old wireless technology consultant's inability to find work since his return from Syria has had a devastating economic and psychological impact on him and his family.

O'Connor urged the Mounted Police to make policy changes on information sharing, training and monitoring of security investigations. In the aftermath, police Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli resigned. Arar was detained at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport in 2002 during a stopover on his way home to Canada from a vacation with his family in Tunisia.

He said he was chained and shackled by U.S. authorities for 11 days for interrogation and then flown to Syria, where he was tortured and forced to make false confessions. He was released 10 months later, with Syrian officials saying they had no reason to hold him further.

A Canadian inquiry determined that Arar indeed was tortured, and it cleared him of any terrorist links or suspicions.

Since then, Ottawa has been demanding a formal apology from Washington, as well as the removal of Arar's name from watch lists. "We think the evidence is absolutely clear and that the United States should in good faith remove Mr. Arar from the list," Harper said.

The U.S. government insists it has reasons to keep him on its watch lists.

In February 2006, the U.S. District Court of Appeals dismissed Arar's lawsuit against U.S. government officials, ruling that his deportation was protected on national security grounds. His attorneys with the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights filed an appeal in December.

"We are grateful that the Canadian government has had the humanity to try to right the terrible wrong that was done to Maher," said Maria LaHood, an attorney for the center. "We still hope the U.S. government will follow Canada's lead."

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, this month scolded Attorney General Alberto Gonzales for refusing to explain why the United States had sent a Canadian citizen to Syria.

"The Canadian government now has taken several steps to accept responsibility for its role in sending Mr. Arar to Syria, where he was tortured," Leahy said Friday. "The question remains why, even if there were reasons to consider him suspicious, the U.S. government shipped him to Syria where he was tortured, instead of to Canada for investigation or prosecution."

He said the Justice Department intended to respond to his demands next week.

U.S. Ambassador David Wilkins on Wednesday chastised Canadian Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day for continuing to press Washington on Arar. "It's a little presumptuous of him to say who the United States can and cannot allow into our country," Wilkins said.

In a recent letter to Day, Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff and Gonzales said U.S. files indicate the decision to keep Arar on watch lists is "appropriate."

A Tortured Logic

By Amy Goodman

January 25, 2007 It is up to the new Democratic majority to investigate the use of torture and demand prosecution for those who engaged in it.

The new head of the Senate Judiciary Committee was angry. Sen. Patrick Leahy was questioning U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales about a man named Maher Arar.

Arar is a Canadian citizen who the U.S. detained without charge then sent to Syria in 2002. Leahy fumed: "We knew damn well, if he went to Canada, he wouldn't be tortured. He'd be held. He'd be investigated. We also knew damn well, if he went to Syria, he'd be tortured."

Leahy was responding to Alberto Gonzales' comments that "there were assurances sought that he would not be tortured from Syria." Assurances? From the country that President Bush recently described as the "crossroads for terrorism"? From the country that Bush has vilified and threatened to attack? But before we point the finger at other countries, we have to look here at home.

Gonzales knows about torture. Arar was detained less than two months after Gonzales' office produced the notorious "Torture Memo," which has served as the legal basis for the Bush administration's brutal torture methods like "waterboarding" (holding a victim's head underwater until unconscious) that are increasingly well-known and globally despised.

The U.S. government also engages in "extraordinary rendition." This Orwellian phrase describes how foreigners are grabbed off the street or from their home and secretly delivered to some other place, outside the U.S. (in Arar's case, Syria), where illegal and brutal interrogations can take place beyond the reach of Congress and the courts.

Arar's Kafaesque nightmare began on Sept. 26, 2002. He was returning to Canada from a family vacation, with a plane change at New York's JFK Airport. There he was pulled aside, searched, questioned and imprisoned. Two weeks later, U.S. authorities sent Arar to Syria.

Arar spent the next 10 months enduring brutal beatings and psychological torture, kept in a cell the size of a grave. Arar was accused of being connected to al-Qaida, and of having been to a training camp in Afghanistan. Neither was true, but after weeks of beatings, he admitted to everything. Worse than the beatings, Arar said on "Democracy Now!," was how he suffered while isolated in the dank, windowless cell:

"... the psychological torture that I endured during this 10-month period in the underground cell is really beyond human imagination. I was ready to confess to anything. I would just write anything so that they could only take me from that place and put me in a place where it is fit for a human being."

As inexplicably as Arar was kidnapped to Syria, he was released home to Canada, a broken man. Canada just finished a thorough inquiry that completely exonerated him and supported his request for financial damages. Conservative Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, a Bush ally, has asked Bush to "come clean" on the Arar case.

Leahy is demanding action: "The Bush administration has yet to renounce the practice of sending detainees to countries that torture prisoners, and it has yet to offer even the hint of an apology to Mr. Arar for what he endured with our government's complicity."

The Bush policies of war, occupation, torture and rendition are having a cumulative effect on global opinion. A recent BBC poll of more than 26,000 people found that 75 percent oppose the U.S. role in Iraq, two-thirds oppose the handling of prisoners at Guantanamo, and 52 percent feel that the U.S. has an overall negative effect on the planet. Citizens just protested the fifth anniversary of the prison at Guantanamo. Legislators in North Carolina are demanding an investigation into Aero Contractors, a firm based there that supplies Gulfstream jets to the CIA to execute these "extraordinary renditions." And tens of thousands are expected in Washington, D.C., and around the country on Jan. 27 to protest the war.

Democrats criticized the Republican-controlled "rubber stamp Congress," which failed to provide adequate oversight of the Bush administration. Now that the Democratic Party has control of Congress, the onus is upon them to restore law and order, to investigate the use of torture and to demand prosecution of those who engaged in it.

Fox Show "24": Torture on TV

The '24' effect


Torture-happy show warps military recruits

February 17, 2007

Pop culture's influence on real life used to seem ephemeral, such as parents' habit of naming their children after characters in popular TV shows. Not any more. First came reports in recent years of the “CSI effect,” in which prosecutors decried juries' increasing expectation that irrefutable forensic evidence be presented to confirm a defendant's guilt. If the sleuths on the “CSI” shows could do it, jurors wondered, why not the local DA?

Now comes an even more troubling phenomenon – call it the “24” effect. The Feb. 19 New Yorker reported that the dean of the U.S. Military Academy, better known as West Point, recently flew to Los Angeles to meet with the producers of the popular Fox TV show about a U.S. counterintelligence agency's desperate efforts to head off cataclysmic terrorism plots on American soil. Army Brig. Gen. Patrick Finnegan expressed dismay that “24” showed torture as the first resort for its star, covert agent Jack Bauer, in every difficult interrogation – and that torture inevitably was depicted as a successful technique.

The result, Finnegan said, was that the many incoming West Point cadets who are fervent “24” fans – and presumably many military recruits in general – believe the use of torture in the war on terror is “the patriotic thing to do.” But Finnegan told “24's” producers that the military views torture as illegal, does not condone it and considers it ineffective – even if the White House holds contrary views.

Given the mass of dreck on television, it's unfair to expect Fox alone to turn out responsible programming. Free-speech rights preclude dictating story lines to show producers. Our only suggestion: Perhaps Fox could air disclaimers before each episode.

But would that persuade the recruits who idolize brutish Jack Bauer that torture isn't patriotic? We wish we could be optimistic.

making the case for torture

With at least one big torture scene in every episode and steadily increasing ratings, TV show "24" is more convincing than the White House at making the case for torture.

"24" is back on Fox TV -- the hit show starring Kiefer Sutherland, which premiered Sunday night, once again features at least one big torture scene in every episode -- the kind of torture the Bush White House says is necessary to protect us from you-know-who.

The show is much more convincing than the White House at making the case for torture; its ratings have gone steadily up over the last five years, while Bush's ratings have gone steadily down.

In "24," Sutherland plays special agent Jack Bauer, head of the Counter Terrorism Unit. He fights some of his biggest battles not with the dark-skinned enemies trying to nuke L.A., but rather with the light-skinned do-gooders who think the head of the Counter Terrorism Unit should follow the rules.

Back in season four, for example, the bumbling bureaucrats released a captured terrorist before he could be tortured -- because a lawyer for "Amnesty Global" showed up whining about the Geneva Conventions. Jack had to quit the Counter Terrorist Unit and become a private citizen in order to break the suspect's fingers.

It's especially unfortunate to see Kiefer Sutherland play the world's most popular torturer -- because his father, Donald Sutherland, has been a prominent antiwar activist since Vietnam days and starred in some great films critiquing fascist politics, including "MASH" and Bertolucci's "1900" -- and also because Kiefer's grandfather, Tommy Douglas, was Canada's first socialist premier, and was recently voted "the greatest Canadian of all time" -- because he introduced universal public health care to Canada. The grandson meanwhile is being paid $10 million a season by Rupert Murdoch to shoot kneecaps, chop off hands, and bite his enemies to death (Sunday's special thrill).

The show's connection to the Bush White House and the conservative establishment became explicit last June, when Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff appeared alongside the show's producers and three cast members at an event sponsored by the Heritage Foundation to discuss "The public image of US terrorism policy." The discussion was moderated by Rush Limbaugh. The C-SPAN store sells a DVD of the event--price reduced from $60 to $29.95. Sunday night's two-hour premiere again argued not just that torture is necessary but that it works -- and it's also really exciting to watch. The show as usual made the "ticking time bomb" case for torture: we need to torture a suspect, or else thousands, or millions, will die in the next hour.

It's the same case made by Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, who proposed that judges ought to issue torture warrants in the "rare 'ticking bomb' case," and by University of Chicago law professor and federal judge Richard Posner, who has written, "If torture is the only means of obtaining the information necessary to prevent the detonation of a nuclear bomb in Times Square, torture should be used." He added that "no one who doubts that this is the case should be in a position of responsibility."

Thanks to "24," tens of millions of TV viewers know exactly what Dershowitz and Posner are talking about. As Richard Kim pointed out in The Nation in 2005, those are the cases where "the stakes are dire, the information perfect and the authorities omniscient." Of course that's a fantasy of total knowledge and power, and of course the U.S. has never had a real "ticking time bomb" case -- but Jack Bauer faces one every Sunday night on Fox.

U.S. seeks to silence terror suspect

A suspected terrorist who spent years in a secret CIA prison should not be allowed to speak to a civilian attorney, the Bush administration argues, because he could reveal the agency's closely guarded interrogation techniques.

Human rights groups have questioned the CIA's methods for questioning suspects, especially following the passage of a bill last month that authorized the use of harsh - but undefined - interrogation tactics.

In recently filed court documents, the Justice Department said those methods, along with the locations of the CIA's network of prisons, are among the nation's most sensitive secrets. Prisoners who spent time in those prisons should not be allowed to disclose that information, even to a lawyer, the government said.

"Improper disclosure of other operational details, such as interrogation methods, could also enable terrorist organizations and operatives to adapt their training to counter such methods, thereby obstructing the CIA's ability to obtain vital intelligence that could disrupt future planned terrorist attacks," the Justice Department wrote.

The documents, which were first reported by The Washington Post, were filed in opposition to a request that terror suspect Majid Khan should be given access to an attorney. Khan, 26, immigrated from Pakistan and graduated high school in Maryland.

According to documents filed on his behalf by the Center for Constitutional Rights, Khan was arrested in Pakistan in 2003. During more than three years in CIA custody, Khan was subjected to interrogation techniques that defense attorneys suggest amounted to torture.

Cheney calls dunking of terror suspects a 'no-brainer'

Vice president later says: 'I didn't say anything about water-boarding.'

October 28, 2006 Comments by Vice President Dick Cheney to a radio interviewer prompted questions Friday about whether he advocated torturing terrorism detainees to obtain information. Cheney denied endorsing torture, and President Bush said that the United States does not practice torture.

Cheney's remarks, in an interview Tuesday with conservative talk-radio host Scott Hennen from Fargo, N.D., stirred up fresh controversy over the interrogation technique known as "water-boarding," which experts say simulates drowning.

Human rights groups sharply criticized Cheney, who said later that he was not specifically talking about water-boarding.

The flap began when the interviewer told Cheney that some of his listeners had asked him to tell the vice president that "if it takes dunking a terrorist in water, we're all for it if it saves American lives." He continued: "This debate seems a little silly given the threat we face, would you agree?"

Cheney replied: "I do agree. And I think the terrorist threat, for example, with respect to our ability to interrogate high-value detainees like Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, that's been a very important tool that we've had to be able to secure the nation…. We need to be able to continue that."

He was referring to the man captured in Pakistan who officials widely believe masterminded the Sept. 11 attacks.

Cheney was then asked: "Would you agree a dunk in water is a no-brainer if it can save lives?"

The vice president responded: "It's a no-brainer for me, but for a while there, I was criticized as being the vice president 'for torture.' We don't torture. That's not what we're involved in."

Larry Cox, executive director of Amnesty International USA, took issue with Cheney's remarks, issuing a statement saying: "What's really a no-brainer is that no U.S. official, much less a vice president, should champion torture. Vice President Cheney's advocacy of water-boarding sets a new human rights low at a time when human rights is already scraping the bottom of the Bush administration barrel."

Late Friday, Cheney told reporters aboard Air Force Two: "I have said that the interrogation program for a selected number of detainees is … one of the most valuable intelligence programs we have. I believe it has allowed us to prevent terrorist attacks against the United States. I did not talk about specific techniques and won't. I didn't say anything about water-boarding. [The interviewer] didn't even use that phrase."

Asked what "dunk in water" was referring to if not water-boarding, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow said, "I will let you draw your own conclusions, because you clearly have."

Bush, asked Friday about Cheney's comments, told reporters: "This country doesn't torture. We're not going to torture. We will interrogate people we pick up off the battlefield to determine whether or not they've got information that will be helpful to protect the country.",1,3385179.story?coll=la-headlines-nation

What Is Torture?

Getting Waterboarded

An interactive primer on American interrogation.

Letter From Intelligence and Military Professionals on Use of Torture

Tuesday 26 September 2006
United States Senate
Committee on the Judiciary
224 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
The Honorable Arlen Specter, Chairman
The Honorable Patrick J. Leahy, Ranking Democratic Member
Dear Senators:
We write as experienced intelligence and military officers who have served in the frontlines in waging war against communism and Islamic extremism. We fully support the need for proactive operations to identify and disrupt those individuals and organizations who wish to harm our country or its people. We also recognize that intelligence operations, unlike law enforcement initiatives, enjoy more flexibility and less scrutiny, but at the same time must continue to be guided by applicable US law.
We are very concerned that the proposals now before the Congress, concerning how to handle detainees suspected of terrorist activities, run the risk of squandering the greatest resource our country enjoys in fighting the dictators and extremists who want to destroy us—our commitment as a nation to the rule of law and the protection of divinely granted human rights.
Apart from the moral considerations, we believe it is important that the Congress send a clear message that torture is not an effective or useful tactic. As noted recently by the head of Army Intelligence, Lt. Gen. John Kimmons:
No good intelligence is going to come from abusive practices. I think history tells us that. I think the empirical evidence of the last five years, hard years, tells us that.
Our nation was created in response to the abuses visited on our ancestors by the King of England, who claimed the right to enter their homes, to levy taxes at whim, and to jail those perceived as a threat without allowing them to be confronted by their accusers. Now, 230 years later, we find our own President claiming the right to put people in detention centers without legal recourse and to employ interrogation methods that, by any reasonable legal standard, are categorized as torture.
We ask that the Senate lead the way in upholding the principles set forth in the Declaration of Independence and affirmed in the Geneva Conventions regarding the rights of individuals and the obligations of governing authorities towards those in their power. We believe it is important to combat the hatred and vitriol espoused by Islamic extremists, but not at the expense of being viewed as a nation who justifies or excuses torture and incarceration without recourse to a judicial procedure.
The US has been in the forefront of the human rights campaign throughout the 20th century, led by Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson. The end of World War II and the horrors of the Holocaust inspired the United States to take the lead in making the case that human rights were universal, not parochial. Until recently the policy of our country was that all people, not just citizens of the United States, were entitled to these protections. It is important that the world understand that we remain committed to these principles. In fighting our enemies we must wage this battle in harmony with the traditional values of our society that were enshrined in the opening clause of the Declaration of Independence, "We hold these truths to be self-evident...."
Respectfully yours,
CIA Officers:
Milton Bearden, Directorate of Operations
Ray Close, Directorate of Operations
Vincent Cannistraro, Directorate of Operations
Philip Giraldi, Directorate of Operations
James Marcinkowski, Directorate of Operations
Melissa Mahle, Directorate of Operations
Paul Pillar, Directorate of Intelligence
David MacMichael, Directorate of Intelligence
Melvin Goodman, Directorate of Intelligence
Ray McGovern, Directorate of Intelligence
Mary O. McCarthy, DCI professional staff
US Military and Department of Defense:
W. Patrick Lang, (Colonel, US Army retired, Director Defense Humint Services, retired)
A. D. Ackels, (Colonel, US Army, retired)
Karen Kwiatkowski, (Lt. Colonel, USAF, retired)
US Department of State:
Thomas R. Maertens, Deputy Coordinator, Office of Counter Terrorism, US Department of State
Larry C Johnson, Office of Counter Terrorism, US Department of State
Federal Bureau of Investigation:
Christopher Whitcomb, Hostage Rescue Team

Torture and the Content of our Character

16 September, 2006 In a significant rebuff to President Bush and his security-driven strategy for Republican victory in November, the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday rejected the President's military detainee bill and passed a radically different alternative. At stake in this standoff between the President and the Senate are legal and moral issues central to the Constitution and the character of the American people: the right to a fair trial, the use of torture, the accountability of high government officials for war crimes. It also tests the powers of Congress and the Supreme Court to rein in an errant executive.

In the run-up to the midterm elections, the Bush Administration seeks to position Republicans as tough in pursuing the "war on terror," and to present Democrats as soft. By revealing recently that the government had been holding captives in secret jails and aims to try them at Guantánamo Bay, Bush and his advisers signaled that they are clearly hoping for an upswell of public support for Republicans who are "tough on terror."

Adhere to the rules,
Geneva protections should not be weakened

16 September, 2006 For more than half a century, the Geneva Conventions have set international standards for the treatment of prisoners of war. Because of the treaties, civilized nations are expected to adhere to humane norms in dealing with captured enemy soldiers – including, of course, American military personnel.

The rules laid out by the Geneva Conventions are far too important to be summarily discarded in the war on terrorism. This is why Senate Republican leaders, backed by former Secretary of State Colin Powell, are right to oppose President Bush's bid to weaken the international protections. Bush's proposed changes would undermine America's moral standing in the world and jeopardize the humane treatment of U.S. soldiers when they fall into enemy hands.

Common Article 3 of the treaties grants captured personnel the right to medical treatment and protects them from torture or “outrages upon personal dignity.” The Bush administration insists it does not torture terrorist suspects, but the coerced interrogation methods used by the CIA may indeed violate Common Article 3's prohibition against assaults upon personal dignity. Accordingly, the administration wants Congress to narrow the definition of “outrages upon personal dignity” in order to allow the CIA to continue what it calls “alternative interrogation practices.”

Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner, R-Va., and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., along with other Republican and Democratic senators, have courageously stood up to the president on this crucial issue. McCain, who was held as a POW for five years in Vietnam, earlier pushed through legislation over the Bush administration's opposition making it clear that the torture of prisoners by the United States is prohibited.

The president is plainly wrong on this issue – on legal grounds, on moral grounds, on common-sense grounds. The Republican senators should not yield to Bush's demands.

'ticking time bomb' scenario

There has been a gread deal of debate in the news, of late, as to the application of torture under a so-called 'ticking time bomb' scenario. Is physical or mental torture ever justified in such an extreme event in a moral society?

Response from Oliver Leaman on November 17, 2005
Some moral philosophers think that absolutely nothing can justify torture, and for them torture is unacceptable whatever the consequences. To argue with them it would be no good pointing out the consequences of not torturing, for the consequences are irrelevant. One would have to show them that consequences do matter in moral reasoning. For other philosophers a calculation of alternatives would be relevant, the costs and benefits would have to be considered and the right course of action derived from the result. For them it is a technical issue to be decided on the merits of each individual case, while for many absolutists torture can be absolutely ruled out.

Response from Alexander George on November 18, 2005
I find myself impatient with such questions. There may be a theoretical interest to them, but in practice I find they often have the effect of paralyzing action that we know to be right. (And is one being overly suspicious to wonder whether they are sometimes offered with precisely such intentions?) I expect that most or almost all instances of torture fail to take place in anything like the "ticking bomb" context; most, perhaps all, torture that's actually practiced is absolutely and unmitigatedly wrong. And our conviction that these instances of torture are wrong should not be weakened by our realization that we cannot decide whether torture might ever justified or, if we think it might be, where precisely to draw the line.

The Gitmo Fallout

17 July, 2006 issue - David Bowker vividly remembers the first time he heard the phrase. A lawyer in the State Department, Bowker was part of a Bush administration "working group" assembled in the panicked aftermath of the September 11 attacks. Its task: figuring out what rights captured foreign fighters and terror suspects were entitled to while in U.S. custody. White House hard-liners, led by Vice President Dick Cheney and his uncompromising lawyer, David Addington, made it clear that there was only one acceptable answer. One day, Bowker recalls, a colleague explained the goal: to "find the legal equivalent of outer space"—a "lawless" universe. As Bowker understood it, the idea was to create a system where detainees would have no legal rights and U.S courts would have no power to intervene.

The "outer space" line became something of a joke around the office, but Bowker and a handful of his colleagues didn't find it all that funny. The White House was already planning to fly terror suspects to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, or other secret U.S. prisons overseas, where they would have no way to challenge their detention. In January 2002, Bowker and other State Department lawyers pushed back. After seeing a Justice Department memo arguing that Qaeda and Taliban prisoners did not even deserve basic protections under the Geneva Conventions, they warned that the administration was inviting an enormous backlash, both from U.S. courts and foreign allies. It would also, they feared, jeopardize President George W. Bush's plans to try such prisoners in specially created military courts. "Even those terrorists captured in Afghanistan ... are entitled to the fundamental humane treatment standards of ... the Geneva Conventions," William Howard Taft IV, the State Department legal counselor and Bowker's boss, wrote in a Jan. 23, 2002, memo obtained by NEWSWEEK. In particular, Taft argued, the United States has always followed one provision of the Geneva Conventions—known as Common Article 3—which "provides the minimal standards" of treatment that even "terrorists captured in Afghanistan" deserve.

Outrageous video of Hunter justifying torture

US general urged "outer limits" Iraq interrogation

The top U.S. commander in Iraq during the Abu Ghraib abuse scandal urged U.S. forces to "go to the outer limits" to extract information from prisoners, according to a U.S. officer cited in a military document.

The Army last year exonerated Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez of wrongdoing relating to detainee abuse, but human rights lawyers said the document raises fresh questions about the degree to which senior officers sanctioned the abuse.

Nearly all the U.S. service members who have faced criminal charges for detainee abuse have been low ranking.

"The documents that have been released under the Freedom of Information Act make very clear that senior military officials and civilian leaders should be held accountable for what took place," Jaffer said.

Jaffer also pointed to an April 2, 2004, document -- coming weeks before the Abu Ghraib pictures brought the issue of prisoner abuse to the attention of the world -- detailing 62 military investigations of detainee abuse and death cases.

A previously released September 14, 2003, memo from Sanchez showed that he authorized the potential use of interrogation tactics more harsh than accepted Army practice, including using guard dogs to exploit "Arab fear of dogs."

That memo also allowed for "stress positions," in which a prisoner is placed in potentially painful bodily positions to try to get him to talk.