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Pedro Gonçalves

CIA doctors face human experimentation claims | World news | guardian.co.uk - 0 views

  • Doctors and psychologists the CIA employed to monitor its "enhanced interrogation" of terror suspects came close to, and may even have committed, unlawful human experimentation, a medical ethics watchdog has alleged.
  • The most incendiary accusation of PHR's latest report, Aiding Torture, is that doctors actively monitored the CIA's interrogation techniques with a view to determining their effectiveness, using detainees as human subjects without their consent. The report concludes that such data gathering was "a practice that approaches unlawful experimentation".
  • In April, a leaked report from the International Committee of the Red Cross found that medical staff employed by the CIA had been present during waterboarding, and had even used what appeared to be a pulse oxymeter, placed on the prisoner's finger to monitor his oxygen saturation during the procedure
Pedro Gonçalves

BBC NEWS | Americas | US intelligence nominee withdraws - 0 views

  • US President Barack Obama's choice for a top intelligence job has withdrawn after questions about his experience of CIA interrogation techniques.

    Phillip Mudd worked for the CIA under former President George W Bush.

  • Earlier this year President Obama nominated him to be Under Secretary of Intelligence at the Department of Homeland Security.
Pedro Gonçalves

Cheney: No link between Saddam Hussein, 9/11 - CNN.com - 0 views

  • Former Vice President Dick Cheney said Monday that he does not believe Saddam Hussein was involved in the planning or execution of the September 11, 2001, attacks.
  • He strongly defended the Bush administration's decision to invade Iraq, however, arguing that Hussein's previous support for known terrorists was a serious danger after 9/11.
  • "I do not believe and have never seen any evidence to confirm that [Hussein] was involved in 9/11. We had that reporting for a while, [but] eventually it turned out not to be true," Cheney conceded.

    But Hussein was "somebody who provided sanctuary and safe harbor and resources to terrorists. ... [It] is, without question, a fact."

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  • Cheney restated his claim that "there was a relationship between al Qaeda and Iraq that stretched back 10 years. It's not something I made up. ... We know for a fact that Saddam Hussein was a sponsor -- a state sponsor -- of terror. It's not my judgment. That was the judgment of our [intelligence community] and State Department."

    Cheney identified former CIA Director George Tenet as the "prime source of information" on the relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda.

  • Tenet "testified, if you go back and check the record, in the fall of [2002] before the Senate Intelligence Committee -- in open session -- that there was a relationship," Cheney said.
  • He reiterated his call for President Obama to declassify documents detailing the results of "enhanced interrogations" of high-value detainees.

    Since Obama has already released memos detailing the interrogation methods, Cheney said, it is important to share the results of those interrogations with the public as well.

    "I would not ordinarily be leading the charge to declassify classified information, otherwise they wouldn't call me Darth Vader for nothing," Cheney said.

    But "once the [Obama] administration released the legal memos that gave the opinions that were used to guide the interrogation program, they'd given away the store. ... I [therefore] thought it was important to have the results that were gained from that interrogation program front and center as well."

  • On May 21, Cheney gave a full-throated defense of the Bush administration's enhanced interrogations of al Qaeda prisoners during an appearance at the conservative American Enterprise Institute.

    He has said that the interrogations saved the lives of "thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands." He called the techniques the Bush administration approved "legal, essential, justified, successful and the right thing to do."

Pedro Gonçalves

Taguba denies he's seen abuse photos suppressed by Obama | Salon News - 0 views

  • Retired Army Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba denied reports that he has seen the prisoner-abuse photos that President Obama is fighting to keep secret, in an exclusive interview with Salon Friday night.

    On Thursday an article in the Daily Telegraph reported that Taguba, the lead investigator into Abu Ghraib abuse, had seen images Obama wanted suppressed, and supported the president's decision to fight their release. The paper quoted Taguba as saying, "These pictures show torture, abuse, rape and every indecency."

    But Taguba says he wasn't talking about the 44 photographs that are the subject of an ongoing ACLU lawsuit that Obama is fighting.
  • "The photographs in that lawsuit, I have not seen," Taguba told Salon Friday night. The actual quote in the Telegraph was accurate, Taguba said -- but he was referring to the hundreds of images he reviewed as an investigator of the abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq -- not the photos of abuse that Obama is seeking to suppress.
Argos Media

Obama stands firm on closing Guantánamo | World news | guardian.co.uk - 0 views

  • Barack Obama today laid out a broad case for closing the Guantánamo Bay prison and banning the "enhanced interrogation techniques" that have been condemned as torture – while accusing his opponents of wanting to scare Americans to win political battles.

    In a grand hall at the US national archives, standing directly in front of original copies of the US constitution and declaration of independence, Obama said the current legal and political battles in Washington over the fate of the 240 prisoners there stemmed not from his decision to close the facility, but from George Bush's move seven years ago to open it.

  • Obama stressed at several points that his administration would never free dangerous terrorists into the US, an effort to counter the Republican party's central argument against the closure. He said US prisons were tough and safe enough to handle the most vicious al-Qaida terrorist suspects now held at Guantánamo.

    "I am not going to release individuals who endanger the American people," Obama said. "Al-Qaida terrorists and their affiliates are at war with the United States, and those that we capture – like other prisoners of war – must be prevented from attacking us again."

  • Shortly after Obama spoke, Dick Cheney gave a rebuttal at a conservative Washington think tank, the American Enterprise Institute. The former vice-president defended many of the Bush administration policies Obama is now unraveling, and mentioned either "September 11" or "9/11" 25 times.

    Cheney said Saddam Hussein had "known ties" to terrorists, an apparent rehashing of the widely discredited Bush administration effort to link the Iraqi dictator to the September 11 2001 hijackers.

    "After the most lethal and devastating terrorist attack ever, seven and a half years without a repeat is not a record to be rebuked and scorned, much less criminalised," Cheney said.

    "In my long experience in Washington, few matters have inspired so much contrived indignation and phony moralising as the interrogation methods applied to a few captured terrorists."

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  • Obama today said that indefinite detention at Guantánamo Bay and the prison's harsh interrogation methods had undermined the rule of law, alienated America from the rest of the world, served as a rallying cry and recruiting symbol for terrorists, risked the lives of American troops by making it less likely enemy combatants would surrender, and increased the likelihood American prisoners of war would be mistreated. The camp's existence discouraged US allies from cooperating in the fight against international terrorism, he said.

    "There is also no question that Guantánamo set back the moral authority that is America's strongest currency in the world," he said. "Instead of building a durable framework for the struggle against al-Qaida that drew upon our deeply held values and traditions, our government was defending positions that undermined the rule of law."

  • Meanwhile only three people had been tried by the Bush military commissions in seven years, but Bush had released 525 detainees from the prison.
  • He noted that an estimated 14% of suspects freed from Guantánamo returned to the battlefield, but blamed that on the Bush administration's slipshod process of selecting which to let loose.
  • Obama said his administration would try in US courts those who had violated US criminal laws; try in military commissions those who violated the laws of war; free those ordered released by US courts; and transfer at least 50 people to foreign countries for detention and rehabilitation.
  • He acknowledged that a number of Guantánamo prisoners could not be prosecuted yet posed a clear threat to the US: those who had trained at al-Qaida camps, commanded Taliban troops, pledged loyalty to Osama bin Laden and sworn to kill Americans.

    "These are people who, in effect, remain at war with the United States," he said.

  • Obama defended his decision to release justice department memos detailing the Bush administration's legal rationale for waterboarding, sleep deprivation and other harsh interrogation techniques. He said those techniques had already been publicised and he had already banned them.

    "In short, I released these memos because there was no overriding reason to protect them," he said. "And the ensuing debate has helped the American people better understand how these interrogation methods came to be authorised and used."

    He defended his decision not to release photographs of US-held prisoners similar to those taken at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. He said he feared they would inflame world opinion against the US and endanger US troops.

Argos Media

Pelosi and CIA Clash Over Contents of Key Briefing - WSJ.com - 0 views

  • he top congressional Democrat on Thursday accused the Central Intelligence Agency of deceiving her about the use of harsh interrogation techniques on suspected terrorists.
  • The accusation pits House Speaker Nancy Pelosi against the CIA in a war of words over whether she was specifically told in September 2002 that waterboarding was being used on detainees. Republicans accuse her of being hypocritical for criticizing Bush-era interrogation techniques, and say she should have spoken out against them when she was first briefed if she opposed their use.
  • At a contentious news conference Thursday, Mrs. Pelosi said that during the 2002 briefing, "we were told that waterboarding was not being used." Mrs. Pelosi acknowledged that as the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, she was briefed on Sept. 4, 2002, about waterboarding, a form of simulated drowning that critics, including President Barack Obama, call torture. But she said CIA officials told her and other lawmakers only that the Justice Department had concluded the procedure was legal.
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  • A CIA report released last week said that at the briefing, officials described the use of interrogation techniques on terrorism suspect Abu Zubaydah, who had been waterboarded 83 times the month before.
  • "It is not the policy of this Agency to mislead the United States Congress," CIA spokesman George Little said. CIA officials on Thursday stood by their description of the briefing. CIA Director Leon Panetta has said it would be up to Congress to determine whether notes made by agency personnel at the time they briefed lawmakers were accurate.
  • When Mrs. Pelosi's successor on the committee, Rep. Jane Harman (D., Calif.), learned in a February 2003 briefing that waterboarding was being used, she wrote a letter to the administration objecting. But Democrats said it had no effect.
  • while some prominent Democrats, including Mrs. Pelosi and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, favor a "truth commission" to investigate the Bush-era harsh interrogations, Mr. Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) do not.
  • Ms. Pelosi's fellow Democrats took the unusual step of lashing out at the CIA. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes (D., Texas) said the CIA briefing Ms. Pelosi received was "inaccurate and incomplete" because she wasn't told that waterboarding was already being employed.
  • At the same time, the CIA has denied a request by former Vice President Dick Cheney to declassify documents that he said would show the harsh interrogations were effective. The agency isn't permitted to declassify documents that are the subject of pending lawsuits, it said.
  • Human-rights groups have brought a lawsuit demanding release of the documents. Those groups said Thursday that their lawsuit shouldn't stand in the way of making the information public.
Argos Media

Obama Moves to Bar Release of Detainee Abuse Photos - NYTimes.com - 0 views

  • President Obama said Wednesday that he would fight to prevent the release of photographs documenting abuse of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan by United States military personnel, reversing his position on the issue after commanders warned that the images could set off a deadly backlash against American troops.
  • The administration said last month that it would not oppose the release of the pictures, but Mr. Obama changed his mind after seeing the photographs and getting warnings from top Pentagon officials that the images, taken from the early years of the wars, would “further inflame anti-American opinion” and endanger troops in two war zones.
  • The decision in effect tossed aside an agreement the government had reached with the American Civil Liberties Union, which had fought to release photographs of incidents at Abu Ghraib and a half-dozen other prisons. The Justice Department informed the United States District Court in New York, which had backed the A.C.L.U.’s request, that it would appeal the ruling, citing “further reflection at the highest levels of government.”
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  • To explain his position, which was sharply criticized by the A.C.L.U., Mr. Obama spoke at the White House before flying to Arizona to deliver a commencement address. He suggested that the new mission in Iraq and Afghanistan could be imperiled by an old fight.

    “The publication of these photos would not add any additional benefit to our understanding of what was carried out in the past by a small number of individuals,” Mr. Obama told reporters on the South Lawn. “In fact, the most direct consequence of releasing them, I believe, would be to further inflame anti-American opinion and to put our troops in greater danger.”

Argos Media

Bush Officials Try to Alter Ethics Report - washingtonpost.com - 0 views

  • Former Bush administration officials have launched a behind-the-scenes campaign to urge Justice Department leaders to soften an ethics report criticizing lawyers who blessed harsh detainee interrogation tactics, according to two sources familiar with the efforts.
  • Representatives for John C. Yoo and Jay S. Bybee, subjects of the ethics probe, have encouraged former Justice Department and White House officials to contact new officials at the department to point out the troubling precedent of imposing sanctions on legal advisers, said the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the process is not complete.
  • A draft report of more than 200 pages, prepared in January before Bush's departure, recommends disciplinary action, rather than criminal prosecution, by state bar associations against Yoo and Bybee, former attorneys in the department's Office of Legal Counsel, for their work in preparing and signing the interrogation memos. State bar associations have the power to suspend a lawyer's license to practice or impose other penalties.
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  • Bybee, now a federal appeals court judge, and Yoo, now a law professor in California
  • The legal analysis on interrogation prepared by a third former chief of the Office of Legal Counsel, Steven G. Bradbury, also was a subject of the ethics probe. But in an early draft, investigators did not make disciplinary recommendations about Bradbury.
  • Among other things, the draft report cited passages from a 2004 CIA inspector general's investigation and cast doubt on the effectiveness of the questioning techniques, which sources characterized as far afield from the narrow legal questions surrounding the lawyers' activities.
Argos Media

4th-Grader Questions Rice on Waterboarding - washingtonpost.com - 0 views

  • Days after telling students at Stanford University that waterboarding was legal "by definition if it was authorized by the president," former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice was pressed again on the subject yesterday by a fourth-grader at a Washington school.
  • Then Misha Lerner, a student from Bethesda, asked: What did Rice think about the things President Obama's administration was saying about the methods the Bush administration had used to get information from detainees?
  • "Let me just say that President Bush was very clear that he wanted to do everything he could to protect the country. After September 11, we wanted to protect the country," she said. "But he was also very clear that we would do nothing, nothing, that was against the law or against our obligations internationally. So the president was only willing to authorize policies that were legal in order to protect the country."

    She added: "I hope you understand that it was a very difficult time. We were all so terrified of another attack on the country. September 11 was the worst day of my life in government, watching 3,000 Americans die. . . . Even under those most difficult circumstances, the president was not prepared to do something illegal, and I hope people understand that we were trying to protect the country."

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  • Rice touched off a firestorm last week when she told students at Stanford that "we did not torture anyone."

    "The president instructed us that nothing we would do would be outside of our obligations, legal obligations, under the Convention Against Torture," Rice said at Stanford, before adding: "And so, by definition, if it was authorized by the president, it did not violate our obligations under the Convention Against Torture."

Argos Media

Torture-tape Gulf prince accused of 25 other attacks | World news | The Observer - 0 views

  • The wealthy Gulf prince at the centre of a "torture tape" scandal has been accused of attacking at least 25 other people in incidents that have also been caught on film, it has been claimed.

    Sheikh Issa bin Zayed al-Nahyan is now under investigation in the United Arab Emirates after the shocking tape showed him beating a man with a nailed plank, setting him on fire, attacking him with a cattle prod and running him over.

  • But now lawyers for American businessman Bassam Nabulsi, who smuggled the tape out of the UAE, have written to the justice minister of Abu Dhabi - the most powerful of the emirates that make up the UAE - claiming to have considerably more evidence against Issa.

    "I have more than two hours of video footage showing Sheikh Issa's involvement in the torture of more than 25 people," wrote Texas-based lawyer Anthony Buzbee in a letter obtained by the Observer.

  • now it appears the initial tape could just be the beginning of the problem. The new tapes apparently also involve police officers taking part in Issa's attacks, and some of his victims in the as-yet-unseen videos are believed to be Sudanese immigrants.
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  • The fresh revelations about Issa's actions will add further doubt to a pending nuclear energy deal between the UAE and the US. The deal, signed in the final days of George W Bush, is seen as vital for the UAE. It will see the US share nuclear energy expertise, fuel and technology in return for a promise to abide by non-proliferation agreements. But the deal needs to be recertified by the Obama administration and there is growing outrage in America over the tapes. Congressman James McGovern, a senior Democrat, has demanded that Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, investigate the matter and find out why US officials initially appeared to play down its significance.
  • The tape emerged from a court case brought in America by Nabulsi. The American citizen is a former business partner of Sheikh Issa, and claims he, too, was tortured in the UAE after the pair fell out. Nabulsi said the first tape was shot by his brother on the orders of Sheikh Issa, who liked to view them later for his own pleasure.
Argos Media

Opinion: Torturing for America - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International - 0 views

  • Germany's Code of Crimes against International Law is equally strict in its treatment of torture. Under the statute, as under similar statutes in other European countries, torture is considered an international crime which can be prosecuted even if it is committed in another country. Citing this so-called principle of "universal jurisdiction," Spanish prosecutor Baltasar Garzón has now sought the prosecution on criminal charges of six former US officials who are allegedly behind the torture scandal
  • The notion that international treaties, and European positions on human rights, could impose limits on national sovereignty, or that a foreign power or non-American values exist that could question what happens in the United States does not fit into this system. "We don't have the same moral and legal framework as the rest of the world, and never have. If you told the framers of the Constitution that what we're after is to, you know, do something that will be just like Europe, they would have been appalled." These are the words of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who was involved in the decision on whether to close the torture facility at Guantanamo.
  • This is both a benefit and a drawback of any democratic country: Elected officials change, but the state remains the same. Unlike a change of power in a dictatorship, when the injustices committed by a previous dictator can be dealt with at one go, in a democracy a newly elected leader has to tread carefully when it comes to the legal opinions of his predecessor.
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  • This is why Obama, a Democrat, is promising the people at the CIA that they will not be prosecuted, because when they tortured people, they did so strictly within the framework of the then-administration's interpretation of the law. This is a concept that is not entirely foreign to European legal thought. Under German criminal law, for instance, the actions committed by a person who could have assumed his behavior was permissible, are considered excusable, albeit not justified.
  • Nevertheless, the idea that "what was lawful then cannot be unlawful today" -- as the late Baden-Württemberg Governor Hans Filbinger, who had been a judge during the Third Reich, famously told SPIEGEL in a 1978 interview -- does not always apply.
Argos Media

Opinion: Torturing for America - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International - 0 views

  • The torture virus eventually infected the rest of the world, including Europe and even Germany. The double standard employed by German counterterrorism personnel when confronted with the torture practices of their US allies becomes clear in a remark Ernst Uhrlau, the head of the BND, Germany's foreign intelligence agency, made in a 2007 interview with SPIEGEL: "US officials have (…) explained to us that the information they gained from various interrogations worldwide has been instrumental in preventing further attacks and uncovering terrorist structures. So we have benefited from all this in the sense of preventing attacks and understanding the structures of the network."
  • German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble also found it difficult to distance himself from the use of dirty information, saying that it was perfectly legitimate for German officials to use information foreign intelligence agencies had obtained through torture -- after all, that helped prevent terror attacks. At the same time, Schäuble was apparently unwilling to consider the possibility that this might also apply to American intelligence agencies: "The president has made it clear that there is no torture. I have no reason to question that."
  • The entire world looked the other way when the United States committed a crime that the world had previously committed itself to outlaw and punish.
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  • Under the 1984 United Nations Convention against Torture, ratified by most countries in the world, each state pledges to impose drastic penalties for the cruel treatment of prisoners -- and to ensure that not only those issuing the orders, but also the torturers themselves, are brought to justice.
  • The cruel and degrading treatment of prisoners is also banned under the Geneva Conventions. Today even US legal experts no longer question that the Geneva Conventions also apply in the war against al-Qaida and other terrorist groups. The Geneva Conventions obligate all nations to try torturers and those who issue their orders, if apprehended, or to extradite them to a country willing to do so.
  • The Bushies knew perfectly well why they withdrew the US signature from the International Criminal Court (ICC) statute. If the United States had subjected itself to the ICC statute, the court's unflinching prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, would undoubtedly have petitioned for the issuance of arrest warrants against Bush and his cohorts long ago.
Argos Media

Torture tape delays U.S.-UAE nuclear deal, say U.S. officials - CNN.com - 0 views

  • A videotape of a heinous torture session is delaying the ratification of a civil nuclear deal between the United Arab Emirates and the United States, senior U.S. officials familiar with the case said.
  • In the tape, an Afghan grain dealer is seen being tortured by a member of the royal family of Abu Dhabi, one of the UAE's seven emirates.
  • The senior U.S. officials said the administration has held off on the ratification process because it believes sensitivities over the story can hurt its passage. The tape emerged in a federal civil lawsuit filed in Houston, Texas, by Bassam Nabulsi, a U.S. citizen, against Sheikh Issa bin Zayed al Nahyan. Former business partners, the men had a falling out, in part over the tape. In a statement to CNN, the sheikh's U.S. attorney said Nabulsi is using the videotape to influence the court over a business dispute.
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  • Under the "1-2-3 deal," similar to one the United States signed last year with India, Washington would share nuclear technology, expertise and fuel. In exchange, the UAE commits to abide by the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty and the International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards.

    The small oil-rich Gulf nation promises not to enrich uranium or to reprocess spent nuclear fuel to extract plutonium, which can be used to make nuclear bombs.

  • "It's being temporarily held up because of that tape," one senior official said.
  • The State Department had little to say publicly on the torture tape incident, but its 2008 human rights report about the United Arab Emirates refers to "reports that a royal family member tortured a foreign national who had allegedly overcharged him in a grain deal."
  • U.S. Rep. James McGovern -- the Massachusetts Democrat who co-chairs the congressional Human Rights Commission
  • McGovern asked Clinton to "place a temporary hold on further U.S. expenditures of funds, training, sales or transfers of equipment or technology, including nuclear until a full review of this matter and its policy implications can be completed." He also asked that the United States deny any visa for travel to the United States by Sheikh Issa or his immediate family, including his 18 brothers, several of whom are ruling members of the UAE government.
  • UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, a half-brother of Sheikh Issa, is expected to visit Washington sometime next month.

  • The civil nuclear agreement was signed in January between the United Arab Emirates and the Bush administration, but after the new administration took office, the deal had to be recertified
  • The deal is part of a major UAE investment in nuclear, and it has already signed deals to build several nuclear power plants.

    The United States already has similar nuclear cooperation agreements with Egypt and Morocco, and U.S. officials said Washington is working on similar pacts with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Jordan.

  • When the Bush administration signed the deal in January, it stressed the UAE's role in global nonproliferation initiatives, including a donation of $10 million to establish an International Atomic Energy Agency international fuel bank.
  • Congressional critics fear the deal could spark an arms race and proliferation in the region, and the UAE's ties to Iran also have caused concern.

  • Iran is among the UAE's largest trading partners. In the past, the port city of Dubai, one of the UAE's seven emirates, has been used as a transit point for sensitive technology bound for Iran.
  • Dubai was also one of the major hubs for the nuclear trafficking network run by Pakistani nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan, who admitted to spreading nuclear technology to Iran, North Korea and Libya up until the year 2000.
  • Such ties contributed to stiff opposition in Congress to the failed deal for Dubai Ports World to manage U.S. ports.
  • Officials said they expect the deal to be sent up to the Hill for ratification within the next few weeks, given that there has been little blowback from the publication of the tape, except for McGovern's letter to Clinton.

    "It will be sent very soon," one official said.

  • UAE Ambassador to the U.S. Yousef Al Otaiba told CNN his government always expected the deal to be sent to the Senate in early May, regardless of the controversy surrounding the tape.

    "As far as we are concerned, the deal is on track and this has not affected the timing," he said.

Argos Media

Europe's 'Special Interrogations': New Evidence of Torture Prison in Poland - SPIEGEL O... - 0 views

  • For more than a year now, Warsaw public prosecutor Robert Majewski has been investigating former Polish Prime Minister Leszek Miller's government on allegations of abuse of office. At issue is whether sovereignty over Polish territory was relinquished, and whether former Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski and his left-leaning Social Democratic government gave the CIA free reign over sections of the Stare Kiejkuty military base for the agency's extraterritorial torture interrogations.
  • "No European country is so sincerely and vigorously investigating former members of the government as is currently the case in Poland," says Wolfgang Kaleck from the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights in Berlin, which supports the investigations.
  • The public prosecutor's office has also launched a probe to determine whether the Polish intelligence agency made 20 of its agents available to the CIA, as was recently reported by the conservative Polish daily newspaper Rzeczpospolita. A former CIA official confirmed this information to SPIEGEL. There was reportedly a document issued by the intelligence agency that mentioned both the 20 Polish agents and the transfer of the military base to the Americans. Two members of a parliamentary investigative committee in Warsaw had an opportunity to view this document in late 2005, but it has since disappeared.
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  • Similar conclusions were reached by the second investigative report on CIA kidnappings in Europe, which was submitted two years ago by the special investigator of the Council of Europe, Dick Marty
  • Journalist Mariusz Kowalewski at Rzeczpospolita and two colleagues have been searching for months now for proof of the existence of a secret CIA base in Poland. The journalists have discovered flight record books from Szymany that had been declared lost, and based on refueling receipts and currency exchange rates, they have reconstructed flights and routes, and spoken with informants. Over the past few weeks, their newspaper and the television network TVP Info have revealed new details on an almost daily basis.
  • There are rumors circulating that one of the most important interrogators of Sheikh Mohammed, an American named Deuce Martinez -- the man who didn't torture him, but rather had the task of gently coaxing information out of him -- was in Poland at the time. That is the proof that's still missing.
  • According to Marty's report, members of the former Polish military intelligence and counterintelligence agency, WSI, were given positions with the border police, customs and airport administration to safeguard the activities of the CIA. "The latest revelations in Poland fully corroborate my evidence, which is based on testimony by insiders and documents that have been leaked to me," says the investigator today. Now, under the "dynamic force of the truth" that Obama has unleashed, Marty says that Europeans must finally reveal "which governments tolerated and supported the illegal practices of the CIA."
  • "The order to give the CIA everything they needed came from the very top, from the president," a member of the Polish military intelligence agency told the Marty team in 2007. Kwasniewski denies this. He says that there was close intelligence corporation with the US, but no prisons on Polish soil.
  • It's very possible that the debate on torture and responsibility which is currently being conducted in the US will soon also reach Europe. After all, Germany granted the US flyover rights and dropped its bid to extradite 13 CIA operatives in the case of Khalid el-Masri, a German citizen who claims he was abducted by the Americans. The Italian intelligence agency allegedly assisted the CIA with the kidnapping in Milan of the Islamic cleric Abu Omar. Britain's intelligence agency, MI6, reportedly delivered information directly to CIA agents who were conducting interrogations in Morocco. And there are also reports of a secret prison in Romania.
Argos Media

Europe's 'Special Interrogations': New Evidence of Torture Prison in Poland - SPIEGEL O... - 0 views

  • The current debate in the US on the "special interrogation methods" sanctioned by the Bush administration could soon reach Europe. It has long been clear that the CIA used the Szymany military airbase in Poland for extraordinary renditions. Now there is evidence of a secret prison nearby.
  • Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the architect of the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington, also known as "the brains" behind al-Qaida. This was the man who had presented Osama bin Laden with plans to attack the US with commercial jets. He personally selected the pilots and supervised preparations for the attacks. Eighteen months later, on March 1, 2003, Sheikh Mohammed was captured in Rawalpindi, Pakistan by US Special Forces and brought to Afghanistan two days later. Now the CIA was flying him to a remote area in Poland's Masuria region. The prisoner slept during the flight from Kabul to Szymany, for the first time in days, as he later recounted:
  • A large number of Polish and American intelligence operatives have since gone on record that the CIA maintained a prison in northeastern Poland. Independent of these sources, Polish government officials from the Justice and Defense Ministry have also reported that the Americans had a secret base near Szymany airport. And so began on March 7, 2003 one of the darkest chapters of recent American -- and European -- history.
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  • It was apparently here, just under an hour's drive from Szymany airport, that Sheikh Mohammed was tortured, exactly 183 times with waterboarding -- an interrogation technique that simulates the sensation of drowning -- in March, 2003 alone. That averages out to eight times a day. And all of this happened right here in Europe.

  • What the CIA did back then to prisoners in the Polish military airbase of Stare Kiejkuty, north of Szymany, had been authorized by the president. According to witnesses, Stare Kiejkuty housed a secret CIA prison for "high value detainees" -- for the most prominent prisoners of the war on terror.
  • There is now no doubt that the Gulfstream N379P landed at least five times at Szymany between February and July, 2003. Flight routes were manipulated and falsified for this purpose and, with the knowledge of the Polish government, the European aviation safety agency Eurocontrol was deliberately deceived.
  • Stare Kiejkuty military base, known as a training camp for Polish intelligence agents.
  • Sheikh Mohammed said that they cut the clothes from his body, photographed him naked and threw him in a three-by-four-meter (10 x 13 ft) cell with wooden walls. That was when the hardest phase of the interrogating began, he claims. According to Sheikh Mohammed, one of his interrogators told him that they had received the green light from Washington to give him a "hard time":
  • "They never used the word 'torture' and never referred to 'physical pressure,' only to 'a hard time.' I was never threatened with death, in fact I was told that they would not allow me to die, but that I would be brought to the 'verge of death and back again.'"
  • He says he was questioned roughly eight hours a day. He spent the first month naked and standing, with his hands chained to the ceiling of the cell, even at night.
  • the al-Qaida operative described how he was strapped to a special bed and submitted to waterboarding:

    "Cold water from a bottle that had been kept in a fridge was then poured onto the cloth by one of the guards so that I could not breathe. This obviously could only be done for one or two minutes at a time. The cloth was then removed and the bed was put into a vertical position. The whole process was then repeated during about one hour. Injuries to my ankles and wrists also occurred during the waterboarding as I struggled in the panic of not being able to breathe."

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Effectiveness Of Harsh Questioning Is Unclear - washingtonpost.com - 0 views

  • Padilla, however, was arrested at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport on May 8, 2002, more than two months before the issuance of the Justice Department's Aug. 1, 2002, memo authorizing the use of harsh methods in interrogating Abu Zubaida.

    "The dates just don't add up," wrote Ali Soufan, a former FBI special agent, in an opinion piece in the New York Times last week. Soufan, who questioned Abu Zubaida between his capture in March 2002 and early June of that year, said the detainee gave up Padilla without any physical or psychological duress. He also said Abu Zubaida identified Mohammed as the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks "under traditional interrogation methods."

  • Padilla, a U.S. citizen, was sentenced in January 2008 to 17 years in prison after being convicted of conspiracy and providing material support for terrorism.
  • An attack on both coasts was conceived by Mohammed before Sept. 11, 2001, but the plot was scaled back to target only New York and Washington. Mohammed continued to consider striking the U.S. Bank Tower in Los Angeles, administration officials said. His interrogation led to information that he planned "to use East Asian operatives to crash a hijacked airliner into a building in Los Angeles," according the 2005 Justice Department memo.
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  • A number of officials have questioned the viability of the plot in the wake of the changes in airport security after Sept. 11. And President George W. Bush, in a speech in 2007, said the plot was broken up in 2002, before Mohammed's capture in Pakistan on March 1, 2003.
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Effectiveness Of Harsh Questioning Is Unclear - washingtonpost.com - 0 views

  • It is unclear from unclassified reports whether the information gained was critical in foiling actual plots. Mohammed later told outside interviewers that he was "forced to invent in order to make the ill-treatment stop" and that he "wasted a lot of their time [with] several false red-alerts being placed in the U.S.," according to the Red Cross, whose officials interviewed Mohammed and other detainees after they were transferred to the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in September 2006.
  • Mohammed continued to be a valued source of information long after the coercive interrogation ended. Indeed, he has gone on to lecture CIA agents in a classroom-like setting, on topics from Greek philosophy to the structure of al-Qaeda, and wrote essays in response to questions, according to sources familiar with his time in detention.
  • Counterterrorism officials also said the two men and other captured suspects provided critical information about senior al-Qaeda figures and identified hundreds of al-Qaeda members, associates and financial backers.

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    The accumulation and triangulation of information also allowed officials to vet the intelligence they were receiving and to push other prisoners toward making full and frank statements.

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  • The memo said the CIA waterboarded Mohammed only after it became apparent that standard interrogation techniques were not working, a judgment that appears to have been reached rapidly. Mohammed, according to the memo, resisted giving any answers to questions about future attacks, saying, "Soon you will know."
  • A 2005 memo by the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel said that Mohammed and Abu Zubaida, the nom de guerre of Zayn al-Abidin Muhammed Hussein, an al-Qaeda associate who was also subjected to coercive interrogation, have been "pivotal sources because of their ability and willingness to provide their analysis and speculation about the capabilities, methodologies and mindsets of terrorists."
  • One of the Justice Department memos said waterboarding "may be used on a High Value Detainee only if the CIA has 'credible intelligence that a terrorist attack is imminent.' " It also stated that waterboarding can be employed only if "other interrogation methods have failed to elicit the information [or] CIA has clear indications that other methods are unlikely to elicit this information within the perceived time limit for preventing the attack."
  • The memo, while saying it discussed only a fraction of the important intelligence gleaned from Abu Zubaida and Mohammed, cited three specific successes: the identification of alleged "dirty bomber" Jose Padilla; the discovery of a "Second Wave" attack targeting Los Angeles; and the break-up of the Indonesian Jemaah Islamiya cell, an al-Qaeda ally led by Riduan Isamuddin, better known as Hambali.

    The last example was an undoubted success that led to the capture of several suspects, but the other two are much less clear-cut.

  • The Office of Legal Counsel memo said Abu Zubaida provided significant information on two operatives, including Jose Padilla, who "planned to build and detonate a dirty bomb in the Washington D.C area."
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Effectiveness Of Harsh Questioning Is Unclear - washingtonpost.com - 0 views

  • During his first days in detention, senior al-Qaeda operative Khalid Sheik Mohammed was stripped of his clothes, beaten, given a forced enema and shackled with his arms chained above his head, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross. It was then, a Red Cross report says, that his American captors told him to prepare for "a hard time."
  • Over the next 25 days, beginning on March 6, 2003, Mohammed was put through a routine in which he was deprived of sleep, doused with cold water and had his head repeatedly slammed into a plywood wall, according to the report. The interrogation also included days of extensive waterboarding, a technique that simulates drowning.
  • But whether harsh tactics were decisive in Mohammed's interrogation may never be conclusively known, in large part because the CIA appears not to have tried traditional tactics for much time, if at all. According to the agency's own accounting, Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times during his first four weeks in a CIA secret prison.
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  • Sometime during those early weeks, Mohammed started talking, providing information that supporters of harsh interrogations would later cite in defending the practices. Former vice president Richard B. Cheney has justified such interrogations by saying that intelligence gained from Mohammed resulted in the takedown of al-Qaeda plots.
  • Two former high-ranking officials with access to secret information said the interrogations yielded details of al-Qaeda's operations that resulted in the identification of previously unknown suspects, preventing future attacks.

    "The detainee-supplied data permitted us to round them up as they were being trained, rather than just before they came ashore," said one former intelligence official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the cases are classified. "Not headline stuff, but the bread and butter of successful counterterrorism. And something that few people understand."

  • Other officials, including former high-ranking members of the Bush administration, argue that judging the program by whether it yielded information misses the point.

    "The systematic, calculated infliction of this scale of prolonged torment is immoral, debasing the perpetrators and the captives," said Philip D. Zelikow, a political counselor to then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice who reviewed secret Bush administration reports about the program in 2005. "Second, forfeiting our high ground, the practices also alienate needed allies in the common fight, even allies within our own government. Third, the gains are dubious when the alternatives are searchingly compared. And then, after all, there is still the law."

  • The Obama administration's top intelligence officer, Dennis C. Blair, has said the information obtained through the interrogation program was of "high value." But he also concluded that those gains weren't worth the cost.

    "There is no way of knowing whether the same information could have been obtained through other means," Blair said in a statement. "The bottom line is these techniques have hurt our image around the world, the damage they have done to our interests far outweighed whatever benefit they gave us and they are not essential to our national security."

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US to release pictures of prisoner abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan | World news | guardia... - 0 views

  • The Obama administration is set to intensify the torture debate by releasing scores of new pictures showing abuse of prisoners held by the US in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    The pictures were taken between 2001 and 2006 at detention centres other than Iraq's infamous Abu Ghraib prison, confirming that abuse was much more widespread than the US has so far been prepared to admit.

  • The Bush administration had repeatedly blocked through legal channels appeals from human rights groups for release of the pictures, which are held by the Army Criminal Investigation Division. But the Obama administration late yesterday lifted all legal obstacles and the pictures are to be published by 28 May.
  • The justice department has initially agreed to the release of 21 images of abuse at detention centres in Iraq and Afghanistan other than at Abu Ghraib and 23 other pictures. It added "the government is also processing for release a substantial number of other images". Up to 2,000 could be released.
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  • The pictures are similar to those from Abu Ghraib that in 2004 created shock around the world, caused a backlash in the Middle East and eventually led to jail sentences for the US military personnel involved.

    A US official said the pictures were not as bad as Abu Ghraib but "not good" either. The Abu Ghraib pictures showed Iraqi prisoners hooded, naked, posed in sexually embarrassing positions and being harassed by dogs.

  • Obama has consistently said he does not want to rake over history, fearing that it will deflect attention from his heavy domestic and foreign policy programme. But this week he opened the way for the prosecution of senior figures in the Bush administration and the establishment of a congressional inquiry.

    Amid the uproar this created, he has since been backing off. Both he and the Democratic leader of the Senate, Harry Reid, have signalled their unwillingness to hold a truth commission, but the Democratic leader in the House, Nancy Pelosi, appears ready to push ahead. With so much clamour for an investigation, it is almost certain that Congress will hold one, with or without the backing of the White House.

  • The release of the pictures has been sought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), a human rights organisation whose legal action forced publication of the Bush administration memos under freedom of information.
  • The pictures will increase pressure for pardons for military personnel who were punished for abuses at Abu Ghraib. Their lawyers are arguing that the Bush administration portrayed it as an isolated incident, whereas in fact it was widespread and approved at the highest levels.

    "This will constitute visual proof that, unlike the Bush administration's claim, the abuse was not confined to Abu Ghraib and was not aberrational," said Amrit Singh, a lawyer for the ACLU.

  • The Bush administration, in blocking release of the pictures, had argued that they would create outrage but also that they would contravene the Geneva conventions obligation not to show pictures of prisoners.
  • About a quarter of a million petitions were delivered to the attorney-general, Eric Holder, yesterday calling for prosecution of Bush administration officials responsible for approving waterboarding and other harsh interrogation methods.
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BBC NEWS | Americas | Rice approved CIA waterboarding - 0 views

  • The CIA's use of waterboarding to interrogate al-Qaeda suspects was approved by Condoleezza Rice as early as 2002, a senate report reveals.
  • Ms Rice, as national security adviser at the time, gave consent to the CIA's harsh interrogation programme, the Senate Intelligence Committee found.
  • The latest details were revealed in a timeline of the CIA's interrogation programme produced by the US Senate Intelligence Committee.

    It shows Ms Rice and other top Bush administration officials were first briefed about "alternative interrogation methods, including waterboarding", in May 2002.

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  • In a meeting with the then-CIA Director George Tenet in July 2002, Ms Rice "advised that the CIA could proceed with its proposed interrogation" of Zubaydah, subject to Justice Department approval, the Washington Post quotes the report as saying.
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