Wednesday, December 17, 2014

SSCI Confirms Staff Visited CIA's Salt Pit Prison in 2003, No Records of Visit Kept at CIA Request

There are many aspects to the exploding torture scandal that are being spun by interested parties. That's not necessarily bad, and in fact to be expected. But it's hard to get to the actual truth.

One problem is that the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Committee (SSCI) has only released the Executive Summary (PDF) of their full, 6,000-plus page report on the CIA's torture program. On the other hand, the CIA censored a number of items in the document. While the Summary has lots of new and very interesting information in it, it's clear that we're not getting the entire story.

One thing that has the SSCI report critics up in arms is the assertion from CIA and GOP critics that the SSCI did not interview actual CIA personnel. CIA claims that it did brief Congressional oversight committees, or at least their leading members, about the torture program.

The SSCI maintains the CIA has not been forthcoming with information, and has even misled investigators and government personnel about their interrogation program. For example, according to the report, "in late 2002, Chairman Graham sought to expand Committee oversight of the CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program, including by having Committee staff visit CIA interrogation sites and interview CIA interrogators. The CIA rejected this request. An internal CIA email from [redacted] CTC Legal [redacted] indicated that the full Committee would not be told about 'the nature and scope of the interrogation process,' and that even the chairman and vice chairman would not be told in which country or 'region' the CIA had established its detention facilities." (emphasis added, p. 438)

But what is most surprising, and no one has mentioned, much less emphasized, is that according to the CIA's own June 2013 written response (PDF) to an earlier draft of the SSCI's executive summary, SSCI "staff members" visited the Salt Pit CIA black site in Afghanistan (codenamed COBALT) in late 2003. According to the CIA, the SSCI staff found it compared "favorably" with detainee facilities at Bagram and Guantanamo.

At the time, the SSCI director was Republican Senator Pat Roberts, while Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller was the ranking minority member on the committee. The CIA does not name who the SSCI staff were. There is no reference to any such Committee visits to CIA black sites in the SSCI Executive Summary. I checked with some experts who have been following closely the CIA torture scandal, and they also believed this was new information.

A SSCI committee aide who would only speak on background told The Dissenter the committee doesn’t dispute CIA records. However, the aide noted, the 2003 visit was years in advance of the SSCI study that resulted in the recent report. Furthermore, at the request of the CIA, the committee retained no records of the 2003 visit. I'm told the committee stands by its description of detention facilities in the report, and the CIA’s refusal to allow the committee to conduct oversight over detention and interrogation activities prior to 2006, when the committee was finally informed of the program.

The entire episode raises many questions, however. For instance, in the SSCI report, the committee states, "At the July 2004 briefing, the minority staff director requested full Committee briefings and expanded Committee oversight, including visits to CIA detention sites and interviews with interrogators — efforts that had been sought by former Chairman Graham years earlier. This request was denied."

That request was denied, but was an earlier one approved? We know now there was a visit to at least one CIA detention site. Why isn't that mentioned in the report? If there were no records of the visit, there were still individuals who could be interviewed from that time, not least Sen. Rockefeller, who was ranking minority member on the SSCI at the time of the staff visit, and is still a member of the Senate intelligence committee. Even more, what kind of oversight committee would fail to keep records of an oversight action when requested by the agency upon which it is conducting oversight?

"... a markedly cleaner, healthier, more humane and better administered facility"

The story about the SSCI staff visit in the CIA Response is tied into CIA's response to SSCI charges that both the interrogation of CIA detainees and the conditions of their confinement at the various CIA black sites were more brutal than CIA had indicated. The Senate report highlighted the death of one CIA detainee, Gul Rahman, who died of hypothermia while being tortured at the CIA's notorious Salt Pit prison.

The CIA, whose response is self-serving at best, and can generally not be trusted, responded to these charges. They claimed that conditions at the black sites were "unacceptable" in the "early days," but that conditions improved over time.

"Most importantly," the CIA wrote, "we found no evidence to support the charge that the facts relating to confinement conditions or the application of enhanced techniques were previously unknown or undisclosed to NSC and DOJ officials or to oversight committees."

The CIA did agree with Committee charges that the "confinement conditions" at the Salt Pit black site were "harsher than at other facilities and deficient in significant respects for a few months prior to the death of Gul Rahman in late 2002." The actual identification of the Salt Pit prison does not occur in either the CIA Response or SSCI report, as such sites names are either redacted or given code names. The identification of the Salt Pit is inferred by information in the documents, especially the death of Rahman.

According to an account at the Daily Beast, the Salt Pit prison, called by some former detainees the "Dark Prison," were abominable. "Nude prisoners were kept in a central area, and walked around as a form of humiliation. Detainees were hosed down while shackled naked, and placed in rooms with temperatures as low as 59 degrees Fahrenheit. Loud music was played constantly.... Detainees there were subject to sleep deprivation, shackled to bars with their hands above their heads."

The CIA Response to SSCI stated the Agency "took steps to consolidate responsibility" for the facility and "moved quickly to improve conditions." Then they reminded the SSCI about something:
Although conditions at the facility remained sub-optimal throughout its existence, significant improvements at the site prompted two SSCI staff members who visited the facility in late 2003 to compare it favorably with military facilities at Bagram and Guantanamo Bay. In fact, one remarked that [one word redaction] was "a markedly cleaner, healthier, more humane and better administered facility." [One word redaction] was decommissioned in 2004 in favor of a newer facility.... [p. 56 (p. 80 of PDF)]
Only months after their visit, a CIA Office of Medical Services medical officer described the rectal rehydration procedure used on detainees in a February 27, 2004 email, as quoted in the SSCI Summary: “[r]egarding the rectal tube, if you place it and open up the IV tubing, the flow will self regulate, sloshing up the large intestines.... [w]hat I infer is that you get a tube up as far as you can, then open the IV wide. No need to squeeze the bag – let gravity do the work.”

The hideous use of such medical torture, amounting to sexual assault on prisoners, has sparked new calls for further investigation. See a full discussion of this aspect of the torture in a new report by Physicians for Human Rights (PDF).

Incestuous Goings-on

So what's going on here?

I can't know exactly. But the cozy relationship between the Congressional intelligence committees and the agencies they oversee is a major problem. I noted back in August that numerous leading staff members for SSCI over the years have had a tight relationship with the CIA. Indeed, the EIT torture program of the CIA was implemented under the leadership of the former Staff Director for the SSCI back in the early 1990s, George Tenet.

From my August article:
After leaving SSCI in January 1993], Tenet went straight to the White House, where he worked as "Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs and Senior Director for Intelligence Programs." In a relatively short time, he was appointed deputy director of the CIA in July 1995. By December 1996, Tenet replaced John Deutch as temporary director of the CIA. Bill Clinton would nominate him as full director the next year....

In four quick years, Tenet went from SSCI Staff Director to head of the CIA.
But Tenet was not the only instance of such incestuous goings on in the oversight world. Other individuals that either went from the intelligence world to SSCI staff, or from the latter to the CIA, included former Minority Staff Director John H. Moseman, who went from being Minortity Staff Director to CIA's Director of Congressional Affairs in 1996, and then later Tenet's Chief of Staff; former Charles Battaglia, who went from senior management at CIA to staff director at SSCI in the mid-1990s; and former SSCI Staff Director Bernard F. McMahon in the 1980s, who earlier had served as Executive Director to the Director of the CIA.

Another notable connection between Congressional oversight and the CIA involves the 2002 Joint Congressional investigation into 9/11. The House and Senate intelligence committees appointed former CIA Inspector General L. Britt Snider to head the unified staff for the joint inquiry.

To my knowledge, there is no connection between the CIA or other intelligence agency and the current Congressional intelligence oversight committees.

In general, I'm very pleased to have even the redacted version of the Executive Summary of the SSCI report, which had much more in it that I would have expected.

But the evidence in the Summary points to one overwhelming fact: if we are ever to get the full story on what went on behind the scenes in the torture program, we need the SSCI to release the full 6,000 page report, and all censorship removed to the extent possible.

Secondly, we need a non-partisan, non-government connected committee to investigate fully the entire affair, including the rendition program, the full extent of the military's own torture program, and recent revelations of illegal human subject medical experimentation as part of the CIA program. Such an independent committee must have no ties to the intelligence community, and include strong presence of human rights and anti-torture organizations. It must also include representatives or the presence of some of the victims of the torture itself, the better to keep such an investigation honest.

Crossposted at The Dissenter/FDL

Criminal complaint against Bush era architects of torture

The Center for Constitutional Rights released the following important press release today. It discusses the first of what should be many such calls for prosecution of US officials following upon the release of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence's Executive Summary of their full investigation into CIA torture.

CCR Legal Director Baher Azmy has stated, “Both US law and international law require torturers and those responsible for torture to be prosecuted. If we won’t do it, other countries will—the architects of the torture program may want to plan their travel carefully going forward.”
The Federal Prosecutor must investigate former CIA boss Tenet, former Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and others - and should not wait until they are on German soil

Berlin, 17 December 2014 – The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) in Berlin has today lodged criminal complaints against former CIA head George Tenet, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other members of the administration of former US President George W. Bush. The ECCHR is accusing Tenet, Rumsfeld and a series of other persons of the war crime of torture under paragraph 8 section 1(3) of the German Code of Crimes against International Law (Völkerstrafgesetzbuch). The constituent elements of the crime of torture were most recently established in the case by the US Senate in its report on CIA interrogation methods. “The architects of the torture system - politicians, officials, secret service agents, lawyers and senior army officials – should be brought before the courts,” says ECCHR General Secretary Wolfgang Kaleck, who is appearing today in connection with the issue in front of the German Parliamentary Committee on legal affairs. “By investigating members of the Bush administration, Germany can help to ensure that those responsible for abduction, abuse and illegal detention do not go unpunished.”

The US Senate report devotes one section explicitly to the case of German citizen Khaled El Masri, who was abducted by CIA agents in 2004 due to a case of mistaken identity and was tortured in a secret detention center in Afghanistan. The criminal complaint details the US Senate report’s finding that once the unlawful error was discovered, the former CIA director refused to take further steps against those responsible.

ECCHR calls on Federal Prosecutor Harald Range to open investigations into the actions of Tenet, Rumsfeld and other perpetrators and to set up a monitoring process as soon as possible. This would allow the German authorities to act immediately in the event that one of the suspects enters European soil and not have to wait until such point before beginning the complex investigations and legal deliberations.

Together with the US Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), Kaleck previously submitted criminal complaints against Tenet and Rumsfeld in Germany in 2004 and 2006 and against Bush in Switzerland in 2011. ECCHR is also involved in legal proceedings in Spain and France concerning Guantánamo. The current criminal complaint by ECCHR is supported by former UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Manfred Nowak, the CCR in New York along with its President Emeritus Michael Ratner and its Vice President Peter Weiss, winner of the Martin Ennals Awards 2014 Alejandra Ancheita, Professor for International and Public Law at the Vrije Universiteit Brussels Annemie Schaus, Professor for Criminal Law at the University of Hamburg Florian Jeßberger and Berlin attorney Dieter Hummel.
Read the English summary of the complaint on CCR's website.
You can also read more about their universal jurisdiction work here.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

SSCI Report Reveals CIA Torture Program Originated in Same Department as MKULTRA

The release of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) executive summary (PDF) to their report, "Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency's Detention and Interrogation Program," has rightly gotten a wide amount of press coverage.

The sheer brutality of the program's use of torture is overwhelming, from the use of forced enemas on detainees -- the CIA called it "rectal hydration" and "rectal feeding" -- to intense use of solitary confinement, threats to kill prisoners' families, homicide, and more. Revelations from this report will continue to be reported and absorbed into the world's understanding of the criminal extent of the U.S. torture program for months or years to come.

But one revelation has gone notably unreported. The man associated with implementing the most brutal part of the interrogation program was drawn out of the same division of the CIA that some decades ago had been responsible for the notorious MKULTRA program. As a CIA history of OTS explains, MKULTRA "involved Agency funding for the testing and use of chemical and biological agents and other means of controlling or modifying human behavior" (p. 19).

OTS Contractor James Mitchell Comes to Thailand

According to the SSCI report, James Mitchell, one of the two CIA contractor psychologists widely associated with the CIA's "enhanced interrogation" torture program, was working for the CIA's Office of Technical Services (OTS). In late 2001, Mitchell and his former psychologist associate at the military's Joint Personnel Recovery Agency (JPRA), John Bruce Jessen, were "commissioned" by OTS to write a study based on a purported Al Qaeda manual, called the Manchester Manual, after the city in England where the document was discovered.

The paper Mitchell and Jessen produced supposedly addressed countermeasures to interrogation that were discussed in the manual. According to the SSCI investigation, we learn for the first time that Mitchell was working for the CIA's OTS at the time he was ostensibly recruited or volunteered for the CIA's new interrogation program.

The Senate report states that Mitchell and Jessen were central in advocating a set of torture techniques that were gathered from the SERE training program for which they used to work at JPRA. SERE stands for Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape, and is a long-standing Defense Department program that is meant to prepare military, intelligence, and other certain important government personnel for the rigors of capture and possible torture by a determined and ruthless enemy. But the narrative that Mitchell and Jessen were solely responsible for the program, or that they even originated it, is not totally true.

According to the SSCI report, on or around April 1, 2002, Mitchell was recommended from within OTS for the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, then being touted as a major Al Qaeda figure (he wasn't):
While Abu Zubaydah was still hospitalized, personnel at CIA Headquarters began discussing how CIA officers would interrogate Abu Zubaydah upon his return to DETENTION SITE GREEN [CIA's Thailand black site]. The initial CIA interrogation proposal recommended that the interrogators engage with Abu Zubaydah to get him to provide information, and suggested that a "hard approach," involving foreign government personnel, be taken "only as a last resort." At a meeting about this proposal, [1-2 words redacted] CTC Legal, [2-3 words redacted] recommended that a psychologist working on contract in the CIA's Office of Technical Services (OTS), Grayson SWIGERT [James Mitchell], be used by CTC to "provide real-time recommendations to overcome Abu Zubaydah's "resistance to interrogation." SWIGERT had come to [1-2 words redacted]'s attention through [2-3 words redacation] who worked in OTS. Shortly thereafter, CIA Headquarters formally proposed that Abu Zubaydah be kept in an all-white room that was lit 24 hours a day, that Abu Zubaydah not be provided any amenities, that his sleep be disrupted, that loud noise be constantly fed into his cell, and that only a small number of people interact with him. CIA records indicate that these proposals were based on the idea that such conditions would lead Abu Zubaydah to develop a sense of "learned helplessness." CIA Headquarters then sent an interrogation team to Country [one letter redaction, but represents most likely Thailand], including SWIGERT [Mitchell], whose initial role was to consult on the psychological aspects of the interrogation. [pg. 26 of report; footnote notations have been removed from original]
"Novel interrogation methods"

On April 1, 2002, a cable was sent from OTS at the request of the CIA's Counterterrorism Center and ALEC Station, which was the group within CIA supposedly hunting down Osama bin Ladin, discussing the possible use of "novel interrogation methods" on Abu Zubaydah.

The new proposed interrogation strategy proposed "several environmental modifications to create an atmosphere that enhances the strategic interrogation process." The cable continued, "[t]he deliberate manipulation of the environment is intended to cause psychological disorientation, and reduced psychological wherewithal for the interrogation," as well as "the deliberate establishment of psychological dependence upon the interrogator," and "an increased sense of learned helplessness."

"Learned helplessness" (LH) was a theory associated with a famous American psychologist, Martin Seligman. LH was a lab-derived set of propositions which postulated that when an animal (or human being) is faced with inescapable shock or otherwise unescapable or uncontrolled stress, the ability to cope collapses. LH has long been a theoretical model used to explain clinical depression, for instance.

Seligman is believed to have met with James Mitchell on three occasions. Seligman admits having met both Mitchell and Jessen at a SERE event in San Diego in May 2002. He also confirmed to me in an email that press reports were correct and that he met with Mitchell at Seligman's home in December 2001. But he denied an account by Georgetown professor Gregg Bloche that he met Mitchell yet again in late March or very early April 2002, only days before Mitchell flew to Thailand for the interrogation/torture of Abu Zubaydah. Seligman said that account, supposedly given to Bloche by CIA psychologist Kirk Hubbard, was "fiction." Nevertheless, Bloche has never rescinded his story, nor has Hubbard ever disavowed his alleged account, at least publicly.

The meetings with Seligman, in conjunction with the fact Mitchell was brought into the CIA interrogation program as a contractor for OTS, strongly suggests that the implementation of the torture program and use of SERE techniques was not solely the brainchild of James Mitchell, or Mitchell and Jessen together. Instead, it seems more likely, for reasons that will be further explored below, that the program was initiated by OTS itself, and constituted at least in part an experimental program. What exactly the experiment consisted is not totally clear. But it may have involved the use of wireless or other medical devices to measure biological markers of "uncontrollable stress," in an effort to establish a scientific calibration of torture and overall behavioral or mental control of prisoners. That such a "mind control" effort would originate or be carried out by the same institution that spent millions of dollars on the MKULTRA program is not difficult to believe.

It's impossible to know if the SSCI report ever mentions Seligman, as the report redacted or used pseudonyms for CIA agents and other personnel.

Where exactly did the EITs originate?

By July 2012, the report goes on to say that Mitchell and other CIA officers "held several meetings at CIA Headquarters to discuss the possible use of 'novel interrogation methods' on Abu Zubaydah." It is worth noting that up to that point, the CIA had used extreme isolation, sensory deprivation, denial of medical treatment and sleep deprivation on Abu Zubaydah. The "enhanced interrogation" torture had not even begun. Meanwhile, while the FBI agents present had complaints about CIA's approach, they had participated in some of this up to mid-June 2002, when all the interrogators abruptly left, leaving Zubaydah in total isolation for over a month. (One FBI agent, Ali Soufan, had left even earlier, in May, upset over how the CIA was handling the interrogation.)

According to SSCI authors, at these July meetings Mitchell proposed a number of techniques that later became the full "enhanced interrogation program," including at least one, "mock burial," that was ultimately rejected. The techniques were drawn from the SERE program Mitchell had worked in for years. But instead of familiarizing students with what such torture should look like, and helping them practice ways to survive or resist such torture, now the techniques would be applied to break down prisoners.

Oddly, the CIA's 2013 response to the SSCI on these matters, argued the turn towards torture did not originate with Mitchell. This is in contrast to mainstream reports about the origins of the EIT program, but it is consistent with the facts as stated by the SSCI itself in the report's executive summary.

According to the CIA, "Drs. [SWIGERT] and [DUNBAR] [Mitchell and Jessen] had the closest proximate expertise CIA sought at the beginning of the program, specifically in the area of non-standard means of interrogation. Experts on traditional interrogation methods did not meet this requirement. Non-standard interrogation methodologies were not an area of expertise of CIA officers or of the US Government generally. We believe their expertise was so unique that we would have been derelict had we not sought them out when it became clear that CIA would be heading into the uncharted territory of the program" (italics and emphasis in original)."

The SSCI report editorializes: "As noted above, the CIA did not seek out SWIGERT and DUNBAR after a decision was made to use coercive interrogation techniques; rather, SWIGERT and DUNBAR played a role in convincing the CIA to adopt such a policy."

Certainly Mitchell and Jessen "played a role," but that is not the same as originating the program. Indeed, much later in the report, SSCI explains that in the April 1 meeting, the interrogation proposals then under consideration came from Mitchell/SWIGERT "and the CIA OTS Officer who had recommended SWIGERT to [1-2 words redacted]." Mitchell is said to be advocating even then the development of "learned helplessness" in CIA prisoners. (See pp. 463-464).

It is worth repeating: it was CTC and ALEC Station which initiated the request for "novel" techniques from OTS, and later apparently asked for Mitchell to come to Thailand.

I don't think we know the full story yet. For instance, for some reason, the SSCI report does not include the fact that the OTS was the department of the CIA that sent data on the effects from SERE torture techniques to the Office of Legal Council, which under John Yoo was writing an opinion that would allow the CIA to "legally" use the controversial techniques, which the CIA knew could be considered torture.

OTS, MKULTRA, and SERE Research

OTS's role in vetting the EITs was mentioned in the CIA's Inspector General report on the interrogation program. Like other aspects of the torture scandal concerning the OTS division of the CIA, the press has generally ignored this. But this was something I reported on back in 2009, when the IG report was first released.

The fact OTS was involved in vetting the EITs to OLC gains greater significance when you realize that James Mitchell was working with OTS, and that OTS and their contractor Mitchell were intricately involved with both CTC and ALEC Station in creating the torture program.

There's one final aspect to the OTS angle worth mentioning. OTS apparently told OLC that the SERE techniques would not seriously harm CIA prisoners. But that was certainly wrong. Moreover, it's highly unlikely OTS didn't know that.

OTS has been part of the CIA's Directorate of Science and Technology (DS&T) since the early 1970s. It was transferred from the Directorate of Plans (clandestine operations, renamed around that time, the Directorate of Operations). OTS had earlier gone under other names itself, including Technical Service Staff and Technical Services Division. OTS and its predecessors had been involved in arranging the technical aspect of covert operations, including audio surveillance, forgery, secret writing, spy paraphenalia, sophisticated electronics, and assassination devices.

Then, there was the massive MKULTRA project, which had other names as well, and was coordinated in various ways with similar military programs. MKULTRA had well over a hundred "subprojects," and contracted with many of the U.S.'s top universities and medical and psychological researchers. (For listing of subprojects see here and here.)

MKULTRA research is probably best known for its use of hallucinogens, like LSD, which were sometimes used on unsuspecting civilians, and resulted in damaged lives and even deaths. Sometimes derided as subject matter for conspiracy theorists, MKULTRA and its assorted programs were all-too-real. While the vast majority of its documentation was destroyed by CIA leaders when the program was exposed in the early 1970s, what we do know is terrifying.

Today, within the DS&T is another shadowy CIA entity, the Intelligence Technology Innovation Center (ITIC). One Yale psychiatric researcher associated with ITIC is Charles A. Morgan, III. Morgan has produced a prodigious amount of research on the effects of "uncontrollable stress." Many of his research subjects were SERE students at a mock torture camp.

Morgan's research showed that the debilitating effects of SERE techniques caused stress cortisol levels, according to one Morgan research paper, to soar to “some of the greatest ever documented in humans.” Another study cited “neuroendocrine changes... [that] may have significant implications for subsequent responses to stress,” including massive drops in testosterone levels when exposed to even mock torture. Yet another study showed the effects of dissociation under the stress of even SERE "stress inoculation" mock torture.

Morgan used to deny his CIA links, but lately he has taken to admitting his CIA past. He was interviewed by James Risen for Risen's new book, Pay Any Price, but told Risen he did not have any associations with interrogations. But he did admit he had met James Mitchell.

It is possible that Mitchell knew of Morgan's work. It is even possible that Morgan had more to do with the interrogation program than we know. Morgan told Risen that he left the CIA because of a dispute over torture with his colleagues. Morgan has stated his opposition to torture. But Risen never followed up with that part of the story, or at least reported on it in any detail.

Some of the research under MKULTRA and associated programs, like BLUEBIRD or ARTICHOKE, included emphasis on hypnosis, drugs, and sensory deprivation, all techniques that were later incorporated into an early 1960s CIA torture manual, known as KUBARK. The SSCI report mentions KUBARK, and earlier this year, I obtained via FOIA the most complete version of the KUBARK document we currently have.

Risen also never mentioned Morgan's history of research on SERE. Hence a chance to learn more from Morgan about his own actions and the possible effect or interactions of his work with the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques by the OTS, which is under the same CIA directorate where Morgan worked, was lost, at least for the time being.

"Novel Telemetric Technology"

One possible way OTS could have used Morgan's work concerns a project he worked on, "The Warfighter's Stress Response: Telemetric and Noninvasive Assessment." That study, undertaken in 2001 and 2002, used SERE mock torture students, among others, to develop "novel telemetric technology... for untethered measurements of heart rate variability (HRV)."

Morgan and his co-authors concluded, "The results show that assessment of HRV provides a noninvasive means of evaluating the neural systems intimately involved in the capacity to attend to and respond to a threat. These findings linking HRV to cognitive performance robustly support the utility of HRV in the assessment of human performance." It is not impossible to imagine that such "novel telemetric technology" would be used to assess the response of CIA prisoners to the experience of torture, or that OTS would be interested in providing and perfecting such technology for the CIA's clandestine services.

The SSCI report has helped bring the origins of the CIA post-9/11 interrogation/torture program into even sharper focus. But the failure of the press to even notice, with rare exception, the role of OTS, or its history in clandestine actions, including MKULTRA work, means that a full exploration of CIA's torture program cannot take place.The release of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) executive summary (PDF) to their report, "Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency's Detention and Interrogation Program," has rightly gotten a wide amount of press coverage.

The sheer brutality of the program's use of torture is overwhelming, from the use of forced enemas on detainees -- the CIA called it "rectal hydration" and "rectal feeding" -- to intense use of solitary confinement, threats to kill prisoners' families, homicide, and more. Revelations from this report will continue to be reported and absorbed into the world's understanding of the criminal extent of the U.S. torture program for months or years to come.

But one revelation has gone notably unreported. The man associated with implementing the most brutal part of the interrogation program was drawn out of the same division of the CIA that some decades ago had been responsible for the notorious MKULTRA program. As a CIA history of OTS explains, MKULTRA "involved Agency funding for the testing and use of chemical and biological agents and other means of controlling or modifying human behavior" (p. 19).

OTS Contractor James Mitchell Comes to Thailand

According to the SSCI report, James Mitchell, one of the two CIA contractor psychologists widely associated with the CIA's "enhanced interrogation" torture program, was working for the CIA's Office of Technical Services (OTS). In late 2001, Mitchell and his former psychologist associate at the military's Joint Personnel Recovery Agency (JPRA), John Bruce Jessen, were "commissioned" by OTS to write a study based on a purported Al Qaeda manual, called the Manchester Manual, after the city in England where the document was discovered.

The paper Mitchell and Jessen produced supposedly addressed countermeasures to interrogation that were discussed in the manual. According to the SSCI investigation, we learn for the first time that Mitchell was working for the CIA's OTS at the time he was ostensibly recruited or volunteered for the CIA's new interrogation program.

The Senate report states that Mitchell and Jessen were central in advocating a set of torture techniques that were gathered from the SERE training program for which they used to work at JPRA. SERE stands for Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape, and is a long-standing Defense Department program that is meant to prepare military, intelligence, and other certain important government personnel for the rigors of capture and possible torture by a determined and ruthless enemy. But the narrative that Mitchell and Jessen were solely responsible for the program, or that they even originated it, is not totally true.

According to the SSCI report, on or around April 1, 2002, Mitchell was recommended from within OTS for the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, then being touted as a major Al Qaeda figure (he wasn't):
While Abu Zubaydah was still hospitalized, personnel at CIA Headquarters began discussing how CIA officers would interrogate Abu Zubaydah upon his return to DETENTION SITE GREEN [CIA's Thailand black site]. The initial CIA interrogation proposal recommended that the interrogators engage with Abu Zubaydah to get him to provide information, and suggested that a "hard approach," involving foreign government personnel, be taken "only as a last resort." At a meeting about this proposal, [1-2 words redacted] CTC Legal, [2-3 words redacted] recommended that a psychologist working on contract in the CIA's Office of Technical Services (OTS), Grayson SWIGERT [James Mitchell], be used by CTC to "provide real-time recommendations to overcome Abu Zubaydah's "resistance to interrogation." SWIGERT had come to [1-2 words redacted]'s attention through [2-3 words redacation] who worked in OTS. Shortly thereafter, CIA Headquarters formally proposed that Abu Zubaydah be kept in an all-white room that was lit 24 hours a day, that Abu Zubaydah not be provided any amenities, that his sleep be disrupted, that loud noise be constantly fed into his cell, and that only a small number of people interact with him. CIA records indicate that these proposals were based on the idea that such conditions would lead Abu Zubaydah to develop a sense of "learned helplessness." CIA Headquarters then sent an interrogation team to Country [one letter redaction, but represents most likely Thailand], including SWIGERT [Mitchell], whose initial role was to consult on the psychological aspects of the interrogation. [pg. 26 of report; footnote notations have been removed from original]
"Novel interrogation methods"

On April 1, 2002, a cable was sent from OTS at the request of the CIA's Counterterrorism Center and ALEC Station, which was the group within CIA supposedly hunting down Osama bin Ladin, discussing the possible use of "novel interrogation methods" on Abu Zubaydah.

The new proposed interrogation strategy proposed "several environmental modifications to create an atmosphere that enhances the strategic interrogation process." The cable continued, "[t]he deliberate manipulation of the environment is intended to cause psychological disorientation, and reduced psychological wherewithal for the interrogation," as well as "the deliberate establishment of psychological dependence upon the interrogator," and "an increased sense of learned helplessness."

"Learned helplessness" (LH) was a theory associated with a famous American psychologist, Martin Seligman. LH was a lab-derived theory which postulated that when an animal (or human being) is faced with inescapable shock or otherwise unescapable or uncontrolled stress, the ability to cope collapses. LH has long been a theoretical model used to explain clinical depression, for instance.

Seligman is believed to have met with James Mitchell on three occasions. Seligman admits having met both Mitchell at a SERE event in San Diego in May 2002. He also corroborated to me in an email that press reports were correct and he met with Mitchell at Seligman's home in December 2001. But Seligman denied an account by Georgetown professor Gregg Bloche that Seligman met Mitchell yet again in late March or very early April 2002, only days before Mitchell flew to Thailand and the torture of Abu Zubaydah. Seligman said that account, supposedly given to Bloche by CIA psychologist Kirk Hubbard, was "fiction." Bloche has never rescinded his story, nor has Hubbard ever disavowed the story, at least publicly.

The meetings with Seligman, as well as the fact Mitchell was brought into the CIA interrogation program as a contractor for OTS, argues that the implementation of the torture program and use of SERE techniques was not solely the brainchild of James Mitchell, or Mitchell and Jessen together. Instead, it seems more likely, for reasons that will be further explored below, that the program was initiated by OTS itself, and constituted at least in part an experimental program. What exactly the experiment consisted is not totally clear. But it may have involved the use of wireless or other medical devices to measure biological markers of "uncontrollable stress," in an effort to establish a scientific calibration of torture and overall behavioral or mental control of prisoners. That such a "mind control" effort would originate or be carried out by the same institution that spent millions of dollars on the MKULTRA program is not difficult to believe.

It's impossible to know if the SSCI report ever mentions Seligman, as the report redacted or used pseudonyms for CIA agents and personnel.

Where exactly did the EITs originate?

By July 2012, report goes on to say that Mitchell and other CIA officers "held several meetings at CIA Headquarters to discuss the possible use of 'novel interrogation methods' on Abu Zubaydah." It is worth noting that up to that point, the CIA had used extreme isolation, sensory deprivation, denial of medical treatment and sleep deprivation. The "enhanced interrogation" torture had not even begun. Meanwhile, while there were complaints, the FBI had participated in some of this up to mid-June 2002, when all the interrogators abruptly left, leaving Zubaydah in total isolation for over a month. (One FBI agent, Ali Soufan, had left even earlier, in May, upset over how the CIA was handling the interrogation.)

According to SSCI authors, at these July meetings Mitchell proposed a number of techniques that later became the "enhanced interrogation program," including at least one, "mock burial," that was ultimately rejected. The techniques were drawn from the SERE program Mitchell had worked in for years. But instead of familiarizing students with what such torture should look like, and helping them practice ways to survive or resist such torture, now the techniques would be applied to break down prisoners.

Oddly, the CIA's 2013 response to the SSCI on these matters, owned up to fact the turn towards torture did not originate with Mitchell. This is in contrast to mainstream reports about the origins of the EIT program, but is consistent with the facts as stated by the SSCI itself in the report's executive summary.

According to the CIA, "Drs. [SWIGERT] and [DUNBAR] [Mitchell and Jessen] had the closest proximate expertise CIA sought at the beginning of the program, specifically in the area of non-standard means of interrogation. Experts on traditional interrogation methods did not meet this requirement. Non-standard interrogation methodologies were not an area of expertise of CIA officers or of the US Government generally. We believe their expertise was so unique that we would have been derelict had we not sought them out when it became clear that CIA would be heading into the uncharted territory of the program" (italics and emphasis in original)."

The SSCI report editorializes: "As noted above, the CIA did not seek out SWIGERT and DUNBAR after a decision was made to use coercive interrogation techniques; rather, SWIGERT and DUNBAR played a role in convincing the CIA to adopt such a policy."

Certainly Mitchell and Jessen "played a role," but that is not the same as originating the program. Indeed, much later in the report, SSCI explains that in the April 1 meeting, the interrogation proposals then under consideration came from Mitchell and SWIGERT, and the CIA OTS Officer who had recommended SWIGERT to [1-2 words redacted]. Mitchell is said to be advocating even then the development of "learned helplessness" in CIA prisoners. (See pp. 463-464). It was CTC and ALEC Station which initiated the request for "novel" techniques from OTS, and later apparently asked for Mitchell to come to Thailand.

I don't think we know the full story yet. For some reason, the SSCI report does not include the fact that the OTS was the part of the CIA that sent data on the effects from SERE torture techniques to the Office of Legal Council, which under John Yoo was writing an opinion that would allow the CIA to "legally" use the controversial techniques, which the CIA knew could be considered torture.

OTS, MKULTRA, and SERE Research

OTS's role in vetting the EITs was mentioned in the CIA's Inspector General report on the interrogation program. Like other aspects of the torture scandal concerning OTS division, the press has generally ignored this. But this was something I reported on back in 2009, when the IG report was first released.

The fact OTS was involved in vetting the EITs to OLC gains greater significance when you realize that James Mitchell was working with OTS, and that OTS (and their contractor Mitchell) was intricately involved with both CTC and ALEC Station in creating the torture program.

There's one final aspect to the OTS angle worth mentioning. OTS apparently told OLC that the SERE techniques would not seriously harm CIA prisoners. But that was certainly wrong. Moreover, it's highly unlikely OTS didn't know that.

OTS has been part of the CIA's Directorate of Science and Technology (DS&T) since the early 1970s. It was transferred from the Directorate of Plans (clandestine operations, renamed around that time, the Directorate of Operations). OTS had earlier gone under other names itself, including Technical Service Staff and Technical Services Division. OTS and its predecessors had been involved in arranging the technical aspect of covert operations, including audio surveillance, forgery, secret writing, spy paraphenalia, sophisticated electronics, and assassination devices.

Then, there was the massive MKULTRA project, which had other names as well, and was coordinated in various ways with similar military programs. MKULTRA had well over a hundred "subprojects," and contracted with many of the U.S.'s top universities and medical and psychological researchers. (For listing of subprojects see here and here.)

MKULTRA research is probably best known for its use of hallucinogens, like LSD, which were sometimes used on unsuspecting civilians, and resulted in damaged lives and even deaths. Sometimes derided as subject matter for conspiracy theorists, MKULTRA and assorted programs was all-too-real. While the vast majority of its documentation was destroyed by CIA leaders with the program was exposed in the early 1970s, what we do know it terrifying.

Today, with the DS&T is another shadowy CIA entity, the Intelligence Technology Innovation Center (ITIC). One Yale psychiatric researcher associated with ITIC is Charles A. Morgan, III. Morgan has produced a prodigious amount of research on the effects of "uncontrollable stress." His research subject were SERE students at a mock torture camp.

Morgan's results showed that the debilitating effects of SERE techniques caused stress cortisol levels, according to one Morgan research paper, to soar to “some of the greatest ever documented in humans.” Another study cited “neuroendocrine changes... [that] may have significant implications for subsequent responses to stress,” including massive drops in testosterone levels when exposed to even mock torture.

Morgan used to deny his CIA links, but lately has taken to admitting his CIA past. He was interviewed by James Risen for Risen's new book, Pay Any Price, but told Risen he did not have any associations with interrogations. But he had met James Mitchell.

It is possible that Mitchell knew of Morgan's work. It is even possible that Morgan had more to do with the interrogation program than we know. He told Risen that he left the CIA because of a dispute over torture with his colleagues. But Risen never followed up with that part of the story, or at least reported on it in any detail.

Some of the research under MKULTRA and associated programs, like BLUEBIRD or ARTICHOKE, included emphasis on hypnosis, drugs, and sensory deprivation, all techniques that were later incorporated into the early 1960s CIA torture manual, known as KUBARK. The SSCI report mentions KUBARK, and earlier this year, I obtained via FOIA the most complete version of the KUBARK document we currently have.

Risen also never mentioned Morgan's history of research on SERE, and a chance to learn more from Morgan about his own actions and the possible effect or interactions of his work with the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques by the OTS, which is under the same CIA directorate where Morgan worked, was lost, at least for the time being.

"Novel Telemetric Technology"

One possible way OTS could have used Morgan's work concerns his work on "The Warfighter's Stress Response: Telemetric and Noninvasive Assessment." That study, undertaken in 2001 and 2002, used SERE mock torture students, among others, to develop "novel telemetric technology... for untethered measurements of heart rate variability (HRV)."

Morgan and his co-authors concluded, "The results show that assessment of HRV provides a noninvasive means of evaluating the neural systems intimately involved in the capacity to attend to and respond to a threat. These findings linking HRV to cognitive performance robustly support the utility of HRV in the assessment of human performance." It is not impossible to imagine that such "novel telemetric technology" would be used to assess the response of CIA prisoners to the experience of torture, or that OTS would be interested in providing and perfecting such technology for the CIA's clandestine services.

The SSCI report has helped bring the origins of the CIA post-9/11 interrogation/torture program into even sharper focus. But the failure of the press to even notice, with rare exception, the role of OTS, or its history in clandestine actions, including MKULTRA work, means that a full exploration of CIA's torture program cannot take place.

To watch VICE News' exclusive interview with James Mitchell, go here.

This story is cross posted at The Dissenter/FDL




Sunday, December 7, 2014

APA "Independent" Torture Review Led by Attorney Who Worked With CIA's Tenet

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report on the CIA's interrogation-torture program may or may not be released in truncated form this week, but it is not the only investigation bearing upon the U.S. torture program that promises new revelations.

A much-touted "independent review" initiated by the American Psychological Association (APA) into charges it secretly supported the Bush administration's policy of torture after 9/11 turns out to be led by a man who worked with the CIA's George Tenet and Kenneth J. Levit over twenty years ago. Tenet went on to become Director of the Central Intelligence Agency during the period the CIA initiated a torture and extraordinary rendition program. Levit was Tenet's choice for special counsel at CIA from 1998-2000.

David Hoffman, a Chicago attorney for the international law firm Sidley Austin, was handpicked by APA as an "independent reviewer" to investigate charges in a new book by New York Times writer James Risen that some of the American Psychological Association's (APA) top leadership colluded with the CIA and the U.S. military in the implementation of the Bush Administration's torture program. Hoffman is to report to a "special committee" drawn from APA's Board of Directors.

His Sidley Austin biography states that Hoffman "has conducted and directed many internal investigations involving serious allegations of fraud and corruption, frequently under intense media scrutiny.... His investigative experience in the public and private sectors has ranged from long-term, multi-national federal criminal investigations involving large teams of investigators and many wiretaps, to internal investigations involving senior corporate and political officials, lower-level employees, corporate entities, and others."

In a November 12 press release, APA called Risen's charges "highly charged and very serious." The release stated, "The independent reviewer [Hoffman] will consider and report to the special committee as to whether APA colluded with the Bush administration, CIA or U.S. military to support torture during the war on terror."

In an e-mail exchange, I asked Hoffman to comment on his links to Tenet and Levit when he worked as a Press Secretary and legislative assistant on foreign policy in Sen. David Boren's office. At the time, Boren was director of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI), and George Tenet was SSCI's staff director.

Hoffman replied, "Yes, I worked with George Tenet and Ken Levit when I served on Senator David Boren’s staff over 20 years ago, prior to attending law school, from 1990 to 1992. I was on Senator Boren’s personal staff, as was Mr. Levit, while Mr. Tenet was on the Senate Intelligence Committee staff. Since then, I have not worked with either of them. Over the last ten years, I have seen and spoken with each of them occasionally, probably on a handful of occasions."

I asked Hoffman under what kinds of circumstances he spoke to Tenet and Levit in the past ten years, or whether he felt past associations could produce any kind of bias. Hoffman did not explain the nature of those contacts, except to say they amounted to "limited, occasional contact."

Hoffman wrote, "I appreciate your questions but I can assure you that my knowing Mr. Tenet and Mr. Levit from a job I held 22 years ago – before I was in law school and well before they were at the CIA – and my limited, occasional contact with them since then will have no bearing on how we conduct our review or our willingness to reach particular conclusions about the APA, the CIA, or any entity or individual. I can assure you that our review will be independent and driven solely by the evidence we are able to gather."

One example of Hoffman's work in Boren's office was recounted in a May 9, 1991 article in the Los Angeles Times, which identified Hoffman as a "spokesman for Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman David L. Boren." The article quoted Hoffman as stating Boren's support for the potential nomination of Robert M. Gates as CIA director. Gates, who indeed did serve as CIA Director in the early 1990s, later served as Secretary of Defense under both George W. Bush and Barack Obama, running DoD during nearly half the time Guantanamo has been open as a "war on terror" strategic interrogation and detention center.

Hoffman's resume after leaving Sen. Boren's office has other links worth noting. He followed his Senate job with law school at the University of Chicago, and then clerkships for two conservative judges, U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Dennis Jacobs, and Chief Justice William Rehnquist. Hoffman later went to work as an Assistant U.S. Attorney with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago under Patrick Fitzgerald, and a stint as Inspector General for the City of Chicago. According to an article in The Hill, in 2010 Hoffman engaged David Axelrod's former media firm, AKPD, in a run for Democratic nominee for the Senate in Illinois. Hoffman lost, but his political career may not be over.

As regards any potential links to APA itself, Hoffman stated, "I have never done any work for or with the APA or any of its affiliated organizations or individuals. And a search shows that Sidley has not done any work for the APA, any affiliated entity, or any individual who is affiliated with the APA in Sidley’s records for at least the last ten years."

None of the press reports thus far, including articles in Science, The Intercept, and Forbes, have mentioned Hoffman's Tenet link. James Risen's article in the New York Times never mentions it. The same is true for statements by either the APA or the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology (CEP), a group of psychologists who have been highly critical of APA's policy of supporting use of psychologists in national security interrogations.

APA itself seemed to be nonplussed by the fact their "independent reviewer" had a past association with the man who would later lead his organization in the implementation of the very torture program the APA is charged with abetting. In an e-mail exchange with Rhea K. Farberman, Executive Director of APA's Public and Member Communications, Farberman said, "Mr. Hoffman was selected after a review process based on his experience as an investigator and in conducting independent reviews. We have full confidence in Mr. Hoffman’s ability to do a thorough and unbiased review."

Farberman said Hoffman was one of two attorneys first considered for the job, and that the "selection process was managed by APA senior staff."

APA is certainly not unaware of the influence of former Sen. David Boren on national security issues. APA's website listing of scholarships, grants and awards includes the David L. Boren Scholarship Program, which is sponsored by the National Security Education Program (NSEP). The National Security Education Board, which administers the Boren scholarship and similarly named fellowship, includes members of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Department of Homeland Security, Booz Allen Hamilton, the departments of State, Defense, Energy, and Education, and the CIA (see PDF, p. 8).

The NSEP was established by law in 1991. Sen. Boren authored the bill that created it. According to NSEP's own website, the program is "critical to U.S. national security." Furthermore, it states, "The program is implemented by the Secretary of Defense, who has delegated his authority to the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness."

Hoffman is not known to have any association with the NSEP Boren scholarships or fellowship programs, but the program was a special project of Boren's office while Hoffman worked there.

Actual or Perceived Bias

The unbiased nature of the APA-initiated investigation is called into question not only by the chief investigator's links to the former head of the CIA, with which APA is charged with collusion, but also by the constitution of the APA's "special committee."

According to APA's press release, APA's committee consists of "2014 APA President Dr. Nadine Kaslow, 2015 President- Elect Dr. Susan McDaniel and APA CEO Dr. Norman Anderson. The special committee will be assisted by APA General Counsel Nathalie Gilfoyle."

In a undated response to APA's announcement of its "independent review," CEP issued a public announcement of its concerns about the investigation. First among these was the participation of CEO Anderson. According to the CEP statement, "The allegations in Risen’s book include claims of inappropriate activity by two top APA officials, the Ethics Office and Science Policy Directors. These officials reported directly to Dr. Anderson’s office, and Dr. Anderson had operational responsibility for APA actions during the entire post-9/11 period under review.... it is entirely inappropriate for Dr. Anderson, or any other APA leader who may be a subject of the investigation, to have any involvement, however tangential, in this process."

CEP has called for an investigation of Anderson's office. It also said the APA Special Committee should "include the participation of an equal number of prominent critics of APA policies regarding relations with national security agencies in general and interrogation and detention operations in particular." [Note: Since going to press, I've been told Anderson has since left the APA review committee. He's been replaced by APA Treasurer Bonnie Markham. Markham has her own history supporting the presence of psychologists in national security interrogations, as seen in this transcript from a discussion at the APA 2007 convention.]

But Anderson is not the only person who may or may not have bias on the committee. Both Kaslow and McDaniel have long histories at APA. Dr. Kaslow's mother, Florence Kaslow, was a former president of APA's Family Psychology division, and a past winner of APA's Distinguished Contributions to the International Advancement of Psychology Award. She also founded Division 41 of the APA, the division on Psychology and the Law, which is widely considered the division that concerns itself with forensic psychology. Div. 41 has in the past produced work around controversies in the science of interrogation, such as the production of false confessions.

Would Nadine Kaslow help render a decision that would taint the reputation of APA? One can't know, but without the presence of countervailing forces on the committee, it's hard to imagine Kaslow bucking any trend to cover-up past APA misdeeds.

Last February, Dr. Kaslow reportedly told APA supporters who lost a bid within the organization to ban psychologists from working with military interrogations, that she would work with them to get the proposal reintroduced at last summer's annual APA convention. But the interrogation ban was never reintroduced. (It "lost" in February only because it failed to get 2/3 of the votes needed; instead it got 53%.)

Dr. McDaniel, along with CEO Anderson, are both members of APA's Division 19, the Society for Military Psychology. Division 19 has been a strong supporter of the presence of psychologists at national security interrogations, including at Guantanamo.

As further evidence of potential bias, in 2007 Dr. McDaniel was the co-recipient of the $50,000 Psyche award from the APA-linked American Psychological Foundation (APF) and the Nicholas and Dorothy Cummings Foundation. While there is no indication that Dr. McDaniel would let the award money influence her handling of "highly charged and very serious" charges against APA top personnel, the appearance of bias attaches to her participation by virtue of the large cash award.

The APF Board of Trustees include APA CEO Anderson, as well as psychologists Gerald Koocher, APF Treasurer, and Ronald F. Levant. Both Koocher and Levant were identified in an article by a former APA official Byrant Welch as strong proponents at APA of psychologist participation in interrogations.

According to numerous accounts, including one at the Washington Monthly in January 2007, "in February 2005, Koocher and APA president Ronald Levant led the creation of the blue-ribbon, 10-member Psychological Ethics and National Security (PENS) task force to study the problem" of psychologist's ostensible ethical participation in military and CIA interrogations.

The stacking of the PENS task force with members of the military and intelligence community was the source of later scandal. Not surprisingly, PENS issued a report which supported the continuing presence of psychologists in interrogations. The machinations behind the appointments for the task force forms a central part of the charges of CIA collusion in Risen's book.

An Opaque Review

New York Times writer James Risen made headlines with revelations stemming from his book, Pay Any Price: Greed, Power, and Endless War. Not least of these was a chapter that centered on links between APA officials and members of the Department of Defense and CIA. Risen's central evidence concerns various emails from a former RAND researcher, Scott Gerwehr. Gerwehr died in an motorcycle accident in 2008, but his emails and possibly other documents from his computer were mysteriously obtained by Risen and former Physicians for Human Rights official Nathaniel Raymond. The emails were reportedly turned over to the FBI, who did nothing with them.

Risen has refused thus far to publicly release the emails, so we do not know all the people who may have been involved in the alleged APA collusion. But Risen does name as involved in connivance with CIA and DoD on interrogation policy, Geoff Mumford, former director of Science Policy at APA (now associate executive director, Science Policy); former APA Senior Scientist, and Bush administration science official, Susan Brandon, who is currently Chief of Research for President Obama's High-Value Interrogation Group (HIG); and Stephen Behnke, APA Ethics Office director. (Neither Koocher nor Levant are named in Risen's book.)

The central incidents include a July 2004 email invite, which included top CIA and military psychologists, from Behnke to attend a private meeting to discuss ethical issues for psychologists in the wake of the Abu Ghraib torture revelations.

Behnke wrote: "The purpose of the meeting is to bring together people with an interest in the ethical aspects of national security-related investigations, to identify the important questions, and to discuss how we as a national organization can better assist psychologists and other mental health professionals sort out appropriate from inappropriate uses of psychology." [Risen, James (2014-10-14). Pay Any Price: Greed, Power, and Endless War (p. 198). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.]

Behnke stressed attendance at the meeting would be kept secret. He reportedly wrote that APA wanted to "convey a sensitivity to and appreciation of the important work mental health professionals are doing in the national security arena” (p. 198).

The other primary piece of evidence Risen presents is a July 2005 email from Geoff Mumford to CIA psychologist Kirk Hubbard. According to Risen, who quotes the email: "Mumford thanked Hubbard for helping to influence the outcome of the task force. 'I also wanted to semi-publicly acknowledge your personal contribution... in getting this effort off the ground,” Mumford wrote. 'Your views were well represented by very carefully selected task force members'” (p. 200).

The CEP's statement in response to the APA's announcement of the "independent review" zeroed in on the nature of the APA's alleged collusion.

"The main allegations of APA collusion do not involve the direct promotion of torture," the CEP statement said. "Rather, the central concern targets the access and oversight that APA leaders apparently gave to Bush administration, CIA, and Defense Department officials to shape APA policies in a way that would allow continued psychologist involvement in abuses. That is, the primary issue is potential institutional corruption that served the interests of those promoting the enhanced interrogation program, not direct involvement in that program."

Whatever the involvement, one problem with Risen's book is that it buries the long history of such involvement, a history that the APA itself once owned up to many years ago, as exemplified in this December 1977 article in the APA house organ, APA Monitor. Risen also claims that before the "war on terror," "the U.S. military had a well-earned reputation for the humane treatment of prisoners of war" (p. 168). Apparently Risen never heard, for instance, about the tiger cages at Con Son Island during the Vietnam War, or Project Phoenix.

Everyone, myself included, who writes or works on the controversy around U.S. torture has an agenda of some kind. It's important that the public know what that agenda might be, whether it comes from Jeff Kaye, James Risen, APA, or David Hoffman.

Friday, November 28, 2014

UN Review Cites Torture & "Ill Treatment" in U.S. Army Field Manual's Appendix M

The United Nations Committee Against Torture (UNCAT) has released their "Concluding observations on the third to fifth periodic reports of United States of America" in regards to US adherence to the prohibitions against torture and cruel, inhumane, and degrading forms of treatment of prisoners.

Within the context of the world of diplomacy, the UNCAT findings belie the US insistence that it abides by the Convention Against Torture treaty (CAT), or that it is an adequate model for humane treatment of prisoners.

In particular, the committee took aim at the presence of ill-treatment and torture within the Army Field Manual's Appendix M, which purports to describe a "restricted interrogation technique" called "Separation." In a victory for those who oppose government-sanctioned torture and abuse of prisoners, the UNCAT called for the US "to review Appendix M of the Army Field Manual (AFM) in light of its obligations under the Convention."

More specifically, UNCAT identified the "minimal" sleep regulations in the manual as actually a form of sleep deprivation -- "a form of ill-treatment" -- and called for adherence to humane norms. In addition, the committee called for the elimination of sensory deprivation in the "field expedient" section of Appendix M, as such sensory deprivation can "create a state of psychosis with the detainee."

The UNCAT findings should be a wake-up call to the US press, which has repeatedly reported as true the assertion by the Bush and Obama administrations that the AFM allowed only humane interrogations. (The findings also validate my years-long campaign against the use of torture and abuse in the AFM, which has also been the focus at times of most of the human rights and legal groups who have made torture an issue, and bloggers such as Marcy Wheeler.)

While I want to concentrate here on what UNCAT said about the Appendix M and the Army Field Manual, which President Obama by executive order made the primary interrogation tool for forces in "armed conflict," the committee's other findings also are worth noting. The relative effectiveness of the UNCAT review process, or lack of same, is something that deserves its own analysis, but for the purposes of this article we'll put that off for now.

UNCAT Findings

The UNCAT found fault with the US's federal definition of torture -- the way it implements its torture laws -- not to mention the very way the US interprets the CAT treaty. It called for the US to consider withdrawing its "interpretive understandings and reservations" with which it ratified the CAT treaty. The UNCAT did the same thing in its May 2000 review of US practices. (For more on this, see this ACLU report.) The US "reservations" to the CAT treaty in particular eviscerate the protections against torture by replacing adherence to international norms on cruel treatment to less stringent US judiciary interpretations.

UNCAT also called for the US to criminalize "the specific offense of torture" at the federal level, and to remove the caveat in other statutes that says psychological torture requires evidence of “prolonged mental harm”. The UN officials warn that the presence of "serious discrepancies between the Convention’s definitions and those incorporated into domestic law create actual or potential loopholes for impunity."

In other notable, though not exhaustive, findings in the US review, the UNCAT told the US it had "concern over the ongoing failure to fully investigate allegations of torture and ill-treatment of suspects held in U.S. custody abroad, evidenced by the limited number of criminal prosecutions and convictions." It called for "prompt, impartial and effective investigations," noting in addition that "alleged perpetrators and accomplices are duly prosecuted, including persons in positions of command and those who provided legal cover to torture..."

In particular, the UNCAT noted that the US had supplied "minimal statistics on the number of investigations, prosecutions, disciplinary proceedings and corresponding reparations" from the US military.

In regards to the military's regime at Guantanamo, the UNCAT forcefully pronounced that "force-feeding of prisoners on hunger strike constitutes ill-treatment in violation of the Convention." The committee called for the immediate release of all uncharged or cleared detainees, an end to force-feeding and indefinite detention, and investigation of all torture, abuse or ill-treatment charges, including prosecution of those responsible and redress to victims.

The UNCAT and Appendix M

The back and forth between US and UN officials over whether certain practices used in the Army Field Manual constitute torture or other forms of abuse sounded like a diplomatic version of "he said, she said." But readers may not be aware what all the shouting was about.

In 2006, the US rewrote the Army Field Manual (AFM) on interrogation (formally known as FM 2-22.3, "Human Intelligence Collector Operations"). In 2009, in Executive Order 13491, "Ensuring Lawful Interrogations," President Obama declared that US officials could not use "any interrogation technique or approach, or any treatment related to interrogation, that is not authorized by and listed in Army Field Manual 2-22.3."

The 2006 AFM banned certain practices associated with the CIA and/or DoD's harsh interrogation and torture programs implemented under the Bush Administration, including forced nakedness, hooding, use of military dogs to threaten, and "waterboarding." But at the same time, the AFM removed restrictions against "abnormal sleep deprivation," use of stress positions, and "chemically induced psychosis."

The question of what constitutes sleep deprivation arose in the argument back-and-forth between the US and UNCAT on Appendix M.

In 2006, Appendix M was one of the new portions of the rewritten Army Field Manual. It involved the use of certain techniques, collected under the amalgam "Separation," which were not allowed for use on prisoners protected under the Geneva Conventions rules for POWs. So-called "unprivileged combatants" (or "unprivileged belligerents," as the Obama administration likes to call them) were subject, after approval, to the use of isolation (solitary confinement), sleep deprivation, adjustments in environmental and dietary rules, and, in the case of a special "field expedient" application of "separation," subjected to use of blindfolds or goggles, and earmuffs to shutoff both vision and hearing.

The UNCAT was specific in pointing out that the field expedient form of "separation" was in fact sensory deprivation, and that "based on recent scientific findings with high probability will create a state of psychosis with the detainee (Daniel C., Lovatt A., Manson OJ. Psychotic-like experiences and their cognitive appraisal under short-term sensory deprivation. Frontiers in Psychiatry; Vol. 5, Art 106:1), raising concerns of torture and ill-treatment."

As the UNCAT and the press have pointed out, Appendix M's stated purpose is to prevent communication among detainees, the better to prevent learning "counter-resistence techniques". But it is also, as Appendix M states, about "decreasing the detainee's resistance to interrogation." Indeed, both physical and so-called field expedient forms of "separation," are specifically described in Appendix M as meant to "foster a feeling of futility."

"A feeling of hopelessness and helplessness"

Appendix M does not describe what is meant by "futility," but the term is defined elsewhere in the AFM. When describing a technique known as "Emotional-Futility," the DoD-authored manual notes that the purpose of "futility" is to convince "the source that resistance to questioning is futile. This engenders a feeling of hopelessness and helplessness on the part of the source."

The manual clearly states that the use of futility is not enough to assure a prisoner's cooperation. Hence it strongly recommends the combination of Appendix M "separation" (which, remember, includes both isolation, sleep deprivation, and at times application of psychotic-inducing sensory deprivation) with other AFM "approaches." Indeed, Appendix M itself suggests combining "separation" with the use of the "futility" technique (actually, a natural extension of the purpose of Appendix M), "incentive," and "fear up."

In other words, shorn of all the bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo, an Appendix M interrogation means keeping a detainee isolated for up to 30 days, or even months longer, exposed to noise (as long as it is not "excessive") or other environmental changes (again, so long as they are not "excessive"), and allowed no more than 4 hours sleep per day for weeks and perhaps months on end. The detainee is meant to feel both hopeless and helpless about their condition. Psychological and sociological weaknesses are exploited to increase the sense of despair. Incentives are offered to entice the prisoner to cooperate and end the solitary confinement and sleep deprivation or sensory deprivation. If the prisoner should still refuse to divulge information or otherwise cooperate (such as to turn informant), then the level of fear a prisoner feels is to be increased, playing off fears the prisoner may feel, including phobias.

While the US representatives responding to UNCAT's review -- and one of these was Tom Malinowski, who as a representative for Human Rights Watch back in 2006 applauded the then-new version of the Army Field Manual -- have offered only boiler-plate defenses to the depredations of Appendix M, the AFM itself calls for the presence of medical personnel, including, optionally, a "behavioral health consultant," whenever an Appendix M interrogation takes place. To my knowledge, the presence of medical personnel is not required for any other kind of interrogation in existence -- with the sole exception of the CIA's use of "enhanced interrogation" torture.

The use of certain "approaches" in the main body of the AFM, such as Fear Up, Ego-Down, and Futility, demonstrate that use of cruel treatment is not limited to Appendix M, but exists within the main body of the AFM itself. As an example of the kind of warnings such "approaches" generate, the instructions regarding Fear Up warn the interrogator not to induce so much fear the prisoner becomes unresponsive.

Drugs and the Army Field Manual

Another area of abuse that exists in the main body of the AMF concerns the use of drugs. A close examination of the current AFM with its predecessor shows that the wording regarding restriction of the use of drugs changed in 2006. As noted above, the prohibition against use of drugs that cause psychotic-like symptoms was removed from the current AFM. The prohibition now is only against drugs that cause "lasting or permanent mental alteration or damage," a significantly lowered bar for use of drugs in interrogations.

In September 2009, a Department of Defense Inspector General report concluded that drugs had not been used in DoD interrogations. Even so, the report did reveal that detainees who were drugged for ostensible non-interrogation reasons were interrogated while drugged. There was also at least one case -- that of Jose Padilla -- where DoD used deception to make a prisoner believe he had been give "truth serum."

Still the IG report was seriously flawed, particularly in that it did not interview any of the released detainees who had alleged use of drugs. One of who made such a charge was Murnat Kurnaz, who was in Geneva for the UNCAT review. Kurnat has charged that he was subjected to repeated beatings, had his head dunked in water, was given electric shock to his feed, suspended by his arms, humiliated, and placed in solitary confinement by US forces. He has also said in the past he was forcibly administered drugs. But when he gave a statement to the UNCAT, unfortunately it did not mention the forcible use of drugs.

When Kurnaz gave, with the parents of Michael Brown, a teleconference in Geneva on November 12, I asked him about his drugging charges. Kurnaz stated, "I was forced to take medication. I didn't know what it was. When I refused they came afterwards... five to ten people held me down and tie me and give as injection." Kurnaz also charged that he was forced to take an "antimalaria medication," while, as Kurnaz added, "the whole world knows in Guantanamo there is no malaria." He further charged the drug was given "for its side effects, which include hallucinations."

Last year, a report by the Institute on Medicine as a Profession and the Open Society Foundation called for an investigation into the use wide-spread use of the anti-malaria drug mefloquine (Lariam) at Guantanamo.

None of the press reported Kurnaz's charges in relation to drugs. UNCAT never referred to the issue of drugging at all (see even the full transcript of the UNCAT review). As an article in the Jurist noted, "legislation implementing the Convention Against Torture defines torture to include 'the administration or application, or threatened administration or application, of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality.' 18 U.S.C. 2340. (In fact, under federal law, committing such acts outside of the United States is a very serious crime punishable by up to 20 years in prison. 18 USC 2340A)."

The UNCAT is to be praised for bringing to the fore some of the worst aspects of the current use of torture and abuse by the US government, and in particular for calling out the endemic abuse in the practices of forced-feeding and Appendix M techniques in the Army Field Manual. But the full story is still not out there, and the investigations called for by UNCAT are not on anyone's agenda. (There is a supposed "independent review" concerning collaboration of leading figures of the American Psychological Association with the CIA's "enhanced interrogation program, but that will be the subject of a future article.)

In addition, the release of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report on the CIA torture program -- or at least it's Executive Summary -- keeps being delayed. The latest word is that it might be out by the end of the year, lost in the news wasteland that is the Christmas and New Years' holidays.

It's good to take some time to reflect upon the progress made in the fight against torture, but there's still a long, long way to go before such crimes are truly eliminated, and the perpetrators of such crimes prosecuted.

Cross-posted at The Dissenter/FDL






Monday, November 17, 2014

My Letter to Sen. Udall Asking Him to Release the Senate's Report on CIA Torture

The following was sent to Senator Mark Udall on the evening of November 17, answering the request of my fellow colleagues in Psychologists for Social Responsibility for psychologists to personally write to the senator, who has made some gestures relating to getting out the truth of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence's report on the CIA torture and rendition program. The report's release itself has been throttled, with the Senate leadership limiting any public access to an Executive Summary of the full 6,000+ page report, which itself has been withheld pending charges of CIA excessive censorship.

I can't say I am sanguine about the results of such an appeal, and at first I felt that it would only sow illusions to hope that Sen. Udall will do for the Senate report what Sen. Mike Gravel did for the Pentagon Papers so many years ago. But I have put aside my own political feelings for the sake of those who are and have been tortured, and their loved ones. Such evil must be stopped somehow. If there's a chance a U.S. Senator can help facilitate that, then I must surely ask.
Dear Sen. Udall,

I am a psychologist who has worked on torture issues for some years now. I found myself turning to such activism after my experiences working with torture survivors from other countries who had come to the United States seeking political asylum.

I can tell you there is no terror worse and as deeply damaging as torture. It destroys not only the souls of those who are victimized, but their families and the entire civil society that countenances such torture, whether directly or by failure to stop it, or to render justice.

U.S. society has already been terribly damaged by the adherence to torture. Practices amounting to torture have not yet been fully extirpated, as the members of the Committee Against Torture at the UN reminded us via their questions during the recent U.S. review.

It would be naive to think that even your release of the Senate Intelligence Committee's full report on CIA torture will be enough to undo the damage done by the turn to torture by the military and intelligence agencies in this country. But it would be a giant blow against those that support such barbarism.

I know that you personally would pay a heavy toll for taking such a step. It would be facile to say otherwise. But you do have a responsibility, one you took when you made an oath to the Constitution when you took office. The Constitution lies in tatters, shredded by policies the Founders of the Republic held anathema.

You can make a difference. This is what it means to stand at the apex of history. No one will likely remember if you fail here. But you will be a hero if you choose to stand on the side of those fighting against the forces of ignorance, prejudice, and blind vengeance.

The people of this country need to know about what was done in their names. I humbly ask that you help them.

Sincerely, Jeffrey Kaye, Ph.D.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Gitmo "Team Leader" in Slahi Torture Sued for Framing Innocent Chicago Man for Murder

Two worlds of governmental crime. Both involve the imprisonment of innocent men. The article that follows links the torture booths at Guantanamo to the interrogation rooms run by crooked Chicago cops. It is the story of a part of America as it really is. For those caught up in it, it is a living nightmare.

"I am dying in here man..."

July 2003, Guantanamo. A sole man was kept in a darkened solitary cell for months on end. For many days in a row he is interrogated 16 hours a day. Loud music blared constantly, dogs menaced. Guards cursed him, banged on his cell at all hours to keep him awake. The temperature in the cell was purposely set close to freezing. An interrogator told the prisoner about a dream he had, one that supposedly had other detainees digging a grave and carrying a coffin with the prisoner's number on it.

Another interrogator, actually the chief of a "Special Projects Team" at the American naval base prison, lied and told the prisoner his mother had been detained, and that if he did not cooperate she would be brought to Guantanamo and kept as the only woman prisoner there. The implication of the threat against his mother seemed dire. The chief of the SP team produced a forged letter to back up his contention. But the prisoner had nothing to admit, and kept telling interrogators the truth, until finally he gave in under torture and told them what they wanted to hear.

The Guantanamo prisoner was Mohamedou Ould Slahi. The interrogation team leader in charge of Slahi's "Special Project" torture was then-Lieutenant (and former Chicago homicide detective) Richard Zuley.

Meanwhile, also in 2003, another man sat in solitary confinement in an Illinois prison. Lathierial Boyd had been sentenced to 82 years in jail for the alleged shooting of two men, one of whom, Michael Fleming, died at the scene; the other was permanently paralyzed. Police called it a revenge drug murder. Both the victims and Boyd were African-American.

For 13 years Boyd had proclaimed his innocence. He told the story of how Chicago police officers had hid witness testimony, fabricated evidence, lied in reports, and coerced witnesses. In 2002, his plight picked up some news interest after a Chicago television station's investigation dug up new evidence (see video), but Boyd, a former fashion model, remained in jail awaiting another appeal. He told anyone who would listen, "I am dying in here man, can't you see I am dying."



According to recent legal filings, one of these cops was alleged to have withheld the fact the sole survivor of the shooting, Ricky Warner, could not identify the shooter, nor could any of those who viewed the police line-up.

This same cop was said to have coerced Warner's father to say his son had been threatened by Boyd. The cop fabricated evidence for the father to look at. He also convinced Warner to ID Boyd as the man who shot him and his partner. In this, the cop worked together with other Chicago police. Later, the cop allegedly helped fabricate a piece of evidence for Warner to use to help "lead" interrogators to Boyd.

The cop was the same man who years later led Slahi's torture, Richard Zuley.

Zuley's role in the torture of Mohamadou Slahi can be gleaned from the footnotes in the Nov. 2008 Senate Armed Services Committee report, Inquiry into the Treatment of Detainees in U.S. Custody (see pages 137 and 140), while he is identified more specifically in a July 7, 2010 declassified legal filing in Slahi's case.

Zuley was also profiled in Jess Bravin's book, The Terror Courts: Rough Justice at Guantanamo Bay. Bravin wrote that in July 2003 Zuley became the head of the Special Team that conducted "enhanced interrogations" at Guantanamo. Elsewhere in the book, Bravin quotes Lieutenant General Randall Schmidt, who testified that "Zuley was a 'zealot' who loved tormenting his prisoner."

Zuley also helped identify himself. In his sole review at Amazon.com, Zuley signs himself:
"LCDR Richard Zuley, USN (Ret)
Former EUCOM LNO, senior interrogator
and Special Projects Team Chief,
Joint Task Force – Guantanamo (2002-2004)"

EUCOM stands for U.S. European Command. LNO stands for Liaison Officer. Today, according to his LinkedIn page, Zuley is Projects Administrator at City of Chicago's Department of Aviation, Aviation Police division.

A Miscarriage of Justice

In September 2013, Boyd walked out of prison free, released after a review of his case, subject previously to numerous rejected appeals, showed he was in fact innocent. Last month, he filed a $20 million civil suit against Zuley and five other Chicago officers for destruction and/or concealment of material exculpatory and impeachment evidence, malicious prosecution, and conspiracy to deprive him of his Constitutional rights. The other officers named are Lawrence Thezan, Andrew Sobolewski, Steve Schorsch, John Murray, and Wayne Johnson.

The particulars of the case are astounding, as Zuley and his cohorts are alleged to have manufactured evidence regarding Boyd, coerced the only eyewitness (shooting survivor Ricky Martin) to ID Boyd at the scene, withheld evidence of eyewitnesses who specifically said Boyd could not have been the shooter, and fabricated a note with supposedly incriminating evidence against Boyd, among other instances of malfeasance. The fact Boyd had an alibi staying at his sister's home with her boyfriend, a Cook County Sheriff, was ignored.

The miscarriage of justice in Lathierial's case was so egregious that the judge who sentenced him called for his case to be reopened. Many of the facts concerning the frame-up against Boyd can be read in his 2008 habeas filing (PDF).

Boyd's time in prison was a terrible ordeal. According to his October 4 lawsuit complaint, Boyd wrote "thousands of letters, pleading with lawyers and the media to help him." He spent approximately 90 percent of his 23 years in prison confined to his cell. He lost contact with friends and family. Due to what he alleges was poor medical care, he lost sight in one eye. Boyd, who was a former fashion model, "sank into a black hole of depression so profound and debilitating that he frequently contemplated suicide as the only way to be free again."

"Extensive and severe mistreatment"

The Slahi case was singled out by the Senate Armed Services Committee as a primary example of detainee abuse, produced under the auspices of former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and then-Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz. (Wolfowitz signed off on a memo recommending the use of isolation, sleep deprivation, and "sound modulation," or sensory overload, on Slahi.)

Slahi, who was severely beaten, subject to false flag deception and threats of torture and harm to his family, sexually humiliated, deprived of religious comfort, and also experienced at times sensory deprivation, has told his own story in a 466-page draft memoir about his seizure and incarceration, portions of which were published at Slate.com in April 2013. The full diary is supposed to be published in January 2015.

Like the torture of Mohamed al-Qahtani some months before him, Slahi's torture supposedly was justified by his alleged role in 9/11. As a high-value detainee, he was kidnapped and rendered first to Jordan, and then via Bagram, Afghanistan to Guantanamo in August 2002. The "evidence" against Slahi came via what was likely coerced interrogation by Ramzi Binalshibh, who told the CIA that Slahi was involved in the planning for 9/11. Subsequent "evidence" came from Slahi's confessions made under torture.

When it came time to try Slahi under President George W. Bush's first attempt at military commissions, the MC prosecutor, Col. Stuart Couch, famously refused to prosecute Slahi's case because it was based primarily on tortured evidence.

In April 2010, Slahi's habeas petition was granted by Judge James Robertson, who stated "there is 'ample evidence in this record that Salahi was subjected to extensive and severe mistreatment at Guantánamo from mid-June 2003 to September 2003.'" But in November 2010, the government, who appealed Robertson's decision, won a D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals decision to vacate Robertson's decision, remanding the case to the D.C. District Court, where it still languishes. Not one habeas petition that has gone to that court has ever been approved.

A System Out of Control

The oozing scandal that is the Chicago Police Department has been the subject of numerous investigations and news reports. Torture, kidnapping of witnesses, robberies and criminal home invasions, these are only some in the long list of corrupt operations exposed over the years.

After many attempts, some of Chicago's crooked cops have gotten justice. But the system remains pathetically slow, and no one knows how many lives have been ruined by cops out of control in Chicago and many other major urban areas in the United States. Recently, an activist group has produced a "shadow report" for the UN Committee on Torture, testifying to the ongoing use of police violence.

Meanwhile, an ongoing scandal concerning U.S. government torture by both the CIA and the Department of Defense, centered on operations at Guantanamo and elsewhere, has been the subject of Congressional investigations and dozens of books and articles. But despite a good deal of attention, torture techniques in some cases similar to those used on Slahi, based on SERE methods used to inoculate US soldiers against torture, are still in use.

Most recently, a controversy over the release of an executive summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee's investigation into the CIA torture program has dragged on for months. It's not clear the report will tell us that much more than what other investigations and leaks have already produced. A McClatchy article last month indicated that the report will not touch upon the responsibility for the torture program among top Bush Administration officials.

While the Senate Committee, led by Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, has announced it is suppressing (for now) the full report they made, they are seeking release of its executive summary, which the White House gave the CIA to vet for declassification. Not surprisingly, the CIA wants more classified in the rump report's release than the Senate Committee does.

The press rarely reports on the full extent of the torture scandal. Rarely are the dots connected that place issues like massive use of solitary confinement in US prisons, or the epidemic of police abuse and prosecutorial frame-up, in conjunction with US use of torture and rendition at Guantanamo and abroad.

It's time for a reckoning on torture and abuses of justice, whether in the name of "law and order" or "war on terrorism." What we have now is a system out of control with abuse of power.

Crossposted at The Dissenter/FDL

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