Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The Long-suppressed Korean War Report on U.S. Use of Biological Weapons Released At Last

Written largely by the most prestigious British scientist of his day, this report was effectively suppressed upon its release in 1952. Published now in text-searchable format, it includes hundreds of pages of evidence about the use of U.S. biological weapons during the Korean War, available for the first time to the general public.

(If you don’t see any embed above, download the full report here)


Originally posted at Medium.com

Back in the early 1950s, the U.S. conducted a furious bombing campaign during the Korean War, dropping hundreds of thousands of tons of ordnance, much of it napalm, on North Korea. The bombardment, worse than any country had received up to that point, excepting the effects of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, wiped out nearly every city in North Korea, contributing to well over a million civilian deaths. Because of the relentless bombing, the people were reduced to living in tunnels. Even the normally bellicose Gen. MacArthur claimed to find the devastation wreaked by the U.S. to be sickening.[1]

Most controversially, both North Korea and China alleged that by early 1952, the U.S. was using biological or germ warfare weapons against both North Korea and China. The U.S. government has strenuously denied this. Nevertheless, captured U.S. flyers told their North Korean and Chinese captors about the use of such weapons. Later, after the prisoners were returned to U.S. custody, counterintelligence experts and psychiatrists interrogated them. They were told under the threat of court martial to renounce their confessions about germ warfare. They all did so.

The Army Criminal Investigative Division officer in charge of interrogating returning prisoners, including airmen who confessed to use of biological weaponry on North Korea and China, was Army counter-intelligence specialist, Col. Boris Pash. Pash had previously been in charge of security for the most sensitive classified operations of the U.S. government in World War II. He was in charge of security at the Manhattan Project’s Berkeley Radiation Laboratory. (The Manhattan Project was the U.S. crash program to develop the atomic bomb.)

In the immediate aftermath of the war, military intelligence officer Pash led the Alsos Mission, which searched for Nazi and Italian nuclear scientists and fissionable materials, as well as gathering “intelligence about any enemy scientific research applicable to his military effort,” including biological and chemical weapons. Later, Pash worked for the CIA, and in the 1970s was called before Congressional investigators concerning his alleged participation in Agency assassinations.[2]

To convince the world of the truth of their claim the U.S. had dropped biological weapons on their countries, and after turning down the suggestion that the International Red Cross look into the charges, the North Koreans and Chinese sponsored an investigating commission. Using the auspices of the World Peace Council, they gathered together a number of scientists from around the world, most of whom were sympathetic to either the Left or the peace movement. Most surprisingly, this commission, which came to be known as the International Scientific Commission, or ISC, was headed by one of the foremost British scientists of his time, Joseph Needham.

The ISC included scientists from a number of countries, including Sweden, France, Italy, and Brazil. The Soviet Union representative, Dr. N. N. Zhukov-Verezhnikov had been the chief medical expert at the Khabarovsk Trial of the Unit 731 Japanese officers accused of participating in bacteriological (aka biological, or germ) warfare before and during World War II, as well as conducting hideous experiments on prisoners to further that aim. Zhukov-Verezhnikov went on to write scientific articles through the 1970s.

Needham himself, though pilloried in the Western press for his opinions on the controversy of U.S. use of biological weapons during the Korean War, remained a highly lauded scientist for years after the ISC report. He was elected a fellow of the British Academy in 1971. In 1992, the Queen conferred on him the Companionship of Honour.[3]

The ISC travelled to China and North Korea in the summer of 1952 and by September produced the “Report of International Scientific Commission for the Investigation of the Facts Concerning Bacterial Warfare in Korea and China,” which corroborated the Chinese and North Korean claims that the U.S. had used biological weapons in an experimental fashion on civilian populations.

The summary report was only some 60 pages long, but the ISC included over 600 pages of documentary material including statements from witnesses, including airmen involved in dropping the weaponry, as well as captured enemy agents; reports from doctors; journal articles from the United States; autopsy reports and lab tests; and photos and other materials. Most of this documentary material has been all but inaccessible for decades, with only a handful of copies of the ISC report in a few scattered libraries in the United States.

The report concluded that the U.S. had used a number of biological weapons, including use of anthrax, plague, and cholera, disseminated by over a dozen of different devices or methods, including spraying, porcelain bombs, self-destroying paper containers with a paper parachute, and leaflet bombs, among others.

This article is not meant to examine the full range of opinions or evidence about whether or not the U.S. used biological weapons in the Korean War. It is instead an attempt to publish essential documentation of such claims, documentation that has effectively been withheld from the American people, and the West in general, for decades.


The charges of U.S. use of biological warfare during the Korean War have long been the subject of intense controversy. The reliance, in part, on testimony from U.S. prisoners of war led to U.S. charges of “brainwashing.” These charges later became the basis of a cover story for covert CIA experimentation into use of use of drugs and other forms of coercive interrogation and torture that became the basis for its 1963 KUBARK manual on interrogation, and much later, a powerful influence on the CIA’s post-9/11 “enhanced interrogation” program.

Establishment Cold War scholars have been quick to debunk the ISC report. The most notable attempts in recent years included the publication of purported letters written by officials of the Soviet Union discussing the lack of evidence of U.S. biological warfare, and the decision to manufacture such evidence to fool the West.[4] Subsequently, a 1997 memoir by Wu Zhili, the former director of the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army Health Division, was published declaring the purported U.S. use of bacteriological agents in the Korean War was really “a false alarm.” [5]

If these documents were to be true, as two Canadian scholars who spent years researching the Chinese-North Korean claims of biological warfare, then it would go against the bulk of archival evidence, including interviews with pertinent witnesses in both the United States and China.[6] Some of this archival evidence is quite recent, including the CIA declassification of a good deal of formerly top secret daily signal intelligence cables from the Korean War.[7]

The cables dealing with North Korean claims of biological warfare, which claims were dismissed by U.S. officials, prove that the North Koreans were serious about the belief they were being attacked by germ weapons, and that they were concerned that reports from the field not be falsified by assiduous if uninformed people sending in reports from the field. There is no evidence that North Korean officials or personnel ever engaged in falsification of evidence of biological warfare.

There also is plenty of archival evidence to be found in the suppressed Needham report materials. For instance, the Wu Zhili document claims, “‘for the entire year [1952–1953] no sick patient or deceased person was found to have anything to do with bacteriological warfare.”

From the ISC report, pg. 470But the ISC report documents a number of such deaths, including deaths from inhalational anthrax, a very rare disease almost completely unknown in China at that time. Appendix AA of the report, “Report on the Occurrence of Respiratory Anthrax and Haemorrhagic Anthrax Meningitis following the Intrusion of U.S. Military Planes over Northeast China” details the presence of anthrax by autopsy and laboratory examination in five deaths during March-April 1952. According to U.S. experts who have looked at the details of this report, the conclusions regarding death from inhalational anthrax could not have been faked[8].

Until recently, there has been no effort to make the original Needham materials available for other scholars or the public to assess for themselves the truth or falsity of their analysis. Last year, scholar Milton Leitenberg uploaded a copy of the ISC report to Scribd, but it is a very rough scan, and not searchable, or easy to use for the public. The release was not advertised and the public in particular remains ignorant of its findings.

The version of the ISC report published here utilized state-of-the-art book scanning equipment and is text searchable.

Censorship of Unit 731-U.S. Collaboration on Biological Warfare Data

One important part of the ISC report guaranteed its suppression in the United States after its initial publication. The report discussed the activities of Imperial Japan’s biological warfare detachment, Unit 731, and the U.S. interest in its activities.

Back in 1952, collaboration between the U.S. and Japanese war criminals using biological weapons was top secret, and totally denied by the U.S.

But today, even U.S. historians accept that a deal was made between the U.S. and members of Unit 731 and associated portions of the Japanese military that had in fact been experimenting on the use of biological weapons since the mid-1930s, experimentation that included use of human vivisection and barbaric torture of thousands of human beings, most of whom were disposed of in crematoria. In addition, as described in the book chapter by Bernd Martin noted in the bibliography, there was collaboration between the Japanese and the Nazi regime on these issues.

The U.S. collaboration with Japanese war criminals of Unit 731 was formally admitted in 1999 by the U.S. government, though the documentation for this confession wasn’t published until nearly 20 years later.[9]

It is a matter of historical record now that the U.S. government granted amnesty to Japan’s chief at Unit 731, doctor/General Shiro Ishii and his accomplices. The amnesty was kept top secret for decades, until revealed by journalist John Powell in a landmark article for the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists in October 1981.

What came to be known as the Needham report, due to the fact the ISC was headed by the prestigious British scientist, came under immediate fire upon release. The report still remains a flashpoint for scholars. A 2001 article by the UK’s Historical Association detailed how UN and UK government officials collaborated in attempts to debunk the ISC findings. The UK Foreign Office released memoranda saying that claims of Japanese bacteriological warfare, going back to 1941, were “officially ‘not proven.’" (See article by Tom Buchanan in Bibliography.)

The sensitivity of the material uncovered by the ISC touched two areas of covert US government research. First was the US government’s own plans to research and possibly implement germ warfare. The second issue concerned the confessions of U.S. flyers as to how they were briefed and implemented trial runs of biological warfare during the Korean War.

China published the confessions of 19 U.S. airmen, but those confessions are also notoriously difficult to obtain. The ISC report published herein does include some of those “confessions,” and the public can be allowed to decide for themselves how authentic or genuine they are.

From testimony of Lt. J. Quinn, ISC report, pg. 614 (PDF)The U.S. claimed that the flyers were tortured, and the CIA promoted the idea they were “brainwashed” by diabolical methods, causing a scare about “commie” mind control programs and “menticide,” which they used to justify the expenditure of millions of dollars for U.S. mind control programs during the 1950s-1970s.

The programs, codenamed Bluebird, Artichoke, and MKULTRA, among others, used experiments on unwitting civilians, as well as soldiers undergoing supposed anti-torture training at the military’s SERE schools. I have shown via public records that CIA scientists continued to use experiments on “stress” at SERE schools after 9/11, and believe such research included experiments on CIA and/or DoD held detainees. That such research did take place can be inferred from the release in November 2011 of a new set of guidelines concerning DoD research. This newest version of a standard instruction (DoD Directive 3216.02) contained for the first time a specific prohibition against research done on detainees. (See section 7c.)

I believe a strong case can be made that while coercive methods, primarily isolation, was used on the U.S. prisoners of war who later confessed, that their confessions were primarily true. The idea that only false confessions result from torture is in fact false itself. While false confessions can result from torture (as well as less onerous methods, such as the Reid Technique, used by police departments throughout the United States today), actual confessions can also sometimes occur. I have first-hand experience working with torture survivors to know that is true.

Even so, it is a fact that all the POWs who confessed use of germ warfare later recanted that upon return to the United States. But the terms of their recantations are suspect. The recantations were made under threat of courts-martial, and after interrogations by U.S. counterintelligence agents and psychiatrists. The archival evidence of the flyers debriefings have been destroyed or lost due to fire (according to the government). Meanwhile at least one scientist working at Ft. Detrick at the time admitted to German documentary investigators before he died that the U.S. had indeed been involved in germ warfare in Korea. (See the documentary video, “Code Name: Artichoke.”[10])

An “actual investigation… could do us psychological as well as military damage”

The charges of U.S. use of biological weapons during the Korean War are even more incendiary than the now-proven claims the U.S. amnestied Japanese military doctors and others working on biological weapons who experimented on human subjects, and ultimately killed thousands in operational uses of those weapons against China during the Sino-Japanese portion of World War Two. The amnesty was the price paid for U.S. military and intelligence researchers to get access to the trove of research, much of it via fatal human experiments, the Japanese had developed over years of studying and developing weapons for biological warfare.

During the Korean War, the U.S. strenuously denied charges of use of germ weapons and demanded an international investigation through the United Nations. The Chinese and North Koreans derided such offers, as it was United Nations-sanctioned forces that were opposing them in war and bombing their cities. But behind the scenes, the U.S. government initiated a campaign to impugn the ISC report, something they found difficult, as it turned out, according to a CIA-released document I revealed in December 2013. The document also showed the U.S. considered the call for a UN investigation to be mere propaganda.[11]

At a high-level meeting of intelligence and government officials on July 6, 1953, U.S. authorities admitted behind closed doors that the U.S. was not serious about conducting any investigation into such charges, despite what the government said publicly.

The reason the U.S. didn’t want any investigation was because an “actual investigation” would reveal military operations, “which, if revealed, could do us psychological as well as military damage.” A “memorandum from the Psychological Strategy Board (PSB) detailing this meeting specifically stated as an example of what could be revealed “8th Army preparations or operations (e.g. chemical warfare).”[12]

Charges of chemical warfare by the Americans during the Korean War were part of a report by a Communist-influenced attorneys’ organization visiting Korea, and their findings were dismissed as propaganda by U.S. authorities and commentators. But the PSB memo suggests perhaps they were right.

Not long after I published the PSB document and accompanying article, scholar Stephen Endicott wrote to remind me that he and his associate Edward Hagerman, co-authors of the 1998 book, The United States and Biological Warfare: Secrets from the Early Cold War and Korea (see bibliography), had found material themselves that indicated U.S. calls for “international inspection to counter the Chinese and North Korean charges… was less than candid.”

Endicott and Hagerman found that U.S. Far East Commander, Gen. Matthew Ridgway, had “secretly given permission to deny potential Red Cross inspectors ‘access to any specific sources of information.’” In addition, they documented a State Department memo dated June 27, 1952 wherein the Department of Defense notified that it was “impossible” for the UN ambassador at the time to state that the U.S. did not intend to use “bacteriological warfare — even in Korea.” (p.192, Endicott and Hagerman)

The Khabarovsk War Crimes Trial

The ISC report also references the December 1949 war crimes trial held by the USSR in Khabarovsk, not far from the Chinese border. The trial of Japanese war criminals associated with Units 731, 100 and other biological warfare divisions followed upon a near black-out of such issues at the larger Toyko war crimes trials held by the Allies a few years before.

At the time of the Khabarovsk trial, U.S. media and government officials either ignored the proceedings, or denounced them as yet another Soviet “show trial.” The Soviets for their part published the proceedings and distributed them widely, including in English. Copies of this report are easier to find for purchase used, though expensive, on the Internet. Additionally, in the last few years Google made a copy of the former Soviet volume available online (see Bibliography). But no scholarly edition has ever been published.

Even so, U.S. historians have been forced over the years to accept the findings of the Khabarovsk court, though the general population and media accounts remain mostly ignorant such a trial ever took place. The fact the Soviets also documented the use of Japanese biological experiments on U.S. POWs was highly controversial, denied by the U.S. for decades, was a quite contentious issue in the 1980s-1990s. While a National Archives-linked historian has quietly determined such experiments did in fact take place, the issue has quietly fallen off the country’s radar. (See L. G. Goetz in bibliography.)

The relevancy of these issues is of course the ongoing propaganda war between the United States and North Korea, as well as Pentagon reallocation of resources to the Asian theater for a possible future war against China. But it is the clear threat of a nuclear exchange between North Korea and the United States that calls for clarity around the issues that have led to the mistrust between the two countries. Such clarity demands the release of all information that would help the U.S. populace understand the North Korean point of view. Such understanding, and acting upon such knowledge, may be all that separates us from a catastrophic war that could potentially kill millions of people.

The history behind the Korean War, and U.S. military and covert actions concerning China, Japan, and Korea, are a matter of near-total ignorance in the U.S. population. The charges of “brainwashing” of U.S. POWs, in an ongoing effort to hide evidence of U.S. biological warfare experiments and trials, also has become entwined in the propaganda used to explain the U.S. post-9/11 torture and interrogation program, and alibi past crimes by the CIA and Department of Defense for years of illegal mind control programs practiced as part of MKULTRA, MKSEARCH, ARTICHOKE, and other programs.

I hope that readers will feel free to disseminate this article without any copyright reservations, as well as the ISC report itself, an orphaned document from the Cold War.


Daniel Barenblatt, A Plague Upon Humanity: The Secret Genocide of Axis Japan’s Germ Warfare Operation, HarperPerennial, 2005

Tom Buchanan, “The Courage of Galileo: Joseph Needham and the ‘Germ Warfare’ Allegations in the Korean War,” The Historical Association, Blackwell Publishers, 2001

Dave Chaddock, This Must Be the Place: How the U.S. Waged Germ Warfare in the Korean War and Denied It Ever Since, Bennett and Hastings Publishers, 2013

Stephen Endicott & Edward Hagerman, The United States and Biological Warfare: Secrets from the Early Cold War and Korea, Indiana University Press, 1998

Stephen Endicott and Edward Hagerman, “Twelve Newly Released Soviet-era `Documents’ and allegations of U. S. germ warfare during the Korean War,” online publication, 1998, URL: http://www.yorku.ca/sendicot/12SovietDocuments.htm

Stephen Endicott and Edward Hagerman, “False Alarm? ‘The Bacteriological War of 1952’: Comment on Director Wu Zhili’s Essay,” online publication, June 1, 2016, URL: http://www.yorku.ca/sendicot/On%20WuZhili-false-alarm.pdf [accessed May 14, 2017]

Sheldon H. Harris, Factories of Death: Japanese Biological Warfare, 1932–45, and the American Cover-up, rev. ed., Routledge Press, 2002

Linda Goetz Holmes, Guests of the Emperor: The Secret History of Japan’s Mukden POW Camp, Naval Institute Press, June 2010.

Jeffrey Kaye, “CIA Document Suggests U.S. Lied About Biological, Chemical Weapon Use in the Korean War,” Shadowproof, Dec. 10, 2013, URL: https://shadowproof.com/2013/12/10/cia-document-suggests-u-s-lied-about-biological-chemical-weapon-use-in-the-korean-war/# (accessed May 14, 2017)

Materials on the Trial of Former Servicemen of the Japanese Army Charged With Manufacturing Bacteriological Weapons [Testimony and Exhibits from the Khabarovsk War Crimes Trial], Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1950, published as free e-book at Google Books, URL: https://books.google.com/books?id=ARojAAAAMAAJ [accessed May 14, 2017]

Milton Leitenberg, “New Russian Evidence on the Korean War Biological Warfare Allegations: Background and Analysis,” Cold War International History Project, Bulletin 11, 1998

Milton Leitenberg, “China’s False Allegations of the Use of Biological Weapons by the United States during the Korean War,” CWIHP Working Paper #78
 March 2016, URL:
https://www.wilsoncenter.org/publication/chinas-false-allegations-the-use-biological-weapons-the-united-states-during-the-korean [accessed May 14, 2017]

Jeffrey A. Lockwood, Six-Legged Soldiers: Using Insects as Weapons of War, Oxford Univ. Press, 2010

Bernd Martin, “Japanese-German collaboration in the development of bacteriological and chemical weapons and the war in China,” in Japanese-German Relations, 1895–1945: War, Diplomacy and Public Opinion (Christian W. Spang, Rolf-Harald Wippich, eds.), Routledge, 2006

John Powell, “A Hidden Chapter in History,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, October 1981

Peter Williams and David Wallace, Unit 731: The Japanese Army’s Secret of Secrets, Hodder & Stoughton, 1989 [Note: The U.S. version of this book, published by Free Press, does not include Chapter 17 on the Korean War, which is only available in the British Hodder & Stoughton version.]


[1] Robert M. Neer, Napalm: An American Biography, 2013, Belknap Press, pg. 100.

[2] “Boris Pash and Science and Technology Intelligence,” Masters of the Intelligence Art series, U.S. Army Intelligence Center, Ft. Huachuca, undated. URL: http://huachuca-www.army.mil/files/History_MPASH.PDF (retrieved 1/20/2018)
In regards to Pash’s association with the CIA, we don’t know when his involvement with the Agency began, but it appears to have been quite early. Watergate defendant E. Howard Hunt told Congressional investigators in 1976 Pash was involved in assassination activities for the CIA during the 1960s. See “Executive Session, Saturday, January 10, 1976, United States Senate, Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, Washington, D.C.” URL: http://blog.nuclearsecrecy.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/1976-Executive-Session-Hunt-testimony-on-Pash.pdf (retrieved 1/20/2018)

[3] See URL: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Needham (retrieved 1/20/18). The article drew the information from Winchester, Simon (2008), The Man Who Loved China: The Fantastic Story of the Eccentric Scientist Who Unlocked the Mysteries of the Middle Kingdom. New York: HarperCollins.

[4] Leitenberg, Milton. (1998). Resolution of the Korean War Biological Warfare Allegations. Critical reviews in microbiology. 24. 169–94. 10.1080/10408419891294271.

[5] “Wu Zhili, ‘The Bacteriological War of 1952 is a False Alarm’,” September, 1997, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Yanhuang chunqiu no. 11 (2013): 36–39. Translated by Drew Casey. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/123080

[6] “False Alarm? The Bacteriological War of 1952 — Comment on Director WuZhili’s Essay” by Stephen Endicott and Edward Hagerman, Department of History, York University (ret.), June 2016, http://www.yorku.ca/sendicot/On%20WuZhili-false-alarm.pdf

[7]“Baptism By Fire: CIA Analysis of the Korean War Overview,” URL: https://www.cia.gov/library/readingroom/collection/baptism-fire-cia-analysis-korean-war-overview

[8] For a full discussion, see “Updated: The Suppressed Report on 1952 U.S. Korean War Anthrax Attack,” https://valtinsblog.blogspot.com/2017/04/revealed-suppressed-report-on-1952-us.html

[9] Jeffrey S. Kaye, “Department of Justice Official Releases Letter Admitting U.S. Amnesty of Japan’s Unit 731 War Criminals,” Medium.com, May 14, 2017, URL: https://medium.com/@jeff_kaye/department-of-justice-official-releases-letter-admitting-u-s-amnesty-of-unit-731-war-criminals-9b7da41d8982

[10] URL: http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/code-name-artichoke/

[11] Jeffrey Kaye, “CIA Document Suggests U.S. Lied About Biological, Chemical Weapon Use in the Korean War,” Shadowproof, Dec. 10, 2013, URL: https://shadowproof.com/2013/12/10/cia-document-suggests-u-s-lied-about-biological-chemical-weapon-use-in-the-korean-war/ (accessed February 21, 2018)

[12] For the actual memorandum document, see URL: https://www.cia.gov/library/readingroom/docs/CIA-RDP80R01731R003300190004-6.pdf

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Trump Administration Setting Up Padded Cell for Guantanamo Detainees

Originally posted at Medium.com

The nightmare that is Guantanamo never seems to end. Even before President Donald Trump reversed an Obama Administration order to close the detention center at Guantanamo — an action never completed — the Pentagon issued a formal solicitation for material to construct a padded cell at the Cuba-based prison.

Padded cells in psychiatric hospitals are used to supposedly safely contain violent patients. Some legal authorities have condemned the use of padded cells, which “involves a form of sensory deprivation, in that the prisoner is denied the opportunity of any meaningful interaction with his human faculties of sight, sound and speech — an interaction that is vital if the integrity of the human personality is to be maintained.”

On January 19, the Department of the Army listed a solicitation for materials (number W91WRZ-18-Q-0016) at the website of the General Services Administration, explaining the padding was meant for a “US Government mental health or psychiatric room in a detention medical facility” at “US Navy Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.”

The Army described the planned room as being 7 feet by 12 feet, 4 inches, or 84 square feet in total. The cell is to be 8 feet, 3 inches high. The padding is to cover “the interior of walls, floor, ceiling, and steel hinged door and door frame,” and constructed “to prevent destruction by teeth, hand tearing, [or] small metal objects.”

According to the Army’s announcement, the installation date for the padded cell will be sometime between February 28 and March 31, 2018. The material will ship to Guantanamo from the Blount Island Terminal in Jacksonville, Florida. The bid, which must have been made by January 29, was to also include labor for installation of the material in the cell itself.

Guantanamo Causes Mental Illness

There have been numerous reports of mental illness at Guantanamo, including allegations of suicide. The autopsy for one detainee, Mohammed Al Hanashi, who in June 2009 supposedly strangled himself to death with a piece of his underwear, described multiple attempts to harm himself with head banging. Medical authorities noted that Al Hanashi’s mental illness was itself caused by the “conditions of confinement” at Guantanamo.

Other detainees have been described as severely mentally ill at U.S. naval base-sited prison. In 2016, it was revealed that military authorities had hidden the fact that a key early torture victim, Mohammed Al Qahtani, had a lifetime history of mental illness.

Many detainees have been apparently driven insane by the abusive conditions at Guantanamo. A June 2008 report by Human Rights Watch warned that the abusive conditions of confinement at Guantanamo, in particular the widespread use of solitary confinement, was precipitating significant mental illness in detainees, just as it does in America’s Supermax prisons.

In November 2016, an exposé in The New York Times documented how high levels of secrecy, prisoner mistrust, and the “shadow of interrogation” negatively affected the treatment of the mentally ill at Guantanamo. A month earlier, another Times article described how “[b]eatings, sleep deprivation, menacing and other brutal tactics have led to persistent mental health problems among detainees held in secret C.I.A. prisons and at Guantánamo.”

In my book, Cover-up at Guantanamo, in-depth descriptions, based on Freedom of Information Act documents, show what it was like to be in the psychiatric unit at Guantanamo. Prisoners were involuntarily drugged, their complaints of being tortured ignored by the medical professionals present. At least one prisoner died while being held in the supposedly safe confines of the Guantanamo Behavioral Health Unit (BHU). Another was found dead within 24 hours of release from the BHU.

The solicitation for materials to build a new padded cell at Guantanamo is yet another indicator that the U.S. government has no intention of shutting down that facility. Indeed, it expects that it will drive even more prisoners insane. The construction of a padded cell could be interpreted as a humane gesture to protect seriously mentally ill prisoners intent on self-harm. Or it could be understood as yet another element of a wide-spread and deeply thought-out torture apparatus. The history of Guantanamo argues strongly for the latter.

Meanwhile, it is sobering to consider that President Trump’s decision to keep Guantanamo open received very little opposition from Democratic Party spokespeople. Presumptive frontrunner for the 2018 Democratic Party nomination, Senator Bernie Sanders, never mentioned Trump’s stance on Guantanamo in his reply to Trump’s recent State of the Union address, despite the fact Trump announced his Guantanamo decision in the speech. (Sanders is formerly on record as calling for the closure of Guantanamo, but his record is somewhat checkered.)

Experimental “Battle Lab”

It is distressing to see how disturbingly easy it has been to bury the real purpose of Guantanamo, which was to create an experimental “battle lab” on interrogation and detention techniques, whose aim was to “break” the detainees held in U.S. custody, and to “exploit” them for purposes of information, propaganda, and intelligence purposes, e.g. to force them to work for U.S. government intelligence agencies.

While the situation surrounding government torture incrementally improved under President Obama. But the UN Committee Against Torture announced in 2014 that the U.S. was still using torture techniques in its Army Field Manual on interrogations. Given this context, the moves by the Trump Administration to roll back even the gains made during the previous administration are disturbing.
It is hard to imagine that more prisoners will not ultimately be sent to Guantanamo, or that we might even see the reinstitution of the CIA’s detention program, most likely under the hysteria engendered by some national security “emergency.”

Guantanamo represents the final failure of the American dream. It is the antithesis of human liberty. Enhancing Guantanamo’s facilities is not in anyone’s interest, unless it be those who profit by its construction and maintenance.

Perhaps some hope lies in the efforts of advocates like the Center for Constitutional Rights, which issued a statement about Trump’s decision to keep Guantanamo open:
Trump’s executive order is not the last word on the fate of Guantánamo, any more than his attempted Muslim bans and arbitrary transgender military ban — struck down by the courts — were the last word on those matters. CCR has filed a new legal challenge to the illegality and racism driving Trump’s Guantánamo policy and demanding detainees’ release. It is the courts, not the authoritarian-in-chief, that will ultimately determine the fate of the men detained at Guantánamo.
(H/T to Stephen Soldz for noticing the Army’s solicitation to begin with — JK)

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Shut Down Guantanamo! Free Book on Detainee Deaths to Mark 16th Anniversary of US Torture Site

Originally posted at Medium.com

[Please note: the ebook giveaway mentioned in this article has expired.]
This Thursday, January 11, marks the 16th anniversary of the opening of Camp X-Ray at the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo, Cuba. The base has held detainees in times past, particularly thousands of Haitians who fled political persecution in the 1990s, many of whom the U.S. ultimately sent back to uncertain fates in their homeland.

But the detention of “war on terror” prisoners that began in January 2002 was something different, as the U.S. was determined to imprison many of them for an indeterminate time. Even worse, the U.S. military experimented with implementation of a torture regime, in coordination (and sometimes rivalry) with the CIA’s own “enhanced interrogation” torture experiment.

While the torture of detainees became widely known with the publication of pictures from Abu Ghraib, and later from investigations by different Senate committees, less publicized were the deaths that occurred inside the razor-topped fences surrounding Guantanamo’s Camp Delta. All together, the U.S. government admits to nine detainee deaths at Guantanamo since January 11, 2002, seven by supposed suicide.

Even so, at least one government document exists that indicates there were more deaths at Guantanamo than have been otherwise reported. Minutes from a February 2002 meeting of the Armed Forces Epidemiological Board explain that some prisoners who were flown to Guantanamo directly from Afghanistan battlefields in very early 2002 “died of the wounds they arrived with.”

But these other deaths, and the facts surrounding the deaths of seven detainees via purported suicide, remain largely unreported. The exceptions to this blackout on coverage include the work of former Guantanamo guard, Joseph Hickman, and the continuing attention to all things Guantanamo by British journalist Andy Worthington.

Hickman famously reported on the strange doings he saw going on one June night in 2006, when he saw detainees being transported to what appeared to be a CIA black site at Guantanamo. They were later found dead in their cells. No one knew at the time — not even Hickman — that the head counts for the cellblocks where the three detainees had been held were falsified the night of their death.
This last revelation was among many I found in my FOIA-based research concerning the deaths of two detainees at Guantanamo. This research was necessitated because most of the mainstream media had failed in their task to investigate the real goings on at Guantanamo, even after it was clear that the U.S. was engaging in gruesome behaviors, including torture, at their military and CIA detainee facilities.

My research culminated in the 2016 publication of my book, Cover-up at Guantanamo: The NCIS Investigation into the “Suicides” of Mohammed Al Hanashi and Abdul Rahman Al Amri. An updated, expanded second edition was released last year, and I have also published some of the book’s findings at Medium.com (see here and here). All FOIA documents related to the book were also placed on line for public use.

While the book concentrated on records from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service investigation into the very suspicious deaths of Al Amri and Al Hanashi, it also included a chapter on the death of Adnan Al Latif, new information into the deaths of three detainees in 2006, and the aforementioned early unreported deaths at Guantanamo.

To commemorate this awful sixteenth anniversary of the detention of “war on terror” prisoners at Guantanamo, I am offering my ebook for free for one day: January 11, 2018. (After that, the book will return to its very reasonable regular price. The book is also available in paperback as well.)

I hope this release will aid in educating the public about the full, true nature of the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo, and arouse debate and protest over the failure of the U.S. to close this facility, and end its practice of abusive interrogations and torture, whether conducted by its own personnel, or by foreign state proxies.

For a capsule overview about U.S. policy on these matters, see the ACLU’s webpage, “Guantanamo by the Numbers.”

President Trump is threatening to open up Guantanamo to further prisoners and bring back the harsher forms of torture the U.S. was embarrassed into giving up some ten years ago. (The U.S. still uses interrogation techniques that amount to torture, however.) The first steps in opposing Trump and his military allies on this involve arming oneself with facts.

On January 11, download my ebook Cover-up at Guantanamo. It won’t cost you anything, and you will be downloading truth for use in the battle against barbarism, because barbarism is what Guantanamo represents.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Updated: The Suppressed Report on 1952 U.S. Korean War Anthrax Attack

[Link to download PDF of the document above]

With the U.S. threatening a pre-emptive attack on North Korea for the latter's pressing development of a nuclear warfare capability, it is more imperative than ever that the history of the U.S.-North Korea conflict be made available to the world, the better to assess the claims made by both sides.

While many see North Korea as a dictatorship run by a madman or evil, others see a rational government - dictatorial, yes - that seeks to defend itself against a power that once obliterated its country in war, and threatened it with nuclear weapons. Indeed, even today, the U.S. says it will not forego using nuclear weapons against North Korea and even executes military war games with South Korea that involve practice runs with nuclear bombers almost up to the border of North Korea.

Back in the early 1950s, during the Korean war, until the Soviets began to fly MiGs over the Korean peninsula in defense of the North Koreans, the U.S. had near unconstrained freedom of airspace over North Korea and China, and in particular, dropped hundreds of thousands of tons of Napalm on North Korea, wiping out nearly every city, and contributing to over a million civilian deaths, maybe 15% of the entire population. Because of the relentless bombing, the people were reduced to living in tunnels. Even the normally bellicose Gen. MacArthur found the devastation wreaked by the U.S. to be sickening.

Most controversially, both North Korea and China maintain that the U.S. used biological or germ warfare weapons against both North Korea and China during the Korean War. The U.S. has strenuously denied this. Captured U.S. flyers who told their North Korean and Chinese captors of the use of such weapons were told under the threat of courts martial to renounce such confessions after they were returned to U.S. custody. They all did so.

To convince the world of the truth of their claims, the North Koreans and Chinese, sponsored a purported independent commission, using the auspices of the World Peace Council, gathering together a number of leftist scientists from around the world. Most surprisingly, this commission, which came to be known as the International Scientific Commission, or ISC, was headed by one of the foremost British scientists of his time, Sir Joseph Needham. The ISC travelled to China and North Korea in the summer of 1952 and by the end of the year produced a report that corroborated the Chinese and North Korean claims that the U.S. had used biological weapons in an experimental fashion on civilian populations.

This posting is not meant to examine the full range of opinions or evidence about whether or not the U.S. used biological weapons in the Korean War. It is instead an attempt to publish essential documentation of such claims, documentation that has been withheld from the American people, and the West in general, for decades. I am publishing here Appendices AA and BB from the Report of the International Scientific Commission for the Investigation of the Facts Concerning Bacterial Warfare in Korea and China.

I introduced that report to the world and posted the report itself online back in January 2015. But the report itself is only some 60-odd pages long, and I was unable at that time to post or publish any of the voluminous appendices that documented the claims of the report. (I am reposting the original executive summary report at the close of this post, for reference sake.) The ISC appendices are crucial in assessing the claims made in the report, and the later denials from U.S. and other allied governments, such as Great Britain.

Appendices AA and BB concern claims of air attacks against various villages in Northeastern China in the Spring of 1952. Using the same kinds of insect (fleas, beetles, etc.) and related "vectors" (such as dropping feathers or rodents) that were studied intensely by Imperial Japanese military scientists and doctors as part of the infamous Unit 731 program. In a matter of proven historical record, but still largely unknown in the United States, the Pentagon and U.S. intelligence agencies, with knowledge of scientists working out of the Army's Ft. Detrick chemical and biological warfare labs, gave amnesty to the Unit 731 war criminals, who conducted their biological warfare experiments on live prisoners, who were incinerated after the Japanese scientists were done with them.

In the executive report, the ISC examined claims of a biological warfare attack in the town of "K'uan-Tien, which lies in the southeastern part of Liaotung province near the Yalu River," as well as a number of other "localities in the provinces of Liaotung and Liaohsi." They looked in depth at five "fatal human cases of respiratory anthrax and haemorrhagic anthrax," including "a railwayman, a tricycle-rickshaw driver, a housewife, a school-teacher, and a farmer." They considered the extreme, indeed, unprecedented appearance of this disease in that part of the world, and the fact that respiratory or inhalational anthrax had earlier been the subject of research by Ft. Detrick scientists. The analysis included laboratory examination from the bodies and from insects discovered in the area and believed to be spreading the disease, after being dropped by U.S. aircraft.

The ISC concluded (pg. 34 of the summary report, which can be accessed at end of this post):
On the basis of the evidence presented, and on their own searching and prolonged interrogation of a considerable number of witnesses, both medical and lay, the Commission was compelled to conclude that the delivery of various biological objects contaminated with anthrax bacilli to many places in the two Chinese provinces had taken place, and that this had given rise to a number of cases of a mortal infection hitherto unknown in the region, namely pulmonary anthrax and ensuing haemorrhagic meningitis. Eye-witness statements impossible to doubt indicated American airplanes as the vehicles of delivery of the infected objects.
The U.S. denied all biological warfare charges. They demanded the International Red Cross be allowed to independently examine the evidence and document the charges. But unknown to all, in secret meetings of top U.S. Pentagon, the CIA, and State Department officials, gathered together as the U.S Psychological Strategy Board, agreed that there never would be any independent investigation, as the Eighth Army was conducting operations during the Korean War which if they became known ("e.g. chemical warfare") "could do us psychological as well as military damage.” (See full article here.) The scholars Stephen Endicott and Edward Hagerman found similar evidence of an unwillingness to really examine the North Korean/Chinese/Soviet charges in their 1998 book on the BW controversy.

The controversy has simmered every since.

But convergent evidence of the charges was made in Chapter 13 of the 2006 book Deadly Cultures. Entitled "Allegations of Biological Weapons Use," the chapter was written by Martin Furmanski and Mark Wheelis. While these authors were highly dubious of the claims of U.S. biowarfare, they couldn't discount the anthrax charges. Primarily, they found that the description of inhalational anthrax made at this time - for instance, the wide range of incubational periods reported for the Chinese cases - came before a detailed scientific examination of such cases of anthrax had already been studied. But the ISC description was peculiarly apt and prescient. Furmanski and Wheelis concluded that the deaths documented by the ISC as due to inhalational anthrax had to be real and not faked.

"These results must have been from real human inhalation anthrax cases, since the information did not exist in 1952 to have allowed fabrication using textbook or medical literature sources," Furmanski and Wheelis wrote. (See pg. 260 of Deadly Cultures.)

But I should note, Furmanski and Wheelis in the end did not conclude this was full evidence of biological weapon attack. Indeed, they concluded it must have been of natural origin, though how such a coincidence of widely dispersed, unprecedented appearance of the disease occurred coinicentally with charges of biowar attack.

What they solely relied on for their conclusion was an April 2004 "personal communication" from a U.S. scientist that isolates from the B. anthracis samples from China, which by inference included those from the 1952 putative attack were "subjected to genomic analysis, and all were clearly indigenous to China." Furmanski and Wheelis believe that despite the "highly suspicious" nature of the inhalation anthrax cases discussed in the 1952 ISC Needham report, the genomic analysis proved that the anthrax cases reported to the ISC were of natural origin, and not from a U.S. biological warfare attack.

I have been in touch with all the people involved in this supposed genomic analysis, and while I find it odd that nothing was every published on this genomic or DNA analysis, I will leave a full analysis of the refutation of the ISC report on this score for a future and more scholarly essay. In the meantime, I have decided to publish the ISC documentation as in the West all we ever seem to get are what Cold War scholars publish. Even when critics of the U.S. historical account publish, the actual documentation is thin. This leaves us reliant on the authority of the scholars, which is an extraordinary situation.

[Update, December 21, 2017 - In spring 2017 I contacted U.S. anthrax expert Martin Hugh-Jones, whom Furmanski and Wheelis had referred to in their book as the source of a "genomic analysis" that showed the inhalation anthrax cases in China could not have come from U.S. stocks of anthrax. Professor Hugh-Jones referenced a Chinese scientist, Wang Bingxiang, who worked on bacterial vaccines at the Langhou Institute of Biological Products, who Hugh-Jones said had supplied samples of the 1952 anthrax cases to the Special Pathogens Lab (SPL) at the School of Veterinary Medicine at Louisiana State University.

I subsequently contacted both a U.S. scientist, Kimothy Smith, who Professor Hugh-Jones said worked on the identification of the anthrax strains brought from China to the SPL, and Mr. Wang in China. Neither of them backed up Hugh-Jones' story that the 1952 anthrax strain had been identified, much less worked on. Wang denied knowing anything even about it. Prof. Hugh-Jones subsequently told me in an email, "And as it seems that no one, including the Chinese, have any cultures from the 1952 'incident' (true or false) matters must remain at that. It was a time rife with governmental disinformation, especially by the Chinese & Soviets, so one must be cautious with any personal conclusions."

Professor Hugh-Jones did not reference any possible governmental disinformation from the U.S. side. But the failure to dismiss the inhalation anthrax accounts from the ISC, which Furmanski and Wheelis found so compelling that only the presence of supposed "genomic analysis" - now discredited - could dispel, means that hard evidence indeed exists to prove the presence of U.S. biological warfare attack upon China, and most likely North Korea, during the Korean War.

For his part, Professor Furmanski in correspondence to me maintains for other reasons that the North Korean and Chinese claims of germ warfare attacks were a hoax. He does this for a number of reasons, and seems among them to embrace the fairly recent publication of a Chinese official at the time, Wu Zhili, who had a posthumous publication stating the germ warfare attacks were a "false alarm," one which was then amped up for propaganda reasons into a full-scale campaign around the ostensibly false charges.

Few have embraced my main concerns, which center around the suppression of information in general around this historical incident. I cannot speak to North Korean or Chinese suppression, but I can document and obviously comment about the suppression by the U.S. and its allies, as information slowly is obtained about them. I can also encourage others to pursue original documents and do their own analysis, as I have done.

For his part, despite much professional obloquy, Dr. Needham maintained until the day he died that the U.S. had indeed used biological weapons against the North Koreans and the Chinese. His investigation went far beyond that detailed in this essay, and concerned more than the dissemination of anthrax.

Was there any fraud involved in Chinese, North Korean, or Soviet evidence of germ warfare attacks by the U.S.? I think it's possible there was, just as a suspicious patient might exaggerate symptoms to get the attention of a doctor they fear isn't taking them seriously. The importance of the suppressed ISC report is the attention given to many multiple sources of evidence. Sir Joseph Needham wasn't one of the leading scientists of his day for nothing. He understood the scientific approach to evidence.]

I hope that the publication of this material will lead to a greater effort by U.S. and European media and other commentators to assess the real history of U.S. and North Korean and Chinese relations, the better to counter the claims of the hawkish Trump administration and Pentagon spokespeople, who are threatening to plunge this country, and possibly the world, into a terrible new war, painting the North Koreans as unreasonable and dangerous people. But any fair historical account will see that while not by any means perfect, the North Korean regime has plenty to complain about and fear from U.S. intervention.

[Link to download PDF of the document above]

Original version of this article, without update, was published on April 26, 2017

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Book Review - Unjustifiable Means: The Inside Story of How the CIA, Pentagon, and US Government Conspired to Torture

This review is adapted from my posting at Amazon.com

Mark Fallon's new book, Unjustifiable Means: The Inside Story of How the CIA, Pentagon, and US Government Conspired to Torture, is the story of one man's journey towards bitter illumination. It is also the story of a nation's journey into a moral abyss.

Fallon was a top counterintelligence official and investigator, someone who believed in patriotic idealism, who discovered a core of thuggery inside the U.S. military and intelligence apparatus. From 2002 to 2004, he was a top official for the government's Criminal Investigation Task Force (CITF). Rather than turn aside (something repugnant to him), he tried to intervene against the barbarism of torture. What he encountered was the corruption of institutions to which he otherwise had been loyal, which he had served for decades. The book is the story of what he experienced and what he felt driven to do.

But this book also has a metastory, manifested in the form of words, sentences, paragraphs and ultimately pages of redactions. The repeated blackened lines of typeface represent the arm of that same torturing government Fallon opposed reaching into the reader's own personal universe, that sacred connection between reader and author. The shadow of the evil that conjured up torture, and then acted to protect it, seeps into the realm of the reader him or herself.

As anyone who has studied the torture issue for some time can readily see, many of the redactions are embarrassingly stupid, including censorship of names that were recorded in otherwise declassified government documents, or opernly reported by the press. But other redactions are serious and frightening, such as the attempt to still hide the full story about the torture of Mohammed Al Qahtani, the so-called 20th hijacker.

Mark Fallon is a congenial author, and he wishes to convey some of the shock and outrage he felt as the full implementation of the CIA's torture program unfolded, born out of the government's embrace of modern psychological and psychiatric forms of control over human behavior, and spread into the military.

I wouldn't look to this book for a full history of how that all took place, nor does the author pretend to present such a history. His is the account of a whistleblower. His former position inside Guantanamo and corridors of the Defense Department apparatus provides a unique and invaluable perspective of just how the torture policy spread and how it was covered-up.

In the end, Fallon witnesses the bureaucratic institutions to which he pledged fealty fatally infected by the virus of torture. His is a harrowing journey, and one that, it is clear from the narrative, haunts him still.

Along with books recently written by former detainees themselves, this book by someone on the other side of the interrogation booth is essential reading. I think the torture scandal is even far deeper and darker than even Mark Fallon presents it -- and his is a pretty dark portrayal -- but U.S. readers in particular must understand the courage it took for some of the government's most loyal and idealistic officials and servants to confront those in power with the truth of their crimes.

I believe that the torture policy began far earlier than after 9/11, and was inimitably linked to long-time policies of war and conquest. It's current manifestation was itself a logical extension of the "war on terror." From that standpoint, one can see Fallon's battle against torture, and others like him (some of whom he discusses in the book), is important and certainly courageous, as the people they come to oppose are seriously dangerous, with a great deal of power behind them.

Rather than the sense of failure that haunts Mark Fallon -- many times he bemoans the fact he could not actually stop the full torture program -- his moral awakening at a dire time in history is a triumph of the human spirit.

The confrontation with the urge to torture goes back centuries now, to Voltaire and the French Enlightenment, and on to Nuremberg, to those who organized ad hoc tribunals against Vietnam War crimes in the 1960s, to citizens in North Carolina today trying to bring their own state government to account for its collaboration with CIA torture, and many, many more. The latter include those I've known in the psychology profession who have fought to end collaboration with torture and war crimes in their own profession.

The fight against torture is something that has unfolded over generations, and sadly, I've come to realize, will take generations more to win. But what Mark Fallon and others like him achieved was significant. Some of the torture was cut back. The policy dragged out of the shadows and exposed in public. It is not so easy for the torturers to operate as before.

In the end, Mark Fallon's book is a document about a significant time in our history. Every partisan of human rights and liberty will want it on their bookshelf.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Detainee Reported Gitmo Guards Having Oral Sex, 2 Weeks Later He Was Dead

Having received hundreds of new pages of information regarding the deaths of Saudi detainee Abdul Rahman al Amri (ISN199) and Yemeni detainee Mohammed Salih Al Hanashi (ISN78) at Guantanamo, I've now finished revising my book, Cover-up at Guantanamo, published at Amazon*.

The new version is now online and ready to be purchased and downloaded. It's full of new revelations that will interest all who have followed or are still following the deaths of these two detainees, and others who have died at Guantanamo.

As a sneak preview, I thought I'd reveal one of the more disturbing, if not bizarre, details surrounding Al Amri's case. It just might also represent a motive for his murder by Guantanamo authorities.

Al Amri was found in his cell, almost dead (he still apparently still had a pulse), on May 30, 2017. According to guard accounts, he was hanging from a rope made from his bed sheet, attached to a second piece of sheet-derived rope whose end was ripped or torn into ten different strands and then looped through very small holes in an air conditioning vent some nine feet up off the floor.

As people can read when they buy the new 2nd, revised edition of my book, the method by which Al Amri supposedly died is very suspicious, not just that it seems nearly physically impossible for this particular detainee to have killed himself in the way described, but because the time it would have taken the 5'6" Al Amri to get up on some apparatus to tie the rope to the air vent almost nine feet up off the floor was far longer than very tight surveillance at Guantanamo made possible.

There's much more to the story, of course, but I wanted to mention one aspect that leads to the question of motive.

Perhaps Al Amri was not in fact a suicide, but was murdered. While it sounds outlandish, the fact is it's possible that guards at Guantanamo, having been reported to be having oral sex while on duty, decided to kill the detainee who blew the whistle on them.

According to a sworn statement by a Guantanamo linguist, dated June 5, 2007 - six days after Al Amri died - and released to me via FOIA request, approximately two weeks before he died, Al Amri asked for an interpreter. The linguist responded.

Interestingly, besides being an interpreter for detainees, this linguist also started each day listening to tapes made of detainee talk or chatter the night or day before, making transcripts of them for officials for "exploitation as well as interpretation." This linguist may have had more to do with certain details surrounding Al Amri's death, but you'll have to get my book to read about it.

The linguist told the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), which was looking into Al Amri's death:
"When I arrived, ISN 199 informed me that the guards were performing oral sex on each other. I asked him how he knew. He responded that while he was not able to see the act, he could hear what was going on. At no time did ISN 199 allege that he had been sexually assaulted or violated by any of the guards."
Now there can really only be three possibilities here: either 1) the guards were really having oral sex; or 2) guards or interrogators were trying to make Al Amri think guards were having oral sex, as a way of messing with his mind. The use of sexualized situations or abuse as a means of torture of the religious Islamic detainees has been well documented, and anyone who saw the pictures from Abu Ghraib knows about that.

Finally, 3) perhaps there was no indication of oral sex taking place at all and the entire thing was a figment of Al Amri's imagination. If so, it would indicate a possibility of mental illness, or maybe a past instance of sexualized abuse or behavior, predisposing Al Amri to believe in such a situation as his guards having oral sex with each other. (There are other more distant possibilities, such as the linguist making the whole story up, or that guards were not having oral sex with each other, but with other detainees. But these all seem very unlikely.)

What makes the story noteworthy is that Al Amri was found dead in his cell about two weeks after making this allegation. Furthermore, the circumstances of his case are highly suspicious. He was found hanging in his cell with his hands tied "snugly" behind his back in a figure-eight fashion, attached via a rope made from bed sheets (prison sheets that weren't supposed to tear) to an air vent far above his reach.

NCIS tried to hide the fact of Al Amri's hands being tied behind him, not reporting on it in Executive Summaries of their investigation to NCIS and Guantanamo higher-ups. They did, however, tell the autopsy doctors, but misrepresented the circumstances, telling them the bindings were bound "loosely," the better to lead to an inference Al Amri did it to himself.

According to the FOIA documents released, the guard who actually cut the hand bindings off Al Amri described them as "snugly" bound. (All the relevant documents are now posted at GuantanamoTruth.com.)

As readers of the new edition of Cover-up at Guantanamo* will know, investigators ruled out his standing on either the cell toilet or sink to reach the vent from which he was hanged. There was no evidence that the other possibility -- standing on a folded bed mattress -- happened either. Even if he managed to reach the vent, it would have taken a lot longer to construct this death apparatus than the every three minutes or less constant visual surveillance upon him would have allowed.

The mainstream press let the death of this detainee for the most part go unexamined. I hope with the revelations here and in my book, about which I intend to write other stories, will lead authorities to look very seriously at what really happened inside Guantanamo, and that a process of accountability for the crimes there will commence.

[*Reader note: As of September 18, 2017, the updated revised version of Cover-up at Guantanamo is available in both paperback and its ebook version. Buy the paperback and get the ebook for only $1.99 more.]

Friday, August 11, 2017

Guantanamo Detainee Was Disciplined by Putting Him in the Morgue

You'd think the crazy things done to prisoners of the United States in the "war on terror" couldn't get any more bizarre. The U.S. government has waterboarded prisoners, placed them in coffin-like confinement boxes, threatened them with drills, given them forced enemas of hummus and pasta, and sealed them up in all-white rooms and blasted music at them night and day.

ISN 00156, Adnan Farhan Latif
By JTF-GTMO (File:ISN 156's Guantanamo detainee assessment.pdf) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

But a newly surfaced document, part of a FOIA release on the death of Guantanamo detainee Adnan Farhan Abd Al Latif in September 2012, seems to state that subsequent to an alleged rock throwing incident by Al Latif on July 25, 2012, he was taken to Guantanamo's morgue for some unspecified punishment.

Even more, a series of reports, beginning July 25, and ending August 2, indicated that Al Latif had been sent to or located in the "morgue." The reports were each labeled "DIMS Observation/Disciplinary Report Form" and classified "Secret." See end of this post for all the documents. DIMS stands for "Detainee Information Management System" and is the primary documentary record at Guantanamo for literally everything a detainee does or happens to him. For more on DIMS, see my Truthout article here.

I asked the JTF-Guantanamo Public Affairs Office for an official explanation. I queried, "Was Mr. Latif imprisoned for a time in the morgue at Guantanamo as some kind of discipline or punishment for perceived or actual infractions?"

Commander John Robinson at PAO replied tersely, "We don't discuss details of camp operations." (I've asked whether this means they don't deny Al Latif was placed in the morgue as discipline. I've not yet had a reply but will update this post when I do.)

[Update, August 15, 2017: Today received a further communication from JTF-GTMO's Public Affairs Office, responding to a second query of mine on August 11. I had asked if military authorities weren't really going to deny use of the morgue as a disciplinary action. Commander Robinson wrote back:
"JTF GTMO does not discuss the details of camp operations or specific locations of specific detainees. However, the morgue is only used for proper handling of detainee remains, not for detention. In response to apparent confusion regarding Detainee Information Management System data received via FOIA, please note that when an electronic query is conducted in DIMS, a detainee's 'Current Location' in block 7 will show the physical location (updated to date) of the detainee at the time the search was conducted. The 'Current Location' in block 7 is not associated with the "Date" of the report shown in block 2. Therefore, the location 'Morgue' in block 7 was the updated (most current) location of the detainee at the time the electronic file query in DIMS was conducted."
This would seem to negate the essence of the claims made in this article. But in the service of transparency, I'll leave open what I wrote as a cautionary tale about the use of government documents, and because the other points in the article are still relevant. I'd note, as you'll see in update below, this explanation for the surfacing of the location as the "morgue" as something generated by computer or software dynamism was first brought to my attention by Charlie Savage of The New York Times.]

The period July 25 to August 2, 2012 produced a flurry of disciplinary reports on Al Latif. Only three days earlier, the Supreme Court had refused to hear Al Latif's appeal of a lower court's overturn of his habeas appeal. For the young Yemeni detainee, the Supreme Court's decision was devastating, condemning him to an unending detention with no hope of knowing when it would end. Such indefinite detention has been found to be extremely emotionally and mentally stressful.

Indeed, Al Latif's behavior became more erratic and confrontative after he was in effect sentenced to indefinite detention, following the Supreme Court's decision. If we can believe camp accounts, Al Latif assaulted guards and a nurse with urine and feces, threw a rock at a guard in a watch tower, and possibly even grabbed for a guard's gun in the recreation yard. Only a little over a month later, he was found dead in his cell in Camp 5, ostensibly from a drug overdose of prescription antipsychotic medication. He was also suffering from pneumonia only a day after being medically cleared to be moved from the Behavioral Health Unit (BHU) at the Detainee Hospital to Alpha Block at Camp 5.

During the period in question in this article - July 25 to August 2, 2012 - Al Latif was ostensibly quartered in the BHU for ongoing suicidality and psychotic behavior. The registered nurse who worked closely with him told government investigators after Al Latif's death that during the period we're looking at Al Latif was “particularly agitated about events that had taken place the previous two days....”

The nurse described Latif as "jumping from the bed to the sink to the table to the toilet.” The jumping behavior would not stop. There was a lot of back and forth about giving Al Latif a forced injection of drugs to calm him. He refused the injection, and in the end, they opted to simply observe him, though there were other times when the prisoner was supposedly agitated when he was involuntarily injected with the drug Haldol to sedate him.

While the government isn't about to explain what really happened, reading between the lines, it looks like Al Latif became very upset when the Supreme Court denied his habeas appeal. His protests and psychological regression overwhelmed camp personnel, who responded ham-handedly by upping the discipline on him. While he was sprayed with pepper spray and involuntarily drugged, it looks like they also imprisoned him in the morgue for hours each day, returning him to the hospital later each day.

While it seems Al Latif was driven insane, or at least driven to desperate acts of defiance and protest by his despair at conditions at Guantanamo, things definitely seemed to get worse after July 25, the first day at the morgue. What happened to Al Latif there? Was he placed in a coffin-like box, as happened to Abu Zubaydah at a CIA "black site" prison? Was he threatened with death? Did he have contact with a corpse, or a fake corpse? Did Guantanamo authorities try to worsen his already fragile mental health?

We don't know the exact answer to the questions above, but given the macabre imagination of the torturers in the U.S. government, anything is possible.

[Update, 8/12/2017: Journalist Charlie Savage at the New York Times saw the documents online, and thought a simpler explanation for the "morgue" location could be that, since the documents contained "dynamic content" (as described at the top of each report), the "current location" was really simply the last location for Al Latif at Guantanamo. That would have been Guantanamo's morgue. In other words, the document automatically updated when it was processed for FOIA. Mr. Savage links to this webpage as an explanation. I think it's a possibility, at this point, and will look more into this explanation.]

The entire episode is an indication of how much we still don't know about the U.S. torture activities undertaken by both the CIA and the Pentagon. Meanwhile, apparently the U.S. is trying to suppress the publication of a "tell-all" book about Guantanamo from an insider, Mark Fallon, who worked with the Criminal Investigative Task Force at Guantanamo from 2002 to 2004.

There is also the fact the Senate Intelligence Committee has refused, under both Democratic and Republican leadership, to fully declassify and release their report on CIA torture.

Only a public outcry against torture and its effects, the human costs of which are staggering, will put an end to this censorship. Societal indifference to such inhumanity is highly damaging, the effects of which are to brutalize the society and render it less able to fend off authoritarian or even totalitarian impulses from above.

NOTE: The documents released from SOUTHCOM that are the basis for this story came from a FOIA I filed some years ago. The initial filing for the documents, however, was made by Jason Leopold, a journalist who now works at Buzzfeed, and with whom I worked on various stories about torture a few years back. Jason followed the Al Latif story for some time (see here and here). I've previously covered Al Latif's death as well, most recently in my book, Cover-up at Guantanamo.


If the embedded documents below don't work for you, you can download them here.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Saudi government defends imminent protest-related executions

The following is an August 4 press release from the international human rights and legal group, Reprieve. I'd note only that Saudi Arabia is a firm ally of the United States, and U.S. apologia for that government's human rights violations have been going on for decades.
Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Justice has released a rare response to criticism over the imminent execution of 14 Saudi nationals on protest-related charges - including juveniles and a man with disabilities. The statement, released today, makes a number of apparently false claims about the trial of the 14.

The Saudi government is facing criticism over plans to execute the 14, who were arrested in the wake of protests and sentenced to death on protest-related charges in a secretive counter-terrorism court. Among the group is a juvenile, Mujtaba al Sweikat, who had a place to study at university in Michigan, but was arrested at the airport en route to the USA; and Munir Adam, who has disabilities. Both men were tortured into making false confessions, which were used against them at trial. Last month, the Supreme Court upheld the 14 protest-related death sentences, meaning the executions are now imminent.

In a statement released today, Sheikh Mansour Al-Qafari, the spokesman of the Ministry of Justice, responded to criticism over the standard of the trial of the 14. The statement claimed that all trials before the controversial Specialised Criminal Court - which sentenced the 14 to death - meet international standards for fairness and due process, and allow for access to lawyers, the preparation of a defence, and even access to the trials by media and human rights observers.

The public statement on the executions is at odds with assessments by the UN, as well as rights groups such as human rights organization Reprieve. Reprieve has established that at least one defendant, Mujtaba, was never permitted to see a lawyer; in Munir's case, no evidence against him was presented at trial. Mujtaba told the court at trial that he was tortured into a false confession, but this claim was dismissed by the judges and never investigated.

In November 2016, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said of the Specialized Criminal Court that “such a special court, specifically designed to deal with so-called terrorism cases, raises serious concerns about its lack of independence and due procedure.” The UN Committee Against Torture has accused judges of the Court of “repeatedly refus[ing] to act on claims made by defendants facing terrorism charges that they had been subjected to torture”.

Today’s Saudi statement also claimed that death sentences are only handed down for the most serious crimes. However, the Saudi authorities continue to carry out executions for non-violent alleged crimes, including political protest and drug offences. Some of the 14 men were convicted of offences such as using mobile phones to organise demonstrations, and using social media.

Commenting, Maya Foa – Director of Reprieve – said: “Saudi Arabia’s attempts to justify these 14 unlawful executions are appalling. This statement is a serious mischaracterisation of the trial process against the 14 men, and it is risible to claim that a protester like Mujtaba – who never even saw a lawyer – received a fair trial. Governments close to Saudi Arabia – including the Trump Administration and the UK – must urgently call on the Kingdom to halt these executions.”
According to Reprieve, English translations for the Saudi documents linked in their press release can be arranged via request. Reprieve’s London office can be contacted on: alice.gillham@reprieve.org.uk, or +44 (0)7792 351 660.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Spam Poem

Spam Poem

Your account has been locked! Get paid
For your opinion

Instant government business... Find a career you

Get the ultimate

Are you motivated
to lose weight?

Do not refuse you in pleasure

Sleeping has never been this easy
               your grant money today

Dear in Christ
News alert
Costa Rica
               land information

Let us take care of you
Get paid
For your opinion

Don't miss out
Important information
       from your insurance

Japanese miracle sheds belly fat Green tea works

How well do you know
       Angelina Jolie?

Give us your opinion
       And be re warded

Search singles.
Wireless light.
What really matters.

Guaranteed approval.

-- J. Kaye

Search for Info/News on Torture

Google Custom Search
Add to Google ">View blog reactions

This site can contain copyrighted material, the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. I am making such material available in my effort to advance understanding of political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. I believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.