Saturday, March 28, 2015

Book Review - "This Must Be the Place: How the U.S. Waged Germ Warfare in the Korean War and Denied It Ever Since"

There is no historical controversy as contentious or long-lasting as the North Korean and Chinese charges of U.S. use of biological weapons during the Korean War. For those who believe the charges to be false -- and that includes much of American academia, but not all -- they must assume the burden of explaining why the North Koreans or Chinese made up any bogus claims to attack the credibility of U.S. forces. Because they had no reason to do that.

It is a historical fact that the United States carpet-bombed and napalmed North Korea, killing nearly 3 million civilians thereby.

In other words, massive war crimes are already self-evident, and if there is any mystery, it is how historical amnesia and/or callous disregard for crimes such as those committed by the U.S. and its allies in Korea, or the millions killed by the U.S. in Southeast Asia, can go ignored today.

But the U.S. media and academia largely ignore evidence of U.S. use of weapons of mass destruction in its wars against independence struggles and for imperial dominance, or hock their wares to support propaganda that claims such crimes never took place. Evidence to the contrary, such as the 1950s International Scientific Commission investigation into U.S. use of bacteriological weapons in the Korean War, or the many confessions under interrogation by U.S. Air Force personnel, were generally suppressed. (I published myself the ISC's summary report earlier this year.)

The suppression of the ISC investigation was, as Chaddock points out, at least in part because ISC chair, Joseph Needham, was not shy in mentioning the connections between the US use of BW in Korea and China and Japanese use of biological experimentation and warfare against China during World War II. This was of high sensitivity to the U.S. as they publicly denied that, having made a deal with Shiro Ishii and the Japanese war criminals of Unit 731 to not prosecute them if US scientists from Fort Detrick and the CIA could get Japanese data and samples -- of human tissues gathered via vivisection! -- and use them for the US's own secretive BW program in the early years of the Cold War.

One man with evident integrity and unwilling to let the truth be buried is Dave Chaddock. His book, This Must Be the Place: How the U.S. Waged Germ Warfare in the Korean War and Denied It Ever Since, is a superb exercise in historical rebuttal. The falsifications and lies and secrets propounded by the U.S. on the issue of its crimes has been going on for decades now. For instance, the U.S. populace did not learn of its government's post-war deal with Nazis, or its amnesty of the Japanese Imperial Army's Unit 731, until nearly 40 years had passed from the time of these events. If the book seems partisan at times, it is understandably the passion of someone outraged at what he has discovered -- just as many who have served in America's imperial wars returned home outraged, and too often broken, by what they had seen and endured.

Chaddock builds on the seminal work of Stephen Endicott and Edward Hagerman, whose 1998 book, The United States and Biological Warfare: Secrets from the Early Cold War and Korea, laid out the best case we have thus far for proving the U.S. BW campaign really did take place. Chaddock takes on Endicott and Hagerman's critics, and has a particularly trenchant critique of the discovery of Soviet documents that indicate the BW evidence was "faked." The documents were oddly serendipitously discovered at the time Endicott and Hagerman were publishing their book. (The actual documents have not been publicly released, if they in fact exist.) Chaddock shows that the Soviet "fake", as presented, could not possibly have covered all the sites and evidence of biological weapons used in as short a time as given to create such a fantastic fraud.

Chaddock also takes on the controversy that surrounded the testimonies ("confessions") of downed flyers interrogated by North Korean and Chinese captors. The flyers' testimony was considered very convincing at the time, and the U.S. scrambled to find a way to discredit it. (The U.S. separated the flyers' upon repatriation, with one group claiming they were tortured, and the other insisting they told the truth. All were threatened with court-martial if they did not recant.)

This Must Be the Place is unique in delving into the actual matter of the U.S. flyers' confessions themselves. Chaddock makes a number of convincing observations. He notices that many of the flyers spoke to their shock at being told the U.S. was involved in germ warfare. One said he was shocked "beyond words," while Air Force Colonel Walker "Bud" Mahurin described how pilots in his command reacted to his revelations surrounding the U.S. "campaign of germ warfare" with looks of "great shock."

There is certainly more that could be unearthed about these confessions, and their aftermath, revelations that would add to Chaddock's heavily documented analysis. For one thing, it is of high interest that Boris Pash, then chief of the Army's Criminal Investigation Division (CID), and formerly a member of the secretive Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC), not to mention the head of security on the Manhattan Project and the leader of the mysterious Alsos Mission, AND also a CIA assassin, was involved in the interrogations of the returned flyers, and the threats to prosecute some of them. Also of high importance is the fact the record of those interrogations have been "lost" by the military.

The CIA and military created a cover-story that the men that confessed to use of BW had been "brainwashed." This so-called brainwashing was then used as an excuse to increase funding in their own mind-control programs, the most famous of which was MKULTRA. The CIA pushed the "brainwashing" story even though, as a memo by then CIA chief Allen Dulles showed the Agency knew there was "little scientific evidence to support brainwashing."

Nevertheless, CIA efforts to push the "brainwashing" charges included recruiting the leading members of a generation (or two) of social science and psychological/psychiatric academics and practitioners, whose experiments on use of drugs like LSD, and on sensory deprivation, and mock torture at government "survival" camps, led ultimately to an institutional use of torture by the U.S. government itself after 9/11. Chaddock details much of this history, and as with other topics he covers, refers readers to ample numbers of sources and references. His bibliography is an important assemblage of modern literature on the entire controversy.

Given the scare campaigns that are still used by the West about use of chemical or biological weapons by any country dubbed "evil" by the U.S., Chaddock's book takes on added relevance, if not urgency.

Chaddock's book is a real treasure. It presents in an entertaining and convincing fashion what Chaddock himself calls the "overwhelming evidence" of BW use by the Americans during the Korean War.

This is a time when independent thinking is in short supply. Curiosity and a zest for fact and truth are not traits highly valued today, particularly not when it comes to politics or historical controversies. But if you are someone who really wants to know the truth, who wants to see what someone who has spent a good deal of time researching this subject has to say, then Chaddock's book is just the thing for you.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

US Government Classifies Term "America's Battle Lab' in War on Terror" in Pentagon Report

The Department of Defense, after consultation with the CIA, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Defense Intelligence Agency, has released via Mandatory Declassification Request an early Pentagon study of intelligence operations at Guantanamo (along with accompanying slide presentation). It is very heavily redacted, with whole pages blanked out.

But even more, DoD and its "consultants" have seen fit to classify material that was already made public during a much-reported Senate investigation, including the controversial assertion that interrogations at Guantanamo constituted an experimental "battle lab" for treatment of and interrogations on prisoners captured in the administration's newly-minted "global war on terror."

When the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) published their report, "Inquiry in the Treatment of Detainees in U.S. Custody," in November 2008, Section III was titled, "Guantanamo Bay as a "Battle Lab" for New Interrogation Techniques." The quote was taken from a 2002 report commissioned by the Joint Chiefs of Staff on intelligence operations at Guantanamo's new prison for "war on terror" prisoners.

The SASC report referred to the JSC study as the "Custer report," named after Colonel John P. Custer, then-assistant commandant of the U.S. Army Intelligence Center and School at Ft. Huachuca, who led the review team for the Joint Chiefs. The report stated, "In his report, COL Custer referred to GTMO as 'America's "Battle Lab"' in the global war on terror, observing that 'our nation faces an entirely new threat framework,' which must be met by an investment of both human capital and infrastructure."

Despite the fact the portions of the Custer Report quoted above were not classified in the SASC report, there are no comparable quotations or remarks in the Custer Report or the slides released via MDR request. Because there are so many redactions in the report itself, it is impossible to know which agency did the classification, or what FOIA "exception" was used to justify this specific instance of censorship.

The Senate report also documented use of similar characteristic language from two Guantanamo commanders, Major General Mark Dunleavy and Major General Geoffrey Miller.

The Senate committee would conclude that psychologists at the military's SERE schools, and possibly special forces, along with their commanding officers and some legal officials, had colluded in creating a new and untested form of interrogation that amounted to abuse and torture of prisoners. While they did not say so, this program ran concurrently with the CIA's notorious "enhanced interrogation" program, and many of the techniques used overlapped between CIA and DoD, including use of isolation, sleep deprivation, stress positions, physical abuse, and sensory deprivation and overload.

The redactions in the Custer report are currently under appeal with the Office of the Secretary of Defense, who told me in an October 23, 2014 letter it is "coordinating this appeal with the Central Intelligence Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency, and Joint Staff."

"Negative connotations"

The "Battle Lab" term was viewed with alarm by military investigators from the Criminal Investigative Task Force(CITF), which DoD had assembled from investigators from the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force. The SASC quoted CITF chief, Colonel Britt Mallow, who provided written testimony to the Senate committee:
MG Dunlavey and later MG Miller referred to GTMO as a "Battle Lab" meaning that interrogations and other procedures there were to some degree experimental, and their lessons would benefit DOD in other places. While this was logical in terms of learning lessons, I personally objected to the implied philosophy that interrogators should experiment with untested methods, particularly those in which they were not trained.
Mallow's deputy, Mark Fallon, concurred, telling the SASC "CITF did not concur with the Battle Lab concept because the task force 'did not advocate the application of unproven techniques on individuals who were awaiting trials.... there were many risks associated with this concept... and the perception that detainees were used for some 'experimentation' of new unproven techniques had negative connotations."

Told that the FOIA release of the Custer report had censored use of the term "battle lab," Fallon told this author he was "very disappointed" at the extent of the redactions in the FOIA version of the report.

"I was privy to the initial report when it was first published," Fallon wrote in a March 6 email, "and in fact, one of the factors that contributed to the need for such a review were the complaints the CITF had made to the chain of command about the activities and actions associated with detainee operations and interrogations onboard Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

"Just as the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) found when they were staffing the release of the Torture Report, redactions are often to avoid embarrassment and not based on legitimate national security purpose.... In fact, the 2008 SASC hearings and report contained specific information about Col Custer’s report about interrogations at Guantanamo...

"Having spent more than 30 years working national security issues, including investigating unauthorized disclosure of classified information and espionage related matters; there are two resounding themes that spanned across those decades. One was the over classification of information that is not based on legitimate national security interests and the other is the lack of accountability for the over classification of material.

"In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, we did some things that are contrary to our values and we can neither hide from them nor redact them from the record. Our Nation has always grown stronger when we have confronted our failings and learned from them. It’s time to illuminate the darkness on this dark chapter and to once again be the beacon for human rights and American values."

Intelligence Contingency Funds

The Custer report as released is not without some interesting value. For one thing, it describes the recommendation for the founding of a "Terrorism University" at Guantanamo, meant to "provide a common orientation curriculum for personnel assigned to the GTMO operation." Personnel who have contact with detainees would be trained prior to their deployment. "Interrogators and debriefers who have worked at [redacted] detention center should be sent to "TU" as advisors/instructors," the document states.

Even more interesting is the reports discussion of use of "Intelligence Contingency Funds." Much of the section on this issue is, as is most of the document, censored. However, the intelligence officials who undertook the August 2002 review at Guantanamo were clearly unhappy about the facilities at the Cuba-based naval prison, citing them "too small for current and projected [nearly a line redacted] intelligence operations."

Military intelligence officials recommended that the Joint Chiefs work with the House and Senate intelligence committees "for an emergency intelligence appropriation to fund construction..." of updated facilities.

It is not generally known that the Congressional intelligence committees, ostensibly formed to provide oversight on the actions of the CIA and other intelligence committees (while SASC is supposed to be responsible for military intelligence oversight), act dually to provide appropriations for intelligence operations. Indeed, I have never seen it reported on.

But on its web servers, the CIA has a history online, L. Britt Snider's "The Agency and the Hill," which discusses the development of this aspect of the intelligence committees. (See especially its Chapter 6, "Program and Budget."

The import of this information cannot be clearer. Whatever its oversight functions and actions, the House and Senate intelligence committees clearly were involved in funding "America's 'Battle lab'" of torture.

Intel Agencies' Curiosity about "the limits of the human spirit"

In January 2015, the Seton Hall University School of Law, Center for Policy and Research, put out a report, "Guantanamo: America's Battle Lab," which amplified the points made above. The report (PDF) documented how an experimental program of torture had been implemented via a secret, unacknowledged Special Access Program (SAP), with no congressional oversight. (Strangely, the report failed to mention how the Custer report also used the "battle lab" language.)

The Seton Hall investigators summarized their findings:
The Center for Policy and Research has discovered the disturbing truth behind the purpose of GTMO. Instead of being used primarily as a detention facility, GTMO was designed and operated by Intel predominately as America’s Battle Lab—a facility where U.S. intelligence personnel could coordinate worldwide interrogation efforts and have unfettered control over persons in U.S. custody....

America’s most notorious detention facility was covertly transformed into a secret interrogation base designed to foster intelligence’s curiosity on the effects of torture and the limits of the human spirit....

... GTMO truly served as the think tank and center for experimentation in exploring interrogation techniques and training other military officials in facilities across the globe. In this sense, America’s Battle Lab served as the heart of worldwide interrogation testing and training.

"Murder at Camp Delta"

The discovery of the Gitmo SAP (or SAPs) was narrated in the first person, in the form of an odyssey though the maze of Guantanamo prison blocks and secret black sites taken by former Guantanamo prison guard Joseph Hickman, as described in his new book, Murder at Camp Delta: A Staff Sergeant's Pursuit of the Truth About Guantanamo Bay. Hickman was also a senior researcher on the Seton Hall study.

In June 2006, Hickman was eyewitness to lies told by high military officials about what happened when three young men were supposedly discovered dead by suicide. While at first he found the idea that command authorities or the Naval Criminal Investigative Service could be covering up a crime too difficult to believe, when a fourth detainee allegedly was found hanged in his cell nearly a year later, he realized that the evidence of his eyes and of his heart could be ignored no longer. The remainder of his extraordinary book details Hickman's own investigation into the deaths of the three 2006 "suicides."

Hickman cites many of the details found in the Seton Hall study, but unlike the documentary approach of the latter, the former guard's story puts you right in the middle of the investigation.

According to Hickman: "... by the time I'd gathered and sifted though all the relevant documents, I realized that all of us who arrived there, even Admiral Harris, had entered an intelligence operation in which no normal military rules or codes applied.

"Instead of order and discipline, the authorities behind it aimed to create 'controlled chaos.' The people we were guarding weren't just suspected jihadists or enemy combatants, but men who'd been given drugs by our medical personnel intended to make them believe they were insane when they arrived."

Mefloquine and beyond

Hickman, like his collaborators at Seton Hall, concentrate on the bizarre use of the antimalaria drug mefloquine at high treatment doses on all incoming detainees, as an example of the way drugs were used to disorient and disable incoming detainees. But evidence from this author shows that not only melfoquine, but the antimalaria drug chloroquine was used on at least some of the detainees at points well past their entry into Guantanamo.

Similarly, some detainees, including one who died in 2006 and another in 2007, were possibly given mefloquine at other points in their incarceration for reasons that could only be to disable and harm them.

There is much left to explore and discover about the US torture programs of the CIA and the Defense Department, and the mysterious Special Access Programs, unaccountable to no one, that have undertaken a lawless program of torture and mayhem and murder that no one can guarantee isn't over yet. Indeed, a recent UN meeting of the Committee on Torture castigated the U.S. for the continued use of isolation, sleep deprivation and sensory deprivation, as allowed in Appendix M of the Army Field Manual.

There are two things lacking in moving forward on this issue: political will, and the lassitude of the press. Of these, political will must come first, as the torture issue is tied to two political parties, one of which has members who are strong proponents of torture, and the other which has a leader in the Oval Office who refuses to prosecute former government officials for war crimes, and lectures others not to dwell on these past crimes because they are in the past. (This did not stop Obama's DoJ for prosecuting Rasmea Odeh for crimes purportedly committed 40 years ago, or holding former American Indian Movement leader Leonard Peltier in prison for trumped up charges for 38 years.)

But political will also rests ultimately in the hands of the people themselves, and unless citizens of the United States start to take these issues with the seriousness they deserve, then the torturers will continue to go free. They are free now - from Guantanamo to Chicago, Illinois -- and they are getting ever more aggressive. Failure of will to prosecute and punish the torturers will result in the total loss of democratic rights and the descent into the kind of hell usually reserved for U.S. torture-client states, like Egypt.

Crossposted at FDL/The Dissenter

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Did Richard Zuley Participate in Renditions to Guantanamo?

If one did not know who Richard Zuley was from reporter Jess Bravin's account, or from my article linking Zuley, the interrogation leader in the torture of Mohamedou Ould Slahi, with a history of alleged Chicago police frame-up and coerced confessions (reported at The Dissenter last November), the splash of notoriety from a recent series of articles by Spencer Ackerman at The Guardian certainly made the former Chicago detective a near-household name.

While Ackerman himself, and others, have concentrated in follow-up stories on revelations of the existence of a so-called police "black site" at Homan Square, where cops reportedly lock-up suspects "off the books," and torture them, or on the larger issue of police abuse in Chicago or other major American cities, Zuley's links to military and other possible intelligence agencies have remained largely unexamined.

The lingering question remains: how did Zuley get from the Chicago precinct house to the interrogation booths at Guantnamo? Why was someone like him put in charge of the Special Projects Team responsible for the interrogation of an ostensible high-value detainee like Slahi, answering in the chain-of-command directly to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld?

If we follow the story down that rabbit hole, we will see that Zuley's background links to the role played by the Pentagon's European Command (EUCOM) in renditioning prisoners to Guantanamo. While we don't know if Zuley played any role in these renditions, it seems highly likely he knew of them, as he apparently worked for what Washington Post reporter Dana Priest once called the "super-secret" Joint Analysis Center (JAC) at EUCOM headquarters in England.

RAF Molesworth and EUCOM's Joint Analysis Center

In Ackerman's in-depth story on Zuley, he noted that the former Chicago policeman had links to "naval intelligence" going back to the 1980s. Ackerman found a court transcript that stated Zuley had been "mobilized for the war on terror in November of 2002.”

Ackerman continued, referencing Zuley's testimony in the court transcript, "Initially assigned to a Royal Air Force base in Molesworth, his superiors 'sent me to Cuba as the liaison officer for the European Command. And that job has evolved to what I’m doing now' – that is, 'assigned to the Joint Task Force Guantanamo as an officer in charge of one of the teams down there for the intelligence collection.'”

The tasking to Molesworth is key, especially when linked to Zuley's own admission that he was a liaison officer for EUCOM (reported first in my November 2014 Dissenter article). Ackerman didn't follow up the Molesworth link, but the RAF base at Molesworth is the headquarters for EUCOM's Joint Analysis Center.

According to a "Studies in Intelligence" report (PDF) by Adam D.M. Svendsen (liberated by the late Aaron Swartz), "The US Military European Command (EUCOM) Joint Analysis Center (JAC) based at RAF Molesworth, the US Visiting Forces base in Cambridgeshire, UK, also features as an important location where UK–US military intelligence liaison takes place" (p. 18).

Robert L. Davis, who had been a Naval Analyst at JAC in the 1990s, described the agency: "JAC Molesworth is the European Theater's multiservice, JCS [Joint Chiefs of Staff] sponsored all source intelligence production facility. It provides intelligence support for contingency operations, special exercises, and ongoing combined Joint Task Force missions...", including special operations forces.

The Role of the Joint Chiefs of Staff: Release of the "Custer Report"

The role of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is worth noting. In a September 2002 "external review" of Guantanamo Bay Intelligence Operations tasked by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, under the guidance of the Director JCS and "a team of subject matter experts from the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint staff, and the US Army Intelligence Center and School, Fort Huachuca AZ" -- known as the "Custer Report" -- stated formally that "Joint Task Forces [at Guantanamo] are subordinate to SOUTHCOM and report thorugh Commander US Southern Command to the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, to the Secretary of Defense."

The Custer Report, which was prominently discussed in the 2008 Senate Armed Services Report on Detainee Abuse, was obtained by me via FOIA, and is released here for the first time (PDF). Unfortunately, it is way too heavily censored, and I've appealed the amount of censorship. Meanwhile, this is what we have.

The JAC is obviously an important if little-known intelligence center. According to one of its former leaders, even back in the 1990s, it consisted of numerous divisions and was a "1,000-personnel intelligence organization" with a $60 million budget.

According to a page at the Federation of American Scientists website, JAC is EUCOM's version of a Joint Intelligence Center, which centers exist as "the principal element for ensuring effective intelligence support for combatant commanders in chiefs and theater forces." The same site notes, "Men and women in the U.S. European Command's Joint Analysis Center (JAC) process, analyze and consolidate data to produce fused intelligence information focusing on an area of responsibility consisting of more than 77 countries across Europe, Africa and the Middle East."

We can presume that, given Zuley's assignment to the head of a "special projects" team, that his posting at Molesworth was related to an intelligence function, most likely for JAC. According to Dana Priest's account back in 1999, however, JAC was a place where "Central Intelligence Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency and others collect and analyze information...communications intercepts and overhead imagery."

Given recent revelations, such as those by former Guantanamo guard Joseph Hickman in his new book on the 2006 deaths of detainees at Camp Delta, that interrogations at Guantanamo were part of a highly-secret Special Access Program, it is not out of the question that Zuley worked closely with CIA, DIA, or other personnel that were read into to the secret, experimental torture program.

Zuley's appearance at Guantanamo, then, was no fluke. His intelligence background can be presumed to be far greater than we otherwise currently know. Zuley himself has refused to speak thus far to the press. But his claim in a court document that he was a EUCOM liaison to Guantanamo is quite intriguing. The posting could have been a cover for a special access program position, or possibly he was involved in the processing of detainees sent via rendition though the EUCOM theater of operations, or both, or, we must acknowledge, in some other capacity yet to be discovered.

EUCOM and Guantanamo Renditions

The EUCOM-renditions link that could concern Zuley has to do with revelations of early renditions to Guantanamo of Bosnian and Algerian detainees that used EUCOM assets and US Air Force bases in Germany. These renditions took place in January 2002, a few months after Zuley went to work, presumably, for JAC at EUCOM.

The news about EUCOM and German government collusion with renditions of detainees to Guantanamo arose from reports in summer 2006 that EUCOM's German headquarters Stuttgart was involved in arranging CIA renditions to Guantanamo. The charges were reported by Germany's ARD television and by the newspaper Die Zeit.

Indeed, a January 2007 report by the European Parliament (EP) said it was "deeply concerned at information contained in an unclassified document made available to the Temporary Committee which shows that the illegal rendition of at least six Algerians from Tuzla via Incirlik to Guantánamo was planned at the US European Command (USEUCOM) military base near Stuttgart..."

The EP called on the German Bundestag to investigate without delay whether those alleged renditions involved breaches of the Forces Status Agreement or other agreements or treaties concluded with US military forces on German territory, whether further illegal renditions were planned by USEUCOM and whether German liaison officers were involved in any way." (At least one report mentioned the presence of German officers at EUCOM headquarters.)

Unfortunately, the investigation went nowhere, stonewalled by recalcitrant German officials, even as EUCOM officials admitted the transportation of prisoners. German officials, meanwhile, denied any CIA renditions from German territory. The story, which never evidently made much headway in the U.S., dropped off the world press radar. In any case, it seems likely that EP officials were unaware in Jan. 2007 that German prosecutors had already a month earlier declined investigating EUCOM for alleged renditions.

"Kidnapping in the framework of fighting terrorism" is not criminal

According to a diplomatic cable released by Wikileaks and dated December 29, 2006, from the US Embassy in Berlin to the Secretary of State's office, with copies to various military sites, including EUCOM's Washington DC Liaison Office, the National Security Council and the Secretary of Defense, "German Federal Prosecutor Monika Harms has decided that she is not responsible for investigating six EUCOM officers in Stuttgart for allegedly planning the kidnapping and rendition of six Algerian nationals from Sarajevo to Guantanamo Bay via Germany in 2002, according to December 29 German news reports. According to her spokesman, 'kidnapping in the framework of fighting terrorism does not fall under the criminal offense of abduction, for which political persecution is presumed.'"

Contacts from the office of the US Army in Europe and EUCOM told the Embassy officer that "this is 'good news' for the U.S. Forces in Europe. The EUCOM contact said the federal prosecutor's decision not to pursue an investigation in this particular case clarifies a general principle that should be applied to similar cases in the future."

In the name of clarifying the "general principle" of extraordinary rendition, the US had kidnapped Bensayah Belkacem, Hadj Boudellaa, Saber Lahmar, Mustafa Ait Idir, Boumediene Lakhdar and Mohamed Nechle, all of whom would be subsequently released from Guantanamo.

While CIA rendition has had most of the attention of human rights groups and press, U.S. military renditions swept up many prisoners itself.

According to a 2007 European Parliament report, at least two US military aircraft transported the six Bosnians/Algerians from the US base at Tuzla in Bosnia to the the Naval Base prison at Guantanamo Bay. "At least one of the aircraft originated at the U.S. Base at Ramstein, Germany, before departing for Tuzla," the investigators stated. The report quoted a Situation Report that said as early as January 18, 2002, the military had transported 110 prisoners to Guantanamo.

The Algerians were taken first from Tuzla to a US base at Incirlik, Turkey -- "a hub for the transportation of prisoners to Guantanamo" -- where they were joined by 28 prisoners from Qandahar, Afghanistan, delivered by US Central Command, and then flown to Guantanamo. They were all shackled. "Their eyes were covered by opaque goggles, and their hands were covered by mittens." In other words, they were subjected to profound sensory deprivation as part of their transport.

We know from other SOPs released via FOIA on Guantanamo procedures that scopolamine patches were put on the prisoners, ostensibly to prevent flight sickness, but possibly for the dizziness and nausea and disorientation often produced by the drug. When they arrived in Guantanamo, they were given a very large dose of the antimalarial drug mefloquine, also ostensibly for medical purposes, but most likely, as detailed in Hickman's book, for purposes of chemical disorientation and "softening" for interrogation.

The entire rendition took 30 hours.

According to documents released via, the prisoners were accompanied by a medical team, which included a flight surgeon and an aeromedical technician.

The documents clearly state that a situation report on the rendition was to be disseminated "to deployed forces across USEUCOM AOR [area of operation]." Hence, if Zuley was working with EUCOM at Molesworth, as seems likely, then he at the very least was aware of the renditions that took place.

A secret memo states, "Based on a forthcoming message from JS and coord with EUCOM - plan to pick-up 6 Algerians in Incirlik moved by EUCOM assets." The same memo notes the arrival of at least 17 detainees at Guantanamo via litters, and the need for an ambulance upon arrival.

"JS" refers to Joint Staff, i.e., the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the main Pentagon military authority.

Congressional oversight committees' "emergency intelligence appropriation" for Guantanamo

Over 13 years since the rendition of the first prisoners to Guantanamo, there is much we still don't know about the organization of that prison, the parameters of the secret programs that operated there, or why or who was put in charge of such programs.

The identification of Richard Zuley as the man in charge of the interrogation of Mohamedou Ould Slahi, and the background to his military intelligence career, has opened a door into the wide-ranging operations of the entire military apparatus, with its various military commands and far-flung bases, that along with the CIA ran a worldwide renditions operation and to this day still holds in indefinite detention and a state of torture, over a hundred human beings at Guantanamo.

What we have learned from this is not that Guantanamo is an aberration, but that Guantanamo is itself a manifestation of US military power, from the NSC and the Oval Office, from the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Office of the Secretary of Defense, all the way down to subsidiary commands and "joint" task forces. We have seen before how the military works hand-in-hand with the CIA in this apparatus of control and torture, as described by Douglas Valentine in his extraordinary history of the U.S. government's Phoenix Program in Vietnam.

The Congressional reports are have come and gone and little has changed. The full story is still not public. The Congressional oversight committees are too compromised to do more than arrange limited hang-outs of the full scandal.

Indeed, the Custer Report, released here for the first time, describes how the military worked with the House and Senate Intelligence Committees to obtain "an emergency intelligence appropriation to fund construction" of new detention and intelligence operations facilities at Guantanamo. If the "oversight" committees are themselves involved in funding the torture, then who operates oversight on them? Certainly not the various human rights groups who have never reported on the intelligence funding role of these same Congressional oversight groups.

The "rabbit hole" has carried us very, very far down a dark abyss. Only radical social change holds any hope of affecting the regime of torture and worldwide imperial hubris and war-making that has descended upon us all.

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