Another Gulf War Syndrome? Burn Pits

Burning trash on bases is sickening soldiers, but the Army refuses to extinguish the burn pits.

By Beth Hawkins

March 17 2010

Before her last deployment, 31-year-old Staff Sergeant Danielle Nienajadlo passed her Army physical with flying colors. So when she started having health problems several weeks after arriving at Balad Air Base in Iraq, no one knew what to make of her symptoms: headaches that kept her awake; unexplained bruises all over her body; an open sore on her back that wouldn’t heal; vomiting and weight loss. In July 2008, after three miserable months, Nienajadlo checked into the base emergency room with a 104-degree fever.

She was sent to Walter Reed Army Medical Center and learned she had been diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia, a fast-progressing form of the disease. She told her doctors and her family she had felt fine until she started inhaling the oily black smoke that spewed out of the base’s open-air trash-burning facility day and night. At times, the plume contained dioxins, some of which can cause the kind of cancer Nienajadlo had.

“She breathed in this gunk,” says her mother, Lindsay Weidman. “She’d go back to the hooch at night to go to bed and cough up these black chunks.”

In the past 17 months, more than 500 veterans have contacted Disabled American Veterans (DAV), a national nonprofit serving vets, to report illnesses they blame on the burn pits. Throughout Iraq and Afghanistan, contractors—many of the burn pits are operated by companies like former Halliburton subsidiary KBR—have dumped hundreds of tons of refuse into giant open-air trenches, doused the piles with fuel, and left them to burn. The trash includes plastic, metal, asbestos, batteries, tires, unexploded ordnance, medical waste, even entire trucks. (The military now operates several actual incinerators and has made efforts to create recycling programs, but the majority of war-zone trash is still burned in pits.)

On Burn Pits Action Center, a website operated by the staff of Rep. Tim Bishop (D-N.Y.)—who learned of the problem via the reporting of Army Times writer Kelly Kennedy in 2008—GIs describe dumping rat poison, hydraulic fluid, and pressure-treated wood into the pits. “When the question was raised about what we were off-loading for burning, the answer was along the lines of ‘Don’t worry about it as the heat will burn up the bad stuff so it isn’t a threat,'” reported Army Reserve Sgt. 1st Class John Wingfield, who served near Balad in 2004 and 2005.

Veterans’ groups worry that the smoke floods bases with a stew of carcinogens, toxins, and lung-clogging fine particles. An Army study released in early 2009 found that particulate matter at 15 sites exceeded both EPA and US military standards. Even short-term exposure could sicken—or kill—service members, the report warns. As early as 2006, an Air Force engineer stationed at Balad warned superiors in a memo that smoke from the burn pits presented “an acute health hazard” for service members. “It is amazing that the burn pit has been able to operate without restrictions over the past several years,” the engineer, Lt. Colonel Darrin Curtis, wrote. Military statistics also show a steep increase in respiratory problems in troops since the start of the Iraq War.

In a written statement, KBR told Mother Jones that it operates burn pits “pursuant to Army guidelines and regulations.” The military’s own air sampling has turned up dioxins, volatile organic compounds, heavy metals, and other potential hazards in the air at Balad. The Pentagon has insisted they were at levels that posed no significant threat—though last December, a top military health official acknowledged to the Salt Lake Tribune that smoke from the pits may cause long-term health problems. (Neither Pentagon officials nor the White House responded to requests for comment on this story.)

The government’s reluctance to acknowledge the potential hazard has frustrated veterans’ advocates, who remember how long it took for the Pentagon to recognize Gulf War Syndrome in the 1990s, and to acknowledge the health problems caused by aerial spraying during the Vietnam War. “We don’t want another Agent Orange,” says John L. Wilson, DAV’s assistant national legislative director. “Silence does not do any good.”

If the pits are harming troops and Iraqis, there’s no telling how many. Many cancers won’t reveal themselves for a decade or more, and many respiratory symptoms tend to be misdiagnosed as asthma. Like Nienajadlo, Air Force Reserve Lt. Colonel Michelle Franco, 48, had a clean bill of health when she shipped out to Balad three years ago. The 18-foot walls surrounding her quarters kept out mortar fire, but not the smoke: “You could smell it; you could taste it.” As a nurse, Franco suspected the “plume crud” was hazardous. She knew that in addition to amputated limbs from her medical facility, the base’s waste included hundreds of thousands of water bottles every week—and she knew burning plastic releases cancer-causing dioxins. After just five months at the base, Franco sustained permanent lung damage. She’s lucky, she says, that she kept asking questions when harried doctors handed her an inhaler. She expects her diagnosis—untreatable reactive airway dysfunction syndrome—to ultimately push her into retirement.

Many vets won’t realize that their illness might be service related, notes Franco. But official recognition is key to get them proper screening and benefits. Last fall, Rep. Bishop managed to pass legislation limiting the military’s freedom to burn waste and directing the Pentagon to do a study on the pits’ health effects. Given that this may take years, Bishop is also calling for an Agent Orange-like registry of those at risk.

Meanwhile a DC-based law firm, Burke LLC (which has also pursued claims for Abu Ghraib torture victims and Iraqi civilians killed by Blackwater guards), has filed suit against Halliburton and KBR on behalf of about 300 injured veterans and their survivors; the firm estimates that some 100,000 people have been exposed. “These troops were more injured by the smoke and the toxins than by combat,” says attorney Elizabeth Burke.

Staff Sergeant Nienajadlo died March 20, 2009, exactly 13 years from the day she enlisted. She left behind three children, ages 3, 8, and 10, and a husband who is also in the service. Before she fell ill, Nienajadlo confided to her mother that she was scared of serving in Iraq. But she worried about mortar attacks and roadside bombs—not the Army’s own trash.

Source

Related

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War “Pollution” Equals Millions of Deaths

Here is another story of interest on Military Personnel, used in experiments.

Be sure to check it out. Definitely everyone should know about it.

Uncle Sam’s Human Lab Rats

Rather reminds me of “Deadly Allies” By John Bryden.  Great Book. Do read it if you ever have the chance.

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China publishes report on U.S. human rights

The U.S. uses torture to “defend human rights” in Iraq and around the world.

March 14 2010

The following is from Xinhua. For the full report, go to Human Rights Record of the United States in 2009

China Friday retorted U.S. criticism by publishing its own report on the U.S. human rights record.

“As in previous years, the (U.S.) reports are full of accusations of the human rights situation in more than 190 countries and regions including China, but turn a blind eye to, or dodge and even cover up rampant human rights abuses on its own territory,” said the Information Office of the State Council in its report on the U.S. human rights record.

The Human Rights Record of the United States in 2009 was in retaliation to the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2009 issued by the U.S. Department of State on March 11.

The report is “prepared to help people around the world understand the real situation of human rights in the United States,” said the report.

The report reviewed the human rights record of the United States in 2009 from six perspectives: life, property and personal security; civil and political rights; economic, social and cultural rights; racial discrimination; rights of women and children; and the U.S.’ violation of human rights against other countries.

It criticized the United States for taking human rights as “a political instrument to interfere in other countries’ internal affairs, defame other nations’ image and seek its own strategic interests.”

China advised the U.S. government to draw lessons from the history, put itself in a correct position, strive to improve its own human rights conditions and rectify its acts in the human rights field.

This is the 11th consecutive year that the Information Office of China’s State Council has issued a human rights record of the United States to answer the U.S. State Department’s annual report.

“At a time when the world is suffering a serious human rights disaster caused by the U.S. subprime crisis-induced global financial crisis, the U.S. government still ignores its own serious human rights problems but revels in accusing other countries. It is really a pity,” the report said.

Spying on citizens

While advocating “freedom of speech,” “freedom of the press” and “Internet freedom,” the U.S. government unscrupulously monitors and restricts the citizens’ rights to freedom when it comes to its own interests and needs, the report said.

The U.S. citizens’ freedom to access and distribute information is under strict supervision, it said.

According to media reports, the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) started installing specialized eavesdropping equipment around the country to wiretap calls, faxes, and emails and collect domestic communications as early as 2001.

The wiretapping program was originally targeted at Arab-Americans, but soon grew to include other Americans.

After the September 11 attack, the U.S. government, in the name of anti-terrorism, authorized its intelligence authorities to hack into its citizens’ mail communications, and to monitor and erase any information that might threaten the U.S. national interests on the Internet through technical means, the report said.

Statistics showed that from 2002 to 2006, the FBI collected thousands of phones records of U.S. citizens through mails, notes and phone calls.

In September 2009, the country set up an Internet security supervision body, further worrying U.S. citizens that the U.S. government might use Internet security as an excuse to monitor and interfere with personal systems.

The so-called “freedom of the press” of the United States was in fact completely subordinate to its national interests, and was manipulated by the U.S. government, the report said.

At yearend 2009, the U.S. Congress passed a bill which imposed sanctions on several Arab satellite channels for broadcasting contents hostile to the U.S. and instigating violence.

Racial discrimination a chronic problem

Racial discrimination is still a chronic problem of the United States, the report said.

Black people and other minorities are the most impoverished groups in the United States.

According to a report issued by the U.S. Bureau of Census, the real median income for American households in 2008 was 50,303 U.S. dollars, but the median incomes of Hispanic and black households were roughly 68 percent and 61.6 percent of that of the non-Hispanic white households.

And the median income of minority groups was about 60 to 80 percent of that of majority groups under the same conditions of education and skill background, the report added.

Ethnic minorities have been subject to serious racial discrimination in employment and workplace, the report said.

Minority groups bear the brunt of the U.S. unemployment. According to news reports, the U.S. unemployment rate in October 2009 was 10.2 percent. The jobless rate of the U.S. African-Americans jumped to 15.7 percent, that of the Hispanic rose to 13.1 percent and that of the white was 9.5 percent, the USA Today reported.

The U.S. minority groups face discriminations in education. According to a report issued by the U.S. Bureau of Census, 33 percent of the non-Hispanic white has college degrees, proportion of the black was only 20 percent and Hispanic was 13 percent.

Racial discrimination in law enforcement and judicial system is very distinct. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, by the end of 2008, 3,161 men and 149 women per 100,000 persons in the U.S. black population were under imprisonment.

And a report released by New York City Police Department said that of the people involved in police shootings whose ethnicity could be determined in 2008, 75 percent were black, 22 percent were Hispanic; and 3 percent were white.

Ethnic hatred crimes are frequent. According to statistics released by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, a total of 7,783 hatred crimes occurred in 2008 in the United States, 51.3 percent of which were originated by racial discrimination and 19.5 percent were for religious bias and 11.5 percent were for national origins.

Widespread violent crimes

Widespread violent crimes in the United States posed threats to the lives, properties and personal security of its people, the report said.

In 2008, U.S. residents experienced 4.9 million violent crimes, 16.3 million property crimes and 137,000 personal thefts, and the violent crime rate was 19.3 victimizations per 1,000 persons aged 12 or over.

About 30,000 people die from gun-related incidents each year. According to an FBI report, there had been 14,180 murder victims in 2008, the report said.

Campuses became an area worst hit by violent crimes as shootings spread there and kept escalating. The U.S. Heritage Foundation reported that 11.3 percent of high school students in Washington D.C. reported being “threatened or injured” with a weapon while on school property during the 2007-2008 school year.

Abuse of power

The country’s police frequently impose violence on the people and abuse of power is common among U.S. law enforcers, the report said,

Over the past two years, the number of New York police officers under review for garnering too many complaints was up 50 percent.

In major U.S. cities, police stop, question and frisk more than a million people each year, a sharply higher number than just a few years ago.

Prisons in the United State are packed with inmates. About 2.3 million were held in custody of prisons and jails, the equivalent of about one in every 198 persons in the country, according to the report.

From 2000 to 2008, the U.S. prison population increased an average of 1.8 percent annually.

The basic rights of prisoners in the United States are not well-protected. Raping cases of inmates by prison staff members are widely reported, the report said.

According to the U.S. Justice Department, reports of sexual misconduct by prison staff members with inmates in the country’s 93 federal prison sites doubled over the past eight years.

According to a federal survey of more than 63,000 federal and state inmates, 4.5 percent reported being sexually abused at least once during the previous 12 months.

Poverty leads to rising number of suicides

The report said the population in poverty was the largest in 11 years.

The Washington Post reported that altogether 39.8 million Americans were living in poverty by the end of 2008, an increase of 2.6 million from that in 2007. The poverty rate in 2008 was 13.2 percent, the highest since 1998.

Poverty led to a sharp rise in the number of suicides in the United States. It is reported that there are roughly 32,000 suicides in the U.S. every year, double the cases of murder, said the report.

Workers’ rights not properly guaranteed

Workers’ rights were seriously violated in the United States, the report said.

The New York Times reported that about 68 percent of the 4,387 low-wage workers in a survey said they had experienced reduction of wages and 76 percent of those who had worked overtime were not paid accordingly.

The number of people without medical insurance has kept rising for eight consecutive years, the report said.

Data released by the U.S. Census Bureau showed 46.3 million people were without medical insurance in 2008, accounting for 15.4 percent of the total population, comparing with 45.7 million people who were without medical insurance in 2007, which was a rise for the eighth year in a row.

Women, children frequent victims of violence

Women are frequent victims of violence and sexual assault in the United States, while children are exposed to violence and living in fear, the report said.

It is reported that the United States has the highest rape rate among countries which report such statistics. It is 13 times higher than that of England and 20 times higher than that of Japan.

Reuters reported that based on in-depth interviews on 40 servicewomen, 10 said they had been raped, five said they were sexually assaulted including attempted rape, and 13 reported sexual harassment.

It is reported that 1,494 children younger than 18 nationwide were murdered in 2008, the USA Today reported.

A survey conducted by the U.S. Justice Department on 4,549 kids and adolescents aged 17 and younger between January and May of 2008 showed, more than 60 percent of children surveyed were exposed to violence within the past year, either directly or indirectly.

Trampling upon other countries ‘ sovereignty, human rights

The report said the United States with its strong military power has pursued hegemony in the world, trampling upon the sovereignty of other countries and trespassing their human rights.

As the world’s biggest arms seller, its deals have greatly fueled instability across the world. The United States also expanded its military spending, already the largest in the world, by 10 percent in 2008 to 607 billion U.S. dollars, accounting for 42 percent of the world total, the AP reported.

At the beginning of 2010, the U.S. government announced a 6.4-billion-U.S. dollar arms sales package to Taiwan despite strong protest from the Chinese government and people, which seriously damaged China’s national security interests and aroused strong indignation among the Chinese people, it said.

The wars of Iraq and Afghanistan have placed heavy burden on American people and brought tremendous casualties and property losses to the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the report.

Prisoner abuse is one of the biggest human rights scandals of the United States, it said

An investigation by U.S. Justice Department showed 2,000 Taliban surrendered combatants were suffocated to death by the U.S. army-controlled Afghan armed forces, the report said.

The United States has been building its military bases around the world, and cases of violation of local people’s human rights are often seen, the report said.

The United States is now maintaining 900 bases worldwide, with more than 190,000 military personnel and 115,000 relevant staff stationed.

These bases are bringing serious damage and environmental contamination to the localities. Toxic substances caused by bomb explosions are taking their tolls on the local children, it said.

It has been reported that toward the end of the U.S. military bases’ presence in Subic and Clark Philippines, as many as 3,000 cases of raping local women had been filed against the U.S. servicemen, but all were dismissed, according to the report.

Source

Related

More Pictures from Abu Ghraib

U.S. on List of UNICEF’s Worst Countries for Kids

February 14, 2007

A new report from the U.N. Children’s Fund says the United States and Britain are the worst countries in the industrialized world in which to be a child. UNICEF says an examination of 40 factors, such as poverty, deprivation, happiness, relationships, and risky or bad behavior puts the United States and Britain at the bottom of a list of 21 economically developed nations.

The UNICEF report sought to assess children’s well-being in developed countries by measuring a number of factors, including health, education, poverty, family relationships, and bad or risky behavior. Children were also asked to say whether they were happy.

In the overall table of children’s well-being, the Netherlands comes out on top, followed closely by the Scandinavian countries, which also have highly developed welfare systems. At the bottom are the United States at No. 20, and Britain at No. 21.

It’s not that developed welfare states necessarily have happier children, says David Parker of UNICEF.

“I think what we know from history in the U.S.,” Parker says, “is that it’s not necessarily how the welfare is provided but the nature of the support. One of the key things is that the role of government is important, but the entire society must have at its heart the idea of improving child well-being.”

The United States fared worst of all 21 countries in health and safety, measured by rates of infant mortality and accidents and injuries.

The United States and Britain were lowest overall in the category of behavior and risks, meaning that American and British children are more likely to use drugs, drink alcohol and be sexually active than children elsewhere.

Professor Jonathan Bradshaw from the University of York in England led the research into the project. He was scathing about the failures of successive British governments.

“We’ve failed to invest in child health, in child education, in child care,” Bradshaw says. “It’s the result of neglect, which other countries have not done… they’ve just spent more on their children, despite the fact they’re not as rich as we are.”

In almost all the categories, poorer nations such as Poland and the Czech Republic fared better than the United States and Britain.

Source

There are a few stories on Human Rights Violations in the US at the links below as well.

Food industry probe reveals abuse of foreign workers

Japan Report: Private Agreements Allowed US to Bring Nukes

2.5 million Iraqi women were widowed by Iraq war

Doctors report “unprecedented” rise in deformities, cancers in Iraq

America’s Most Wanted The Top 50 US War Criminals

(Afghanistan 1) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

Iraq War Images

War “Pollution” Equals Millions of Deaths

Israel and US were behind the Georgian Attacks on South Ossetia and Abkhazia

Who profits from WAR?

This is a list of countries that have US Nuclear Weapons.

US Nuclear weapons in Europe

There is more Happy  Hunting

Indexed List of all Stories in Archives

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Muntazer al-Zaidi tells us why he Threw the Shoe

Why I Threw the Shoe

I am no hero. I just acted as an Iraqi who witnessed the pain and bloodshed of too many innocents

By Muntazer al-Zaidi

September 19, 2009

I am free. But my country is still a prisoner of war. There has been a lot of talk about the action and about the person who took it, and about the hero and the heroic act, and the symbol and the symbolic act. But, simply, I answer: what compelled me to act is the injustice that befell my people, and how the occupation wanted to humiliate my homeland by putting it under its boot.

Over recent years, more than a million martyrs have fallen by the bullets of the occupation and Iraq is now filled with more than five million orphans, a million widows and hundreds of thousands of maimed. Many millions are homeless inside and outside the country.

We used to be a nation in which the Arab would share with the Turkman and the Kurd and the Assyrian and the Sabean and the Yazid his daily bread. And the Shia would pray with the Sunni in one line. And the Muslim would celebrate with the Christian the birthday of Christ. This despite the fact that we shared hunger under sanctions for more than a decade.

Our patience and our solidarity did not make us forget the oppression. But the invasion divided brother from brother, neighbour from neighbour. It turned our homes into funeral tents.

I am not a hero. But I have a point of view. I have a stance. It humiliated me to see my country humiliated; and to see my Baghdad burned, my people killed. Thousands of tragic pictures remained in my head, pushing me towards the path of confrontation. The scandal of Abu Ghraib. The massacre of Falluja, Najaf, Haditha, Sadr City, Basra, Diyala, Mosul, Tal Afar, and every inch of our wounded land. I travelled through my burning land and saw with my own eyes the pain of the victims, and heard with my own ears the screams of the orphans and the bereaved. And a feeling of shame haunted me like an ugly name because I was powerless.

As soon as I finished my professional duties in reporting the daily tragedies, while I washed away the remains of the debris of the ruined Iraqi houses, or the blood that stained my clothes, I would clench my teeth and make a pledge to our victims, a pledge of vengeance.

The opportunity came, and I took it.

I took it out of loyalty to every drop of innocent blood that has been shed through the occupation or because of it, every scream of a bereaved mother, every moan of an orphan, the sorrow of a rape victim, the teardrop of an orphan.

I say to those who reproach me: do you know how many broken homes that shoe which I threw had entered? How many times it had trodden over the blood of innocent victims? Maybe that shoe was the appropriate response when all values were violated.

When I threw the shoe in the face of the criminal, George Bush, I wanted to express my rejection of his lies, his occupation of my country, my rejection of his killing my people. My rejection of his plundering the wealth of my country, and destroying its infrastructure. And casting out its sons into a diaspora.

If I have wronged journalism without intention, because of the professional embarrassment I caused the establishment, I apologise. All that I meant to do was express with a living conscience the feelings of a citizen who sees his homeland desecrated every day. The professionalism mourned by some under the auspices of the occupation should not have a voice louder than the voice of patriotism. And if patriotism needs to speak out, then professionalism should be allied with it.

I didn’t do this so my name would enter history or for material gains. All I wanted was to defend my country.

Source

Population of Iraq in 2008  28,221,181

Year Unemployment rate (%)
2005 25
2006 25
2007 25
2008 18
Year Oil – proved reserves (bbl)
2003 113800000000
2004 113800000000
2005 112500000000
2006 112500000000
2007 112500000000
2008 115000000000
Year Natural gas – proved reserves (cubic meters)
2003 3149000000000
2004 3149000000000
2005 3149000000000
2006 3115000000000
2007 3115000000000
2008 3170000000000

No one can say  Bush and company wanted a war for any reason other then oil and gas.

The US should pay retribution to Iraq for all the damage that has been done in the name of theft, greed, control and profiteering.

The homeless need homes, the orphans need care. The maimed need support. The list goes on and on.

For the million who have died. And those who were tortured.

Prison is where Bush and company should be.

Over a million have died, that is a Crime against humanity.

That is genocide.

That is a war crime.

The war is illegal based on lies, propaganda and fraud. There were no weapons of mass destruction.

Just the WMD the US used on the Iraqis.  They used things like White Phosphorus, Napalm, 240,000 cluster bombs, 10,000  unguided munitions, 20.000  precision bombs and missiles were dropped and I am pretty sure they also used Bunker Busters (type of nuclear bomb),  all by May 1, 2003.

That is definitely overkill. Excessive use of force against a country that had been under sanctions for about a decade. The US loves to attack the defenseless and weak.

Since then the killing has continued. The war wasn’t over as Bush declared, again he lied.  Bush is a criminal.

For that the criminals should be held responsible, to do less would be a crime against all of us.

  • Genocide
  • War crimes
  • Crimes against humanity
  • Crimes of aggression

The rest of the world cannot sit by and allow anything this horrendous to go unpunished.

It’s time for the US and other forces to get the hell out of their country.

Spanish judge resumes torture case against six senior Bush lawyers

Senate Report Links Bush to Detainee Homicides; Media Yawns

By Glenn Greenwald
December 15, 2008

The bipartisan Senate Armed Services Committee report issued on Thursday — which documents that “former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other senior U.S. officials share much of the blame for detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba” and “that Rumsfeld’s actions were ‘a direct cause of detainee abuse‘ at Guantanamo and ‘influenced and contributed to the use of abusive techniques … in Afghanistan and Iraq'” — raises an obvious and glaring question:  how can it possibly be justified that the low-level Army personnel carrying out these policies at Abu Ghraib have been charged, convicted and imprisoned, while the high-level political officials and lawyers who directed and authorized these same policies remain free of any risk of prosecution?   The culpability which the Report assigns for these war crimes is vast in scope and unambiguous:

The executive summary also traces the erosion of detainee treatment standards to a Feb,. 7, 2002, memorandum signed by President George W. Bush stating that the Geneva Convention did not apply to the U.S. war with al Qaeda and that Taliban detainees were not entitled to prisoner of war status or legal protections.

“The president’s order closed off application of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, which would have afforded minimum standards for humane treatment,” the summary said.

Members of Bush’s Cabinet and other senior officials participated in meetings inside the White House in 2002 and 2003 where specific interrogation techniques were discussed, according to the report.

The policies which the Senate Armed Services Committee unanimously concludes were authorized by Bush, Rumsfeld and several other top Bush officials did not merely lead to “abuse” and humiliating treatment, but are directly — and unquestionably — responsible for numerous detainee murders.  Many of those deaths caused by abusive treatment have been formally characterized as “homicides” by autopsies performed in Iraq and Afghanistan (see these chilling compilations of autopsy findings on detainees in U.S. custody, obtained by the ACLU, which reads like a classic and compelling exhibit in a war crimes trial).

While the bulk of the attention over detainee abuse has been directed to Guantanamo, the U.S., to this day, continues to imprison — with no charges — thousands of Iraqi citizens.  In Iraq an Afghanistan, detainee deaths were rampant and, to this day, detainees continue to die under extremely suspicious circumstances.  Just yesterday, there was yet another death of a very young Iraqi detainee whose death was attributed to quite unlikely natural causes.

The U.S. military says a detainee has died of an apparent heart attack while in custody at a U.S. detention facility in Baghdad.

Monday’s statement says the 25-year-old man was pronounced dead by doctors at a combat hospital after losing consciousness at Camp Cropper. . . .

The U.S. military is holding thousands of prisoners at Camp Cropper near the Baghdad airport and Camp Bucca in the southern desert.

For years, it has been common to attribute detainee deaths to “heart attacks” where the evidence makes clear that abusive interrogation techniques and other inhumane treatment — the very policies authorized at the highest levels of the U.S. government — were the actual proximate cause of the deaths.  This deceptive practice was documented in this fact-intensive report — entitled:  “Medical Investigations of Homicides of Prisoners of War in Iraq and Afghanistan” — by Steven H. Miles, Professor of Medicine and Bioethics at the University of Minnesota:

It is probably inevitable that some prisoners who reportedly die of “natural causes” in truth died of homicide. However, the nature of Armed Forces’ medical investigations made this kind of error more likely. The AFME reported homicide as the cause of death in 10 of the 23 death certificates released in May 2004. The death of Mohamed Taiq Zaid was initially attributed to “heat”; it is currently and belatedly being investigated as a possible homicide due to abusive exposure to the hot Iraqi climate and deprivation of water.

Eight prisoners suffered “natural” deaths from heart attacks or atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. Threats, beatings, fear, police interrogation, and arrests are known to cause “homicide by heart attack” or life-threatening heart failure. People with preexisting heart disease, dehydration, hyperthermia, or exhaustion are especially susceptible. No forensic investigation of lethal “heart attacks” explores the possibility that these men died of stress-induced heart attacks. There are a number of reports of “heart attack” following harsh procedures in rounding up noncombatants in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A typically sketchy US Army report says, “Detainee Death during weekend combat …. Army led raid this past weekend of a house in Iraq … an Iraqi who was detained and zip-locked (flexi-cuffed with plastic bands tying his wrists together) died while in custody. Preliminary information is that the detainee died from an apparent heart attack.” Sher Mohammad Khan was picked up in Afghanistan in September 2004. Shortly thereafter, his bruised body was given to his family. Military officials told journalists that he had died of a heart attack within hours of being taken into custody. No investigation, autopsy, or death certificate is available.

Or consider this:

Adbul Kareen Abdura Lafta (also known as Abu Malik Kenami) was admitted to Mosul prison on December 5, 2003 and died 4 days later.[20,21] The short, stocky, 44-year-old man weighed 175 pounds. He was never given a medical examination, and there is no medical record. After interrogation, a sandbag was put over his head. When he tried to remove it, guards made him jump up and down for 20 minutes with his wrists tied in front of him and then 20 minutes more with his wrists bound behind his back with a plastic binder. The bound and head-bagged man was put to bed. He was restless and “jibbering in Arabic.” The guards told him to be quiet.

The next morning, he was found dead. The body had “bloodshot” eyes, lacerations on his wrists from the plastic ties, unexplained bruises on his abdomen, and a fresh, bruised laceration on the back of his head. US Army investigators noted that the body did not have defensive bruises on his arms, an odd notation given that a man cannot raise bound arms in defense. No autopsy was performed. The death certificate lists the cause of death as unknown. It seems likely that Mr. Kenami died of positional asphyxia because of how he was restrained, hooded, and positioned. Positional asphyxia looks just like death by a natural heart attack except for those telltale conjunctival hemorrhages in his eyes.

There are countless other episodes like this of human beings in American custody dying because of the mistreatment — authorized by Bush, Rumsfeld and others — to which we subjected them.  These are murders and war crimes in every sense of the word.  That the highest level Bush officials and the President himself are responsible for the policies that spawned these crimes against humanity have been long known to anyone paying minimal attention, but now we have a bipartisan Senate Report — signed by the presidential nominee of Bush’s own political party — that directly assigns culpability for these war crimes to the President and his policies.  It’s nothing less than a formal declaration from the Senate that the President and his top aides are war criminals.
***
This Report was issued on Thursday.  Not a single mention was made of it on any of the Sunday news talk shows, with the sole exception being when John McCain told George Stephanopoulos that it was “not his job” to opine on whether criminal prosecutions were warranted for the Bush officials whose policies led to these crimes.  What really matters, explained McCain, was not that we get caught up in the past, but instead, that we ensure this never happens again — yet, like everyone else who makes this argument, he offered no explanation as to how we could possibly ensure that “it never happens again” if we simultaneously announce that our political leaders will be immunized, not prosecuted, when they commit war crimes.  Doesn’t that mindset, rather obviously, substantially increase the likelihood — if not render inevitable — that such behavior will occur again? Other than that brief exchange, this Senate Report was a non-entity on the Sunday shows.

Instead, TV pundits were consumed with righteous anger over the petty, titillating, sleazy Rod Blagojevich scandal, competing with one another over who could spew the most derision and scorn for this pitiful, lowly, broken individual and his brazen though relatively inconsequential crimes.  Every exciting detail was vouyeristically and meticulously dissected by political pundits — many, if not most, of whom have never bothered to acquaint themselves with any of the basic facts surrounding the monumental Bush lawbreaking and war crimes scandals.  TV “journalists” who have never even heard of the Taguba report — the incredible indictment issued by a former U.S. General, who subsequently observed:  “there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimesThe only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account” — spent the weekend opining on the intricacies of Blogojevich’s hair and terribly upsetting propensity to use curse words.

The auction conducted by Blagojevich was just a slightly more flamboyant, vulgar and reckless expression of how our national political class conducts itself generally (are there really any fundamental differences between Blagojevich’s conduct and Chuck Schumer’s systematic, transparent influence-peddling and vote-selling to Wall Street donors, as documented by this excellent and highly incriminating New York Times piece from Sunday — “A Champion of Wall St. Reaps the Benefits”)?  But Blagojevich is an impotent figure, stripped of all power, a national joke.  And attacking and condemning him is thus cheap and easy.  It threatens nobody in power.  To the contrary, his downfall is deceptively and usefully held up as an extreme aberration — proof that government officials are held accountable when they break the law.

The media fixation on the ultimately irrelevant Blagojevich scandal, juxtaposed with their steadfast ignoring of the Senate report documenting systematic U.S. war crimes, is perfectly reflective of how our political establishment thinks.  Blagojevich’s laughable scheme is transformed into a national fixation and made into the target of collective hate sessions, while the systematic, ongoing sale of the legislative process to corporations and their lobbyists are overlooked as the normal course of business.  Lynndie England is uniformly scorned and imprisoned while George Bush, Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld are headed off to lives of luxury, great wealth, respect, and immunity from the consequences for their far more serious crimes.  And the courageous and principled career Justice Department lawyer who blew the whistle on Bush’s illegal spying programs — Thomas Tamm — continues to have his life destroyed, while the countless high-level government officials, lawyers and judges who also knew about it and did nothing about it are rewarded and honored, and those who committed the actual crimes are protected and immunized.

Just ponder the uproar if, in any other country, the political parties joined together and issued a report documenting that the country’s President and highest aides were directly responsible for war crimes and widespread detainee abuse and death.  Compare the inevitable reaction to such an event if it happened in another country to what happens in the U.S. when such an event occurs — a virtual media blackout, ongoing fixations by political journalists with petty scandals, and an undisturbed consensus that, no matter what else is true, high-level American political figures (as opposed to powerless low-level functionaries) must never be held accountable for their crimes.

UPDATE:  Here — from July of this year — is one of the more remarkable quotes of the Bush era; it’s from Nancy Pelosi, who was explicitly briefed on the CIA’s torture program in 2002:

Q:  You’ve ruled against impeaching George Bush and Dick Cheney, and now Kucinich is trying to pass that. Why do you insist on not impeaching these people, so that the world and America can really see the crimes that they’ve committed?

PELOSI: I thought that impeachment would be divisive for the country. . . . If somebody had a crime that the President had committed, that would be a different story.

It’s not like there’s any evidence that Bush committed any crimes or anything, said Pelosi.  From Jane Mayer’s The Dark Side (h/t Hume’s Ghost)

One year of the Afghan prison operation alone cost an estimated 100 million, which Congress hid in a classified annex of the first supplemental Afghan appropriation bill in 2002. Among the services that U.S. taxpayers unwittingly paid for were medieval-like dungeons, including a reviled former brick factory outside of Kabul known as “The Salt Pit.” In 2004, a still-unidentified prisoner froze to death there after a young CIA supervisor ordered guards to strip him naked and chain him overnight to the concrete floor. The CIA has never accounted for the death, nor publicly reprimanded the supervisor. Instead, the Agency reportedly promoted him.

Those Blagojevich tapes sure are disgusting, aren’t they?  Let’s study those some more.

UPDATE II:  Well worth reading on the various implications of the Senate report are Dan Froomkin, Scott Horton, and Andrew Sullivan (scroll down for multiple posts).

Source

Cheney admits authorizing detainee’s torture

Blame Bush policies for detainee abuse: U.S. Senate report

Blame Bush policies for detainee abuse: U.S. Senate report

December 11 2008

US soldier in guard tower over looking military-run Camp Delta prison in Guantanamo Bay US Naval Base, June 27, 2006

US soldier in guard tower over looking military-run Camp Delta prison in Guantanamo Bay US Naval Base (file)

A U.S. Senate report has concluded that Bush administration policies led directly to the abuse of detainees in U.S. custody in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The bipartisan report, issued Thursday by the Senate Armed Forces Committee, says the authorization of aggressive interrogation techniques conveyed the message that it was “okay” to mistreat detainees in U.S. custody.

The Bush administration, which has not yet commented on the report, has repeatedly said detainees in U.S. custody are treated humanely, and that because they are enemy combatants, and not prisoners-of-war, they are not entitled to the protections of the Geneva Conventions.

The report says harsh interrogation tactics, such as waterboarding, began to be used after President George Bush determined that the Geneva Conventions – the minimum standards for humane treatment – did not apply to al-Qaida or Taliban suspects.

Donald Rumsfeld  (3 June, 2006)

Donald Rumsfeld (file)

The report also says former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s authorization of aggressive interrogation techniques at the Guantanomo Bay detention center, was a direct cause of abusive techniques, including forced nudity, stress positions and the use of military working dogs, at detention centers in Afghanistan and Iraq.

A Defense Department spokesman, Colonel Gary Keck, said today Pentagon officials have not yet reviewed the report. He says numerous reviews of detention operations have all found there was never any policy that condoned or tolerated abuse.

Senate Armed Forces Committee Chairman Carl Levin, a Democrat, criticized senior officials for trying to pass responsibility for abuses at U.S. detention facilities to lower-ranking officers.

The ranking Republican, John McCain, said the policies that led to the abuses are wrong, and must never be repeated.

Source

Panel blames White House, not soldiers, for abuse
By PAMELA HESS
December 11 2008

WASHINGTON

The physical and mental abuse of detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was the direct result of Bush administration detention policies and should not be dismissed as the work of bad guards or interrogators, according to a bipartisan Senate report released Thursday.

The Senate Armed Services Committee report concludes that harsh interrogation techniques used by the CIA and the U.S. military were directly adapted from the training techniques used to prepare special forces personnel to resist interrogation by enemies that torture and abuse prisoners. The techniques included forced nudity, painful stress positions, sleep deprivation, and until 2003, waterboarding, a form of simulated drowning.

The report is the result of a nearly two-year investigation that directly links President Bush’s policies after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, legal memos on torture, and interrogation rule changes with the abuse photographed at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq four years ago. Much of the report remains classified. Unclassified portions of the report were released by the committee Thursday.

Administration officials publicly blamed the abuses on low-level soldiers_ the work “of a few bad apples.” Committee Chairman Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., called that “both unconscionable and false.”

“The message from top officials was clear; it was acceptable to use degrading and abusive techniques against detainees,” Levin said.

Arizona Republican and former prisoner of war Sen. John McCain, called the link between the survival training and U.S. interrogations of detainees inexcusable.

“These policies are wrong and must never be repeated,” he said in a statement.

Lawrence Di Rita, a senior aide to former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld at the time the Abu Ghraib and other abuses took place, disputed the report.

“This oddly timed report provides no evidence that contradicts more than a dozen other investigations that found that there was no systematic or widespread detainee mismanagement,” Di Rita told The AP. “A relatively small number of people abused detainees, and they were brought to justice in criminal or civil proceedings.”

The report comes as the Bush administration continues to delay and in some cases bar members of Congress from gaining access to key legal documents and memos about the detainee program, including an August 2002 memo that evaluated whether specific interrogation techniques proposed to be used by the CIA would constitute torture.

That memo, written by Jay Bybee, then-chief of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, was guided in part by an assessment of the psychological effects of resistance survival training on U.S. military personnel. The CIA provided that document to his office, Bybee told the Senate Armed Services Committee in an October letter, obtained by The Associated Press.

Source

A little History Did you know That:

Torture was taught by CIA; Declassified manual details the methods used in Honduras; Agency denials refuted

By Gary Cohn, Ginger Thompson, and Mark Matthews,
January 27 1997

WASHINGTON — A newly declassified CIA training manual details torture methods used against suspected subversives in Central America during the 1980s, refuting claims by the agency that no such methods were taught there.

“Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual — 1983” was released Friday in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed by The Sun on May 26, 1994.

The CIA also declassified a Vietnam-era training manual called “KUBARK Counterintelligence Interrogation — July 1963,” which also taught torture and is believed by intelligence sources to have been a basis for the 1983 manual.

Torture methods taught in the 1983 manual include stripping suspects naked and keeping them blindfolded. Interrogation rooms should be windowless, dark and soundproof, with no toilet.

“The ‘questioning’ room is the battlefield upon which the ‘questioner’ and the subject meet,” the 1983 manual states. “However, the ‘questioner’ has the advantage in that he has total control over the subject and his environment.”

The 1983 manual was altered between 1984 and early 1985 to discourage torture after a furor was raised in Congress and the press about CIA training techniques being used in Central America. Those alterations and new instructions appear in the documents obtained by The Sun, support the conclusion that methods taught in the earlier version were illegal.

A cover sheet placed in the manual in March 1985 cautions: “The use of force, mental torture, threats, insults or exposure to inhumane treatment of any kind as an aid to interrogation is prohibited by law, both international and domestic; it is neither authorized nor condoned.”

The Sun’s 1994 request for the manuals was made in connection with the newspaper’s investigation of kidnapping, torture and murder committed by a CIA-trained Honduran military unit during the 1980s. The CIA turned over the documents — with passages deleted — only after The Sun threatened to sue the agency to obtain the documents.

Human rights abuses by the Honduran unit known as Battalion 316 were most intense in the early 1980s at the height of the Reagan administration’s war against communism in Central America. They were documented by The Sun in a four-part series published from June 11 to 18, 1995.

Unmistakable similarities
The methods taught in the 1983 manual and those used by Battalion 316 in the early 1980s show unmistakable similarities.

The manual advises an interrogator to “manipulate the subject’s environment, to create unpleasant or intolerable situations.”

In The Sun’s series, Florencio Caballero, a former member of Battalion 316, said CIA instructors taught him to discover what his prisoners loved and what they hated.

“If a person did not like cockroaches, then that person might be more cooperative if there were cockroaches running around the room,” Caballero said.

In 1983, Caballero attended a CIA “human resources exploitation or interrogation course,” according to declassified testimony by Richard Stolz, then-deputy director for operations, before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in June 1988.

The “Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual — 1983” suggests that the interrogator show the prisoner letters from home to convey the impression that the prisoner’s relatives are suffering or in danger.

In The Sun’s series, Jose Barrera, a former member of Battalion 316 who said he was taught interrogation methods by U.S. instructors in 1983, recalled using the technique:

“The first thing we would say is that we know your mother, your younger brother. And better you cooperate, because if you don’t, we’re going to bring them in and rape them and torture them and kill them,” Barrera said.

The manual suggests that prisoners be deprived of food and sleep, and made to maintain rigid positions, such as standing at attention for long periods.

Ines Consuelo Murillo, who spent 78 days in Battalion 316’s secret jails in 1983, told The Sun that she was given no food or water for days, and that to keep her from sleeping, one of her captors entered her room every 10 minutes and poured water over her head.

Mark Mansfield, a CIA spokesman, declined to comment on the manuals. However, asked about agency policy on the use of force and torture, he referred to Stolz’s 1988 testimony before the Senate intelligence committee.

In testimony declassified at The Sun’s request, Stolz confirmed that the CIA trained Hondurans.

“The course consisted of three weeks of classroom instruction followed by two weeks of practical exercises, which included the questioning of actual prisoners by the students.

“Physical abuse or other degrading treatment was rejected, not only because it is wrong, but because it has historically proven to be ineffective,” he said.

Beyond that reference, Mansfield said only: “There are still aspects of the review process that need to be completed. For that reason, it would not be appropriate to comment.”

He was referring to an internal CIA investigation ordered in 1995, after publication of The Sun series on Battalion 316, to determine whether CIA officials acted improperly in Honduras during the 1980s.

The Clinton administration promised more than a year ago that CIA, State Department and Defense Department documents relevant to the time of Battalion 316’s abuses would be turned over to Honduran government human rights investigators. To date, no CIA documents have been sent to the Hondurans.

A truth confirmed
The Honduran judge overseeing his country’s human rights investigation welcomed the release of the CIA training manuals.

“These manuals confirm a truth we in Honduras have known for a long time: that the United States was involved in encouraging the abuses of the Honduran military,” said Judge Roy Medina. “They were trying to stop communism. But the methods they used are not acceptable in civilized societies.”

In releasing the training manuals, the CIA declined to say whether either document was used in Honduras. However, a declassified 1989 report prepared for the Senate intelligence committee, obtained earlier by The Sun, says the 1983 manual was developed from notes of a CIA interrogation course in Honduras.

The most graphic part of the 1983 manual is a chapter dealing with “coercive techniques.”

The manual discourages physical torture, advising interrogators to use more subtle methods to threaten and frighten the suspect.

“While we do not stress the use of coercive techniques, we do want to make you aware of them and the proper way to use them,” the manual’s introduction states. The manual says such methods are justified when subjects have been trained to resist noncoercive measures.

Forms of coercion explained in the interrogation manual include: Inflicting pain or the threat of pain: “The threat to inflict pain may trigger fears more damaging than the immediate sensation of pain. In fact, most people underestimate their capacity to withstand pain.”

A later section states: “The pain which is being inflicted upon him from outside himself may actually intensify his will to resist. On the other hand, pain which he feels he is inflicting upon himself is more likely to sap his resistance.

“For example, if he is required to maintain rigid positions such as standing at attention or sitting on a stool for long periods of time, the immediate source of pain is not the ‘questioner’ but the subject himself.” ” After a period of time the subject is likely to exhaust his internal motivational strength.”

Inducing dread: The manual says a breakdown in the prisoner’s will can be induced by strong fear, but cautions that if this dread is unduly prolonged, “the subject may sink into a defensive apathy from which it is hard to arouse him.”

It adds: “It is advisable to have a psychologist available whenever regression is induced.”

Getting a confession: Once a confession is obtained, “the pressures are lifted enough so that the subject can provide information as accurately as possible.” The subject should be told that “friendly handling will continue as long as he cooperates.”

Solitary confinement and other types of sensory deprivation: Depriving a subject of sensory stimulation induces stress and anxiety, the manual says. “The more complete the deprivation, the more rapidly and deeply the subject is affected.”

It cites the results of experiments conducted on volunteers who allowed themselves to be suspended in water while wearing blackout masks. They were allowed to hear only their own breathing and faint sounds from the pipes. “The stress and anxiety become almost unbearable for most subjects,” the manual says.

Hypnosis and drugs: The 1983 manual suggests creating “hypnotic situations,” using concealed machinery, and offers ways of convincing a subject that he has been drugged. Giving him a placebo “may make him want to believe that he has been drugged and that no one could blame him for telling his story now,” the manual says.

Arrest: The most effective way to make an arrest is to use the element of surprise, achieving “the maximum amount of mental discomfort.”

“The ideal time at which to make an arrest is in the early hours of the morning. When arrested at this time, most subjects experience intense feelings of shock, insecurity and psychological stress and for the most part have difficulty adjusting to the situation.”

Cells: Prisoners’ cells should have doors of heavy steel. “The slamming of a heavy door impresses upon the subject that he is cut off from the rest of the world.”

The manual says “the idea is to prevent the subject from relaxing and recovering from shock.”

The 1983 manual suggests that prisoners be blindfolded, stripped and given a thorough medical examination, “including all body cavities.”

Substantial revisions
Between 1984 and 1985, after congressional committees began questioning training techniques being used by the CIA in Latin America, “Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual — 1983” underwent substantial revision.

Passages were crossed out and written over by hand to warn that the methods they described were forbidden. However, in the copy obtained by The Sun, the original wording remained clearly visible beneath the handwritten changes.

Among the changes was this sentence in the section on coercion: “The use of most coercive techniques is improper and violates policy.”

In another, the editor crossed out descriptions of solitary confinement experiments and wrote: “To use prolonged solitary confinement for the purpose of extracting information in questioning violates policy.”

A third notation says that inducing unbearable stress “is a form of torture. Its use constitutes a serious impropriety and violates policy.” And in place of a sentence that says “coercive techniques always require prior [headquarters] approval,” an editor has written that they “constitute an impropriety and violate policy.”

To an instruction that “heat, air and light” in an interrogation cell should be externally controlled is added “but not to the point of torture.”

Disturbing questions
The 1983 interrogation manual was discussed at a closed hearing of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in June 1988. Then-Sen. William S. Cohen said that the interrogation manual raised disturbing questions, even with the revisions. Cohen is now the secretary of defense.

“No. 1, I am not sure why, in 1983, it became necessary to have such a manual,” Cohen said, according to a transcript declassified at The Sun’s request. “But, No. 2, upon its discovery, why we only sought to revise it in a fashion which says, ‘These are some of the techniques we think are abhorrent. We just want you to be aware of them so you’ll avoid them.’

” There’s a lot in this that troubles me in terms of whether you are sending subliminal signals that say, ‘This is improper, but, by the way, you ought to be aware of it.’ ”

KUBARK manual
A second document obtained by The Sun, the 1963 KUBARK manual, shows that, at least during the 1960s, agents were free to use coercion during interrogation, provided they obtained approval in advance.

It offers a list of interrogation techniques, including threats, fear, “debility, pain, heightened suggestibility and hypnosis, narcosis [use of drugs] and induced regression.”

Like the 1983 manual, the KUBARK manual describes the effectiveness of arresting suspects early in the morning, keeping prisoners blindfolded and taking away their clothes.

“Usually his own clothes are taken away,” the manual explains, “because familiar clothing reinforces identity and thus the capacity for resistance.” The KUBARK manual also cautions against making empty threats, and advises interrogators against directly inflicting pain.

It contains one direct and one oblique reference to electrical shocks.

The introduction warns that approval from headquarters is required if the interrogation is to include bodily harm or “if medical, chemical or electrical methods or materials are to be used to induce acquiescence.”

A passage on preparing for an interrogation contains this advice: “If a new safehouse is to be used as the interrogation site, it should be studied carefully to be sure that the total environment can be manipulated as desired. For example, the electric current should be known in advance, so that transformers or other modifying devices will be on hand if needed.”

An intelligence source told The Sun: “The CIA has acknowledged privately and informally in the past that this referred to the application of electric shocks to interrogation suspects.”

While it remains unclear whether the KUBARK manual was used in Central America, the 1963 manual and the 1983 manual are similar in organization and descriptions of certain interrogation techniques and purposes.

The KUBARK manual is mentioned in a 1989 memorandum prepared by the staff of the Senate intelligence committee on the CIA’s role in Honduras, and some members of the intelligence community during that period believe it was used in training the Hondurans. One said that some of the lessons from the manual were recorded almost verbatim in notes by CIA agents who sat in on the classes.

Source

How the CIA Taught the Portuguese to Torture

By CHRISTOPHER REED

May 21 2004

For several days in the early summer of 1974, I had open access to a strange and terrible prison near Lisbon, then empty because of the coup that April which ended 48 years of fascist dictatorship in Portugal. My prison time in Caxias was a never forgotten experience, but I did not expect the memories to return so vividly today — at the instigation of the United States.

My recollections pose the question of whether Caxias was a beginning of the American prison gulag, the lawless penal control stretching today from Guantanamo in Cuba, to the Middle East, Afghanistan and clandestine activities in Colombia, the Philippines, and other places unknown, as well as the suspected proxy torture havens like Syria. When did political prisoners across the world begin to answer not to their peers, but to Uncle Sam?

The prison of Caxias (Cuh-SHI-ash in Portuguese) was run by the secret police, the Pide (International Police for the Defence of the State), who were so feared by the Portuguese, pedestrians would cross to the opposite side of the street to pass its unmarked offices in Lisbon. Caxias was an old fortress near the sea, but inside was a modern torture chamber using the latest coercion techniques — devised by the US Central Intelligence Agency.

For decades in Caxias, thousands of political prisoners, mostly communists and socialists, were admitted for systematic torture and then released. Why were these known subversives, who had dedicated their lives to destroying the dictatorship, allowed to return to freedom? Because the success of the Pide’s state-of-the-art imported torture techniques meant that their previous lives were now irrelevant. In the Pide’s words, they had been “taken off the chess board”. Their lives, old and new, were destroyed.

My guide to Caxias was an Edinburgh-trained Portuguese psychiatrist, who for a mercifully short time had been a prisoner there himself. He told me that released prisoners, especially the communists — regarded as the toughest ones to crack — would often not go home. They would instead travel in the opposite direction from their families, take a simple job, or fall into alcoholism, even change their names; such were their new lives as mental zombies, created by coercion. (This was confirmed by another psychiatrist I interviewed who treated Caxias victims.)

Central to the torture was sleep deprivation, a newish discovery enshrined in a 128-page secret manual produced by the CIA in July 1963 called Kubark Counterintelligence Interrogation. I was told several times at Caxias that the Pide’s methods came from the CIA, although I did not knowingly see a copy of Kubark (the word is a code name for the agency itself). However, Portugal is and was a member of Nato, and as its secretive communist party was regarded as the nation’s most dangerous security threat, and the Cold War rumbled on, there seems no doubt that the US intelligence agency, ordered to fight communism everywhere, was the source. It also had the latest information on “coercive interrogation.”

This becomes plainer on perusal of the Kubark manual, which was declassified in 1997 when the Baltimore Sun threatened a suit under the US Freedom of Information Act. It clearly describes what I saw as the methods at Caxias, and read about in the Pide’s internal reports during my 1974 prison visits.

In chapter nine of Kubark, titled Coercive Counterintelligence Interrogation of Resistant Sources, it recommends sleep and sensory deprivation to produce the “DDD syndrome” of “debility, dependence, and dread” in “interrogatees.” (Note the dehumanisation of that word.) Victims could be reduced to compliance in a matter of hours or days, it said, but then warned against “applying duress past the point of irreversible psychological damage.” This sentence confirms what the Pide were doing.

The objective of CIA interrogation, as Kubark repeatedly emphasises, was information, hence the warning. But how conveniently this assisted the Pide, who were less interested in their victims’ information, than in their destruction. Caxias adopted Kubark, but deliberately took its methods to the extreme it warned against. But as the mind torturers’ manifesto carefully remarks: “The validity of the ethical arguments about coercion exceeds the scope of this paper.”

Complying with the manual’s recommendations, the sound-proofed Caxias cells contained no distractions. Walls and ceilings were white but scuff marks remained — they were excellent sources to stimulate the hallucinations that prisoners experienced after the first few days of sleeplessness. The light, as Kubark urges, was weak, artificial, and its source invisible. Huge concealed air-conditioner-heaters could turn the room in minutes from icy cold to a desert scorch.

Such furniture as there was, mostly a table and a few chairs, was rounded at the edges to prevent a prisoner trying to kill himself by running his head into them, as some had tried. Cell ceilings contained speakers which broadcast loud and terrifying sounds, or sometimes the cries and sobs of their wives or children. The Pide had recorded these and played them from a central “studio” which I saw.

Meals came at random, deliberately. An apparent breakfast might arrive at 4 pm; dinner in the middle of the night. No clocks or watches were allowed. Oh yes — and cells had no beds. The record for prisoner sleeplessness was a young engineer, a communist, kept awake for a full month. He committed suicide upon his release.

How can you keep someone awake for weeks? My psychiatrist friend sat me at the plastic-topped table and asked me to pretend to nod off. I closed my eyes — to be jerked out of it by a sharp but penetrating metallic series of sounds. He had taken out an escudo coin and simply rapped it on the table top. Astonishingly, this was usually sufficient, and guards took turns through the endless hours. Another method was to throw a mug of icy water in a prisoner’s face. And of course the tape recordings were always available.

In former times the Pide was notorious for brutal torture. But it mellowed under its benevolent CIA guides; violence was eschewed. I saw a report on a Pide officer demoted for striking a prisoner, thus renewing his resistance. As Kubark-CIA says: “Direct physical brutality creates only resentment, hostility, and further defiance.” The report on the Pide officer complained that his violence had “set back the treatment.” Caxias prisoners were not left naked and suffered no systematic sex coercion. That came years later — in 1983 when the CIA updated Kubark and recommended stripping prisoners and keeping them blindfolded. Presumably the additon of sexual manipulation is the latest thinking among US torture intellectuals.

The 1983 manual, enthusiastically used by CIA clients in the vicious “contra” war against Central American leftist nationalists in President Reagan’s years, was changed in 1985 after unfavourable publicity. An inserted page stated: “The use of force, mental torture, threats, insults, or exposure to inhumane treatment of any kind as an aid to interrogation is prohibited by law both internationally and domestically; it is neither authorised nor condoned.” But as they say, what goes around, comes around.

Source

Outsourcing Torture
The secret history of America’s “extraordinary rendition” program.

By Jane Mayer
February 14 2005

On January 27th, President Bush, in an interview with the Times, assured the world that “torture is never acceptable, nor do we hand over people to countries that do torture.” Maher Arar, a Canadian engineer who was born in Syria, was surprised to learn of Bush’s statement. Two and a half years ago, American officials, suspecting Arar of being a terrorist, apprehended him in New York and sent him back to Syria, where he endured months of brutal interrogation, including torture. When Arar described his experience in a phone interview recently, he invoked an Arabic expression. The pain was so unbearable, he said, that “you forget the milk that you have been fed from the breast of your mother.”

Arar, a thirty-four-year-old graduate of McGill University whose family emigrated to Canada when he was a teen-ager, was arrested on September 26, 2002, at John F. Kennedy Airport. He was changing planes; he had been on vacation with his family in Tunisia, and was returning to Canada. Arar was detained because his name had been placed on the United States Watch List of terrorist suspects. He was held for the next thirteen days, as American officials questioned him about possible links to another suspected terrorist. Arar said that he barely knew the suspect, although he had worked with the man’s brother. Arar, who was not formally charged, was placed in handcuffs and leg irons by plainclothes officials and transferred to an executive jet. The plane flew to Washington, continued to Portland, Maine, stopped in Rome, Italy, then landed in Amman, Jordan.

During the flight, Arar said, he heard the pilots and crew identify themselves in radio communications as members of “the Special Removal Unit.” The Americans, he learned, planned to take him next to Syria. Having been told by his parents about the barbaric practices of the police in Syria, Arar begged crew members not to send him there, arguing that he would surely be tortured. His captors did not respond to his request; instead, they invited him to watch a spy thriller that was aired on board.

Ten hours after landing in Jordan, Arar said, he was driven to Syria, where interrogators, after a day of threats, “just began beating on me.” They whipped his hands repeatedly with two-inch-thick electrical cables, and kept him in a windowless underground cell that he likened to a grave. “Not even animals could withstand it,” he said. Although he initially tried to assert his innocence, he eventually confessed to anything his tormentors wanted him to say. “You just give up,” he said. “You become like an animal.”

A year later, in October, 2003, Arar was released without charges, after the Canadian government took up his cause. Imad Moustapha, the Syrian Ambassador in Washington, announced that his country had found no links between Arar and terrorism. Arar, it turned out, had been sent to Syria on orders from the U.S. government, under a secretive program known as “extraordinary rendition.” This program had been devised as a means of extraditing terrorism suspects from one foreign state to another for interrogation and prosecution. Critics contend that the unstated purpose of such renditions is to subject the suspects to aggressive methods of persuasion that are illegal in America—including torture.

Arar is suing the U.S. government for his mistreatment. “They are outsourcing torture because they know it’s illegal,” he said. “Why, if they have suspicions, don’t they question people within the boundary of the law?”

Rendition was originally carried out on a limited basis, but after September 11th, when President Bush declared a global war on terrorism, the program expanded beyond recognition—becoming, according to a former C.I.A. official, “an abomination.” What began as a program aimed at a small, discrete set of suspects—people against whom there were outstanding foreign arrest warrants—came to include a wide and ill-defined population that the Administration terms “illegal enemy combatants.” Many of them have never been publicly charged with any crime. Scott Horton, an expert on international law who helped prepare a report on renditions issued by N.Y.U. Law School and the New York City Bar Association, estimates that a hundred and fifty people have been rendered since 2001. Representative Ed Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts and a member of the Select Committee on Homeland Security, said that a more precise number was impossible to obtain. “I’ve asked people at the C.I.A. for numbers,” he said. “They refuse to answer. All they will say is that they’re in compliance with the law.”

Although the full scope of the extraordinary-rendition program isn’t known, several recent cases have come to light that may well violate U.S. law. In 1998, Congress passed legislation declaring that it is “the policy of the United States not to expel, extradite, or otherwise effect the involuntary return of any person to a country in which there are substantial grounds for believing the person would be in danger of being subjected to torture, regardless of whether the person is physically present in the United States.”

The Bush Administration, however, has argued that the threat posed by stateless terrorists who draw no distinction between military and civilian targets is so dire that it requires tough new rules of engagement. This shift in perspective, labelled the New Paradigm in a memo written by Alberto Gonzales, then the White House counsel, “places a high premium on . . . the ability to quickly obtain information from captured terrorists and their sponsors in order to avoid further atrocities against American civilians,” giving less weight to the rights of suspects. It also questions many international laws of war. Five days after Al Qaeda’s attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Vice-President Dick Cheney, reflecting the new outlook, argued, on “Meet the Press,” that the government needed to “work through, sort of, the dark side.” Cheney went on, “A lot of what needs to be done here will have to be done quietly, without any discussion, using sources and methods that are available to our intelligence agencies, if we’re going to be successful. That’s the world these folks operate in. And so it’s going to be vital for us to use any means at our disposal, basically, to achieve our objective.”

Source

The Maher Arar His Story

Bush refuses to support UN over anti-torture pact

By Toby Harnden
July 25 2002

America last night refused to back a United Nations protocol against torture because of fears that it could allow international monitors to visit terrorist suspects in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

An official said the administration wanted to stop a vote at the UN Economic and Social Council so that negotiations on wording adopted in Geneva in April could be reopened.

European Union officials, who support the protocol, said it appeared that Washington would climb down from this position and abstain from the protocol, which would then be adopted by other countries.

A European diplomat said that rejecting the protocol outright would have placed America in the company of “the torturing countries” such as Cuba, Iran, China and Nigeria and the Bush administration was reluctant to do that. “It is another US-EU difference, but I don’t think the Americans are going to go and push this one to a head,” he said.

But this latest quarrel between America and its allies, including Britain, at the UN will fuel accusations of unilateralism and bad faith being levelled at President George W Bush with increasing vehemence. Human rights pressure groups have argued that the protocol is essential to enforce the Convention Against Torture, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1984 and came into force four years later.

“A vote against the optional protocol would be a disastrous setback in the fight against torture,” said Martin MacPherson, of Amnesty International. Rory Mungoven, of Human Rights Watch, said renegotiating “will mean a kiss of death” to the protocol.

US opposition to the Kyoto protocol on global warming, another on biological weapons and the International Criminal Court has strained transatlantic relations since Mr Bush took office.

The anti-torture pact has been ratified by 130 countries, including America. Its signatories agreed to ban torture and refrain from cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of prisoners.

But senior figures in the Bush administration – most notably in the Pentagon – have argued that the protocol could lead to intrusive inspections of the American detention camp at Guantanamo Bay.

More than 550 prisoners from 39 countries, including Britain, are in custody at the US naval base on the eastern edge of Cuba though they have not been charged with any offence. Diplomats, police and intelligence agents from Britain, Yemen, Bahrain, Spain, Denmark, France and other countries have been allowed to visit detainees and the International Committee for the Red Cross has a permanent presence there.

The White House was stung by international criticism of the treatment of the detainees and was particularly enraged by coverage of the issue in the British tabloid press.

US officials believe that UN monitors would be likely to be extremely hostile to America and could create more bad publicity.

The protocol, establishing an international system of inspecting prisons and other places of detention, was put forward by Costa Rica and gained support from the EU and many Latin American, Caribbean and African countries. Mr Mungoven said there were safeguards in the protocol that meant the UN would notify governments before inspections were made, allow them to respond to any findings and ensure that reports were kept secret.

Only countries that eventually ratified the amendment would be subject to inspections. “It’s an optional system,” he said. “The US doesn’t have to buy into it.”

Source

Legal Scholars Outraged by Talk of Blanket Pardons

CIA Torture Tactics Endorsed in Secret Memos


Waterboarding got nod from White House

By Joby Warrick

The Bush administration issued a pair of secret memos to the CIA in 2003 and 2004 that explicitly endorsed the agency’s use of interrogation techniques such as waterboarding against al-Qaeda suspects — documents prompted by worries among intelligence officials about a possible backlash if details of the program became public.

The classified memos, which have not been previously disclosed, were requested by then-CIA Director George J. Tenet more than a year after the start of the secret interrogations, according to four administration and intelligence officials familiar with the documents. Although Justice Department lawyers, beginning in 2002, had signed off on the agency’s interrogation methods, senior CIA officials were troubled that White House policymakers had never endorsed the program in writing.

The memos were the first — and, for years, the only — tangible expressions of the administration’s consent for the CIA’s use of harsh measures to extract information from captured al-Qaeda leaders, the sources said. As early as the spring of 2002, several White House officials, including then-national security adviser Condoleezza Rice and Vice President Cheney, were given individual briefings by Tenet and his deputies, the officials said. Rice, in a statement to congressional investigators last month, confirmed the briefings and acknowledged that the CIA director had pressed the White House for “policy approval.”

Worried about lack of paper trail
The repeated requests for a paper trail reflected growing worries within the CIA that the administration might later distance itself from key decisions about the handling of captured al-Qaeda leaders, former intelligence officials said. The concerns grew more pronounced after the revelations of mistreatment of detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, and further still as tensions grew between the administration and its intelligence advisers over the conduct of the Iraq war.

“It came up in the daily meetings. We heard it from our field officers,” said a former senior intelligence official familiar with the events. “We were already worried that we” were going to be blamed.

A. John Radsan, a lawyer in the CIA general counsel’s office until 2004, remembered the discussions but did not personally view the memos the agency received in response to its concerns. “The question was whether we had enough ‘top cover,’ ” Radsan said.

Tenet first pressed the White House for written approval in June 2003, during a meeting with members of the National Security Council, including Rice, the officials said. Days later, he got what he wanted: a brief memo conveying the administration’s approval for the CIA’s interrogation methods, the officials said.

Administration officials confirmed the existence of the memos, but neither they nor former intelligence officers would describe their contents in detail because they remain classified. The sources all spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not cleared to discuss the events.

The second request from Tenet, in June 2004, reflected growing worries among agency officials who had just witnessed the public outcry over the Abu Ghraib scandal. Officials who held senior posts at the time also spoke of deteriorating relations between the CIA and the White House over the war in Iraq — a rift that prompted some to believe that the agency needed even more explicit proof of the administration’s support.

“The CIA by this time is using the word ‘insurgency’ to describe the Iraq conflict, so the White House is viewing the agency with suspicion,” said a second former senior intelligence official.

As recently as last month, the administration had never publicly acknowledged that its policymakers knew about the specific techniques, such as waterboarding, that the agency used against high-ranking terrorism suspects. In her unprecedented account to lawmakers last month, Rice, now secretary of state, portrayed the White House as initially uneasy about a controversial CIA plan for interrogating top al-Qaeda suspects.

After learning about waterboarding and similar tactics in early 2002, several White House officials questioned whether such harsh measures were “effective and necessary . . . and lawful,” Rice said. Her concerns led to an investigation by the Justice Department’s criminal division into whether the techniques were legal.

Misgivings apparently overcome
But whatever misgivings existed that spring were apparently overcome. Former and current CIA officials say no such reservations were voiced in their presence.

In interviews, the officials recounted a series of private briefings about the program with members of the administration’s security team, including Rice and Cheney, followed by more formal meetings before a larger group including then-Attorney General John D. Ashcroft, then-White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales and then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. None of the officials recalled President Bush being present at any of the discussions.

Several of the key meetings have been previously described in news articles and books, but Rice last month became the first Cabinet-level official to publicly confirm the White House’s awareness of the program in its earliest phases. In written responses to questions from the Senate Armed Services Committee, Rice said Tenet’s description of the agency’s interrogation methods prompted her to investigate further to see whether the program violated U.S. laws or international treaties, according to her written responses, dated Sept. 12 and released late last month.

“I asked that . . . Ashcroft personally advise the NSC principles whether the program was lawful,” Rice wrote.

‘CIA had the White House boxed in’
Current and former intelligence officials familiar with the briefings described Tenet as supportive of enhanced interrogation techniques, which the officials said were developed by CIA officers after the agency’s first high-level captive, al-Qaeda operative Zayn al-Abidin Muhammed Hussein, better known as Abu Zubaida, refused to cooperate with interrogators.

“The CIA believed then, and now, that the program was useful and helped save lives,” said a former senior intelligence official knowledgeable about the events. “But in the agency’s view, it was like this: ‘We don’t want to continue unless you tell us in writing that it’s not only legal but is the policy of the administration.’ “

One administration official familiar with the meetings said the CIA made such a convincing case that no one questioned whether the methods were necessary to prevent further terrorist attacks.

“The CIA had the White House boxed in,” said the official. “They were saying, ‘It’s the only way to get the information we needed, and — by the way — we think there’s another attack coming up.’ It left the principals in an extremely difficult position and put the decision-making on a very fast track.”

But others who were present said Tenet seemed more interested in protecting his subordinates than in selling the administration on a policy that administration lawyers had already authorized.

“The suggestion that someone from CIA came in and browbeat everybody is ridiculous,” said one former agency official familiar with the meeting. “The CIA understood that it was controversial and would be widely criticized if it became public,” the official said of the interrogation program. “But given the tenor of the times and the belief that more attacks were coming, they felt they had to do what they could to stop the attack.”

Anxiety
The CIA’s anxiety was partly fueled by the lack of explicit presidential authorization for the interrogation program. A secret White House “memorandum of notification” signed by Bush on Sept. 15, 2001, gave the agency broad authority to wage war against al-Qaeda, including killing and capturing its members. But it did not spell out how captives should be handled during interrogation.

But by the time the CIA requested written approval of its policy, in June 2003, the population of its secret prisons had grown from one to nine, including Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the alleged principal architect of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Three of the detainees had been subjected to waterboarding, which involves strapping a prisoner to a board, covering his face and pouring water over his nose and mouth to simulate drowning.

By the spring of 2004, the concerns among agency officials had multiplied, in part because of shifting views among administration lawyers about what acts might constitute torture, leading Tenet to ask a second time for written confirmation from the White House. This time the reaction was far more reserved, recalled two former intelligence officials.

“The Justice Department in particular was resistant,” said one former intelligence official who participated in the discussions. “They said it doesn’t need to be in writing.”

Tenet and his deputies made their case in yet another briefing before the White House national security team in June 2004. It was to be one of the last such meetings for Tenet, who had already announced plans to step down as CIA director. Author Jane Mayer, who described the briefing in her recent book, “The Dark Side,” said the graphic accounts of interrogation appeared to make some participants uncomfortable. “History will not judge us kindly,” Mayer quoted Ashcroft as saying.

Participants in the meeting did not recall whether a vote was taken. Several weeks passed, and Tenet left the agency without receiving a formal response.

Finally, in mid-July, a memo was forwarded to the CIA reaffirming the administration’s backing for the interrogation program. Tenet had acquired the statement of support he sought.

Source

This was also Done.

Maher Arar is a 34-year-old wireless technology consultant. He was born in Syria and came to Canada with his family at the age of 17. He became a Canadian citizen in 1991. On Sept. 26, 2002, while in transit in New York’s JFK airport when returning home from a vacation, Arar was detained by US officials and interrogated about alleged links to al-Qaeda. Twelve days later, he was chained, shackled and flown to Syria, where he was held in a tiny “grave-like” cell for ten months and ten days before he was moved to a better cell in a different prison. In Syria, he was beaten, tortured and forced to make a false confession.

During his imprisonment, Arar’s wife, Monia Mazigh, campaigned relentlessly on his behalf until he was returned to Canada in October 2003. On Jan. 28, 2004, under pressure from Canadian human rights organizations and a growing number of citizens, the Government of Canada announced a Commission of Inquiry into the Actions of Canadian Officials in Relation to Maher Arar.

On September 18, 2006, the Commissioner of the Inquiry, Justice Dennis O’Connor, cleared Arar of all terrorism allegations, stating he was “able to say categorically that there is no evidence to indicate that Mr. Arar has committed any offence or that his activities constitute a threat to the security of Canada.” To read the Commissioner’s report, including his findings on the actions of Canadian officials, please visit the Arar Commission’s website or click here.

You can read the chronolgy of events that led to Maher’s arrest, deportation and return in pdf format here.
You can read Maher’s statement during the press conference held on November 4, 2003 in pdf format here.
You can watch a short video about what happened to Maher here.

What happened to Maher Arar was horrifying.

Bush said repeatedly they didn’t torture people.  They also new where to send someone to, to get the torturing done for them as well.  Of course we now, know the Bush administration did torture people.

Bush lied. If he lied about that. One has to wonder what else he lied about?

There is a bit of a list at the bottom.


Steering Committee To Seek Prosecution of Bush For War Crimes

October 14 2008

Massachusetts law school Dean Lawrence Velvel will chair a Steering Committee to pursue the prosecution for war crimes of President Bush and culpable high-ranking aides after they leave office Jan. 20th.

The Steering Committee was organized following a conference of leading legal authorities and scholars from the U.S. and abroad convened by Velvel on Sept. 13-14 in Andover, Mass., titled “The Justice Robert Jackson Conference On Planning For The Prosecution of High Level American War Criminals.”

“If Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and others are not prosecuted,” Velvel said, “the future could be threatened by additional examples of Executive lawlessness by leaders who need fear no personal consequences for their actions, including more illegal wars such as Iraq.”

Besides Velvel, members of the Steering Committee include:

Ben Davis, a law Professor at the University of Toledo College of Law, where he teaches Public International Law and International Business Transactions. He is the author of numerous articles on international and related domestic law.

Marjorie Cohn, a law Professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego, Calif., and President of the National Lawyers Guild.

Chris Pyle, a Professor at Mount Holyoke College, where he teaches Constitutional law, Civil Liberties, Rights of Privacy, American Politics and American Political Thought, and is the author of many books and articles.

Elaine Scarry, the Walter M. Cabot Professor of Aesthetics and the General Theory of Value at Harvard University, and winner of the Truman Capote Award for Literary Criticism.

Peter Weiss, vice president of the Center For Constitutional Rights, of New York City, which was recently involved with war crimes complaints filed in Germany and Japan against former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and others.

David Swanson, author, activist and founder of AfterDowningStreet.org/CensureBush.org coalition, of Charlottesville, Va.

Kristina Borjesson, an award-winning print and broadcast journalist for more than twenty years and editor of two recent books on the media.

Colleen Costello, Staff Attorney of Human Rights, USA, of Washington, D.C., and coordinator of its efforts involving torture by the American government.

Valeria Gheorghiu, attorney for Workers’ Rights Law Center.

Andy Worthington of Redress, a British historian and journalist and author of books dealing with human rights violations.

Initial actions considered by the Steering Committee, Velvel said, are as follows:

# Seeking prosecutions of high level officials, including George Bush, for the crimes they committed.

# Seeking disbarment of lawyers who were complicitous in facilitating torture.

# Seeking termination from faculty positions of high officials who were complicitous in torture.

# Issuing a recent statement saying any attempt by Bush to pardon himself and aides for war crimes prior to leaving office will result in efforts to obtain impeachment even after they leave office.

# Convening a major conference on the state secret and executive privilege doctrines, which have been pushed to record levels during the Bush administration.

# Designation of an Information Repository Coordinator to gather in one place all available information involving the Bush Administration’s war crimes.

# Possible impeachment of 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Jay Bybee for co-authoring the infamous “torture memo.”

Source

List of a few Lies:

1. Bush: “We went into Russia, we said, ‘Here’s some IMF money,’ and it ended up in Viktor Chernomyrdin’s pocket and others.”

Fact: “Bush appears to have tangled up whispers about possible wrongdoing by Chernomyrdin — who co-chaired a commission with Gore on U.S.-Russian relations — with other unrelated allegations concerning the diversion of International Monetary Fund money. While there has been speculation that Chernomyrdin profited from his relationship with Gazprom, a big Russian energy concern, there have been no allegations that he stole IMF money.” Washingon Post, 10/12/00

2. Bush: “We got one [a hate crime law] in Texas, and guess what? The three men who murdered James Byrd, guess what’s going to happen to them? They’re going to be put to death … It’s going to be hard to punish them any worse after they get put to death….We’re happy with our laws on our books.”

Fact: “The three were convicted under Texas’ capital murder statute…The state has a hate crime statute, but it is vague.” LA Times, 10/12/00.
“The original Texas hate-crimes bill, signed into law by Democrat Ann Richards, boosted penalties for crimes motivated by bigotry. As Gore correctly noted, Bush maneuvered to make sure a new hate-crimes law related to the Byrd killing did not make it to his desk. The new bill would have included homosexuals among the groups covered, which would have been anathema to social conservatives in the state.” Washington Post, 10/12/00

3. Bush: bragged that in Texas he was signing up children for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) as “fast as any other state.”

Fact: “As governor he fought to unsuccessfully to limit access to the program. He would have limited its coverage to children with family incomes up to 150 percent of the poverty level, though federal law permitted up to 200 percent. The practical effect of Bush’s efforts would have been to exclude 200,000 of the 500,000 possible enrollees.” Washington Post, 10/12/00

4. Bush: “He [Gore] is for registration of guns.”

Fact: “Gore actually favors licensing for new handgun purchasers but nothing as vast as registering all guns.” Salon, 10/12/00

5. Bush: Said he found Gore’s tendency to exaggerate “an issue in trying to defend my tax relief package. There was some exaggeration about the numbers” in the first debate.

Fact: “No, there wasn’t, and Bush himself acknowledged that the next day on ABC’s Good Morning America when Charlie Gibson pinned him on it.” Salon, 10/12/00

6. Bush: “I felt during his debate with Senator [Bill] Bradley saying he [Gore] authored the EITC [earned-income tax credit] when it didn’t happen.”

Fact: “Actually, Gore had claimed to have authored an ‘expansion of the earned-income tax credit,’ which he did in 1991.” Salon, 10/12/00

7. Fact: Gore noted that Texas “ranks 49th out of the 50 states in healthcare in children with healthcare, 49th for women with healthcare and 50th for families with healthcare”

Bush: “You can quote all the numbers you want but I’m telling you we care about our people in Texas. We spent a lot of money to make sure people get healthcare in the state of Texas.”

8. Fact: Gore said, “I’m no expert on the Texas procedures, but what my friends there tell me is that the governor opposed a measure put forward by Democrats in the Legislature to expand the number of children that would be covered … And instead [he] directed the money toward a tax cut, a significant part of which went to wealthy interests.”

Bush: “If he’s trying to allege I’m a hardhearted person and don’t care about children, he’s absolutely wrong.”

9. Bush: “The three men who murdered James Byrd, guess what’s going to happen to them? They’ll be put to death. A jury found them guilty.”

Fact: Two of the three are being put to death. The other was given life. Bush Watch, 10/12/00

10. Bush: said he favored “equal” rights for gays and lesbians, but not “special” rights.

Fact: “Bush has supported a Texas law that allows the state to take adopted children from gay and lesbian couples to place the kids with straight couples.” Salon, 10/12/00.
“Bush supports hate crime protections for other minorities! So Bush doesn’t believe that gays should have the same ‘special’ rights in this regard as blacks, Jews, Wiccans and others. Employment discrimination? Again, Bush supports those rights for other Americans, but not gays. Military service? Bush again supports the right to military service for all qualified people–as long as they don’t tell anyone they’re gay. Marriage? How on earth is that a special right when every heterosexual in America already has it? But again, Bush thinks it should be out-of-bounds for gays. What else is there? The right to privacy? Nuh-huh. Bush supports a gays-only sodomy law in his own state that criminalizes consensual sex in private between two homosexuals.” New Republic, 10/13/00

11. Bush. “We ought to do everything we can to end racial profiling.”

Fact: The Texas Department of Public Safety has just this year begun keeping detailed information about the race and sex of all people stopped by its troopers, the sixth year Bush has been in office. Salon, 10/12/00

12. Bush got caught not giving the full story on Texas air pollution laws. He was correct in saying the 1999 utility deregulation bill he signed into law had mandatory emissions standards.

Fact: “What was missing, as Gore’s campaign pointed out, was that many more non-utility industrial plants are not mandated to reduce air quality. The issue is an important one because Texas ranks near the bottom in air-quality standards. Bush instead approved a voluntary program allowing grandfathered oil, coal, and other industrial plants to cut down on pollution.” Boston Globe, 10/12/00

13. Bush: About the Balkans, “I think it ought to be one of our priorities to work with our European friends to convince them to put troops on the ground.”

Fact: “European forces already make up a large majority of the peacekeeping forces in Bosnia and Kosovo.” Washington Post, 10/12/00

14. Bush: “One of the problems we have in the military is we’re in a lot of places around the world” and cited Haiti as an example.

Fact: “Though approximately 20,000 U.S. troops went to Haiti in 1994, as of late August this year, there were only 109 U.S. troops in Haiti and most were rotating through as part of an exercise.” Washington Post, 10/12/00

15. Bush: “I don’t think we ought to be selling guns to people who shouldn’t have them. That’s why I support instant background checks at gun shows. One of the reasons we have an instant background check is so that we instantly know whether or not someone should have a gun or not.”

Fact: “Bush overstates the effectiveness of instant background checks for people trying to buy guns … The Los Angeles Times reported on Oct. 3 that during Bush’s term as governor, Texas granted licenses for carrying concealed guns to hundreds of people with criminal records and histories of drug problems, violence or psychological disorders.” Washington Post, 10/12/00
“He didn’t mention that Texas failed to perform full background checks on 407 people who had prior criminal convictions but were granted concealed handgun licenses under a law he signed in 1995. Of those, 71 had convictions that should have excluded them from having a concealed gun permit, the Texas Department of Public Safety acknowledged.” AP, 10/12/00

16. Bush:”Said the number of Texans without health insurance had declined while the number in the United States had risen.”

Fact: ” A new Census Bureau report says the number of uninsured Americans declined last year for the first time since statistics were kept in 1987. About 42.5 million people, or 15.5 percent of the population, lacked insurance in 1999, compared with 44.2 million, or 16.3 percent, in 1998, the agency reported. Texas ranked next-to-last in the nation last year with 23.3 percent of its residents uninsured. But that was an improvement from 1998, when it ranked 50th at 24.5 percent.” AP, 10/12/00

17. Bush: “Some of the scientists, I believe, Mr. Vice President, haven’t they been changing their opinion a little bit on global warming?”

Fact: “Bush’s dismissive comments about global warming could bolster the charge that he and fellow oilman Dick Cheney are in the pocket of the oil industry, which likewise pooh-poohs the issue. [While] there is no consensus about the impact of global warming, … most scientists agree that humans are contributing to the rising global temperature. ‘Most climate experts are certain that global warming is real and that it threatens ecology and human prosperity, and a growing number say it is well under way,’ wrote New York Times science writer Andrew Revkin.” Salon, 10/13/00

18. Bush: When Jim Lehrer asked Bush if he approved of the U.S. intervention in Lebanon during the Reagan years, Bush answered a quick “yes” and moved on.

Fact: “Lebanon was a disaster in the history of American foreign affairs. Next to Iran-Contra, it was the Reagan administration’s greatest overseas fiasco. Quoting from the Encyclopedia of the American Presidency: ‘[In 1983] Reagan stumbled into a disastrous intervention in the Middle East when he sent U.S. Marines into Lebanon on an ill-defined mission as part of an international peacekeeping force.’ In December, according to Reagan biographer Edmund Morris, ‘two days before Christmas, a Pentagon commission of inquiry into the Beirut barracks bombing humiliated [Secretary of State] Shultz [who had backed the intervention], and embarrassed Reagan, by concluding that the dead Marines had been victims of a myopic Middle Eastern policy.'” tompaine.com, 10/11/00

19. Bush: “I thought the president made the right decision in joining NATO and bombing Serbia. I supported him when they did so.”

Fact: The bombing of Serbia began on March 24, 1999, and Bush did not express even measured support until April 8, 1999 — nearly two weeks later. Prior to April 8, 1999, every comment by Bush about the bombing was non-committal. Finally, he offered a measured endorsement: “It’s important for the United States to be slow to engage the military, but once the military is engaged, it must be engaged with one thing in mind, and that is victory,” he said after being pressed by reporters. A Houston Chronicle story documented the Governor’s statements on the crisis and reported that “Bush has been widely criticized for being slow to adopt a position on Kosovo and then for making vague statements on the subject.” Houston Chronicle, 4/9/99

20. Bush: Discussing International Loans: “And there’s some pretty egregious examples recently, one being Russia where we had IMF loans that ended up in the pockets of a lot of powerful people and didn’t help the nation.”

Fact: Bush’s own vice presidential candidate, Dick Cheney, lobbied for U.S.-backed loan to Russia that helped his own company. “Halliburton Co. lobbied for and received $ 292 million in loan guarantees to develop one of the world’s largest oil fields in Russia. Cheney said: ‘This is exactly the type of project we should be encouraging if Russia is to succeed in reforming its economy … We at Halliburton appreciate the support of the Export-Import Bank and look forward to beginning work on this important project..” PR Newswire 4/6/2000.
The State Department, armed with a CIA report detailing corruption by Halliburton’s Russian partner, invoked a seldom-used prerogative and ordered suspension of the loan. The loan guarantee “ran counter to America’s ‘national interest,” the State Department ruled. New Republic, 8/7/00

21. Bush “There’s a lot of talk about trigger locks being on guns sold in the future. I support that.”

Fact: When asked in 1999, if he was in support of mandatory safety locks, Bush said, ” No, I’m not, I’m for voluntary safety locks on guns.” In March of 2000, Bush said he would not push for trigger lock legislation, but would sign it if it passed [Washington Post, 3/3/00;ABC, Good Morning America, 5/10/99]. When Bush was asked, “when two bills were introduced in the Texas legislature to require the sale of child safety locks with newly purchased handguns, and you never addressed the issue with the legislature, and both bills died. If you support it, why did that happen?” Bush said, “Because those bills had no votes in committee.” When asked again if he supported the bills, Bush said, “I wasn’t even aware of those bills because they never even got out of committee.” NBC, Today Show, 5/12/00

22. Bush: “Africa is important and we’ve got to do a lot of work in Africa to promote democracy and trade.” Fact “While Africa may be important, it doesn’t fit into the national strategic interests, as far as I can see them,” Bush said earlier. When he was asked for his vision of the U.S. national interests, he named every continent except Africa. According to Time magazine, “[Bush] focused exclusively on big ticket issues … Huge chunks of the globe — Africa and Latin America, for example — were not addressed at all.” Time, 12/6/99; PBS News Hour, 2/16/00; Toronto Star, 2/16/00

23. Bush: “There’s only been one governor ever elected to back-to-back four year terms and that was me.”

Fact: The governors who served two consecutive four-year terms (meeting Bush’s statement criteria are): Coke R. Stevenson (2 consecutive 4-year terms) August 4, 1941-January 21, 1947. Allan Shivers (2 consecutive four-year terms) July 11, 1949-January 15, 1957. Price Daniel (2 consecutive four-year terms) January 15, 1957-January 15, 1963. John Connally (2 consecutive four-year terms) January 15, 1963-January 21, 1969. Dolph Briscoe (2 consecutive four-year terms) January 16, 1973-January 16, 1979. George W. Bush (2 consecutive four-year terms) January 17, 1995 to present. Source: Texas State Libraries and Archives Commission.

24. Bush: “We spend $4.7 billion a year on the uninsured in the state of Texas.”

Fact: The state of Texas came up with less than $1B for this purpose. $3.5 came from local governments, private providers, and charities, $198M from the federal government, and just less than $1B from Texas state agencies. Source: Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.

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Bush-Cheney Administration Lies About Iraq

“Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction.”

– Dick Cheney, August 26 2002

“Right now, Iraq is expanding and improving facilities that were used for the production of biological weapons.”

– George W. Bush, September 12 2002

“If he declares he has none, then we will know that Saddam Hussein is once again misleading the world.”

– Ari Fleischer, December 2 2002

“We know for a fact that there are weapons there.”

– Ari Fleischer, January 9 2003

“Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent.”

– George W. Bush, State of the Union address, January 28 2003

“We know that Saddam Hussein is determined to keep his weapons of mass destruction, is determined to make more.”

– Colin Powell, February 5 2003

“We have sources that tell us that Saddam Hussein recently authorized Iraqi field commanders to use chemical weapons.”

– George Bush, February 8 2003

“Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised.”

– George Bush, March 17 2003

“Well, there is no question that we have evidence and information that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, biological and chemical particularly . . . all this will be made clear in the course of the operation, for whatever duration it takes.”

– Ari Fleischer, March 21 2003

“There is no doubt that the regime of Saddam Hussein possesses weapons of mass destruction. As this operation continues, those weapons will be identified, found, along with the people who have produced them and who guard them.”

– Gen. Tommy Franks, March 22 2003

“We know where they are. They are in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad.”

– Donald Rumsfeld, March 30 2003.

“Iraq has trained Al Qaeda members in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases.”

– Bush in October 2002.

“Saddam Hussein aids and protects terrorists, including members of al Qaeda.”

– Bush in January 2003 State of the Union address.

“Iraq has also provided Al Qaeda with chemical and biological weapons training.”

– Bush in February 2003.

“sinister nexus between Iraq and the Al-Qaeda terrorist network.”

Powell in his U.N. speech prior to the Iraq War.

“We have removed an ally of Al Qaeda.”

Bush in May 2003.

Stated that the Iraqis were “providing bomb-making expertise and advice to the Al Qaeda organization.”

– Cheney in September 2003.

“Saddam had an established relationship with Al Qaeda, providing training to Al Qaeda members in the areas of poisons, gases, making conventional weapons.”

– Cheney in October 2003.

…….

Cheney said Saddam “had long established ties with Al Qaeda.”

– June 14, 2004.

Bush said, “The reason I keep insisting that there was a relationship between Iraq and Saddam and Al Qaeda, because there was a relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda.”

– June 17, 2004.

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