1 December 2005
U.S. torture practices on the increase
U.S. alienates itself more and more from the rest of the world
By Daan de Wit
The CIA is now also using Schiphol Airport (Amsterdam, The Netherlands) as a transit point to or from the 'black sites', situated in countries such as Egypt, Morocco, Uzbekistan, Pakistan and Syria, but possibly countries in Europe as well. Following the lead of human rights organizations, veterans of the CIA are speaking out against torture, the American Senate is preparing legislation against torture (which the White House is opposing), and European Commissioner Frattini is threatening EU member states that have offered clandestine cover for CIA prisons with the temporary loss of their voting rights in the European Union. Europe has put up with a lot from the United States, but is now outraged. Just exactly what is going on, and how has it managed to get this far?
It was only a question of time; an airplane under contract to the CIA, ferrying people to countries where they will face torture, has landed in The Netherlands. A CIA torture plane was discovered on Thursday of last week at Schiphol. DeepJournal reported previously on Sweden, where Muhammed Al-Zery was kidnapped by masked CIA agents with the help of the Swedish special police and then taken away by private jet, eventually ending up in Egypt where he was tortured through electrocution. The CIA has kidnapped people from other Western countries as well. Besides The Netherlands and Sweden, around 300 torture flights have been revealed in for instance Iceland, Spain and Germany. These countries are now taking action against these flights. It has even gotten to the point that the BushBlairBalkenende administration has become internally divided: Jack Straw, England's Foreign Secretary, has written Washington requesting an explanation, and The Netherlands, via Foreign Affairs Minister Bot, is threatening that it can have 'consequences' for the extension of Dutch participation in missions in Afghanistan.
Torture practices find their roots in the White House
Earlier journalist Seymour Hersh wrote that the orders to torture in Abu Ghraib came from the White House, specifically Donald Rumsfeld and his Copper Green program, which dictated the terms of the torture and sexual humiliation and was to a large degree carried out by Rumsfeld's Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, Stephen Cambone. Cambone and Rumsfeld are both part of the Project for a New American Century (PNAC), an organization that DeepJournal has already written about. Some of the people who carried out the torture at Abu Ghraib have been convicted, but recently the former general in charge at Abu Ghraib substantiated the findings of Hersh by submitting that the orders for torture originated in the White House. Cheney's opposition to the proposed legislation denouncing torture is in line with the U.S.'s refusal to recognize the International Court of Justice in The Hague, and is also consistent with a draft report prepared by the Pentagon, which asserts that Bush can ignore all national and international laws against torture. The U.S. wants to back away from universally recognized standards and values and set its own course; the results are starting to become evident.
Examples of torture methods put to use
The Guardian quotes a victim that was flown by the U.S. to Pakistan in order to be tortured there: 'One of them took my penis in his hand and began to make cuts. He did it once, and they stood still for maybe a minute, watching my reaction. I was in agony. They must have done this 20 to 30 times, in maybe two hours. There was blood all over. "I told you I was going to teach you who's the man," [one] eventually said.' Later the man was transported to Morocco: 'I suffered the razor treatment about once a month for the remaining time I was in Morocco, even after I'd agreed to confess to whatever they wanted to hear. It became like a routine. They'd come in, tie me up, spend maybe an hour doing it. They never spoke to me. Then they'd tip some kind of liquid on me - the burning was like grasping a hot coal. The cutting, that was one kind of pain. The burning, that was another.' During his detention it was explained to the man exactly what he should say in the courtroom.
'[Mamdouh] Habib, a former coffee shop manager from Sydney, was arrested in Pakistan, close to the Afghan border, a month after 9/11. He was handed over to US agents, who flew him to Cairo, where he was tortured for six months, according to his US lawyer, Professor Joe Margulies, of the MacArthur Justice Centre of the University of Chicago. Margulies says: “Mr Habib describes routine beatings. He was taken into a room and handcuffed and the room was gradually filled with water until the water was just beneath his chin. Can you imagine the terror of knowing you can't escape?” On another occasion, he was suspended from a wall. “His feet rested on a drum with a metal bar through it. And when they passed an electric current on the drum he got a jolt of electricity and he had to move his feet, and he was left suspended by his hands. And it went on until he fainted.” Under this interrogation, Margulies, says, Habib confessed to his involvement with al-Qaida and readily signed “every document they put in front of him”, wrote Stephen Grey in Le Monde diplomatique, in April of this year. 'British journalist Stephen Grey, who claims to have a list of the flight movements of CIA aircraft, says he has discovered 210 suspicious flights in England alone', according to Der Spiegel.
In Syria the Canadian engineer Maher Arar was beaten with electrical cables on the palms of his hands and soles of his feet, writes The New Statesman; 'He was not alone: from the cells around him, he heard the screams of those under torture. One prisoner was from Spain, another from Germany. [...] J Cofer Black, former head of the CIA's counter-terrorism centre, testified in late 2002 that there were at least 3,000 terrorist prisoners being held worldwide. Intelligence documents show the scale may be even greater.' It's not clear whether this concerns people who are being held prisoner in the black sites. About this specifically, it has been spoken of 'hundreds' of people: 'Hundreds of suspects are believed to have passed through the [black sites] system [...]'.
'A Nov. 18 ABC News report quoted former and current intelligence officers and supervisors as saying that the CIA has a list of acceptable interrogation methods, including soaking naked prisoners with water in 50-degree rooms and making them stand for 40 hours handcuffed and shackled to an eyebolt in the floor. ABC reported that these methods had been used on at least a dozen captured al Qaeda members.' In another article ABC quotes another victim of torture in Iraq: '"They took us to a cage — an animal cage that had lions in it within the Republican Palace," he said. "And they threatened us that if we did not confess, they would put us inside the cage with the lions in it. It scared me a lot when they got me close to the cage, and they threatened me. And they opened the door and they threatened that if I did not confess, that they were going to throw me inside the cage. And as the lion was coming closer, they would pull me back out and shut the door, and tell me, 'We will give you one more chance to confess.' And I would say, 'Confess to what?" [...] "I found the other prisoners who had come before me there in the line beside me mocking, in a way as to make it a mock execution," he said. "They all stood up, those of us who could stand up. They directed their weapons towards us. And they shot, shot towards our heads and chests. And when the shots sounded, some of us lost consciousness. Some started to cry. Some lost control of their bladders. And they were laughing the whole time."' The two men, Thahee Sabbar and Sherzad Khalid, have lodged a complaint against Donald Rumsfeld. A group of 160 lawyers assembled in Lawyers Against the War, aiming higher, have complained to President Bush.
The torture manuals of the U.S. and England were featured earlier in this DeepJournal series. The Brits make use of R2I, short for Resistance to Interrogation. U.S. methods are founded on the KUBARK-handbook from 1963. 'Collected excerpts of this manual and of other manuals later recovered by the military espionage during the 60s, known as “Project X” were mixed to write a second “Bible” of the perfect torturer which was titled Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual -1993. The new manuals were largely used again in South America from 1983 to 1987', writes Arthur Lepic of VoltaireNet. The R2I manual has undergone a revision and is also being used by the Australian military.
People arbitrarily sold as prisoners to U.S.
Where does this out of control behavior come from? Divorced from every standard, detached from every value. In a previous DeepJournal we looked at examples of this conduct, devoid of standards and values, in both The Netherlands and the United States. The cases of torture described in this DeepJournal only add to the list of facts. The 'highest' authority is the source of the 'lowest' behavior, and notably enough, pleads all along for the highest of standards. Both President Bush and Dutch Prime Minister Balkenende love to promote their concept of standards and values. Both have carried out extensive campaigns in support of this agenda. Is there a relationship between their lofty words and their low deeds? Does it also work the other way around? It certainly seems to. Everyday people, against whom the Western authorities are now arming themselves by putting into place measures that control and restrict freedom, for example hit the streets to demonstrate for peace and against a war with Iraq. And in the documentary Rize by David LaChapelle, now playing in theaters, citizens of poor neighborhoods in Los Angeles can be seen striving to rise above poverty and gang violence. It seems as if the average man wants peace and harmony, but that he has to be persuaded to wage war through lies and deceit.
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