Posts tagged as: torture


Monday, July 7, 2008


Want to know if waterboarding is torture? Ask Christopher Hitchens

‘Late last year, the writer, polemicist and fierce proponent of the US-led invasion of Iraq Christopher Hitchens attempted, in a piece for the online magazine Slate, to draw a distinction between what he called techniques of “extreme interrogation” and “outright torture”.

From this, his foes inferred that since it was Hitchens’ belief that America did not stoop to the latter, the practice of waterboarding – known to be perpetrated by US forces against certain “high-value clients” in Iraq and elsewhere – must fall under the former heading.

Enraged by what they saw as an exercise in elegant but offensive sophistry, some of the writer’s critics suggested that Hitchens give waterboarding (which may sound like some kind of fun aquatic pastime, but is probably best summarised as enforced partial drowning) a whirl, just to see what it was like. Did the experience feel like torture?

And amazingly, he has done just that. [..]’

Thursday, November 8, 2007


Students Used Cookies to Torture

‘Two students at Southern Illinois University in this St. Louis suburb kidnapped, paddled and burned a young man with freshly baked cookies after a drug deal went bad, prosecutors said. [..]

Sheriff’s Capt. Brad Wells said that Friday night, three men went to James’ house to buy marijuana, but two of them grabbed the drugs and fled, leaving the third behind. The suspects held that man, who is in his late teens, and told him he needed to find $400 for the drugs, Wells said.

The suspects beat the man with a wooden paddle, burned his neck and shoulders with cookies immediately after taking them from the oven, shaved off some of his hair and poured urine over him from a soda bottle, Wells said.’

Sunday, October 28, 2007


Rumsfeld hit with torture lawsuit while visiting Paris

‘Former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s jaunt to France was interrupted today by an unscheduled itinerary item — he was slapped with a criminal complaint charging him with torture.

Rumsfeld, in Paris for a discussion sponsored by the magazine Foreign Policy, was tracked down by representatives of a coalition of international human rights groups, who informed the architect of the US invasion of Iraq that they had submitted a torture suit against him in French court.

The filed documents allege that during his tenure, the former defense secretary “ordered and authorized” torture of detainees at both the American-run Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and the US military’s detainment facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.’

Sunday, September 2, 2007


School of Shock

‘In 1999, when Rob was 13, his parents sent him to the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center, located in Canton, Massachusetts, 20 miles outside Boston. The facility, which calls itself a “special needs school,” takes in all kinds of troubled kids—severely autistic, mentally retarded, schizophrenic, bipolar, emotionally disturbed—and attempts to change their behavior with a complex system of rewards and punishments, including painful electric shocks to the torso and limbs. Of the 234 current residents, about half are wired to receive shocks, including some as young as nine or ten. [..]

The Rotenberg Center is the only facility in the country that disciplines students by shocking them, a form of punishment not inflicted on serial killers or child molesters or any of the 2.2 million inmates now incarcerated in U.S. jails and prisons. Over its 36-year history, six children have died in its care, prompting numerous lawsuits and government investigations. Last year, New York state investigators filed a blistering report that made the place sound like a high school version of Abu Ghraib. [..]’


Sunday, July 29, 2007


UK wanted US to rule out Bin Laden torture

‘Ministers insisted that British secret agents would only be allowed to pass intelligence to the CIA to help it capture Osama bin Laden if the agency promised he would not be tortured, it has emerged.

MI6 believed it was close to finding the al-Qaida leader in Afghanistan in 1998, and again the next year. The plan was for MI6 to hand the CIA vital information about Bin Laden. Ministers including Robin Cook, the then foreign secretary, gave their approval on condition that the CIA gave assurances he would be treated humanely. The plot is revealed in a 75-page report by parliament’s intelligence and security committee on rendition, the practice of flying detainees to places where they may be tortured.

The report criticises the Bush administration’s approval of practices which would be illegal if carried out by British agents. It shows that in 1998, the year Bin Laden was indicted in the US, Britain insisted that the policy of treating prisoners humanely should include him. But the CIA never gave the assurances.’


Sunday, July 15, 2007


‘Torture’ monk appeals conviction

‘A former monk has appeared in court to contest his conviction for torturing children more than 40 years ago. [..]

In 2003, Murphy, known as Brother Benedict, was found guilty of giving children painful jolts with an electrical gadget. [..]

As well as Brother Benedict’s electric shocks, the pupils were whipped with knotted laces and made to eat their own vomit.

One boy’s arm was broken when the monk lost his temper over a cheeky comment.

A woodwork teacher at the same school is appealing against a jury’s verdict that he sexually abused boys there.’


Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Three jailed over shed prisoner

‘Three people who kept an epileptic man prisoner in a garden shed in Gloucestershire for six weeks have been jailed at Bristol Crown Court.

Kevin Davies, 29, was found dead by paramedics at a house in Badgers Way, Bream on 26 September 2006. [..]

In her diary Baggus wrote about the punishments they inflicted on Kevin Davies and noted his cries for help.

They also made a hostage-style video of him in which they forced him to say he was being “fed perfectly”.

In fact he was being fed only scraps.’

(4.6meg Flash video)

see it here »


Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Let evil Martin Bryant die

‘The Port Arthur killer should be allowed to die following several attempts to kill himself in his prison cell, euthanasia advocate Dr Philip Nitschke says.

Martin Bryant, Australia’s worst mass murderer, is serving 35 life sentences for the 1996 killings of 35 people at Tasmania’s historic Port Arthur penal settlement, in the world’s worst mass murder by a lone gunman.

Bryant has made at least five suicide attempts in Tasmania’s Risdon Prison and has been treated at hospital twice this year after slashing himself with disposable razor blades. [..]

“The sole goal of his (Bryant’s) imprisonment is punishment and punishment without hope of release is tantamount to torture,” Dr Nitschke said.

“As a society we should admit we are sanctioning torture here and in those circumstances we should allow him to die or provide him with the means to obtain a peaceful death.”

He said that giving Bryant an opportunity to end his life would quickly determine if he wants to kill himself.’


Saturday, June 9, 2007


Secret CIA jails hosted by Poland, Romania

‘A European investigator said on Friday he had proof Poland and Romania hosted secret prisons for the Central Intelligence Agency in which it interrogated top al Qaeda suspects using methods akin to torture.

Swiss senator Dick Marty said Poland housed some of the CIA’s most sensitive prisoners, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who says he masterminded the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States that killed almost 3,000 people.

“There is now enough evidence to state that secret detention facilities run by the CIA did exist in Europe from 2003-2005, in particular in Poland and Romania,” Marty said in a report for the Council of Europe human rights watchdog.’


Tuesday, June 5, 2007


The tortured lives of interrogators

‘The American interrogator was afraid. Of what and why, he couldn’t say. He was riding the L train in Chicago, and his throat was closing.

In Iraq, when Tony Lagouranis interrogated suspects, fear was his friend, his weapon. He saw it seep, dark and shameful, through the crotch of a man’s pants as a dog closed in, barking. He smelled it in prisoners’ sweat, a smoky odor, like a pot of lentils burning. He had touched fear, too, felt it in their fingers, their chilled skin trembling. [..]

“I tortured people,” said Lagouranis, 37, who was a military intelligence specialist in Iraq from January 2004 until January 2005. “You have to twist your mind up so much to justify doing that.” [..]

For Lagouranis, problems include “a creeping anxiety” on the train, he said. The 45-minute ride to Chicago’s O’Hare airport “kills me.” He feels as if he can’t get out “until they let me out.” Lagouranis’s voice was boyish, but his face was gray. The evening deepened his 5 o’clock shadow and the puffy smudges under his eyes.’

Saturday, June 2, 2007


Verschärfte Vernehmung

‘The phrase “Verschärfte Vernehmung” is German for “enhanced interrogation”. Other translations include “intensified interrogation” or “sharpened interrogation”. It’s a phrase that appears to have been concocted in 1937, to describe a form of torture that would leave no marks, and hence save the embarrassment pre-war Nazi officials were experiencing as their wounded torture victims ended up in court. The methods, as you can see above, are indistinguishable from those described as “enhanced interrogation techniques” by the president. As you can see from the Gestapo memo, moreover, the Nazis were adamant that their “enhanced interrogation techniques” would be carefully restricted and controlled, monitored by an elite professional staff, of the kind recommended by Charles Krauthammer, and strictly reserved for certain categories of prisoner. At least, that was the original plan. [..]

In Norway, we actually have a 1948 court case that weighs whether “enhanced interrogation” using the methods approved by president Bush amounted to torture. The proceedings are fascinating, with specific reference to the hypothermia used in Gitmo, and throughout interrogation centers across the field of conflict. The Nazi defense of the techniques is almost verbatim that of the Bush administration…’


Thursday, May 10, 2007


Guards made inmates lick toilets clean

‘Prosecutors issued arrest warrants Tuesday for eight former prison employees accused of abusing inmates, including forcing some to clean toilets with their tongues.

The eight were among 13 prison employees who had already been fired from the 605-inmate medium and minimum security wards at the Hendry Correctional Institution in the Everglades.

The previous warden and an assistant warden resigned, and three others were reassigned after an inmate was beaten and choked by guards in March.’

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


Fascist America, in 10 easy steps

‘[..] If you look at history, you can see that there is essentially a blueprint for turning an open society into a dictatorship. That blueprint has been used again and again in more and less bloody, more and less terrifying ways. But it is always effective. It is very difficult and arduous to create and sustain a democracy – but history shows that closing one down is much simpler. You simply have to be willing to take the 10 steps.

As difficult as this is to contemplate, it is clear, if you are willing to look, that each of these 10 steps has already been initiated today in the United States by the Bush administration.’

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


Evangelical Christians attack use of torture by US

‘The uncoupling of American evangelism from the administration of George Bush gathered pace yesterday when one of the largest national umbrella groups of socially conservative Christians issued a statement critical of US policy towards detainees and repudiating torture as a tactic in the war on terror.

The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), which represents about 45,000 churches across America, endorsed a declaration against torture drafted by 17 evangelical scholars. The authors, who call themselves Evangelicals for Human Rights and campaign for “zero tolerance” on torture, say that the US administration has crossed “boundaries of what is legally and morally permissible” in the treatment of detainees.

“Tragically, documented cases of torture and inhumane and cruel behaviour have occurred at various sites in the war on terror, and current law opens procedural loopholes for more to continue,” the NAE said last night.’

Saturday, March 10, 2007


Confessions of a Torturer: The story of an Army interrogator

‘Tony Lagouranis doesn’t fit the profile of a person likely to go wrong by following orders. He’s lived a footloose life unconstrained by a desire for professional advancement, for the approval of superiors, even for a comfortable home. A freethinker, he read the great works of Western civilization in college and mastered classical languages. It was his desire to learn Arabic as well that took him to Iraq.

And there, as an army interrogator, he tortured detainees for information he admits they rarely had. Since leaving Iraq he’s taken this story public, doing battle on national television against the war’s architects for giving him the orders he regrets he obeyed.’

Monday, March 5, 2007


US court throws out CIA torture case

‘A US federal appeals court on Friday upheld a refusal to hear the case of a Lebanese-born German man who says he was tortured by the
CIA, citing national security reasons.

Khaled el-Masri claims was detained by the CIA for several months in 2004 on suspicion of links to terrorism.

Masri, 43, filed suit in December 2005 saying he had been snatched while on a trip in Macedonia, taken to Afghanistan, jailed, beaten and harassed before being set free without charge after five months. [..]

The US government had urged the court to reject the appeal saying that for national security reasons it could not confirm or deny any of the allegations because they were related to the activities of the CIA.’


Friday, January 12, 2007


‘Torture’ victim jailed in Egypt

`An Egyptian man filmed being sexually assaulted in jail by police officers, has himself been imprisoned on a charge related to the same incident.

Imad Kabir was jailed for three months for “resisting authority”, a sentence that has shocked his defence lawyers.

Last year, Mr Kabir was seen in widely circulated footage writhing in agony as he was being sodomised with a stick. [..]

Several other videos apparently showing Egyptian detainees being tortured have emerged on the internet in recent weeks.

The authorities say they are investigating.’


Friday, January 5, 2007


Pentagon won’t act on FBI report of detainee abuse

`The Pentagon plans no action as a result of a newly released FBI report on detainee abuse at the Guantanamo Bay military prison, a spokesman said today, asserting there is nothing new in the report.

“The idea that this is new is misguided and misleading,” said Defense Department spokesman Bryan Whitman.

“These are things the department has thoroughly investigated and where allegations have been substantiated, disciplinary action has been taken,” he said.’

Followup to: FBI: Workers saw prisoner abuse at Guantanamo


Wednesday, January 3, 2007


FBI: Workers saw prisoner abuse at Guantanamo

`The FBI on Tuesday released documents showing at least 26 of the agency’s employees witnessed aggressive mistreatment and harsh interrogation techniques of prisoners by other government agencies or outside contractors at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

“On several occasions witnesses saw detainees in interrogation rooms chained hand and foot in fetal position to floor with no chair/food/water; most urinated or defecated on selves and were left there 18, 24 hours or more,” according to one FBI account made public.

One FBI witness saw a detainee “shaking with cold,” while another noted a detainee in a sweltering unventilated room was “almost unconscious on a floor with a pile of hair next to him (he had apparently been pulling it out through the night).”

Another witness saw a detainee “with a full beard whose head was wrapped in duct tape.”‘


Tuesday, December 26, 2006


British forces save prisoners

`BRITISH forces have killed seven gunmen and blown up the headquarters of the police serious crimes unit in southern Basra in a raid to rescue prisoners who were about to be killed, the British military said.

Calling the police station a centre of “criminal enterprise” and a symbol of oppression for the city’s residents, the military said the building was demolished with explosives after a pre-dawn assault by around 1000 troops backed by tanks. [..]

British military spokesman Captain Tane Dunlop said the unit had been taking the law into its own hands.

“Crimes unit? That’s pretty much what it does, rather than prevent,” he said.’


Thursday, March 23, 2006


Abu Ghraib dog handler gets jail for abuse

`A U.S. Army dog handler was sentenced to six months in prison for tormenting detainees at Baghdad’s notorious Abu Ghraib jail with his unmuzzled Belgian shepherd, an Army spokeswoman said on Wednesday.

Sgt. Michael Smith, 24, faced up to 8 1/2 years in prison after he was found guilty on six of 13 counts brought against him. He will also have his rank reduced to private and must pay a total of $2,250 in fines for harassing and threatening inmates in 2003 and 2004, Army spokeswoman Shaunteh Kelly said. [..]

Photos of inmates being intimidated by dogs and sexually humiliated were broadcast around the world after the abuses became public in 2004, undermining Washington’s efforts to win support for its war in Iraq.

Several of these photos were introduced as evidence in Smith’s trial.’


Friday, March 17, 2006


Abu Ghraib Files

`The human rights scandal now known as “Abu Ghraib” began its journey toward exposure on Jan. 13, 2004, when Spc. Joseph Darby handed over horrific images of detainee abuse to the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command (CID). The next day, the Army launched a criminal investigation. Three and a half months later, CBS News and the New Yorker published photos and stories that introduced the world to devastating scenes of torture and suffering inside the decrepit prison in Iraq.

Today Salon presents an archive of 279 photos and 19 videos of Abu Ghraib abuse first gathered by the CID, along with information drawn from the CID’s own timeline of the events depicted. As we reported Feb. 16, Salon’s Mark Benjamin recently acquired extensive documentation of the CID investigation — including this photo archive and timeline — from a military source who spent time at Abu Ghraib and who is familiar with the Army probe.’

UN creates new rights body

`The United Nations General Assembly created a new UN human rights body by an overwhelming majority today, ignoring objections from the United States.

Ambassadors broke out in sustained applause when the vote was announced: 170-4 with 3 abstentions. Joining the United States in a “no” vote were Israel, Marshall Islands and Palau – but not American allies in Europe or Australia and Canada.

Belarus, Iran and Venezuela abstained.’


Saturday, March 11, 2006


U.S. Has No Immediate Plans to Close Abu Ghraib Prison

‘News reports that the U.S. military intends to close Abu Ghraib within the next few months and to transfer its prisoners to other jails are inaccurate, officials said.

There’s no specific timetable for that transfer or for closure of the Baghdad prison, they said. Decisions regarding Abu Ghraib and other detention facilities in Iraq will be based largely on two factors: the readiness of Iraq’s security forces to assume control of them and infrastructure improvements at the facilities.’

Saturday, March 4, 2006


Guantanamo man tells of ‘torture’

`A Kuwaiti man being held at Guantanamo Bay has told the BBC in a rare interview that the force-feeding of hunger strikers amounts to torture.

Fawzi al-Odah said hunger strikers were strapped to a chair and force-fed through a tube three times a day.

A senior US official denied the use of torture in Guantanamo Bay.

Mr Odah’s comments, relayed by his lawyer in answer to BBC questions, came as another inmate launched a legal challenge to the force-feeding policy.’

Thursday, February 16, 2006


New Abu Ghraib images broadcast

`An Australian TV channel has broadcast previously unpublished images showing apparent US abuse of prisoners in Iraq’s Abu Ghraib jail in 2003.

The images on SBS TV are thought to be from the same source as those that caused an outcry around the world and led to several US troops being jailed.

The new images show “homicide, torture and sexual humiliation”, SBS said.

The US has said the images could only “incite unnecessary violence” and endanger US military personnel.’

And here’s the new Abu Ghraib images themselves.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


Guantanamo Bay inmates ‘tortured’

`Treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay constitutes torture in some cases and violates international law, a leaked UN draft report says.

The document, seen by the Los Angeles Times, suggests that investigators will recommend the prison camp is shut down.

It also questions the legal status of the camp and the classification of detainees as enemy combatants.

US state department spokesman Sean McCormack criticised the draft report as “hearsay”.’

Monday, February 13, 2006


British Troops Beat Up Iraqis

‘British troops take it upon themselves to beat up some iraqis. We’re not making a political statement here, but everyone is talking about this video. Watch and decide for yourself.’

Well, atleast they’re not just shooting at random cars this time.

(5.5meg Windows Media)

more here: Britain probes video of ‘rogue’ troops abusing Iraqis

see it here »


CIA chief sacked for opposing torture

`The CIAs top counter-terrorism official was fired last week because he opposed detaining Al-Qaeda suspects in secret prisons abroad, sending them to other countries for interrogation and using forms of torture such as water boarding, intelligence sources have claimed. [..]

Vincent Cannistraro, a former head of counter-terrorism at the agency, said: It is not that Grenier wasnt aggressive enough, it is that he wasnt with the programme. He expressed misgivings about the secret prisons in Europe and the rendition of terrorists.

Grenier also opposed excessive interrogation, such as strapping suspects to boards and dunking them in water, according to Cannistraro.’


Wednesday, February 8, 2006


Woman wanted in abuse case found in Houston

`The monthlong search for a Washington state woman accused of systematically abusing her teenage foster child including blinding the girl in one eye with a syringe finally ended Saturday with her arrest at an apartment in northwest Harris County.

Police in Federal Way, Wash., said the level of abuse Chornice Kabbelliyaa inflicted in the past several years on the girl, 14, could only be described as “horrific.”

“She used several methods of punishment,” Federal Way police spokeswoman Stacy Flores said. “She would drop 10 pound dumbbells on her feet (and) burn her hands on top of the stove.” [..]

Investigators said Kabbelliyaa once jammed an insulin needle into the teenager’s eye after she forgot to pack some items when the family was moving to the city near Tacoma.’