Torture Should Be Accounted For

Torture is among the most heinous crimes known to humankind. It should never be excused, it should never go unpunished. It is not about who the tortured are, or what the tortured know. It is not about what they have done, what they believe, or whether they would do the same. It is about who we are, and how human beings should be treated. It is about our humanity, that is all.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Response from the International Criminal Court

Note: Since the letter to the court was from the signees from this site, comprising 129 electronic signatures, I am posting the response here (and will cite it elsewhere) in the belief that it is essentially addressed to us all.

Please notice that the issue is jurisdiction, and that the countries in which the alleged crimes took place can place the matter within the Court's purview by acknowledging its jurisdiction. That would place the onus of bringing this matter to bear at least somewhat on the citizens of those countries, as it has always been on Americans, like myself, who must continue to pressure our own government about our own government's torture abuses. You who frequent this site from other countries, take heed.

Here then is the response from M.P. Dillon, Head of the Information & Evidence Unit, Office of the Prosecutor, of the International Criminal Court, in its entirety:

The Hague, Monday, 27 October 2008

Dear Sir, Madam,

On behalf of the Prosecutor, I thank you for your communication received on 8/6/2008 as well as any subsequent information.

As you may know, the International Criminal Court ("the ICC" or "the Court") is governed by the Rome Statute, which entrusts the Court with a very specific and carefully defined jurisdiction and mandate. A fundamental feature of the Rome Statute (Articles 12 and 13) is that the Court may only exercise jurisdiction over international crimes if (i) its jurisdiction has been accepted by the State on the territory of which the crime was committed, (ii) its jurisdiction has been accepted by the State of which the person accused is a national, or (iii) the situation is referred to the Prosecutor by the Security Council acting under Chapter VII of the UN Charter.

Based on the information currently available, it appears that none of these preconditions are satisfied with respect to the conduct described. Accordingly, as the allegations appear to fall outside the jurisdiction of the Court, the Prosecutor has confirmed that there is not a basis at this time to proceed with further analysis. The information you have submitted will be maintained in our archives, and the decision not to proceed may be reconsidered if new facts or evidence provide a reasonable basis to believe that the allegations fall within the jurisdiction of the Court. The decision may also be reviewed if there is an acceptance of jurisdiction by the relevant States or a referral from the Security Council.

I hope you will appreciate that with the defined jurisdiction of the Court, many serious allegations will be beyond the reach of this institution to address. I note in this regard that the ICC is designed to complement, not replace national jurisdictions. Thus, if you wish to pursue this matter further, you may consider raising it with appropriate national or international authorities.

I am grateful for your interest in the ICC. If you would like to learn more about the work of the ICC, I invite you to visit our website at

Yours sincerely,

M.P. Dillon

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Does the United States Torture Women?

In the world as it should be, things are not going well for the U.S., or perhaps the Bush administration, when it comes to keeping the torture thing down. At the end of September, HBO aired Taxi to the Dark Side, finally. I'm not one to follow the Oscars too closely, but I cannot recall a time when there has been a movie that won an Oscar, in this case for best documentary film, and the movie was shown nowhere in the weeks following the Academy Awards. If that has ever happened before, I've never heard of it. Equally mysteriously, the film was not available on DVD at all, either. Neither was the Errol Morris film Standard Operating Procedure until this month. And Scott Horton documents the difficulties with a new documentary prepared for WNET, Torturing Democracy, that should be aired by PBS but whose producer was told "no time slot could be found for the documentary before January 21, 2009." (h/t Anonymust). His piece also sheds light on the long lag for Taxi to the Dark Side. A long time ago, I had written as to whether these documentaries and dramatizations were doing badly at the box office. Scott Horton's piece raises some questions about whether there were more nefarious reasons why.

In a world where the testimony of government law enforcement officers and U.S. soldiers is unimpeachable, the indictment against Aafia Siddiqui should be ironclad. After all, there is an affidavit signed by an FBI agent to back it up, to say that what happened in a room at the Ghazni police station in Afghanistan was that the woman stealthily got a hold of a soldier's gun and came out shooting, was scuffled with and then shot twice in the torso in "approximately 2 shots".

There is no such world, not after Pat Tillman, not after Jessica Lynch, not after repeated attempts to pretend that there was no intention to torture on the part of high government officials, just memos and documents, and written testimony from a sitting Secretary of State and her lawyer, and now a new S.O.P. published on the website accompanying the show that can find no timeslot, all detailing, I suppose, the sincere desire of the American government and military to have the whole truth reach the surface.

So what might have been a 'he said she said', to use the frequent term in the press, between the Afghan National Police and the FBI over what happened at that police station in Ghazni, what might have been a 50-50, 'who you gonna believe', now tips towards the Afghans, who contend that there was a custody and jurisdiction dispute, the Americans were disarming them, and Ms. Siddiqui approached the Americans, who panicked and shot an unarmed woman in police custody twice. That and the question of how the frontal torso of a person struggling over a rifle is a clean target that a revolver can hit twice in two shots.

Mark Benjamin of Salon is writing today of yet another case in which the American military is apparently unable or unwilling to tell the truth, even in the face of evidence on an incident of American soldiers shooting at the wrong time. It's a heartbreaking story, but I combed it for a deep reason that the military would go to such lengths not to tell the truth, and could find none. In the case of Ms. Siddiqui, there is very little, I suspect, that the United States government would not do to keep the truth from coming out, and I believe that the outlines of why are beginning to emerge. I've tried many times to write this post, I have erased it just as many times. If you are reading this, it means I finally didn't delete it anymore.

The existence of female enemy combatants

Yes, it is another post generated from my attempts to collect facts about Aafia Siddiqui, Prisoner 650, and related matters. And what I would like to say is not one hundred percent unimpeachable, since some of it follows from inference, and the chain of inference does not always have to be correct. Nevertheless, I believe it to be as accurate as I can get, given the difficulty getting information.

The main pivot point is this: Between the speculation, started by Moazzam Begg and Yvonne Ridley, principally, about Prisoner 650, a.k.a. The Grey Lady of Bagram, and the response to a letter requesting information by Lord Nazir Ahmed of Britain, a letter that he says he thinks precipitated the arrest and shooting of Aafia Siddiqui, and about which he spoke in a press conference on September 9th, the government of the United States has admitted twice that there have been undisclosed 'female enemy combatant' prisoners at least at Bagram. The second admission (other than the letter written by the U.S. embassy to Lord Nazir Ahmed) was actually the first, a response by Central Command spokeswoman Lt. Col. Rumi Nielson-Green on August 13th.

Both admissions were virtually identical: That Aafia Siddiqui is not "Prisoner 650". Specifically, she is not the prisoner who was at Bagram 2003-2005, whom the statements both say was repatriated to her country, and who they say did not match Siddiqui's name or physical description. Taking the U.S. military at its word, then if Aafia Siddiqui was a prisoner, that makes two female enemy combatants, and begins to look like the tip of a larger iceberg. There may, in fact, be more. There is a claim from CagePrisoners that the ICRC was aware of and visited a female prisoner at Bagram who was registered with them in 2004/5. This may or may not be the same prisoner that the military has admitted to. The dates do not match, and the U.S. military should be asked to explain that, if so. And if the ICRC registered and visited the prisoner, then it was probably not Aafia Siddiqui. When the Red Cross visits, prisoners are allowed to fill out messages, which are subject to censoring but not holding by the country that is detaining the prisoner, in this case the U.S., and are then forwarded through the network of ICRC and IFRC offices and branches, and delivered to usually next of kin. The Siddiqui family has asserted that they heard nothing from Aafia Siddiqui from March of 2003, and that means that she was not a prisoner reported to the ICRC. If Prisoner 650 of Moazzam Begg's description, and the military's detainee, and the prisoner the ICRC is alleged to have visited are the same (Begg was told the ICRC had visited a prisoner between 2003-2005), then someone needs to account for the mental state which Moazzam Begg alleges the prisoner to have been in, and the allegations of himself and others that she had been abused.

Was A Woman Interrogated at a CIA Black Site?

Ms. Siddiqui was assumed by multiple news outlets, as late as 2006, to have been in the custody of the CIA at a "Black Site". WTVJ Miami reported "intelligence officials" as "interrogating" her in 2003, while the FBI disclaimed that they had her. In 2006, when President Bush claimed that he had closed the black sites, many news organizations and human rights groups looked askance, the number of "high-value detainees" he was transferring to Guantanamo from the black sites was 14, and the human rights organizations had counted either 36 or 37 prisoners they believed to be at that point held in those sites. The Christian Science Monitor, in 2006, citing Reprieve, included Aafia Siddiqui as one of those possibly still at a black site after the supposed closing, and Common Dreams echoed this question a few days later.

There are two other facts that make the CIA more likely to have been the organization holding Siddiqui than the military, and further distancing her case from the Prisoner 650 case. The first is that her statement to the Senate delegation from Pakistan that when abducted, she was given an injection and woke up in a cell seems to point there. The CIA is known to have used drugs during extraordinary rendition flights. The only other allegations of drugging as a preliminary to being rendered to another country are from the U.S. DIHS in deportation of immigrants, which is not a possibility going from Pakistan to Afghanistan (if that is where she was held, her description mentions only interrogators whose English was fluent and might have been Afghan).

The other fact is the cohort who was picked up at around the time she disappeared. These included basically all those who were apparently named by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed during the time immediately after his arrest, when he was being tortured at a black site himself (he is widely known to have been waterboarded, and was reportedly subjected to sensory deprivation over an extended period of time, among other techniques). Ms. Siddiqui was among them, in fact, the whole group alleged to have been plotting with Majid Khan, currently on trial at Guantanamo and himself a high-value detainee from a black site, one of the 14, were taken to black sites, and all or most of them have alleged torture. One person, Uzair Paracha, has been found guilty in U.S. court of material aid to al Qaeda for helping Majid Khan pretend he was in the United States. The original contention of the FBI, before she was alleged to have been anything else, was that Ms. Siddiqui opened a post office box in Baltimore as part of the same attempt to pretend Majid Khan was in the U.S. And her gradual transmigration into an al Qaeda mastermind, who did everything from transact blood diamonds to develop anthrax weapons, is also consistent with considering her as high-valued, and with the persons sent to black sites.

Which makes Siddiqui's detention, if it proves to be real, at least the second instance of a female enemy combatant detained, and the first of one who was not reported to the ICRC, or anyone else, and who may have been interrogated at a black site by the CIA under the "golden shield" rules of the Bybee memo, not the Rumsfeld approved interrogation techniques.

So how real is it? I do not believe there is any more doubt that she was detained, that she was subject to at least some of the techniques at the black prisons, which may be what she means when she asserts that she was "brainwashed". Whether or not she was subject to further abuse is a matter for investigation, but given the rules in effect at the time, and the belief that these high-value detainees had to be tortured for the good of the country, I believe it more than a little plausible and will have more to say about it below.

For the time being, as proof of her incarceration, I would be willing to take her mental state, as well as her own assertion and that of several human rights groups, and the assertion in an affidavit by her lawyer in court. Her mental state, given the competing histories, must arise from either of two mechanisms (or perhaps both, but that isn't relevant here): Either her problems arise from brain damage consistent with her severe injuries when she was shot at Ghazni, or they arise from prolonged detention, deprivation and inhumane interrogation techniques. As for the former, it is possible that she suffered brain damage after being shot. There are three immediate reasons why this is possible: loss of blood causing hypovolemic shock or her breathing stopping, tension or hemo- pneumothorax caused by a bullet entering her chest cavity, or cardiac tamponade due to the same mechanism. All three would be forms of anoxia (lack of oxygen to the brain). Anoxia causes a range of symptoms, including memory loss, movement and sensory deficits, seizures, coma, speech or comprehension deficits, depending on which parts of the brain it affects.

The second mechanism, that of prolonged sensory deprivation/bombardment, prolonged severe solitary confinement, prolonged interrogation sessions, and some of the other techniques known to have been practiced at black sites, cause a very different set of symptoms, which Stuart Grassian had put together as a cluster of symptoms in his work on solitary confinement. They include paranoia, heightened reaction to stimuli, perceptual distortions, visual and auditory hallucinations, memory loss, impulse control problems, intrusion of obsessive thoughts and ruminations. Others include depression and many forms of PTSD.

Aafia Siddiqui's evaluation by first a prison psychologist, then a more comprehensive statement by a prison psychiatrist at Brooklyn Metropolitan Detention Center showed paranoia, Axis I depressive psychosis, possible PTSD, visual and auditory hallucinations -- she related that she had seen her daughter in her cell and had problems distinguishing that from reality. The psychiatrist spoke to her while she covered herself in a blanket in the corner, her lawyer reported that she sat in her cell and cried and screamed. Among these symptoms, the visual and auditory hallucinations stand out, since Grassian contends that the combination is rare, excluding schizophrenia that usually manifests itself at adolescence, and old age dementia.

By way of graphic comparison, the following is from Philippe Sands, The Torture Team, a description of prisoner 063, Mohammed al Qahtani, after several months of bombardment by sound and light, sleep deprivation, and total solitary confinement(The Torture Team, p.162): November 2002, FBI Agents observed Detainee [redacted] after he had been subject to intense isolation for over three months. During that time period, [redacted] was totally isolated (with the exception of occasional interrogations) in a cell that was always flooded with light. By late November the detainee was evidencing behavior consistent with extreme psychological trauma (talking to non-existent people, reporting hearing voices, crouching in a corner of the cell covered with a sheet for hours on end).
Consequently, even if other circumstantial evidence weren't already pointing in the direction of her incarceration and prolonged abuse at a CIA black site, her symptoms point towards that, since otherwise the U.S. government is faced with the task of explaining how someone could be an al Qaeda WMD mastermind one minute, and reduced to Axis I depressive psychosis the next, with no intervening cause. Jonathan Hafetz speculated in the Jerusalem Post,
"It could be precedent-setting in terms of transitioning people from extralegal detention into the criminal justice system," said Jonathan Hafetz, director of litigation for the Liberty and National Security Project at New York University's Brennan Center for Justice. "You could have a judicial inquiry into how someone was treated at a black site - it would be incredibly valuable."
Currently, I suspect, the only way her case will blow the lid off anything is if she is allowed to file under the Torture Victims Protection Act, and a full scale investigation ensues. Otherwise, she'll follow Uzair Paracha to prison if she ever goes to trial.

Why is this important?

Aside from any importance attached directly to Ms. Siddiqui's case, and there is much - it is an international human rights incident between Pakistan and the United States, and emblematic in that country of the plight of their "disappeared", the implications of multiple female enemy combatants in U.S. custody, and of one in "high-value" black site incommunicado detention are profound, which may indicate why the U.S. government has gone to such lengths to protect this information above all else: above admissions of waterboarding, above admissions of extraordinary rendition flights through Europe, above admissions of homicide and abuse at Guantanamo, in Afghanistan, and in Iraq.

It means, without any speculation about Ms. Siddiqui's detention whatsoever, that there was a female in custody at Bagram during the period following the time when prisoners were killed there in interrogation, and during the period when all of the "torture memos" those by John Yoo, Jay S. Bybee, and William Haynes/Donald Rumsfeld, were in effect. For a period that spans the entire Abu Ghraib set of photographs, the ensuing scandal, and the reports of that scandal and the homicidal interrogations at Bagram which are the center of "Taxi to the Dark Side", spans the timespan when the Black Sites were reported, spans the time written about in Erik Saar and Viveka Novak's book, Inside the Wire, which details, among other things, sexual humiliation of prisoners at Guantanamo by interrogators of the opposite sex.

In Saar's book (Inside the Wire, pp. 224ff.) he details for several pages an attempt to break a male inmate at Guantanamo, by a female interrogator who first taunted her prisoner with sexual remarks, then rubbed her breasts against him and touched him, then finally unbuttoned and put her hand into her pants, withdrew it, and pretended to smear his face with menstrual blood. Saar comments that afterward the interrogator, "looked at me and began to cry...I knew she hadn't enjoyed this. She had done what she thought was best to get the information her bosses were asking for." (p.228). This is the language of a person who is performing sexual humiliation under orders. A high-value detainee was subject to many things that ordinary prisoners were subject to, and the CIA played by harder rules than the military, and is still permitted to, as far as we know. It is not hard to speculate what those rules permitted against someone known to have a Muslim woman's fear of nudity, cavity searches, or other humiliations, at a sight with no Red Cross oversight, highly classified, and the sense of mission that would put people on a waterboard.

We know as well that prisoners were stripped and placed in stress positions at Guantanamo, at Bagram, and at Abu Ghraib. Stripping was S.O.P. at Guantanamo. We know from the above example that exploiting "Muslim sexual fears" was fair game. We know prisoners were raped anally with rifle barrels. We know some high-value detainees were not only tortured with the approval or memos from the OLC or the defense department, but with the blow by blow approval, if not in real time, by members of the National Security Council, with the approval of the President. We know that high value detainee torture was considered necessary.

It has seemed alright for us to know this, many of these facts have come out of government officials themselves, testifying before Congress, writing written testimony, and in many of the books that have come out about the White House and the players in this high stakes torture game. What has been more confidential than anything, what has been more classified than any other fact, what has been hidden so hard that the stories that have to be concocted to keep it secret begin to make no sense is this: That this was done to women as well. Aafia Siddiqui had 3 children with her when she disappeared, only one has been accounted for. She says she was threatened and made to sign documents by telling her harm would come to her children. One is a girl. One was an infant boy. Is there another shoe to drop?

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Active Denial of the Torture Industrial Complex

The other day on Glenn Greenwald's blog, bystander cited Digby who remarked about a nasty crowd control device that has been documented by the BBC recently. That led to track down more about the two systems referred to in the article, the Active Denial System, and the Silent Guardian. It turns out that the relationship between these two is that Active Denial System is the U.S. military's requested, and largely implemented weapon for something in between crowd control and counterinsurgency, and that Silent Guardian is Raytheon's implementation of the main weapon, a collimated 1 millimeter (95GHz) beam 45 inches square, and has a range of 250 meters.

A Device for Crowd Control?

I posted a longish set of quotes about this device and plan, and Reilly referred me to the complete shebang, a mobile device that has gone under the rubric of Project Sheriff. This mobile unit includes both weaponry for shooting and killing enemies after they are flushed out of crowds, but for the crowd flushing operation itself, the vehicle has brilliant laser driven lights to disorient, painfully loud noises, and, of course the Silent Guardian. The rationale is that you point these devices, whose specific purpose is to create disorientation and pain, and an overwhelming reflex to run away, and anyone who doesn't run away must be enemy and can be shot.

Comparisons on military discussion sites and sites for weapons afficianados are to the Taser, a device that shoots two straightened fishhooks on wires at the target, and then delivers specially "shaped" electrical charges of between 0.75 and 1.5 joules, causing the target to collapse in involuntary reflex. That device is common already among police departments, where it was originally introduced as a substitute for firing a gun at someone, but has been much more widely used than guns ever would be, in no small part because each use, unlike a police revolver, does not have to be accounted for in detail.

Raytheon describes this new device, the Silent Guardian, as a pain gun, they dislike the use of the term ray gun. Their interviews with the BBC, with Michael Hanlon (who has tried the demonstration, and posted the pictures), allude to a highly sophisticated manipulation of nocioceptive pain, to create a weapon that causes pain, but no lasting physical or psychological damage. Many of the commentators cited above have made the connection with torture, one would be remiss to fail to do so. But before delving into that, some care should be used examining that claim, which would, if true, amount to an achievement of something of a 'Holy Grail' of what Darius Rejali calls 'clean torture' (Rejali, Torture and Democracy), and what Physicians for Human Rights refer to as "Leave No Marks". Not that that is anything to celebrate, anyone who shares goals with the worst of the French Gestapo has nothing to be proud of.

But, to Raytheon's claim: The device is not a transmitter of signals directly to sensory or nocireceptor nerve endings at all. Most devices that do such things in the most direct way would be electrical, would require contact, and would have to be exquisitely precise to only affect the nerve endings in the dermis, as most electrical devices affect nerves considerably deeper and in a larger area (for instance, the Taser). The device causes burning pain over most of the body facing the beam, even through light clothing, this is supposed to cause a reflexive desire to flee, as when your hand accidentally encounters boiling water. It does this, however, by actually heating the first 1/64th of an inch of skin to 50° C, in three seconds, the one-millimeter wave does not penetrate any deeper into the skin, and herein is the claim of no physical damage.

Newton's law of cooling provides a simple approximation for what happens if the time increases beyond three seconds, or even for what really transpires within that time. If the surface of the skin is at 50° C, and the deep layers of flesh, or perhaps the bone and organs, are at 37° C (normal body temperature), there is a linear gradient between the two temperatures, and heat flows from the higher temperature to the lower one. So as time goes by, giving Raytheon the benefit of the doubt and assuming that the statistics after 3 seconds are maintained (they aren't), the heat flows into the body at a rate somewhat higher than that of the sun on a day at the beach. In time, that body will lose it's ability to maintain its temperature with so much heat being added, failing progressively through heat exhaustion to heat stroke, at which point the maintenance fails and the core temperature rises. Since 50° C is higher than 41° C, the temperature at which body chemicals begin to break down or denature, the body literally starts to come apart chemically and a person will die if not treated. However, long before this happens, the level of heat will continue to rise and the result will be burns. Even Raytheon admits that these have been observed after 250 seconds.

And, as usual when people are trying to create clean pain, tests are run on volunteers, who are carefully screened and protected from adverse consequences. Were someone to pass out or become unable to walk in front of the device (perhaps trampled by the crowd as they reflexively ran), they would be an injured party sustaining an injury they could not avoid, and if conscious, they would be experiencing an intolerable pain that they could not stop, from a hostile source, that provoked flight reactions to avoid death that could not be acted upon. In other words, there isn't much difference between the device used on anyone who cannot run, and, say, waterboarding. The potential for abuse is quite clear, as is the attempt to preempt concern for it. By specifically referencing no lasting physical or psychological damage, promoters are referencing only one set of documents: The Convention Against Torture, or its implementing laws.

A Torture Industrial Complex?

What is truly disturbing about this is the collection of tools on the Project Sheriff Active Denial System machine, and the insistence that this is a pain gun. Further is the military's lengthy planning for the device, and the apparent belief that the device will civilize war the way the Taser is supposedly civilizing police use of force. The military is already set to deploy more than a dozen of these. But if you throw in the Taser, the list of "less than lethal" weaponry has an eerie ring: Bombardment with intense light, bombardment with intense sounds, application of burning heat, and application of electric shocks, all heralded as a good thing, and all in production and deployment. To be sure, there are a couple of other methods of delivering "clean torture", stress positions and prolonged solitary confinement, but otherwise, the list is fairly complete, compared against the cleaner techniques of the Gestapo, or of the Soviet NKVD, as precursor to the Chinese techniques that gave rise to all the consternation about brainwashing, the experiments on sensory deprivation, and the development of the now notorious SERE program, the KUBARK manual, and all the other toxic brew that went into the U.S. torture program of the past few years.

Tasers are big business, and were carefully constructed to avoid laws requiring accounting of each application of force for deadly weapons like guns, among the police. The company that makes them, and their advocates, of which there are many, insist that they are used for a gun substitute and not control or punishment, and try to counter each instance of a death from Taser use with alternative explanations.

Now there are companies or corporate divisions which specialize in the application of intense light, or intense sound. There is this new collimated beam weapon, which appears to perfect the "electric bench" of the Vichy Gestapo (Rejali, Torture and Democracy, p. 113). These are, for the time being, military contractors, members of the Military Industrial Complex, if you will. Sensory and sleep deprivation is practiced at Guantanamo, documented by Human Rights Watch, in 2008. Solitary confinement is practiced at U.S. supermax prisons by what is now even commonly known as the Prison Industrial Complex (also documented in the HRW document).

We are now creating, or amalgamating from other "Industrial Complexes" an industry that supplies the government of the United States with clean pain. Clean pain for crowd control, clean pain for counterinsurgency, clean pain for punishment, for interrogation, for confession. All of it ludicrously justified as legal and even humane because it supposedly does no lasting damage (the current very narrow definition, which somehow fails to take into account the severity of the pain). But none of it is tested on real subjects -- that is to say people who are hostile, who are captive, who do not volunteer for a test that will soon end. Those tests will come in the form of lawsuits under the Torture Victims Protection Act, or perhaps in the Hague. Because clean pain isn't really clean. And the psychological damage, and probably the physical damage once the device becomes routinely used (as in the Taser), are real. And no amount of lobbying from any Torture Industrial Complex will change that.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Torture and the U.S. Election

The issue of torture is important in the political race this Fall in the United States. No, it isn't an issue at the tip of many tongues, the candidates are not debating it, and the media, for their part, believe that both candidates views on the subject are known, and that they at least agree that torture should not be practiced, and that the prison at Guantanamo Bay should be shut down. Occasionally, it gets tossed in, in a list of epithets, when someone wants to express distaste over the fact that issues of importance are not being discussed. Less frequently than the two wars the U.S. is fighting, maybe even less frequently than those some advocate starting. It is less important in political advertisement than the economy, even less important than the price of gasoline. If it got mentioned at either political convention (and it did), it was certainly in passing.

The issue of torture is important in the political race this Fall in the United States. Even the local, the time frame, and the methodology have been circumscribed. There are many human rights organizations concerned with the military commissions at Guantanamo Bay, less if the subject is the prisons elsewhere, or renditions to foreign countries, still less, or not at all, about the reaction to our practices in other parts of the globe. Somehow, once the prison is closed down at Guantanamo Bay, our dark period, when U.S. officials wrote memos reinterpreting the law and international treaties, when cabinet members worked out which technique would be done next, when a national debate raged for months over whether or not strapping a man to a board, covering his head with a towel, lowering his head below his feet, and pouring water into his nose and mouth until he started to drown, was torture, will be over. Somehow once those 270 inmates are repatriated, or moved to U.S. supermax prisons, or whatever is supposed to happen to them, a foul chapter in American history will be over, and everyone can concentrate on their own happiness, on the gas prices and the values of their homes, on good jobs and quality health care once again, like, well like they have been doing all along.

To be sure, it is important to put torture into the litany, to add it to the list of things to be fixed when the big change comes. To be sure, it is also important that whoever is elected in the United States be against torture. To be sure, it is also important that the military commissions be criticized for the mock justice that they are, that the details of what has been done to Mohammed Jawad must be enunciated by Major David Frakt eloquently, for the world to know what has happened to these boys. To be sure, we must close down the prison that has become the symbol of American human rights abuse at Guantanamo Bay.

And so torture is an important issue in the political race this Fall in the United States. Too important to talk about. In a parody of what elections in democratic societies are all about, the issues that are the most important ones facing the United States in the Fall of 2008 are those which are receiving the least attention. There is perhaps no greater indication of the feel good nature of American discourse, than that precisely those subjects which cause the most pain to listen to, precisely those for which Americans are faced with stark choices and grave implications, precisely those issues for which our forbears fought and died, for which many in this world would still fight and die, which do the most to define us, our character, our mettle, our sense of responsibility to our country and to our world, are those which may not be mentioned, unless in passing, unless as one in a list of epithets, unless there is another subject to which the speaker or the media can quickly segue, fearful that the magic which sells will fail to sell if the buyer hears something discordant, a break in the façade, a breach in the fabric of the wonderful life.

What matters elsewhere

But torture and human rights are an important election issue outside the U.S. How the U.S. chooses to repudiate these recent practices is important to other countries. How the U.S. chooses to uphold its treaties, whether the perpetrators of grave injury to the minds and bodies of citizens of other countries will be prosecuted matters elsewhere. A delegation from the Pakistani Senate will arrive in the U.S. this month, they had asked to meet with the Pakistanis interned in Guantanamo Bay. They have been refused. They will meet with Aafia Siddiqui, maybe. They have been told U.S. officials have no objection to the meeting, but she has not met with many people, because a strip search is a pre-requisite for such meetings. And the fact that Bush administration officials do not object to the meeting is secondary to the permission of the MDC prison in Brooklyn where she is held. Khalid Hasan, in the Pakistani Daily Times, vents frustration over both proposed meetings, calling the meeting with Siddiqui a "consolation prize", and wondering what it will accomplish. Exactly why members of a foreign government which is said to be an ally of the U.S. cannot meet with their nationals at Guantanamo is a mystery -- or not.

In truth, Pakistan has been through more than a few upheavals since February 2007 over the fate of its nationals who have disappeared. Ms. Siddiqui is only a poster child for these, a well known figure and someone who would have seemed above the fray to Pakistanis, because of her gender and education. She symbolizes the plight of the 580 or possibly thousands, of missing people, taken by the government, and handed over, at least so it is believed, to the United States for torture. As the U.S. deepens its penetrations into Pakistan, and enunciates a doctrine of not requesting permission to fight on either side of the border, the level of anger over people the Pakistanis are sure have been tortured, is not something that can be dismissed.

Across the border in Afghanistan, a country that went from 600 or so prisoners before the U.S. invaded to close to 15,000 now, the issue of imprisonment and abuse under U.S. control is also prominent. While the candidates in America debate how many more brigades will solve every problem in Afghanistan, debate whether or not the Iraq war drew off so many resources that the effort there is slowly failing, and debate the policy of incursions into Pakistan which has so many Pakistanis up in arms, a very clear statement on locking up Afghans in prisons at American direction was made in Kandahar last June. On June 13th, at around 10 pm, the Afghani Taliban assaulted the prison there with suicide bombs and armed men on motorcycles. They set free perhaps a thousand prisoners.

Americans, perhaps, concentrate on the 400 Taliban that were released, the danger they pose, and the Taliban freeing their own. The deeper message is that many local Afghans were waiting as the prisoners walked out of the prison, looking for their relatives, rejoicing over reuniting with them, and thankful, perhaps for the first time, to the Taliban militias who set them free. It went this way once before. When the British were wearing out their welcome in Afghanistan, the first step in a rebellion that ended in beheadings of British officers, was freeing Afghans from British prison. The conditions of the prisons that have been filled under U.S. control is frightening. Even the U.S. military does not consider most of them fit for housing any prisoner except on an interim (two week) basis, yet prisoners are kept in pens there for months. There are reports of abuse, use of the exposure to the elements to effect sleep deprivation, pouring water over inmates' exposed skin in the winter so that it will freeze. Sleep deprivation, exposure to heat and cold, causing injuries, softening up prisoners for interrogation. Torture is an issue in these prisons too, and there have been transfers to Afghan prisons from elsewhere, as the Supreme Court of the United States has gradually clamped down on Guantanamo, and the legal theories that held that it was beyond the law (B. Olshansky, Democracy Detained). Afghanistan is the new Guantanamo, it is much bigger, more abusive, and it is still unclear whether those Supreme Court decisions apply.

In Europe, torture is an issue, American torture. Philippe Sands' book The Torture Team reflects this, as does the demands of the high court there to MI5 to relinquish information on British government complicity, and the finding that MI5 was complicit in the torture of Binyam Mohammed (Sands was involved in arguing this case as well). In Germany and France, there are efforts to bring charges for torture against American officials. The latest poll by the BBC showing that most countries in the world have definite preferences in the upcoming U.S. elections, combined with the knowledge that these preferences come from wanting a change from the current foreign policy, cannot be devoid of feelings about the tortures and abuses that have come to light.

Even in countries that are known for their harsh abuse and torture of prisoners, there is a desire that America be not among the torture states. An editorial on the Aafia Siddiqui case last month in the Arab News, the editors invoke America's Founding Fathers, and then the human rights doctrine which America has championed in the past:

This is yet another instance of how, in their zeal to fight terror, the US authorities are undermining the ideals and values that once inspired America’s Founding Fathers. More important, they are trampling on everything that the world has come to view as sacrosanct, from the rule of law to human rights to a fair trial, as enshrined in the UN Human Rights Charter and Geneva Conventions.
While candidates vie for testimonials on patriotism in America, it is tough to have our own core values and Founding Fathers invoked back to us, as a plea from Saudi Arabia, not to "play into
the hands of terrorists by confirming the worst things they say about their enemies in general and the West in particular."

Those for whom it is paramount

There is one group of Americans who are completely focussed on the issue of torture during this election cycle, you can be sure of it. There is the group for whom it is the paramount issue, and far exceeds the importance of anything else. That would be the group which, in the world as it should be, would be prosecuted for the acts of torture committed under color of U.S. law, by the military, and those who, above all, created the system, approved its application, and directed the implementation of the plan.

These are people who will not go gently into the night, should a new government have no place for them. Darius Rejali warns of such people (Darius Rejali, Torture and Democracy), invoking the Battle of Algiers, and the fall of the Fourth Republic in France. When Henri Alleg's La Question hit France, and after the claims of its untruth fell one by one, the French were faced with only one conclusion. There are, Rejali claims, only two things that a democracy can do: It can reconcile itself to the cruelties of torture, which plants the seed of its destruction through loss of its moral authority, or it can face an attempt by the perpetrators to usurp power, in order that they can avoid prosecution. Some democracies are, truthfully, already gone by the time the torture occurs. Upon restoration, they may purge themselves of what has been done in the national name. Luis Moreno-Ocampo, currently the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court, describes this process in the movie Darfur Now, in Argentina, where they put the military junta members on trial. Moreno-Ocampo was the deputy prosecutor.

Many of the names and faces associated with the torture regime in the United States have been in power circles in the U.S. for quite some time. Some, mostly political operatives, harken back to the Nixon administration. Some were staff in the White House during Gerald Ford's term. Many were involved, either directly or indirectly, in the Iran-Contra scandal in the Reagan administration, or in efforts to create loopholes in the fabric of international humanitarian law at that time. And some were new to this administration. Many are young.

All of these people need the protection of the government. They need to either have an ironclad provision that they will never be prosecuted, or they need a continuation of the current government to the extent that their participation in government will protect them. There is a wider diaspora of people involved. There are prisoners. What will happen to the prisoners in Afghanistan, and elsewhere in the world, under the next administration? There are calls to close Guantanamo, yes. But the prisoners, in many plans, would be transferred to American supermax prisons. Those are the prisons cited by the Commission Against Torture for -- well -- torture. There is an international incident festering in the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn over the treatment of Aafia Siddiqui with regards to strip searches. Sexual degradation and abuse was also cited by the Commission Against Torture.

In short, there are people who have nothing to lose by doing whatever is necessary to prevent the exposure and prosecution of torture here in the United States. There are domestic issues that will follow any of the solutions proposed by either major candidate for closing Guantanamo into the international arena: It may seem a solution to move the nationals of other countries from Cuba to prisons in the U.S., but this means international scrutiny on the very prisons which violate international norms. The American public may be doubly surprised to learn that the rest of the world will believe we torture as a matter of course, if we do that.

One way or another, then, the issue of torture is among the most important to be discussed this Fall in the United States. And the discussion should not wait until after the election. We need to know more than whether a candidate opposes torture. That isn't enough while thousands of prisoners wait in abusive pens. It isn't enough while thousands of relatives wait for word about people who have disappeared. The moral inheritors of the black shawls and photographs of the women who stood every day in the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires will be standing in front of American embassies in country after country. To them, those who have done this are no better than those Argentine generals, and deserve equal punishment. We don't just need to know our candidate will feel their pain. We need to know what his plan is to end the torture.

Monday, September 1, 2008

An Open Letter to the ACLU

To whom it may hopefully concern,

The case of the supposed al Qaeda "Mata Hari", Aafia Siddiqui, is a case of significant human and civil rights implications, and has resonated as a major issue in her home country, Pakistan, as well as elsewhere. In the United States, where there is a genuine ability to affect the situation, civil and human rights groups have been strangely silent.

There is much about the whole case that is controversial. We don't know about the older allegations by the F.B.I., which were made quite publicly at times in 2003 and 2004, but were never expressed on the F.B.I. web site as anything more than that the F.B.I. wanted to question her, and had no solid links of her to terrorism. Some of them sound ludicrous, in that they require people to be at two places at one time, and require a whole second life, lived outside of any notice by her friends, thesis advisor, or anyone else.

We also don't know about the allegations of her family and of Asian human rights groups, that she was detained at Bagram for 5 years and tortured. She was listed by Amnesty International as missing and probably detained for quite a while, but we don't know who is being detained in that part of the world, and the Pakistani government lately went through major upheavals in no small part because a Supreme Court judge there ordered the government to produce the disappeared prisoners in court and charge or release them.

Much of these two sets of competing allegations, and how they are sorted out, if they ever are, will depend on a fair venue and a proper investigation. This is something everyone hopes for who has worked hard to hold the United States government accountable for prisoners, both those we know about in Guantanamo, and those whose only mark on our consciousness is that their relatives say they disappeared one day, like many in prisons far fuller than Guantanamo, abroad.

But at the current moment, we are at a far more rudimentary and basic stage with the case of Aafia Siddiqui. We must concentrate on the present, and on what is more easily verified. And the present doesn't look very good.

On June 17th, according to both the F.B.I. and two groups of police in Afghanistan, the Ghazni police arrested her and her child, Ahmed, 11, in Ghazni. They claimed she had been wandering around the governors palace and used vocabulary indicating they thought she was planning a suicide attack on the building.

They transferred her and her son to the Afghan National Police that day, after giving a "press conference" which is available in part on YouTube, and shows the police asking Ms. Siddiqui and her son questions and Ms. Siddiqui telling her son not to answer them, followed by a long statement by the police spokesman.

The next day, we know for sure, Ms. Siddiqui was shot by an American warrant officer twice in the torso, once in the chest and once in the lower abdomen, in the presence of interpreters, Afghan police, and F.B.I. interrogators. There are two versions as to how this happened, the version on the affidavit the F.B.I. filed in New York District Court says she grabbed the warrant officer's M-4 assault rifle and attempted to shoot it at them, the version from the Afghan police is that the Americans were disarming the Afghan police when she approached them to complain about police abuse, and the warrant officer panicked thinking she was going to blow herself up and shot her twice. But we know she got shot.

She was transported to Bagram for medical treatment, and remained there in the hospital for two weeks. During the time she was there, the F.B.I. and the U.S. military both denied publicly that she was in custody, or that they knew where she was. There is no indication she was registered with the Red Cross (she may have been, there is no indication). She was then "arrested" on charges of attempting to kill a (U.S.) federal agent, put on a plane to New York, and put in the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn New York. Her son remained in custody in Afghanistan. The Afghan police say they had no means to hold him, so they transfered him to the Afghan National Directorate of Security (NDS). At some point he was transfered to the Afghan Foreign Ministry.

At her arraignment, she was in a wheelchair, and her lawyers complained about lack of access to a doctor, that they had requested medical attention 6 days previously and it had not been provided. They also complained that she was subject to strip search before and after meetings with counsel. The judge made a few relevant comments, for instance, marveling over the speed of the "extradition", that he could not get an extradition from the Bronx to Manhattan that fast. He ordered a doctor's visit, over the objections of the prosecutor, who claimed that she was to high a security risk. Given that she has been talking to counsel through a food slot in lieu of submitting to strip searches, she is in solitary confinement.

The Pakistani consulate, who was allowed to visit her in Brooklyn, has also complained about her treatment, notably they asked for a Koran and proper food and an end to the strip searches.

Her bail hearing was postponed to September 3rd until she is in better medical health. There has been a new complaint about lack of access to proper medical care, and a complaint that the strip searches have been reinstated, along with having her climb stairs to meet with counsel, which her lawyers say is painful due to her injuries. The Pakistani ambassador, Hussain Haqqani, has complained again about her treatment. The Pakistan Senate has sent a delegation to try to make sure she gets a fair trial.

Which brings us to her bail hearing on Wednesday, September 3rd. It is a sad tribute to the perception of American rule of law and American justice that very few people abroad believe that Aafia Siddiqui will get anything resembling a fair trial. There are already many indications that lead one to believe otherwise:
  • The circumstances of her arrest. She was in Afghan custody, then she was in American military custody, then F.B.I. custody, then extradited. There were no extradition hearings in front of any magistrate, her consulate (the Pakistani government in general) was not informed of either her arrest or extradition. If she was in U.S. military custody and that custody was legal, what was her status? How can the F.B.I. make arrests on foreign soil? When a law enforcement officer (in this case U.S. military) fires on a prisoner in custody, shouldn't there be an investigation? Why were there so many conflicting stories about the circumstances of her original arrest by Ghazni police?
  • Her treatment before August 4th. She was in U.S. military and/or F.B.I. custody in a foreign country, her detention, even if it was for hospital care, should have been reported to the Red Cross at minimum. Why did these groups deny her custody or knowledge of her whereabouts, even to Pakistani human rights organizations, during this time? Why was her government not notified of her arrest and hospitalization?
  • Her treatment after August 4th. She is being held in a U.S. federal detention center. Allegations from ambassadors of strip searches in U.S. detention, not as a matter of safety but as an obvious harrassment and to interrupt meetings with counsel? Is this not an American human and civil rights issue? Is it so par for the course in American justice that American civil rights organizations have no interest? Allegations of denial of medical treatment? Both strip searches and denial of medical treatment, combined with solitary confinement (if prolonged), butt right up against the U.N. Convention Against Torture. Is the interest in this issue suspended for a person against whom there are allegations?
  • The detention of her son. Detaining her son, as pointed out by Human Rights Watch, is a violation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and of Afghan law, because of the child's age. The detention continued, and included interrogation and DNA testing, for several weeks. Only when a sharp protest was lodged by HRW did the matter move, and the Afghan Foreign Ministry now says the child will be remanded to relatives. The child is a U.S. citizen by birth. There is no interest in the civil and human rights of children forced on foreign police forces by U.S. agents intent on prosecuting their mothers?
In the coming weeks, there will undoubtedly be more issues. Witnesses to the arrest and shooting are not all in the United States, for instance, and if the F.B.I. seeks charges on its allegations of terrorism and al Qaeda affiliation, there will be tremendously important issues related to evidence in a U.S. court room derived from torture -- the F.B.I. decided she was a terrorist after Khalid Sheikh Mohammad mentioned her name during the so-called enhanced interrogation that the rest of the world calls torture. Nothing derived from that should be admissible in a U.S. court of law, or anywhere else for that matter, and this requires scrutiny.

The ACLU is not an organization that traditionally shies away from controversy. They (in older form) marched during Sacco and Vanzetti, they defended George Lincoln Rockwell, they have put up with twenty years of abuse since George H.W. Bush's famous "card-carrying member of the ACLU" comment in the 1988 debates. And this case is not without the possibility of negative public opinion. This woman has been characterized as an al Qaeda mastermind, a sorceress who has conjured up everything from blood diamonds to biological and nuclear weapons. She is being tried down the street from Ground Zero.

But before anyone debates whether or not she is a "Female Osama Bin Laden", the "Grey Lady of Bagram, prisoner 650", or anything else, can we not have some attention from the civil and human rights organizations in the United States as to the state of her current detention, and the detention of her young children? Is it no longer the purview of civil rights lawyers in this country to worry about illegal extraditions, shootings in police custody, fair trials for publicly denigrated figures, or degrading treatment and denial of proper medical care? Look what happened when Human Rights Watch opened their mouths about her child. The Afghan government jumped. They had ignored Asian civil rights organizations like AHRC and HRCP for weeks, but they jumped into action when an American group spoke up.

Aafia Siddiqui will not get fair treatment without the voices of Americans: Civil Rights groups, citizens, American media, and someday members of Congress. This is a plea for those voices. It doesn't matter who she is or what she is. The ACLU taught us that. Didn't they?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Different Episode of '24'

All facts are not created equal

A while back, I attended a medical symposium, and one of the lecturers gave a long accounting of changing medical research practices moving towards evidence-based treatments. Okay, don't get scared, your doctor is not treating you based on voodoo or divine inspiration. What the talk was about was a combination of changing standards, funding, and abilities that lead to a large body of scientific evidence that isn't all equally reliable. A study done a hundred years ago may have been an individual case study, or based solely on a couple of outcomes of a single doctor, without any sophisticated procedures in place for eliminating confounding variables, systemic biases, and a host of other plagues of good scientific evidence. Likewise a modern study may have been a pilot, or something undertaken in a small lab or with a small amount of funding, so it might not have the statistical significance of a large, well-funded, long term effort. So the doctor was speaking of going back through all the diagnostic procedures and treatments, and labeling each fact according to the level of evidence, lowest would be case studies, then small studies, then large statistical samples. This might, in some cases be a prelude to revisiting procedures, or it just might be used to inform the physician who is examining a patient about the possibilities for exceptions to what she has learned.

But it is very telling that what this approach admits is that not all evidence is equally truthful. In time, one would hope that algorithms for working with that evidence, be they human algorithms or machine algorithms, would approach the truth making necessary adjustments for the lack of certainty. More importantly, accumulations of evidence are especially susceptible to this problem, in that they grow by agglomeration, and the next fact acquired will often depend on the question asked, which in turn depends on what is the accumulated evidence so far. This is innate to humans, it is how they accommodate to their world, so it is impossible that it would be done otherwise. Periodic review, necessary to keep the accumulation clean, might as well be called peer-iodic review: it won't happen without impartial persons, without impartial protocols, or without public scrutiny, the information in the accumulation has been fitted together, and all seems therefore logically part of a seamless whole.

'24' with Innocent Prisoners

Panic and torture, therefore, quite literally destroy the truth. Many members of the forensics community, the intelligence community, the press, the intelligensia, and the blogosphere have opined that information gained by torture is unreliable. On this blog previously, I have put together a case that it produces confessions, not intelligence, that even when one believes one is listening to intelligence, one is not, one is listening to confessions, and those confessions are what the prisoner believes the torturer wants to hear. There is a larger sense in which torture is unreliable for intelligence. It is the ultimate corrupter of an accumulation of evidence, and therefore taints all the evidence in the collection, even that which was obtained by other means.

How would the ratings reflect on the following fictitious scenario for a season of the infamous dopamine/adrenalin show '24'? First hour, Jack Bauer is confronted with a terrorist attack in progress, that he can't avert. The terrorists use a biological weapon, say H5N1 in weaponized form. Simultaneously, he gets word that a bomb is lurking again in Los Angeles. He doesn't know what kind of bomb, he believes that the two events are related, he has the usual 24 hours to keep Los Angeles from being completely destroyed (Aw, come on, what's a good thriller without the famous shock waves emanating outward from Capitol Records?). Let's say that by the 4th hour, he has a suspect in custody in the bomb threat, and by this time there are 10 dead of the flu. So he lights into his guy about the bomb, and every second question is about influenza, and he wants to know names. He mentions a foreign terrorist organization over and over, having read somewhere that they are investigating just such a biological weapon. He really wants information about the bomb, but his prisoner, desperate to make the torture stop, decides to concoct a story about a plot to create a biological weapon to attack Newark, picks the name of a taxi driver he knows as a perpetrator, links it to the organization that Jack has mentioned, and says that's all he knows, he doesn't know about any nuclear devices in L.A.

Information goes out over the wire. The FBI confirms that it has been watching a group near Newark because of a SAR from a local bank. There isn't a suspect with the same name that was mentioned, but a slightly different name is linked to one of the people who donated to the group that had the SAR. They pick up the head of the group, and Jack Bauer gets his brother, Harry Bauer, to do the deed on the new suspect. Meanwhile, they put out an APB for the person with the slightly different name, and all of Newark goes on alert. Intelligence operations are launched, and epidemiologists are brought in to figure out how the 10 cases of bird flu could have originated in Newark, and all passengers on flights between Newark and Chicago are searched and tested for flu. One tests positive, and is taken into custody. Information about a bomb threat in Los Angeles is modified, because of data taken by Harry Bauer, who tortured his suspect and got ties back to the original suspect, confirming that everything the original suspect said during torture is true, and gave all the details after being grilled on Los Angeles and the bomb threat, of a nationwide plan, originating in a cave in Uzbekistan, to launch H5N1 bird flu in Los Angeles using a modified fuel-air bomb that will spray aerosol bird flu and create poisonously infected "colloidal smog" by reacting to the sunlight. Interpol is alerted in Uzbekistan, the Uzbekis begin to round up the usual suspects, who under harsh treatment themselves, admit that they bought 100,000 contaminated chickens with money from the Newark charity, but only for Uzbeki soup kitchens.

By this time, everyone who has been tortured is guilty, a large conspiracy has been revealed, there is confirmation from "independent sources", and there are dead people. The fact that none of the burgeoning plot and scenario has any basis that cannot be traced back to torture, or to hypotheses formed on the basis of information linked to torture, has not occurred to anyone collecting intelligence, or attempting to defeat the terrorist attack on Los Angeles. At this point, they locate the taxi driver, and he is a man who has overstayed his tourist visa by 3 years, and hails from Uzbekistan. It is learned that he had a license to practice medicine back in the old country. He is located and chased down in a manhunt, arrested at gunpoint, and is shipped back to Los Angeles on a Gulfstream jet with tail numbers N950-???, stripped, shackled, hooded, and with an anal suppository. In actuality, he knows nothing about the whole plot, is scared for his family now that he has been busted on what he thinks is an immigration charge, and his family sees his picture on the news, "Terrorist Kingpin Arrested, Flu Bomb Imminent".

What will happen now? He is the nexus. There is no way for him to carry on the forensic chain letter, his ignorance will be interpreted as Manchester Manual training, and any admission will be checked, and if it comes up dry, he will now be asked again. If the bomb doesn't go off on schedule, the terrorist network is still in existence, confirmed independently by Uzbekistan, and potentially dangerous "suspects" with Uzbeki names begin to fill federal databases and watch lists. Three months later, after severe sensory deprivation and sleep deprivation, he begins to crack, and admits to a series of crimes he's been asked about. He names names. The cycle begins again. As more links are formed in what may have been a very clean database to begin with, more and more of the database is corrupted by the tortured confessions. They go back to this man, over and over again to get more information, over a period of years. Finally, during one interrogation, someone gets furious at their frustrations with being unable to keep their country safe, and the man is beaten to death. Two years later, the 10 cases of bird flu are attributed to an immigrant from West Africa who was sick when they boarded a plane, but hadn't exhibited symptoms yet. A story that a great threat was averted circulates, an investigation over the death of the taxi driver finds that everyone acted in what they thought was the best interests of national security, and papers write about how it was a different time then.

True confessions in a place where truth does not exist

Notice how, in this fiction, the corruption spreads through the facts, changing them to support theories derived from torture. Notice how the torture becomes focussed on gaining intelligence about those changed facts. Notice how confessions -- answers to questions the prisoner believes are already known and will assert his cooperativeness -- are mixed inexorably with intelligence. It's hard to overemphasize this: The prisoner is giving facts that will prove his cooperation, not his reliability. Cooperation stops torture, and the prisoner has only one goal. Confessions are always a sign of cooperation. Embellishments are meant to convince the torturer that the prisoner is cooperating. Embellishments become the subjects of the next interrogation. So the plot can only grow larger. The urgency can only increase. The torture must become harsher. The torturer and his accumulation of fact must separate from reality over time, there is no force pushing in any other direction. When the nexus is captured, it is impossible to presume innocence, because it is impossible to re-anchor the process in reality. It is impossible to know how many changes to the fabric of the case have been made from each wrong fact, so it is impossible to return to a state of null suspicion. With no reality, there can be no innocents.

In the end, there is no database that has touched tortured information that still represents the truth. And in the end, the most harshly tortured person will always be one who is at the nexus, but is innocent.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Refoulement of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui

One of the psychological coercions that many of the former Guantanamo inmates, and other inmates have alleged that U.S. interrogators subjected them to has been the sounds of a woman screaming, which they are usually told is their wife. They are often told she is being subject to abuse, including rape. Moazzam Begg, a former prisoner of both Guantanamo and of Bagram, in Afghanistan, related (Begg, Enemy Combatant) that he at some point decided it was not his wife he heard at Bagram, at a later point he decided it wasn't a tape, either, but a woman prisoner. The United States has repeatedly denied that there are female prisoners at Bagram, nevertheless, in early July of this year, Yvonne Ridley, a British correspondent, and an activist for Cage Prisoners, made a plea to free the prisoner known only as "Prisoner 650", whom she cast as "The Grey Lady of Bagram", in reference to her ghost detainee status.

As usually happens with any story like this, it continues to get stranger, and the U.S. government's behavior continues to become completely inappropriate. A short while later, also in July, the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), a respected human rights group in Asia which tracks abuses in Central, South, and Southeast Asia, and elsewhere, put out an urgent appeal, in which they linked the Grey Lady and Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani Ph.D. who went missing in early 2003, along with her three children, and has long been believed by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and others, to be in secret detention in United States custody.

Then suddenly, the United States, which had maintained that it didn't know her whereabouts, even though there were assurances to her family by Pakistani authorities that she was in custody, did an about face, and claimed that she had been arrested in Ghazni, Afghanistan, southwest of Kabul, carrying bottles of liquids supposedly for making explosives, with a copy of, or xeroxes from the Anarchist's Arsenal in her purse, and her eldest son (currently 12). We note in passing, just for completeness, that the Anarchist's Arsenal is available from Amazon books. Allegedly, American officials, consisting of U.S. military and FBI agents, arrived to question her, and she allegedly grabbed a gun that had been put on the floor near her (she was allegedly behind a cloth screen), and began yelling and shot twice, allegedly at the Afghani officer, and yelled "Allah Akbar" and "Get the fuck out of here." The U.S. military shot back and supposedly wounded her in the chest (although she now has a wound in the lower abdomen), after which they wrestled her to the ground, which supposedly required several American males to do, she was finally subdued when she passed out from her injury. For completeness, and also because it came up in court, she weighs less than 50 kilos.

Yes, court. She was then supposedly treated in Afghanistan, extradition was approved by the Afghan government, and she arrived in New York City to be arraigned in court on charges of attempting to kill a U.S. federal officer, on August 3rd. She was apparently too weak to do this, she answered affirmatively when asked if she understood the charges, but then shook her head "in disbelief". The judge made a remark at the speed with which she was extradited, saying that he couldn't get a person extradited from the Bronx to Manhattan in that time. A bail hearing was set for August 11th. Her lawyers asked for medical treatment, claiming that she was "oozing", and that she was exceedingly weak (the new photo of her does not look at all healthy, she looks emaciated and her skin color is not good, her nose has been broken at some point). The judge ordered medical care for her as well.

Support for her case has been building all week in Pakistan and elsewhere, articles openly disbelieving the FBI story and calling for her fair treatment in court have been published in Britain, across the Middle East, in India and Pakistan. Rallies have been called in Pakistan in Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad. The widely distributed story is that she is indeed the Grey Lady, that she has been tortured, and raped repeatedly, and held for 5 years in Bagram. AHRC published an assessment of her photograph, calling her dehydrated, and alleging a broken and badly set nose, and offered information that she is believed to have had a kidney removed for some reason while in captivity. Human rights organizations have not backed down from their contention that she has been held in Bagram or at a black site. The FBI for its part is contending that she has not been in custody. Her family has contended for years that her mother was told of her detention by a Pakistani official on a motorcycle who came to her house, informed her of the arrest, and warned her not to talk publicly about it. They believe the person was from the ISI.

The protests in Pakistan charge General Pervez Musharraf with selling her to the Americans. It has taken the dislike of Musharraf, whose position is more than precarious right now (the U.S. government went from maintaining a stance of backing following Pakistani law, and leaking doubts that the coalition government could really impeach him to pleading with the Pakistani government for him to be retired with dignity) to new heights, with banners that read, "How many dollars is one Pakistani?" , and while the flags being burned are American, the slogans are in anger at the Pakistani government's collaboration with a nation which they believe disappears and tortures their countrymen, and now their women, and their distinguished scientists (Dr. Siddiqui has a bachelors degree from MIT in biology and a Ph.D. in cognitive neuroscience from Brandeis University, Separating the components of imitation, 223 pages, 2001., on visual memory and imitation of visual cues). The case is also being picked up by the Pakistani lawyers' movement, since the judiciary was sacked by Musharraf last November largely to avoid having to produce some of the 500+ "disappeared" persons into court, as ordered. Many feel that the United States was behind the sacking, and that the U.S. currently opposes restoration of the Judiciary, especially Chief Justice Iftikar Chaudry, who had ordered the "disappeared" prisoners charged or released, and above all brought into court to face their charges.

All of which brings us to today's hearing. Aafia Siddiqui was due in court in New York this afternoon for a bail hearing. When the hearing convened, she was wheeled into court in a wheelchair, and her lawyers asked that she be given immediate access to a female doctor. I don't have more complete information than that, yet, but my guess is they also asked for appropriate food, a copy of the Koran, facilitation for prayers, and filed a complaint about a requirement for a strip search every time she meets with anyone from outside the prison. The reason I believe these are the other requests is that she was granted a visit from the Pakistani consulate, and he asked for these things in a letter to her lawyers on behalf of the government of Pakistan.

Torture and harsh treatment have now reached our shores, even before any of the Guantanamo detainees have been able to appear in U.S. courts (that is if Congress doesn't pass yet another circumscription of habeas corpus again). Siddiqui had not seen a lawyer until just prior to her arraignment because of the search requirement, which violates her sense of privacy as a Muslim woman (she asserts), and seems an odd requirement for someone who is already in custody, except that it parallels treatment of al-Qahtani at Guantanamo (Philippe Sands, The Torture Team), and of numerous prisoners at Abu Ghraib. Denial of medical treatment started for this American government with the "high-value detainee" Abu Zubaydah in 2002, Jane Mayer quotes the President of the United States as having asked "Who authorized putting him on pain medication?" (Mayer, The Black Sites, p. 143). Abu Zubaydah had been shot 3 times and fallen off a roof as a result).

The prosecutor in court today claimed the reason that Aafia Siddiqui had not seen a doctor yet in 6 days since the judge had ordered medical care was that it was a "complicated situation", because Ms. Siddiqui was a "high-security risk" (Withholding medical care is a violation of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, whether or not the prisoner is considered combatant or civilian). For a point of reference, after Abu Zubaydah was captured, the government felt he needed to be kept alive at all costs because he had such important information, that they immediately flew a Johns Hopkins surgeon from Washington, D.C. to either Pakistan or Thailand, to do the operations needed to keep him alive so he could be "interrogated" (Mayer, The Black Sites, pp. 142,ff.). Another reference point, just to put things in the starkest terms, Ms. Siddiqui has supposedly had some of her intestines removed as a result of the wound, she is already missing a kidney (relevant where septic shock is concerned), and it is unclear whether it is just sepsis or whether she may be bleeding internally. Should we inquire of John Yoo as to whether or not that constitutes pain consistent with organ failure or death? It would under the protocols from which those tests were lifted. There is now a new allegation that Aafia Siddiqui may have suffered brain damage at some point. She has, herself, said she was imprisoned, and tortured, but is now not talking about it on advice from her lawyers, but one comment that got out first was that she had trouble describing where she was held except that it was very small.

There are many things about this case that are very hard. The reputation of the United States when it comes to detention is such that it matters very little to other countries at this point whether or not American authorities are at all capable of telling the truth, it is assumed they are not. Allegations of rape of a woman, when added to any other charge leveled at a foreign government are about as incendiary as any, and have been for thousands of years. Her children have not been accounted for by U.S. authorities no matter what story of custody is believed, and that is unacceptable under international law. Pervez Musharraf now stands accused of illegal refoulement, of human trafficking, and of sending his countrymen and women into the hands of the U.S., whose agencies, the military, the FBI, and the CIA, are all assumed to be, unless proven otherwise beyond all doubt, and that seems unlikely, agents of torture, abuse, and defilement.

There is a limited time left for the Americans to quit their current arc of medical mistreatment and do what the need to in order that Aafia Siddiqui regains her health. It has now become a full diplomatic matter, since the Pakistani government has made public pleas for a fair trial at the very least, and is requesting that she be returned to Pakistan and her children restored to her. U.S.-Pakistani relations are having their bumps already right now, and with 584 U.S. soldiers dead since the conflict began in Afghanistan, the United States cannot afford to lose more diplomatic face in that region. So at this point, it matters very little what Dr. Aafia Siddiqui may or may not have done. For the record, her colleagues (those who remember her at MIT and Brandeis) no more believe she is al Qaeda than those of Bruce Ivins believe the FBI right now.

What thousands of people around the world do believe, in her case, is that she is the Grey Lady of Bagram, prisoner 650, whose screams were heard by multiple independent sources, who was said to have lost her mind from repeated rape, for some time, whose children are missing, that the U.S. does not want her to have a fair day in court, and that she is the victim of many American war crimes, including torture, rape, and disappearance. If she also dies from want of medical care, it will be seen as murder, no matter what the U.S. government decides to call it.

One of the consequences of a reign of terror is that nobody believes the country of the perpetrators anymore. For a test of this, how much of what I have written here, did anyone see on American TV?

Thursday, July 31, 2008

On Seeing the Future

It's possible to see the whole transition from a government based on liberty to one which is based on secrecy, on what is done in the dark, on spying and torture, as a problem with power and being wrong. As this unfolds into a panorama, it envelops even the science and science fiction that are the mores and mythology of a forward looking society, and takes the beautiful mystery of the future and turns it into the dark substance of fear. And then the mechanism which causes Darius Rejali's inevitable descent for the democracy that succumbs to torture (Rejali, Torture and Democracy), and turns it into a grotesque neurological event.

I just got done watching Paycheck three times in a row, after watching Next seven or eight times. I thought about watching Minority Report, too, somehow Philip K. Dick's notion of the future, or more appropriately, the screenwriters and directors reincarnations of his stories into Hollywood thrillers, contain a strange future, that is malleable, but that changes in unpredictable ways, as Nicholas Cage says in Next, "Because you looked at it." When his heroes try to control the future, evil follows, when they learn to trust the future, they triumph. Since they are heroes, then, the movie ends when they have trusted the blindness of not knowing what will happen next.

Actually, perhaps seeing the future should be given the instinctual pull of a classic Freudian drive like sex. We require it, we need it, if it is offered to us, we will take it, neglecting much else to get it. Take it away, and we retreat into a scared shell. We are filled with it. Consider: A cup falls off your desk, and your hand snaps out to catch it. Your very real hand meets the very real cup in the very real present, but your perception of everything is old. Your vision system has taken milliseconds to interpret the scene, your brain has taken time to retrieve or formulate a reaction, and then your hand meets the cup -- by seeing the future by a few tenths of a second.

You converse with another person. The whole time you are talking, both yours and the other person's mirror neurons are mimicking what the other is doing, helping you to predict what they will do in reaction to your words. If the future goes blank, if you are totally at a loss to predict how the other will react to you, you become fearful and uncomfortable, usually. Denial of any form of information about your surroundings that you are used to having produces anxiety. Being granted even the slightest extra vision of the future is a tremendous advantage: When a dangerous situation occurs, those who are in it will frequently report afterward that "time stood still." It doesn't really, it does seem to move slowly. If one is trained to take advantage of this shift, one is functioning at normal speed and solving the problems involved with our limited abilities to predict the future instantaneously, with the advantage of a few tenths of a second. This training, which some practice in martial arts, for example, means an enormous difference of advantage.

Power perverts this already extremely strong desire for the future. Perhaps it is because the population is so high now, to get to the top of a sizable hierarchy, you have to have advantages and plans, and aggressiveness. And the loss of that position is so much more precious when it takes a lifetime to get there. If there is any accountability, and there tends to be in free and open societies, then a mistake will cause that fall. So where power is involved, there can be no mistakes. And this produces two perverse consequences: Any mistakes that do occur must be covered up completely or recast, and further mistakes must be prevented at all costs. The human way to do that is to know the future.

Isn't this what was bragged about, to Ron Suskind, that famous quote?
The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." ... "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."
This is an exposition on the nature of the future and of power. The implication is that the actors create the present and the past, and that the "reality-based community" perceives the past. By controlling the present and past, the speaker is saying that they know the future, in this case because it is what they choose it to be. The speaker is alluding to the fact that this is complete power. Whereas knowing the future, even a little bit of it, with total certainty, confers an awesome power, controlling the future, in this case all of it, confers total power. The listener is left to believe they are powerless, and that they would not or could not understand the future. As much as this statement has been mocked, as much as the hubris to which it points has been pointed out, its equation of control over the future to power is as correct as it is shocking.

It lays out the formula for the special forms of mental torment involved in purely psychological, scar-less torture, too. Philip Zimbardo talks about the collapse of time perspective in the Stanford Prison Experiment (Zimbardo, The Lucifer Effect, pp. 243 ff.), that prisoners "magnified their focus on the awful present by talikng about the immediate situation and rarely about their past or future..." The lack of knowledge of the future becomes extreme with threats of death, or threats of being incommunicado ("no one will know what happens to you"), and reaches a psyche destroying level when the senses or social interaction are deprived. Ultimately, the mind shreds when there is no longer any sensory input, and all avenues to predicting what will happen next are robbed from the prisoner. The ultimate form of helplessness is in not being able to form any conception of the present with which the brain predicts the future to decide its next action. In infant animals, deprivation of the senses leads to loss of the senses, as different sensory organs compete for space in cortex. As animals mature, there are two processes that accompany sensory loss, the lack of synapse (connections between neurons) production, and the inability of the brain to prune connections it has made, a necessary process to weed out faulty ones and strengthen pathways that form useful memories. The brain invests nearly all of its memory energy in creating productive ways to predict bits of the future. As its ability to do so is impaired, it begins to lose that ability, a sort of future looking atrophy, if you will.

Consequently, the ability to predict the future is an empowering thing, the ability to control the future, or control the future of another, is power and control. In a world where this is all there is, information control becomes paramount. Secrecy is a form of control, it prohibits an opponent to form correct models of what will happen next, it prevents mistakes from having occurred. The grip on power is preserved if mistakes do not occur, mistakes are the incorrect prediction of the future. In this model, which perverts the desire to know the future into an obsession to control it, mistakes occur for two reasons: the perpetrator did not know the future with sufficient clarity, and, the opponent knew too much of the future and gained advantage.

Thus the intelligence officer being pressured to get more intelligence is made to feel that he or she has caused harm by failing to procure information. Leaks are blamed for anything from a lost initiative to a bungled war, because secrecy is paramount when control of predictions is the battle. As the price for being wrong increases, which it does with the exclusivity of the powerful position, the drive to know or control more and more of what will happen becomes extreme. No price is too much to achieve the predicted outcome, because faith in the prediction is the source of power.

And at the bottom of this information/power structure, the interrogator comes to hate the prisoner, which allows the descent into mistreatment. With each more abusive technique, the prisoner who doesn't divulge information is thwarting the objectives of the interrogator, preventing the intelligence from being collected, rendering those for whom the interrogator cares powerless and blind. Soon attempts to force information out become revenge. Soon confessions replace information as the desired reaction. Confessions are a form of the prisoner accepting the interrogator's reality, they confer power, the power to dictate reality. The punishments remove the power to control oneself. Breaking the prisoner becomes the goal.

There is a word for breaking a person or depriving them of all predictive abilities so that they cannot in and of themselves see what will happen to them. There is a word for it because it forces their psyches to turn all of the senses on full blast with an increase in adrenalin. There is a word for the practice of causing unreasoning fear and panic, that sense they have of not knowing what to do to remove themselves from either the pain or the uncertainty of the present. There is a word for depriving someone of their future to manipulate them. It's called terrorism. And people who practice torture, who order the destruction of one person's future to service their own control of the future, who derive power by controlling the future that rightfully belongs to others, are nothing more or less than terrorists.

I did go back and watch Minority Report. Agatha, the pre-cog, reminds people, she whispers and she screams, that people who know their own future have a choice. History's actors, then have more choice than most. And people who have a choice should be responsible for what they have chosen.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Letter

We have collected over a hundred signatures, and the letter will be mailed to the Hague. Thanks to all who signed.

The following is a letter which will be mailed to the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court. Below the letter there is a sign up for leaving your name, email, and location for adding your name to the letter. The list of names will be printed with the letter when it is sent. If you wish to keep your information private, please check the private box at the sign-in after clicking "sign letter" (your name will still go on the hard copy letter). Please leave any organizations or credentials you want included with your name in the comments field there. Note that the letter identifies we who sign as "Americans".

Please report any problems by emailing me.


Luis Moreno-Ocampo, Prosecutor
International Criminal Court
P.O. Box

2500 CM, The Hague

Dear Prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo,

We are writing to you to ask that you undertake an investigation of the government of the United States of America for the crimes of torture, and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment. The Rome Statute provides that only the Security Council or one of the signatories may bring such charges, but also provides that the Prosecutor may do so if he finds grounds to, after an investigation, and provides that anyone may request that the prosecutor begin such an investigation. It is under this latter provision that we make this request. We are, as informed American citizens, too well aware that the United States is no longer a signatory to the Rome Statute. However, we believe that even so, the investigation itself, together with its findings, may have the power to push the United States Congress into action, and we believe that it will satisfy a necessary prerequisite for other signatories of the United Nations Convention Against Torture, Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment (CATCIDT) to begin investigations and prosecutions to which they are entitled if the United States refuses to do so.

Evidence that torture has been committed is plentiful, and your office has examined some of it before, and had found that in specific, for crimes committed during the Iraq War that you could not prosecute because, while “…any crime within the jurisdiction of the Court is “grave”, the Statute requires an additional threshold of gravity even where the subject-matter jurisdiction is satisfied.” You observed that under Article 8(1), “the Court shall have jurisdiction in respect of war crimes in particular when committed as part of a plan or policy or as part of a large-scale commission of such crimes”1.

Since that time, there has been further accumulation of evidence, and release of U.S. government documents and reports, committee hearings and testimony, and news reports, indicating that the commission of these acts was indeed part of a plan, and policy, that the plan carries at least the signatures of lawyers at the Department of Justice2 and the Department of Defense3, and of the Secretary of Defense4. Documentation exists from two news bureaus, ABC News5 and the Associated Press6, that the Principals group of the United States National Security Council, consisting of the Vice President, Secretaries of State and Defense, the Director of the CIA, the Attorney General, and the National Security Advisor, met in the White House and approved techniques amounting to torture for specific prisoners in great detail. When questioned about this report, the President of the United States acknowledged that he both knew of and approved these meetings7.

Since that time there has also been further documentation of evidence: we call to your attention, most recently, the report of the Physicians for Human Rights, Broken Laws, Broken Lives8, and the report by Human Rights Watch, Locked Up Alone9. We also call to your attention the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General report, A Review of the FBI's Involvement in and Observations of Detainee Interrogations in Guantanamo Bay, Afghanistan, and Iraq, Special Report10. There are many, many other sources, your office is no doubt aware of them, and we would be happy to do our part to find them for you as needed. The American Civil Liberties Union maintains a searchable repository of documents11 related to these matters obtained by Freedom of Information Act, as well.

The documentation flowing from the Office of Legal Council, and from the Counsel at the Department of Defense, leaves no doubt that these actions were planned and “approved”, that members of the government believed they were entitled to abrogate international treaties and redefine others, and that the procedures were generated and approved throughout the entire chain of command, with express approval for some of them by the President of the United States. There cannot be any doubt anymore that there are sufficient grounds for investigation and prosecution, given that the terms of Article 8(1) that the crimes were part of a “plan or policy” are satisfied by these documents, and this was the missing criterion before.

We would also like you to address the behavior of our government in the face of these credible allegations and reports. The United States Congress has repeatedly acted, by passing restrictions to the habeas corpus and to the War Crimes Act and Torture Act, in violation of their mandate under the treaties to investigate and prosecute, and can even be said to have shielded those who planned, and created policy, and committed these crimes from prosecution. The specific statutes are the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 (DTA), and the Military Commissions Act of 2006 (MCA). Habeas corpus is a constitutional matter, but it is also a treaty obligation: We remind you that forms of this fundamental right are written into the Geneva Conventions and the CATCIDT, as well as into other treaties to which the United States is party, and its attempted circumscription in U.S. statute is very much part of the insulation from prosecution for these crimes. We would also remind you that the military commissions formed on the basis of the MCA are proceeding to trial, and intend to use coerced testimony, in violation of the CATCIDT.

The Congress of the United States is the body that prosecutes “high crimes and misdemeanors” of the office of the President, by independent prosecutors and by impeachment. They have repeatedly failed to do so, and instead have passed the aforementioned acts. We believe that they are in violation of the provisions, Articles 5, 6, and 7, and Articles 12, 13, 14, and 15 of the CATCIDT, and Articles 129, 130, and 131 of the Third Geneva Convention of 1949 and Article 146 of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, which we believe require our Congress to effect such investigations and prosecutions with due respect for these treaties and with due haste. Therefore, we would ask that you further consider the role of the Congress in your investigation, and determine whether or not it has failed these obligations sufficiently as to indicate that the United States Government does not intend to prosecute war crimes in good faith.

We are American citizens, and it is painful to have to ask that our country be subject to the shame of having its government investigated for war crimes. We do recognize, however, that the only way for the United States to regain its good name, and it did once have a good name and still does in some matters of human rights and humanitarian law, is for those who have abused the power entrusted to them by the American people, and have perpetrated grave crimes on the citizens of other nations, to face justice. While we again acknowledge that the International Criminal Court does not have the power to do that, due to these same abusers removing our signature and refusing to ratify the Rome Statute, we feel nonetheless that an investigation and charges by your office will enable others to do what our representatives apparently cannot, and stop the downward spiral away from international law that our government is engaged in. There is ample reason to believe that the criminal abuse and torture continues, so this is something that must be done, and there will be consequences and victims if it is not done right away.

We thank you for your time and attention,

The Signing List is now closed

  1. Moreno-Ocampo, Luis. Letter Concerning the Situation in Iraq. The Hague, 9 February 2006, Page 8, paragraph 4, concerning Admissibility.
  2. Bybee, Jay S. (signature), written by John C. Yoo. Memorandum for Alberto Gonzales, Council to the President. August 1, 2002.
  3. Haynes II, William J., signed by Donald Rumsfeld. Action Memo. November 27, 2002.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Greenburg, Jan Crawford, Howard L. Rosenberg, and Ariane de Vogue. Sources: Top Bush Advisors Approved ‘Enhanced Interrogation’. ABC News, April 9, 2008.
  6. Jordan, Lara Jakes. Cheney, Others OK’d Harsh Interrogations. Associated Press, April 10, 2008.
  7. Greenberg, Jan Crawford, Howard L. Rosenberg, and Ariane de Vogue. Bush Aware of Advisors Interrogation Talks. ABC News, April 11, 2008.
  8. Hashemian, Farnoosh, et alia. Broken Laws, Broken Lives. Physicians for Human Rights, June, 2008.
  9. Locked Up Alone: Detention Conditions and Mental Health at Guantanamo. Human Rights Watch, June, 2008.
  10. Department of Justice, Office of the Inspector General. A Review of the FBI’s Involvement in and Observations of Detainee Interrogations at Guantanamo Bay, Afghanistan, and Iraq. May, 2008.
  11. American Civil Liberties Union archive, Torture FOIA: Other Key Documents.