Archive for the ‘Torture’ Category
“The right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances” is collapsing fast: police now have their hands on a device that can cause serious harm without leaving any marks. That’s a big advantage over (say) beating protesters with batons or shooting tear-gas canisters at people (since tear gas shows up in video and photos). It’s a sound cannon that seriously damages hearing, but there’s nothing to photograph. Great, eh? The next step toward a police state.
Alex Pasternack writes at Motherboard:
An LRAD is a long-range acoustic device, a powerful portable speaker designed to scare people away with sound, and it’s becoming increasingly popular among police departments. It is often described by critics as a sound cannon, offering a user “the ability to issue clear, authoritative verbal commands, followed with powerful deterrent tones.”
One popular device, the LRAD-100X, was used in Ferguson, and on two days last week, it was used to warn off demonstrators in New York City protesting the death of Eric Garner. According to its manufacturer, the LRAD offers police “near instantaneous escalation across the force protection spectrum” to “shape the behavior of potential threats.”
What would that sound like?
Unlike a conventional speaker, which uses electromagnetism vibrates a diaphragm to amplify sound, the LRAD uses piezoelectric transducers to concentrate and direct acoustic energy. Inner and outer transducers bend and vibrate to create sound waves that are not completely in phase with each other. This creates sound waves that cancel out those in the outermost edges of the beam. It also creates a sound that is “flatter” than usual, with minimal dispersion as it propagates. The LRAD’s sound waves also interact with the air in ways that create additional frequencies within the wave, thus amplifying the sound and pitch. This allows for voice commands—pre-recorded and played off its built-in MP3 player, or spoken by an officer into a microphone—at a volume meant to be intelligible 600 meters away.
The machine’s “alert mode” is its deterrent feature. Imagine pressing your head against the hood of a car while its alarm is going off. Permanent hearing loss begins with a sustained sound that’s louder than 90 dB SPL—for example, a subway train 200 feet away—but you won’t start to feel immediate pain until 120 decibels, about the loudness of a shotgun blast. At 160 dB—a little less loud than a rocket launch—your eardrum will burst.
The tones of the LRAD can reach as high as 152 decibels—20 to 30 dB louder than a bullhorn—which can easily cause permanent can easily cause hearing damage. It’s a siren that makes the adjective “earsplitting” much less of a metaphor.
What it feels like
During protests last week in midtown Manhattan, an LRAD siren sent people running.
“In person, at first I thought it was just a high pitched really loud car alarm,” Anika Edrei, a photojournalist who was documenting the Eric Garner protests, told me. In the early morning hours on December 5th, Edrei said she was just ten meters away from an LRAD device when the NYPD switched on its alarm function. “It was really loud—I could hear it through my fingers.”
Edrei said that protesters were already dispersing down the block, on 58th Street, when something smashed against the ground. “The police took that as a violent threat,” she said. That’s when the siren went off.
Afterwards, “for the first week, I had a migraine, and just a lot of facial pressure,” she said. “Since the LRAD incident, I’ve been pretty freaked out about going back,” she added. “I’m worried about what damage it caused and it could cause if I went out there again.”
“It feels like your eardrums are beating out of your head,” photojournalist Shay Horse, who was also nearby, told VICE News. “It makes the side of your body that you’ve been hit on feel numb and that your sinuses are inflamed. I felt like I had blood coming out of my orifices. I heard the ringing for about a week.”
The NYPD also used the siren function the night before. A spokesman for the Police Department told the Times that the device had only been used to advise people of illegal conduct, and that officers are trained to control intensity of sound, duration and distance. “On December 4th all of these factors were controlled at levels that are not considered dangerous or harmful,” the spokesman said. . .
I certainly do not trust the police for one minute to use the device to minimize damage to those subjected to the device. Look at how they use Tasers: repeatedly tasing victims, sometimes to death. Sooner or later—probably sooner—a cop is going to crank one of these up and many will suffer injury. But with the injuries not visible, and with the use of the device offering nothing that plays on TV, the police will (again) escape accountability.
Pretty grim column by Charles Davis in Salon, but seems to stick closely to facts:
It’s comforting for those whose actions are not aligned with their stated values to believe that what one does in real life is not what ultimately defines who one really is. It’s nice to think who we are is determined not by the things we did the day before, but by the stated ideals we hope to aspire to fulfill, starting tomorrow. In a nation-state founded by settler-colonial Protestants, the argument is familiar – it’s what’s deep down inside that gets one up into heaven, not the good or genocidal nature of what one does down here on Earth – and as with any half-decent lie, it’s relatable: as fallible human beings, we’d all rather like to believe that we’re not as bad as we are but as good as we say we would like to be.
While founded on the ethnic cleansing of the continent’s original inhabitants and the enslavement of its African workforce, the news – or rather, confirmation – that the CIA employed a revolting range of “enhanced” torture techniques in the wake of 9/11 is being portrayed by some as a vile exception to the United States’ otherwise exceptional history; a “stain on our values and history,” in the words of Senator Dianne Feinstein, whose committee released the report detailing the agency’s use of near-drownings and mock executions and sexual abuse to humiliate and demoralize a foreign “other” under the guise of gathering intelligence. These practices, the terrible things this country has again and again been shown to do, “are not who we are,” added Secretary of State John Kerry. Indeed, “the awful facts of this report” do not even “represent who they are,” he said of those awful people described in that report (“its important that this period not define the intelligence community in anyone’s mind,” he continued).
“Some of the actions that were taken were contrary to our values,” President Barack Obama chimed in, crediting his government with, as always, correcting its own mistakes (“They aren’t picking up prisoners anymore,” Senator James Risch explained to CNN. “What they do is when they identify a high-value target, the target is droned.”).
As a rhetorical ploy, it’s understandable: Saying the United States has always been garbage is not going to be terribly popular in a nation that still fondly refers to a group of sadistic slave-owners as its “founding fathers” — so politicians savvy enough to know that openly embracing torture is not a good look for the world’s leading state-sponsor of holier-than-thou rhetoric, appeal to a history and set of values that never was and never were in practice, as a way to give political cover to their middling, public relations-minded critiques of the national-security state’s least defensible excesses. It’s entirely false, this narrative of extreme goodness marked by occasional self-correcting imperfection, but it satisfies our national ego to think the American phoenix rises from a store of ethically traded gold, not a pile of rotting trash.
“We will likely hear these false appeals to an imaginary history a great deal with the release of the Senate report on CIA torture,” writes Juan Cole, a history professor at the University of Michigan. But even historians can fall victim to America’s easier to digest mythology, with Cole proceeding to characterize the ugly truth about the United States – that it was founded on the “exaltation of ‘whiteness’ over universal humanity, and preference for property rights over human rights” – as but a right-wing lie. As he tells it, the likes of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were actually progressives who would almost certainly “have voted to release the report and . . . been completely appalled at its contents.”
Cole follows that assertion up with a list of things that some of these founding fathers said they believed: Jefferson, for instance, argued that the formal abolition of torture in the French legal system was in keeping with “the progress of philanthropy and civilization.” And the Bill of Rights of course prohibits “cruel and unusual punishment.” But, naggingly, the actual record of those who gave those nice speeches and drafted the Constitution suggests we shouldn’t just believe what they said and wrote down.
“Fascists will argue that the Constitution does not apply to captured foreign prisoners of war, or that the prisoners were not even P.O.W.s, having been captured out of uniform,” writes Cole. “But focusing on the category of the prisoner is contrary to the spirit of the founding fathers.”
Except, it isn’t at all – and if fascism is denying human rights on the basis of nationality or appearance, than the exalted founders were of course fascists themselves. The same document that ostensibly prohibits torture also defined an African slave as three-fifths of a person – and even then, only for purposes of bolstering the political power of those who enslaved them: in practice, they were treated as property whose master could torture or murder them with impunity. This is not pedantry: Hundreds of thousands of people were denied their ostensibly inalienable rights because of the color of their skin; nearly four million by the time of the Civil War, or almost half the population of the South.
Thomas Jefferson, for instance, may have agonized over the evil of slavery, usually in private, but then he also reputedly raped a 15-year-old he owned and, according to the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, paid $70 just so he could have a runaway slave he had already sold off to someone else “severely flogged in the presence of his old companions.” At least once, Jefferson even “ordered the destruction of all dogs belonging to his slaves,” according to researcher Mary V. Thompson. “At least one of the condemned dogs was hung as a disciplinary warning.”
Jefferson was a savage white supremacist who in practice if not always in speech believed that people of color (“slaves” and “savages” as they were known then; “thugs” and “terrorists” as they’re often called today) did not deserve all the same rights as wealthy white Americans like him; he could own them, but they could not even own a pet. The sometimes beautiful talk of universal rights popular around the time of the American revolution was ignored in practice; then as now there were giant exceptions for those whom it would be inconvenient to consider fully human.
Torture has always been commonplace in the United States. As former slave Harriet Ann Jacobs recounted, . . .
Democracy Now? has a good program—video plus transcript. Their blurb:
As a psychologist identified as the “architect” of the CIA’s torture program admits he personally waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, we look at allegations that the American Psychological Association — the largest association of psychologists in the world — secretly colluded with U.S. abuses. Speaking to Vice News, retired Air Force psychologist James Mitchell confirmed for the first time he personally waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Mitchell was hired to help create the interrogation program along with his partner, Dr. Bruce Jessen. The Senate report says Mitchell and Jessen were paid $81 million to help design the CIA’s torture methods, including some of the most abusive tactics. The Senate’s findings come as the American Psychological Association has launched a review to determine whether its leadership also played a role in CIA torture. The APA’s probe was prompted by revelations from Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times investigative reporter James Risen. In his new book, “Pay Any Price,” Risen reveals how after the Abu Ghraib torture scandal, the APA formed a task force that enabled the continued role of psychologists in the torture program. There has been a deep division within the APA’s policy on interrogations for years. Unlike the American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association, the APA never prohibited its members from being involved in interrogations.
We are joined by two guests: Steven Reisner, a founding member of the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology and psychological ethics adviser to Physicians for Human Rights; and Alfred McCoy, professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and author of “A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation, from the Cold War to the War on Terror,” as well as “Torture and Impunity: The U.S. Doctrine of Coercive Interrogation.”
And see also this NY Times article by James Risen and Matt Apuzzo: “C.I.A., on Path to Torture, Chose Haste Over Analysis.” I continue to get indications of incompetence on the part of the CIA: interrogation techniques—that is, successful interrogation techniques—were well known at the time, and even the CIA apparently knew (as indicated by their documentation) that coercive interrogations were counter-productive, producing false leads. But they went ahead anyway. That’s incompetence. Or stupidity.
Interesting point: We seeing many interviews of the authors of the US torture program, but no interviews of their victims
I wonder why that is. Some of them—including some of those who were absolutely innocent of any wrong-doing—have been destroyed by the experience, and so TV would shy away from that. But I think a panel discussion with (say) Dick Cheney and Khalid al Masri, the German citizen whom the CIA kidnapped and tortured for months, then discarded in a field in Macedonia. His life has been pretty much ruined. He has tried repeatedly to get some acknowledgement and apology from the US, but the US is the sort of nation that won’t do that—well, obviously, a nation that kidnaps innocent people and tortures them has a certain character revealed in what it does and what it refuses to do. The character of the US is plainly revealed in its actions.
Glenn Greenwald writes at The Intercept:
Ever since the torture report was released last week, U.S. television outlets have endlessly featured American torturers and torture proponents. But there was one group that was almost never heard from: the victims of their torture, not even the ones recognized by the U.S. Government itself as innocent, not even the family members of the ones they tortured to death. Whether by design (most likely) or effect, this inexcusable omission radically distorts coverage.
Whenever America is forced to confront its heinous acts, the central strategy is to disappear the victims, render them invisible. That’s what robs them of their humanity: it’s the process of dehumanization. That, in turns, is what enables American elites first to support atrocities, and then, when forced to reckon with them, tell themselves that – despite some isolated and well-intentioned bad acts – they are still really good, elevated, noble, admirable people. It’s hardly surprising, then, that a Washington Post/ABC News poll released this morning found that a large majority of Americans believe torture is justified even when you call it “torture.” Not having to think about actual human victims makes it easy to justify any sort of crime.
That’s the process by which the reliably repellent Tom Friedman seized on the torture report to celebrate America’s unique greatness. “We are a beacon of opportunity and freedom, and also  these foreigners know in their bones that we do things differently from other big powers in history,” the beloved-by-DC columnist wrote after reading about forced rectal feeding and freezing detainees to death. For the opinion-making class, even America’s savage torture is proof of its superiority and inherent Goodness: “this act of self-examination is not only what keeps our society as a whole healthy, it’s what keeps us a model that others want to emulate, partner with and immigrate to.” Friedman, who himself unleashed one of the most (literally) psychotic defenses of the Iraq War, ended his torture discussion by approvingly quoting John McCain on America’s enduring moral superiority: “Even in the worst of times, ‘we are always Americans, and different, stronger, and better than those who would destroy us.’”
This self-glorifying ritual can be sustained only by completely suppressing America’s victims. If you don’t hear from the human beings who are tortured, it’s easy to pretend nothing truly terrible happened. That’s how the War on Terror generally has been “reported” for 13 years and counting: by completely silencing those whose lives are destroyed or ended by U.S. crimes. That’s how the illusion gets sustained.
Thus, we sometimes hear about drones (usually to celebrate the Great Kills) but almost never hear from their victims: the surviving family members of innocents whom the U.S. kills or those forced to live under the traumatizing regime of permanently circling death robots. We periodically hear about the vile regimes the U.S. props up for decades, but almost never from the dissidents and activists imprisoned, tortured and killed by those allied tyrants. Most Americans have heard the words “rendition” and “Guantanamo” but could not name a single person victimized by them, let alone recount what happened to them, because they almost never appear on American television.
It would be incredibly easy, and incredibly effective, for U.S. television outlets to interview America’s torture victims. There is certainly no shortage of them. Groups such as the ACLU, Center for Constitutional Rights, Reprieve, and CAGE UK represent many of them. Many are incredibly smart and eloquent, and have spent years contemplating what happened to them and navigating the aftermath on their lives.
I’ve written previously about the transformative experience of
meeting and hearing directly from the victims of the abuses by your own government. That human interaction converts an injustice from an abstraction into a deeply felt rage and disgust. That’s precisely why the U.S. media doesn’t air those stories directly from the victims themselves: because it would make it impossible to maintain the pleasing fairy tales about “who we really are.”
When I was in Canada in October, I met Maher Arar (pictured above) for the second time, went to his home, had breakfast with his wife (also pictured above) and two children. In 2002, Maher, a Canadian citizen of Syrian descent who worked as an engineer, was traveling back home to Ottawa when he was abducted by the U.S. Government at JFK Airport, heldincommunicado and interrogated for weeks, then “rendered” to Syria where the U.S. arranged to have him brutally tortured by Assad’s regime. He was kept in a coffin-like cell for 10 months and savagely tortured until even his Syrian captors were convinced that he was completely innocent. He was then uncermoniously released back to his life in Canada as though nothing had happened.
When he sued the U.S. government, subservient U.S. courts refused even to hear his case, accepting the Obama DOJ’s claim that it was too secret to safely adjudicate. The Canadian government released the findings of its investigation, publicly apologized for its role, and paid him $9 million. He used some of the money to start a political newspaper, which has since closed. He became an eloquent opponent of both the U.S. War on Terror and the Assad regime which tortured him as part of it.
But all you have to do is spend five minutes talking to him to see that he has never really recovered from being snatched from his own life and savagely tortured at the behest of the U.S. Government that still holds itself out as the Leader of the Free World. Part of him is still back in the torture chamber in Syria, and likely always will be.
Nobody could listen to Maher Arar speak and feel anything but disgust and outrage toward the U.S. Government – not just the Bush administration which kidnapped him and sent him to be tortured, but the Obama administration which protected them and blocked him from receiving justice, and the American media that turned a blind eye toward it, and the majority of the American public that supports this. But that’s exactly why we don’t hear from him: he isn’t on CNN or Meet the Press or Morning Joe to make clear what Michael Hayden and John Yoo really did and what the U.S. government under a Democratic president continues to shield. . .
I think interviewing the victims of our torture program would be dynamite television—it certainly would bring a new dimension to Meet the Press. Indeed, given the competition for ratings, I’m surprised that TV interviews of victims has not happened already. Why not? <- good question. Why not?
Cheney himself cannot shed much light on the experience of being tortured, since he himself has never been tortured. Indeed, he took great pains even to avoid military service.
Carl Hulse reports in the NY Times:
To Senator Mark Udall, the Central Intelligence Agency’s effort to mislead the public about its brutal interrogation program is not a thing of the past.
Mr. Udall, a Colorado Democrat who pressed his case against the agency even as he packed up his office after his re-election defeat last month, sees the agency’s strong effort to rebut the findings of the Senate’s report on the torture of terrorism suspects as proof the intelligence community has not learned from its mistakes.
“We did all these things and had the opportunity over the last six years to come clean, and the C.I.A. just fought tooth and nail to prevent that from happening,” Mr. Udall said in an interview after the stinging attack he delivered on the Senate floor against the intelligence community and the White House. “Now we are doing the same thing today that we did six or eight or 10 years ago by denying this happened.”
Mr. Udall, 64, an avid outdoorsman more often associated with environmental, energy and fiscal issues during his congressional career, has become a fierce critic of the nation’s spy and antiterror apparatus, from the mass collection of telecommunications data to the expansion of drone strikes under the Obama administration. He said he was exploring ways to continue in that role after leaving Congress — to keep public attention fixed on intelligence operations he sees as in conflict with the nation’s character.
“There has to be accountability,” Mr. Udall said. “The longer you wait to address the question of accountability, the more it festers and there is more potential that people lose interest and we repeat these very acts at some point in the future.”
After one term in the Senate and five in the House, Mr. Udall had one of his biggest moments in the final days of his tenure. He took to the Senate floor on Wednesday to not only condemn the torture documented in the Senate Intelligence Committee report, but to denounce the response from John O. Brennan, the C.I.A. director.
Mr. Brennan, like other intelligence community leaders from 2001 to 2009, conceded that some abuses occurred but argued that useful intelligence was obtained. He and others also dispute the findings that C.I.A. officials misled both the Bush administration and the public about the interrogation program, a key element of the Senate report.
Skirting close to disclosing classified information on the floor, Mr. Udall pointed to a still-secret internal review done by the C.I.A. under the former director Leon E. Panetta that was obtained by the Senate. He said the Panetta review showed the agency had determined for itself that much of the Senate report was true.
“Director Brennan and the C.I.A. today are continuing to willfully provide inaccurate information and misrepresent the efficacy of torture,” he said on the floor. “In other words, the C.I.A. is lying.”
Mr. Udall didn’t stop at the agency. He strongly criticized President Obama for failing to “rein in” the agency and its leadership and for not embracing the report’s findings. Instead, the White House has focused on the president’s decision to end the interrogation program instead of the issues of whether it provided valuable intelligence or whether those who conducted it should be prosecuted.
Mr. Udall also faulted the administration for keeping some of those responsible for the program in leadership positions.
“The president needs to purge his administration of high-level officials who were instrumental to the development and running of this program,” he said. “He needs to force a cultural change at the C.I.A.” . . .
And note this article: Does Torture Work? The C.I.A.’s Claims and What the Committee Found
Is the CIA capable of telling the truth? Or do they consider all true statements as classified, so that they can only tell lies?
Jane Mayer has a very good article in the New Yorker:
It’s hard to describe it as a positive development when a branch of the federal government releases a four-hundred-and-ninety-nine-page report that explains, in meticulous detail, how unthinkable cruelty became official U.S. policy. But last Tuesday, in releasing the long-awaited Senate Select Intelligence Committee report on the C.I.A.’s interrogation-and-detention program, Senator Dianne Feinstein, the committee chairman, proved that Congress can still perform its most basic Madisonian function of providing a check on executive-branch abuse, and that is reason for gratitude.
It is clear now that from the start many of those involved in the program, which began in 2002, recognized its potential criminality. Before subjecting a detainee to interrogation, a 2002 cable notes, C.I.A. officers sought assurances that he would “remain in isolation and incommunicado for the remainder of his life.” Permanent, extrajudicial disappearance was apparently preferable to letting the prisoner ever tell what had been done to him. That logic may explain why no “high value detainee” subjected to the most extreme tactics and still in U.S. custody in Guantánamo has yet been given an open trial.
The report also demonstrates that the agency misrepresented nearly every aspect of its program to the Bush Administration, which authorized it, to the members of Congress charged with overseeing it, and to the public, which was led to believe that whatever the C.I.A. was doing was vital for national security and did not involve torture. Instead, the report shows, in all twenty cases most widely cited by the C.I.A. as evidence that abusive interrogation methods were necessary, the same information could have been obtained, and frequently was obtained, through non-coercive methods. Further, the interrogations often produced false information, ensnaring innocent people, sometimes with tragic results.
Other documents illustrate how the agency misled. In June of 2003, the Vice-President’s counsel asked the C.I.A’.s general counsel if the agency was videotaping its waterboarding sessions. His answer was no. That was technically true, since it was not videotaping them at the time. But it had done so previously, and it had the tapes. The C.I.A. used the same evasion on Senate overseers. A day after a senator proposed a commission to look into detainee matters, the tapes were destroyed. Similar deceptions on many levels are so rife in the report that a reader can’t help but wonder if agency officials didn’t simply regard their cloak of state secrecy as a license to circumvent accountability.
After Feinstein introduced the report on the Senate floor, John McCain rose to speak. He praised the document as “a thorough and thoughtful study of practices that I believe not only failed their purpose—to secure actionable intelligence to prevent further attacks on the U.S. and our allies—but actually damaged our security interests, as well as our reputation as a force for good in the world.” His endorsement was important not only because, as a former prisoner of war who survived torture, he has particular authority on the issue but also because he is a Republican. He lent the report credibility against torture apologists hoping to discredit it as a political stunt. The tableau of the two elder senators putting aside their differences to stand together was a relic of bipartisan statesmanship.
It remains to be seen, though, whether the report will spur lasting reform. Darius Rejali, a professor of political science at Reed College and an expert on torture regimes, doubts that it will. For one thing, despite McCain’s testimony, torture is becoming just another partisan issue. This wasn’t always the case—it was Ronald Reagan who signed the U.N. Convention Against Torture, in 1988. But polls show both a growing acceptance of the practice and a widening divide along party lines. “It’s becoming a lot like the death penalty,” Rejali said. . .
Cheney is fine with torturing innocent people, so long as we win.
Here are a couple of good comments on Cheney’s outlook: one by Amy Davidson in the New Yorker, and one by Dan Froomkin at The Intercept. Both are well worth reading and both expose the rot and sickness of Cheney’s arguments. (And Jane Mayer has an excellent brief column on the true patriots of the torture regime.)
In McClatchy, Matthew Schofield describes how one innocent man the CIA (our CIA) kidnapped (quite illegal) and tortured (also quite illegal), and how the US, even though it knows well the incident, has steadfastly stonewalled and refused to acknowledge the crime, refused any restitution, and refuses even to apologize. I’m ashamed for my country, and I’m ashamed of Obama’s refusal to set things right. History will, I imagine, judge him harshly.
Khalid al Masri is a broken man today. A decade after the CIA snatched him by mistake, flew him half way around the world in secret, and questioned him as part of its detention and interrogation program, he’s yet to recover.
He’s abandoned his home. He no longer is part of the lives of his wife or children. Friends can’t find him. His attorneys can’t find him. German foreign intelligence will say only that he’s “somewhere in a western-leaning Arab nation.”
When his Ulm attorney and confidant Manfred Gnjidic last saw him, he was broke, unkempt, paranoid and completely alone. He’d been arrested twice and sent once to a psychiatric ward, once to jail. He was in deep need of psychological counseling but with no hope of the extensive help he needed.
Masri’s case is one of the 26 instances detailed in the Senate Intelligence Committee report where the CIA snared someone in its web of secret dungeons by mistake, realized its error after weeks or months of mistreatment and questioning, then let them go. But the report, made public Tuesday, does not recount what that mistake meant to al Masri’s life.
“I was stunned by the torture report,” Gnjidic said. “They had known and privately admitted for years that they had made a mistake regarding Khalid,” who is a German citizen.
And yet the CIA, which realized its error within weeks of al Masri’s January 2004 detention, remained silent, as did the Senate Intelligence Committee, which learned of the mistake in 2007.
“For a decade, a decade in which his life has been shattered, he’d asked for . . . an apology, an explanation, a chance to go ahead with his life,” Gnjidic said. “They knew this, they admitted this and they didn’t share this with him?
“How cowardly must they be, how weak must they be, to fear apologizing when they knew they were completely in the wrong.”
Masri’s CIA detention, which combined with Macedonian intelligence detention which Gnjidic believes was at the request of the CIA, totaled 35 days by CIA count, but closer to four months by Masri’s.
The Senate report does not discuss his treatment in detention. But al Masri has insisted over the years that he was tortured. He’s described being shackled to the ceiling while naked, unable to sit for days, existing on nothing, in the dark, a scenario that appears to be common in the torture report. A European court ruled in 2012 that he’d been sodomized and drugged.
The shadow cast by that detention saw him labeled by German media as an “Islamist extremist.”
Neighbors shunned him. Potential employers turned him away. In 2010, the German national newspaper Bild ran a story about him under a headline asking “Why do we allow ourselves to be terrorized by such a man?”
The article went on to state that “for months the Islamist who claims to be a victim of CIA torture has terrorized the federal government, parliament and the public.” His terrorism of the federal government apparently was in asking for redress and an explanation for what had happened to him.
As Gnjidic notes, and the Senate report makes clear, those answers were available to Masri years before he finally broke. A grocer and a mechanic before he was detained, he was arrested the first time in 2007 for setting fire to a store over a dispute over a broken iPod. His second arrest came when he attacked the mayor of Ulm in 2009, reportedly over the city’s approval of a permit for a legal brothel. . .
Continue reading. It’s a grim story. The US really must face charges at some point. It has done terrible wrongs. (And yes, the terrorists who attack innocents also do wrong, but their attack on innocents is something we strongly condemn while readily accepting our own attacks on innocents.)