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Entries in Torture (12)


War on Terror Flashback: How US Delivered Detainees to Torture in Qaddafi's Libya (Human Rights Watch)

Laura Pitter of Human Rights Watch talks to the Guardian about the report of US delivery of detainees to torture in Muammar Qaddafi's Libya

When rebel forces overtook Tripoli in August 2011, prison doors were opened and office files exposed, revealing startling new information about Libya’s relations with other countries. One such revelation, documented in this report, is the degree of involvement of the United States government under the Bush administration in the arrest of opponents of the former Libyan Leader, Muammar Gaddafi, living abroad, the subsequent torture and other ill-treatment of many of them in US custody, and their forced transfer to back to Libya.

The United States played the most extensive role in the abuses, but other countries, notably the United Kingdom, were also involved.

This is an important chapter in the larger story of the secret and abusive US detention program established under the government of George W. Bush after the September 11, 2001 attacks, and the rendition of individuals to countries with known records of torture.

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Bahrain Opinion: Letting Torturers Go Free? (Owen Jones)

Ali Mushaimaa, killed 14 Feb 2011Some hoped that after the release of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry’s report,  state officials who were complicit in torture against civilians would be brought to justice. This has failed to happen. Furthermore, the highest rank of those even put before the courts appears to be a lieutenant, and that case doesn’t even relate to "torture". Naturally this has done nothing to appease those in Bahrain who want justice, as many believe that government officials are either directly responsible for issuing the torture order, or at least complicit through negligence.

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Syria Special: Torture, Intimidation Used to Deter Protests

Syrian soldiers appear to be beating prisoners in a bus. We haven't received a full translation yet, but it appears that the soldiers are forcing these people to chant pro-Assad slogans:

UPDATE: 2011-08-19, 1900 GMT: Al Jazeera posts this translation with additional details:

Activists say the prisoners on the bus were arrested in Hama on July 29, just two days before the military assault on the city.

Men believed to be shabiha thugs dressed in military uniforms beat the prisoners, slamming their heads down and pulling their hair while screaming, "God, Syria, Bashar only!" and "With our blood and souls we sacrifice to you Bashar!" The men’s beards suggest they are not regular soldiers, as beards are banned in Syria’s military.

NPR Reports that the tactics of the Syrian regime have become even more extreme. According to the report, Assad's forces are now torturing some detainees to death (audio of the full report):

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Syria, Libya (and Beyond) Liveblog: The Crackdown has Stopped?


US Feature: Countering Rumsfeld's Lie --- Detainees Were Waterboarded (Kaye)

In the controversy over whether torture, especially waterboarding, was used to gather information leading to the capture of Osama bin Laden, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld told Fox News' Sean Hannity recently that "no one was waterboarded at Guantanamo by the US military. In fact, no one was waterboarded at Guantanamo, period."

In his memoir, "Known and Unknown," Rumsfeld maintained, "To my knowledge, no US military personnel involved in interrogations waterboarded any detainees,not at Guantanamo or anywhere else in the world." But as we shall see, Rumsfeld was either lying outright, or artfully twisting the truth.

Others have insisted as well that the military never waterboarded anyone. Law and national security writer Benjamin Wittes wrote in The New Republic last year that "the military, unlike the CIA, never waterboarded anybody." Harper's columnist Scott Horton also noted last year, "There is no documentation yet of waterboarding at Gitmo, but the case book is far from closed on that score, too."

Yet, though not widely reported and scattered among various articles and reports on detainee treatment by the military, including first-person accounts, there are a number of stories of forced water choking or drowning, both at Guantanamo and other US military sites.

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War on Terror Special: How British Policy Endorsed Overseas Torture (Cobain)

Photo: Mark Wilson (Getty)A top-secret document revealing how MI6 and MI5 officers were allowed to extract information from prisoners being illegally tortured overseas has been seen by the Guardian.

The interrogation policy --- details of which are believed to be too sensitive to be publicly released at the government inquiry into the UK's role in torture and rendition --- instructed senior intelligence officers to weigh the importance of the information being sought against the amount of pain they expected a prisoner to suffer. It was operated by the British government for almost a decade.

A copy of the secret policy showed senior intelligence officers and ministers feared the British public could be at greater risk of a terrorist attack if Islamists became aware of its existence.

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War on Terror: 1st Trial of Guantanamo Detainee --- 1 Conviction, 279 Acquittals

In the first trial in criminal court of a Guantanamo Bay detainee, Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani was acquitted yesterday on 279 of 280 charges over the 1998 bombing of the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

This, however, was not the most extraordinary news of the day. Instead, it was the reaction --- aided by a compliant US media --- that the case highlights "whether civilian courts are appropriate for trying terrorists". In other words, rights can only be upheld and due process of law observed when the outcome of Guilty is pre-ordained.

Indeed, if the media wanted to stand up to those trying to use the outcome to ensure that Guantanamo Bay remains open indefinitely, it might put forth the primary reason why it was not possible to establish Ghailani's guilt: evidence obtained by torture was not allowed by the trial judge.

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Torture: Britain to Pay Millions to Those Abused in Guantanamo & Other Prisons (BBC)

Around a dozen men, who accused British security forces of colluding in their torture overseas, are to get millions in compensation from the UK government.

Some of the men, who are all British citizens or residents, were detained at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp in Cuba.

At least six of them alleged UK forces were complicit in their torture before they arrived at Guantanamo.

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George Bush's Torture: Taking Apart the President's Claims

He’s back. He's unrepentant. He's proud.

President George W. Bush, re-emerged into the media spotlight to plug his memoirs, has made headlines with his justification of waterboarding as an interrogation tool. “Damn right,” said Bush when asked to approve the waterboarding of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the planner of the 9-11 attacks. His argument, which the media has repeated with varying degrees of skepticism, is that it isn’t torture, it worked, and it saved lives.

Let’s take a look at these one at a time.

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George Bush's Torture: History's Road --- The US and the Philippines (Cullinane)

For many people, torture is “cruel and unusual punishment”, an act expressly outlawed by the 8th Amendment of the US Constitution.  However, according to George W. Bush, in his November 8 interview with NBC television, torture is a technique that has saved the lives of Americans at home and fighting abroad, an act he is proud to have authorised and would do so again.

Bush’s legal rationale for torture remains less than compelling --- “because the lawyers said it was legal” --- but he does have more powerful backing: that of historical precedent. More than a century ago, the US Government and military, in the name of civilising progress abroad, embraced the techniques that the 43rd President still promotes.

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