Senate Report Reveals CIA Torture Program Originated in Same Department as MKULTRA

Screen capture of James Mitchell from VICE News interview

The release of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) executive summary (PDF) to their report, “Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Detention and Interrogation Program,” has rightly gotten a wide amount of press coverage.

The sheer brutality of the program’s use of torture is overwhelming, from the use of forced enemas on detainees — the CIA called it “rectal hydration” and “rectal feeding” — to intense use of solitary confinement, threats to kill prisoners’ families, homicide, and more. Revelations from this report will continue to be reported and absorbed into the world’s understanding of the criminal extent of the U.S. torture program for months or years to come.

But one revelation has gone notably unreported. The man associated with implementing the most brutal part of the interrogation program was drawn out of the same division of the CIA that some decades ago had been responsible for the notorious MKULTRA program. As a CIA history of OTS explains, MKULTRA “involved Agency funding for the testing and use of chemical and biological agents and other means of controlling or modifying human behavior” (p. 19). (more…)

SSCI Report Reveals CIA Torture Program Originated in Same Department as MKULTRA

Screen capture of James Mitchell from VICE News interview

The release of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) executive summary(PDF) to their report, “Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Detention and Interrogation Program,” has rightly gotten a wide amount of press coverage.

The sheer brutality of the program’s use of torture is overwhelming, from the use of forced enemas on detainees — the CIA called it “rectal hydration” and “rectal feeding” — to intense use of solitary confinement, threats to kill prisoners’ families, homicide, and more. Revelations from this report will continue to be reported and absorbed into the world’s understanding of the criminal extent of the U.S. torture program for months or years to come.

But one revelation has gone notably unreported. The man associated with implementing the most brutal part of the interrogation program was drawn out of the same division of the CIA that some decades ago had been responsible for the notorious MKULTRA program. As a CIA history of OTS explains, MKULTRA “involved Agency funding for the testing and use of chemical and biological agents and other means of controlling or modifying human behavior” (p. 19).

OTS Contractor James Mitchell Comes to Thailand

According to the SSCI report, James Mitchell, one of the two CIA contractor psychologists widely associated with the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation” torture program, was working for the CIA’s Office of Technical Services (OTS). In late 2001, Mitchell and his former psychologist associate at the military’s Joint Personnel Recovery Agency (JPRA), John Bruce Jessen, were “commissioned” by OTS to write a study based on a purported Al Qaeda manual, called the Manchester Manual, after the city in England where the document was discovered.

The paper Mitchell and Jessen produced supposedly addressed countermeasures to interrogation that were discussed in the manual. According to the SSCI investigation, we learn for the first time that Mitchell was working for the CIA’s OTS at the time he was ostensibly recruited or volunteered for the CIA’s new interrogation program.

The Senate report states that Mitchell and Jessen were central in advocating a set of torture techniques that were gathered from the SERE training program for which they used to work at JPRA. SERE stands for Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape, and is a long-standing Defense Department program that is meant to prepare military, intelligence, and other certain important government personnel for the rigors of capture and possible torture by a determined and ruthless enemy. But the narrative that Mitchell and Jessen were solely responsible for the program, or that they even originated it, is not totally true.

According to the SSCI report, on or around April 1, 2002, Mitchell was recommended from within OTS for the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, then being touted as a major Al Qaeda figure (he wasn’t):

While Abu Zubaydah was still hospitalized, personnel at CIA Headquarters began discussing how CIA officers would interrogate Abu Zubaydah upon his return to DETENTION SITE GREEN [CIA’s Thailand black site]. The initial CIA interrogation proposal recommended that the interrogators engage with Abu Zubaydah to get him to provide information, and suggested that a “hard approach,” involving foreign government personnel, be taken “only as a last resort.” At a meeting about this proposal, [1-2 words redacted] CTC Legal, [2-3 words redacted] recommended that a psychologist working on contract in the CIA’s Office of Technical Services (OTS), Grayson SWIGERT [James Mitchell], be used by CTC to “provide real-time recommendations to overcome Abu Zubaydah’s “resistance to interrogation.” SWIGERT had come to [1-2 words redacted]’s attention through [2-3 words redacation] who worked in OTS. Shortly thereafter, CIA Headquarters formally proposed that Abu Zubaydah be kept in an all-white room that was lit 24 hours a day, that Abu Zubaydah not be provided any amenities, that his sleep be disrupted, that loud noise be constantly fed into his cell, and that only a small number of people interact with him. CIA records indicate that these proposals were based on the idea that such conditions would lead Abu Zubaydah to develop a sense of “learned helplessness.” CIA Headquarters then sent an interrogation team to Country [one letter redaction, but represents most likely Thailand], including SWIGERT [Mitchell], whose initial role was to consult on the psychological aspects of the interrogation. [pg. 26 of report; footnote notations have been removed from original]

“Novel interrogation methods”

On April 1, 2002, a cable was sent from OTS at the request of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center and ALEC Station, which was the group within CIA supposedly hunting down Osama bin Ladin, discussing the possible use of “novel interrogation methods” on Abu Zubaydah.

The new proposed interrogation strategy suggested “several environmental modifications to create an atmosphere that enhances the strategic interrogation process.” The cable continued, “[t]he deliberate manipulation of the environment is intended to cause psychological disorientation, and reduced psychological wherewithal for the interrogation,” as well as “the deliberate establishment of psychological dependence upon the interrogator,” and “an increased sense of learned helplessness.” (more…)

APA’s “Independent” Torture Review Led by Attorney Who Worked With Former CIA Director

David Hoffman

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report on the CIA’s interrogation-torture program may or may not be released in truncated form this week, but it is not the only investigation bearing upon the U.S. torture program that promises new revelations.

A much-touted “independent review” initiated by the American Psychological Association (APA) into charges it secretly supported the Bush administration’s policy of torture after 9/11 turns out to be led by a man who worked with the CIA’s George Tenet and Kenneth J. Levit over twenty years ago. Tenet went on to become Director of the Central Intelligence Agency during the period the CIA initiated a torture and extraordinary rendition program. Levit was Tenet’s choice for special counsel at CIA from 1998-2000.

David Hoffman, a Chicago attorney for the international law firm Sidley Austin, was handpicked by APA as an “independent reviewer” to investigate charges in a new book by New York Times writer James Risen that some of the American Psychological Association’s (APA) top leadership colluded with the CIA and the U.S. military in the implementation of the Bush Administration’s torture program. Hoffman is to report to a “special committee” drawn from APA’s Board of Directors.

His Sidley Austin biography states that Hoffman “has conducted and directed many internal investigations involving serious allegations of fraud and corruption, frequently under intense media scrutiny…. His investigative experience in the public and private sectors has ranged from long-term, multi-national federal criminal investigations involving large teams of investigators and many wiretaps, to internal investigations involving senior corporate and political officials, lower-level employees, corporate entities, and others.”

In a November 12 press release, APA called Risen’s charges “highly charged and very serious.” The release stated, “The independent reviewer [Hoffman] will consider and report to the special committee as to whether APA colluded with the Bush administration, CIA or U.S. military to support torture during the war on terror.”

In an e-mail exchange, I asked Hoffman to comment on his links to Tenet and Levit when he worked as a Press Secretary and legislative assistant on foreign policy in Sen. David Boren’s office. At the time, Boren was director of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI), and George Tenet was SSCI’s staff director.

Hoffman replied, “Yes, I worked with George Tenet and Ken Levit when I served on Senator David Boren’s staff over 20 years ago, prior to attending law school, from 1990 to 1992. I was on Senator Boren’s personal staff, as was Mr. Levit, while Mr. Tenet was on the Senate Intelligence Committee staff. Since then, I have not worked with either of them. Over the last ten years, I have seen and spoken with each of them occasionally, probably on a handful of occasions.”

I asked Hoffman under what kinds of circumstances he spoke to Tenet and Levit in the past ten years, or whether he felt past associations could produce any kind of bias. Hoffman did not explain the nature of those contacts, except to say they amounted to “limited, occasional contact.”

Hoffman wrote, “I appreciate your questions but I can assure you that my knowing Mr. Tenet and Mr. Levit from a job I held 22 years ago – before I was in law school and well before they were at the CIA – and my limited, occasional contact with them since then will have no bearing on how we conduct our review or our willingness to reach particular conclusions about the APA, the CIA, or any entity or individual. I can assure you that our review will be independent and driven solely by the evidence we are able to gather.”

One example of Hoffman’s work in Boren’s office was recounted in a May 9, 1991 article in the Los Angeles Times, which identified Hoffman as a “spokesman for Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman David L. Boren.” The article quoted Hoffman as stating Boren’s support for the potential nomination of Robert M. Gates as CIA director. Gates, who indeed did serve as CIA Director in the early 1990s, later served as Secretary of Defense under both George W. Bush and Barack Obama, running DoD during nearly half the time Guantanamo has been open as a “war on terror” strategic interrogation and detention center.

Hoffman’s resume after leaving Sen. Boren’s office has other links worth noting. He followed his Senate job with law school at the University of Chicago, and then clerkships for two conservative judges, U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Dennis Jacobs, and Chief Justice William Rehnquist. Hoffman later went to work as an Assistant U.S. Attorney with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago under Patrick Fitzgerald, and a stint as Inspector General for the City of Chicago. According to an article in The Hill, in 2010 Hoffman engaged David Axelrod’s former media firm, AKPD, in a run for Democratic nominee for the Senate in Illinois. Hoffman lost, but his political career may not be over.

As regards any potential links to APA itself, Hoffman stated, “I have never done any work for or with the APA or any of its affiliated organizations or individuals. And a search shows that Sidley has not done any work for the APA, any affiliated entity, or any individual who is affiliated with the APA in Sidley’s records for at least the last ten years.”

None of the press reports thus far, including articles in Science, The Intercept, and Forbes, have mentioned Hoffman’s Tenet link. James Risen’s article in the New York Times never mentions it. The same is true for statements by either the APA or the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology (CEP), a group of psychologists who have been highly critical of APA’s policy of supporting use of psychologists in national security interrogations. (more…)

APA “Independent” Torture Review Led by Attorney Who Worked With CIA’s Tenet

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report on the CIA’s interrogation-torture program may or may not be released in truncated form this week, but it is not the only investigation bearing upon the U.S. torture program that promises new revelations.

A much-touted “independent review” initiated by the American Psychological Association (APA) into charges it secretly supported the Bush administration’s policy of torture after 9/11 turns out to be led by a man who worked with the CIA’s George Tenet and Kenneth J. Levit over twenty years ago. Tenet went on to become Director of the Central Intelligence Agency during the period the CIA initiated a torture and extraordinary rendition program. Levit was Tenet’s choice for special counsel at CIA from 1998-2000.

David Hoffman, a Chicago attorney for the international law firm Sidley Austin, was handpicked by APA as an “independent reviewer” to investigate charges in a new book by New York Times writer James Risen that some of the American Psychological Association’s (APA) top leadership colluded with the CIA and the U.S. military in the implementation of the Bush Administration’s torture program. Hoffman is to report to a “special committee” drawn from APA’s Board of Directors.

His Sidley Austin biography states that Hoffman “has conducted and directed many internal investigations involving serious allegations of fraud and corruption, frequently under intense media scrutiny…. His investigative experience in the public and private sectors has ranged from long-term, multi-national federal criminal investigations involving large teams of investigators and many wiretaps, to internal investigations involving senior corporate and political officials, lower-level employees, corporate entities, and others.”

In a November 12 press release, APA called Risen’s charges “highly charged and very serious.” The release stated, “The independent reviewer [Hoffman] will consider and report to the special committee as to whether APA colluded with the Bush administration, CIA or U.S. military to support torture during the war on terror.”

In an e-mail exchange, I asked Hoffman to comment on his links to Tenet and Levit when he worked as a Press Secretary and legislative assistant on foreign policy in Sen. David Boren’s office. At the time, Boren was director of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI), and George Tenet was SSCI’s staff director.

Hoffman replied, “Yes, I worked with George Tenet and Ken Levit when I served on Senator David Boren’s staff over 20 years ago, prior to attending law school, from 1990 to 1992. I was on Senator Boren’s personal staff, as was Mr. Levit, while Mr. Tenet was on the Senate Intelligence Committee staff. Since then, I have not worked with either of them. Over the last ten years, I have seen and spoken with each of them occasionally, probably on a handful of occasions.”

I asked Hoffman under what kinds of circumstances he spoke to Tenet and Levit in the past ten years, or whether he felt past associations could produce any kind of bias. Hoffman did not explain the nature of those contacts, except to say they amounted to “limited, occasional contact.”

Hoffman wrote, “I appreciate your questions but I can assure you that my knowing Mr. Tenet and Mr. Levit from a job I held 22 years ago – before I was in law school and well before they were at the CIA – and my limited, occasional contact with them since then will have no bearing on how we conduct our review or our willingness to reach particular conclusions about the APA, the CIA, or any entity or individual. I can assure you that our review will be independent and driven solely by the evidence we are able to gather.”

One example of Hoffman’s work in Boren’s office was recounted in a May 9, 1991 article in the Los Angeles Times, which identified Hoffman as a “spokesman for Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman David L. Boren.” The article quoted Hoffman as stating Boren’s support for the potential nomination of Robert M. Gates as CIA director. Gates, who indeed did serve as CIA Director in the early 1990s, later served as Secretary of Defense under both George W. Bush and Barack Obama, running DoD during nearly half the time Guantanamo has been open as a “war on terror” strategic interrogation and detention center.

Hoffman’s resume after leaving Sen. Boren’s office has other links worth noting. He followed his Senate job with law school at the University of Chicago, and then clerkships for two conservative judges, U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Dennis Jacobs, and Chief Justice William Rehnquist. Hoffman later went to work as an Assistant U.S. Attorney with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago under Patrick Fitzgerald, and a stint as Inspector General for the City of Chicago. According to an article in The Hill, in 2010 Hoffman engaged David Axelrod’s former media firm, AKPD, in a run for Democratic nominee for the Senate in Illinois. Hoffman lost, but his political career may not be over.

As regards any potential links to APA itself, Hoffman stated, “I have never done any work for or with the APA or any of its affiliated organizations or individuals. And a search shows that Sidley has not done any work for the APA, any affiliated entity, or any individual who is affiliated with the APA in Sidley’s records for at least the last ten years.”

None of the press reports thus far, including articles in Science, The Intercept, and Forbes, have mentioned Hoffman’s Tenet link. James Risen’s article in the New York Times never mentions it. The same is true for statements by either the APA or the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology (CEP), a group of psychologists who have been highly critical of APA’s policy of supporting use of psychologists in national security interrogations. (more…)

UN Review Cites Torture & “Ill Treatment” in US Army Field Manual’s Appendix M

The United Nations Committee Against Torture (UNCAT) has released their “Concluding observations on the third to fifth periodic reports of United States of America” in regards to US adherence to the prohibitions against torture and cruel, inhumane, and degrading forms of treatment of prisoners.

Within the context of the world of diplomacy, the UNCAT findings belie the US insistence that it abides by the Convention Against Torture treaty (CAT), or that it is an adequate model for humane treatment of prisoners.

In particular, the committee took aim at the presence of ill-treatment and torture within the Army Field Manual’s Appendix M, which purports to describe a “restricted interrogation technique” called “Separation.” In a victory for those who oppose government-sanctioned torture and abuse of prisoners, the UNCAT called for the US “to review Appendix M of the Army Field Manual (AFM) in light of its obligations under the Convention.”

More specifically, UNCAT identified the “minimal” sleep regulations in the manual as actually a form of sleep deprivation — “a form of ill-treatment” — and called for adherence to humane norms. In addition, the committee called for the elimination of sensory deprivation in the “field expedient” section of Appendix M, as such sensory deprivation can “create a state of psychosis with the detainee.”

The UNCAT findings should be a wake-up call to the US press, which has repeatedly reported as true the assertion by the Bush and Obama administrations that the AFM allowed only humane interrogations. (The findings also validate my years-long campaign against the use of torture and abuse in the AFM, which has also been the focus at times of most of the human rights and legal groups who have made torture an issue, and bloggers such as Marcy Wheeler.)

While I want to concentrate here on what UNCAT said about the Appendix M and the Army Field Manual, which President Obama by executive order made the primary interrogation tool for forces in “armed conflict,” the committee’s other findings also are worth noting. The relative effectiveness of the UNCAT review process, or lack of same, is something that deserves its own analysis, but for the purposes of this article we’ll put that off for now.

UNCAT Findings

The UNCAT found fault with the US’s federal definition of torture — the way it implements its torture laws — not to mention the very way the US interprets the CAT treaty. It called for the US to consider withdrawing its “interpretive understandings and reservations” with which it ratified the CAT treaty. The UNCAT did the same thing in its May 2000 review of US practices. (For more on this, see this ACLU report.) The US “reservations” to the CAT treaty in particular eviscerate the protections against torture by replacing adherence to international norms on cruel treatment to less stringent US judiciary interpretations. (more…)

UN Review Cites Torture & “Ill Treatment” in U.S. Army Field Manual’s Appendix M

The United Nations Committee Against Torture (UNCAT) has released their “Concluding observations on the third to fifth periodic reports of United States of America” in regards to US adherence to the prohibitions against torture and cruel, inhumane, and degrading forms of treatment of prisoners.

Within the context of the world of diplomacy, the UNCAT findings belie the US insistence that it abides by the Convention Against Torture treaty (CAT), or that it is an adequate model for humane treatment of prisoners.

In particular, the committee took aim at the presence of ill-treatment and torture within the Army Field Manual’s Appendix M, which purports to describe a “restricted interrogation technique” called “Separation.” In a victory for those who oppose government-sanctioned torture and abuse of prisoners, the UNCAT called for the US “to review Appendix M of the Army Field Manual (AFM) in light of its obligations under the Convention.”

More specifically, UNCAT identified the “minimal” sleep regulations in the manual as actually a form of sleep deprivation — “a form of ill-treatment” — and called for adherence to humane norms. In addition, the committee called for the elimination of sensory deprivation in the “field expedient” section of Appendix M, as such sensory deprivation can “create a state of psychosis with the detainee.”

The UNCAT findings should be a wake-up call to the US press, which has repeatedly reported as true the assertion by the Bush and Obama administrations that the AFM allowed only humane interrogations. (The findings also validate my years-long campaign against the use of torture and abuse in the AFM, which has also been the focus at times of most of the human rights and legal groups who have made torture an issue, and bloggers such as Marcy Wheeler.)

While I want to concentrate here on what UNCAT said about the Appendix M and the Army Field Manual, which President Obama by executive order made the primary interrogation tool for forces in “armed conflict,” the committee’s other findings also are worth noting. The relative effectiveness of the UNCAT review process, or lack of same, is something that deserves its own analysis, but for the purposes of this article we’ll put that off for now.

UNCAT Findings

The UNCAT found fault with the US’s federal definition of torture — the way it implements its torture laws — not to mention the very way the US interprets the CAT treaty. It called for the US to consider withdrawing its “interpretive understandings and reservations” with which it ratified the CAT treaty. The UNCAT did the same thing in its May 2000 review of US practices. (For more on this, see this ACLU report.) The US “reservations” to the CAT treaty in particular eviscerate the protections against torture by replacing adherence to international norms on cruel treatment to less stringent US judiciary interpretations.

UNCAT also called for the US to criminalize “the specific offense of torture” at the federal level, and to remove the caveat in other statutes that says psychological torture requires evidence of “prolonged mental harm”. The UN officials warn that the presence of “serious discrepancies between the Convention’s definitions and those incorporated into domestic law create actual or potential loopholes for impunity.”

In other notable, though not exhaustive, findings in the US review, the UNCAT told the US it had “concern over the ongoing failure to fully investigate allegations of torture and ill-treatment of suspects held in U.S. custody abroad, evidenced by the limited number of criminal prosecutions and convictions.” It called for “prompt, impartial and effective investigations,” noting in addition that “alleged perpetrators and accomplices are duly prosecuted, including persons in positions of command and those who provided legal cover to torture…”

In particular, the UNCAT noted that the US had supplied “minimal statistics on the number of investigations, prosecutions, disciplinary proceedings and corresponding reparations” from the US military.

In regards to the military’s regime at Guantanamo, the UNCAT forcefully pronounced that “force-feeding of prisoners on hunger strike constitutes ill-treatment in violation of the Convention.” The committee called for the immediate release of all uncharged or cleared detainees, an end to force-feeding and indefinite detention, and investigation of all torture, abuse or ill-treatment charges, including prosecution of those responsible and redress to victims. [cont’d.] (more…)

Gitmo “Team Leader” in Slahi Torture Sued for Framing Innocent Chicago Man for Murder

Guantanamo Bay Cuba

Two worlds of governmental crime. Both involve the imprisonment of innocent men. The article that follows links the torture booths at Guantanamo to the interrogation rooms run by crooked Chicago cops. It is the story of a part of America as it really is. For those caught up in it, it is a living nightmare.

“I am dying in here man…”

July 2003, Guantanamo. A sole man was kept in a darkened solitary cell for months on end. For many days in a row he was interrogated 16 hours a day. Loud music blared constantly, dogs menaced. Guards cursed him, banged on his cell at all hours to keep him awake. The temperature in the cell was purposely set close to freezing. An interrogator told the prisoner about a dream he had, one that supposedly had other detainees digging a grave and carrying a coffin with the prisoner’s number on it.

Another interrogator, actually the chief of a “Special Projects Team” at the American naval base prison, lied and told the prisoner his mother had been detained, and that if he did not cooperate she would be brought to Guantanamo and kept as the only woman prisoner there. The implication of the threat against his mother seemed dire. The chief of the SP team produced a forged letter to back up his contention. But the prisoner had nothing to admit, and kept telling interrogators the truth, until finally he gave in under torture and told them what they wanted to hear.

The Guantanamo prisoner was Mohamedou Ould Slahi. The interrogation team leader in charge of Slahi’s “Special Project” torture was then-Lieutenant (and former Chicago homicide detective) Richard Zuley.

Meanwhile, also in 2003, another man sat in solitary confinement in an Illinois prison. Lathierial Boyd had been sentenced to 82 years in jail for the alleged shooting of two men, one of whom, Michael Fleming, died at the scene; the other was permanently paralyzed. Police called it a revenge drug murder. Both the victims and Boyd were African-American.

For 13 years Boyd had proclaimed his innocence. He told the story of how Chicago police officers had hid witness testimony, fabricated evidence, lied in reports, and coerced witnesses. In 2002, his plight picked up some news interest after a Chicago television station’s investigation dug up new evidence (see video), but Boyd, a former fashion model, remained in jail awaiting another appeal. He told anyone who would listen, “I am dying in here man, can’t you see I am dying.”

According to recent legal filings, one of these cops was alleged to have withheld the fact the sole survivor of the shooting, Ricky Warner, could not identify the shooter, nor could any of those who viewed the police line-up.

This same cop was said to have coerced Warner’s father to say his son had been threatened by Boyd. The cop fabricated evidence for the father to look at. He also convinced Warner to ID Boyd as the man who shot him and his partner. In this, the cop worked together with other Chicago police. Later, the cop allegedly helped fabricate a piece of evidence for Warner to use to help “lead” interrogators to Boyd.

The cop was the same man who years later led Slahi’s torture, Richard Zuley.

Zuley’s role in the torture of Mohamadou Slahi can be gleaned from the footnotes in the Nov. 2008 Senate Armed Services Committee report, Inquiry into the Treatment of Detainees in U.S. Custody (see pages 137 and 140), while he is identified more specifically in a July 7, 2010 declassified legal filing in Slahi’s case.

Zuley was also profiled in Jess Bravin’s book, The Terror Courts: Rough Justice at Guantanamo Bay. Bravin wrote that in July 2003 Zuley became the head of the Special Team that conducted “enhanced interrogations” at Guantanamo. Elsewhere in the book, Bravin quotes Lieutenant General Randall Schmidt, who testified that “Zuley was a ‘zealot’ who loved tormenting his prisoner.”

Zuley also helped identify himself. In his sole review at Amazon.com, Zuley signs himself:

“LCDR Richard Zuley, USN (Ret)
Former EUCOM LNO, senior interrogator
and Special Projects Team Chief,
Joint Task Force – Guantanamo (2002-2004)”

EUCOM stands for U.S. European Command. LNO stands for Liaison Officer. Today, according to his LinkedIn page, Zuley is Projects Administrator at City of Chicago’s Department of Aviation, Aviation Police division.

A Miscarriage of Justice

In September 2013, Boyd walked out of prison free, released after a review of his case, subject previously to numerous rejected appeals, showed he was in fact innocent. Last month, he filed a $20 million civil suit against Zuley and five other Chicago officers for destruction and/or concealment of material exculpatory and impeachment evidence, malicious prosecution, and conspiracy to deprive him of his Constitutional rights. The other officers named are Lawrence Thezan, Andrew Sobolewski, Steve Schorsch, John Murray, and Wayne Johnson.

The particulars of the case are astounding, as Zuley and his cohorts are alleged to have manufactured evidence regarding Boyd, coerced the only eyewitness (shooting survivor Ricky Martin) to ID Boyd at the scene, withheld evidence of eyewitnesses who specifically said Boyd could not have been the shooter, and fabricated a note with supposedly incriminating evidence against Boyd, among other instances of malfeasance. The fact Boyd had an alibi staying at his sister’s home with her boyfriend, a Cook County Sheriff, was ignored.

The miscarriage of justice in Lathierial’s case was so egregious that the judge who sentenced him called for his case to be reopened. Many of the facts concerning the frame-up against Boyd can be read in his 2008 habeas filing (PDF).

Boyd’s time in prison was a terrible ordeal. According to his October 4 lawsuit complaint, Boyd wrote “thousands of letters, pleading with lawyers and the media to help him.” He spent approximately 90 percent of his 23 years in prison confined to his cell. He lost contact with friends and family. Due to what he alleges was poor medical care, he lost sight in one eye. Boyd, who was a former fashion model, “sank into a black hole of depression so profound and debilitating that he frequently contemplated suicide as the only way to be free again.”

“Extensive and severe mistreatment”

The Slahi case was singled out by the Senate Armed Services Committee as a primary example of detainee abuse, produced under the auspices of former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and then-Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz. (Wolfowitz signed off on a memo recommending the use of isolation, sleep deprivation, and “sound modulation,” or sensory overload, on Slahi.)

Slahi, who was severely beaten, subject to false flag deception and threats of torture and harm to his family, sexually humiliated, deprived of religious comfort, and also experienced at times sensory deprivation, has told his own story in a 466-page draft memoir about his seizure and incarceration, portions of which were published at Slate.com in April 2013. The full diary is supposed to be published in January 2015.

Like the torture of Mohamed al-Qahtani some months before him, Slahi’s torture supposedly was justified by his alleged role in 9/11. As a high-value detainee, he was kidnapped and rendered first to Jordan, and then via Bagram, Afghanistan to Guantanamo in August 2002. The “evidence” against Slahi came via what was likely coerced interrogation by Ramzi Binalshibh, who told the CIA that Slahi was involved in the planning for 9/11. Subsequent “evidence” came from Slahi’s confessions made under torture.

When it came time to try Slahi under President George W. Bush’s first attempt at military commissions, the MC prosecutor, Col. Stuart Couch, famously refused to prosecute Slahi’s case because it was based primarily on tortured evidence.

In April 2010, Slahi’s habeas petition was granted by Judge James Robertson, who stated “there is ‘ample evidence in this record that Salahi was subjected to extensive and severe mistreatment at Guantánamo from mid-June 2003 to September 2003.'” But in November 2010, the government, who appealed Robertson’s decision, won a D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals decision to vacate Robertson’s decision, remanding the case to the D.C. District Court, where it still languishes. Not one habeas petition that has gone to that court has ever been approved.

A System Out of Control

The oozing scandal that is the Chicago Police Department has been the subject of numerous investigations and news reports. Torture, kidnapping of witnesses, robberies and criminal home invasions, these are only some in the long list of corrupt operations exposed over the years.

After many attempts, some of Chicago’s crooked cops have gotten justice. But the system remains pathetically slow, and no one knows how many lives have been ruined by cops out of control in Chicago and many other major urban areas in the United States. Recently, an activist group has produced a “shadow report” for the UN Committee on Torture, testifying to the ongoing use of police violence.

Meanwhile, an ongoing scandal concerning U.S. government torture by both the CIA and the Department of Defense, centered on operations at Guantanamo and elsewhere, has been the subject of Congressional investigations and dozens of books and articles. But despite a good deal of attention, torture techniques in some cases similar to those used on Slahi, based on SERE methods used to inoculate US soldiers against torture, are still in use.

Most recently, a controversy over the release of an executive summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation into the CIA torture program has dragged on for months. It’s not clear the report will tell us that much more than what other investigations and leaks have already produced. A McClatchy article last month indicated that the report will not touch upon the responsibility for the torture program among top Bush Administration officials.

While the Senate Committee, led by Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, has announced it is suppressing (for now) the full report they made, they are seeking release of its executive summary, which the White House gave the CIA to vet for declassification. Not surprisingly, the CIA wants more classified in the rump report’s release than the Senate Committee does.

The press rarely reports on the full extent of the torture scandal. Rarely are the dots connected that place issues like massive use of solitary confinement in US prisons, or the epidemic of police abuse and prosecutorial frame-up, in conjunction with US use of torture and rendition at Guantanamo and abroad.

It’s time for a reckoning on torture and abuses of justice, whether in the name of “law and order” or “war on terrorism.” What we have now is a system out of control with abuse of power.

New DoD Directive on Detainees Allows Sleep and Sensory Deprivation, Biometric IDs

The U.S. has become a Torture Nation.

On August 19, 2014, the Department of Defense released an updated version of its Directive 2310.01E on the “DoD Detainee Program.” It supercedes the previous version, dated September 5, 2006.

Earlier this month, Steve Vladek at the Just Security blog, pondered why the government chose this particular time to release the new, updated directive. While his observations are important and worth considering, much of importance is omitted from his brief analysis.

In my analysis — besides the potential legalities explored by Vladek, which impact the definition of what the government considers the definition of an “unprivileged belligerent” (like the detainees at Guantanamo), and access of legal counsel to these prisoners — the new directive propounds a number of new rules that summarize the Obama administration’s detainee regime, particularly as it relates to Guantanamo.

The new directive expands upon what “humane treatment” means for those caught in its “detainee program.” It also adds an item about the collection of biometric identification information (BII). Such information “will be collected from all detainees in accordance with DoDD 8521.01E.” In addition, it includes a statement of how long a detainee can be held, which appears to operationalize Obama’s policy of indefinite detention of detainees. Finally, the directive greatly expands on the issue of who can be held, how charges can be brought against detainees, and what procedures are necessary for a detainee’s release. (This article will not cover the very last item.)

A long analysis of all the changes would take many pages, and I am going to concentrate on those of immediate relevance to me. I would hope that Vladek, or other attorneys or human rights organizations will pursue the relevant legalities in the sections on how detainees are held and released.

No protection from sleep deprivation

In the 2006 version of the directive, the issue of humane treatment of detainees is summarized in a sentence: “All detainees shall be treated humanely and in accordance with U.S. law, the law of war, and applicable U.S. policy.”

In the new 2014 version, the section on “humane treatment” expands to nearly 250 words. To understand the significance of what is written here, one must realize that the procedures “established for the treatment of persons consistent with this directive” includes U.S. Army Field Manual 2-22.3, “Human Intelligence Collector Operations” (AFM).

As I have written at various times, numerous human rights, medical, and legal groups have identified the AFM, and in particular its Appendix M on a “restricted Separation technique,” to include methods of interrogation and conditions of confinement that amount to torture and/or cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment of prisoners. In particular, it allows use of isolation, sleep deprivation, use of drugs, sensory deprivation, environmental manipulation, and techniques that induce fear and degrading verbal treatment of prisoners, intending thereby to induce, according to the manual iself, “hopelessness and helplessness” in its victims. (more…)

New DoD Directive on Detainees Allows Sleep and Sensory Deprivation, Biometric IDs

The U.S. has become a Torture Nation.
On August 19, 2014, the Department of Defense released an updated version of its Directive 2310.01E on the “DoD Detainee Program.” It supercedes the previous version, dated September 5, 2006.

Earlier this month, Steve Vladek at the Just Security blog, pondered why the government chose this particular time to release the new, updated directive. While his observations are important and worth considering, much of importance is omitted from his brief analysis.

In my analysis — besides the potential legalities explored by Vladek, which impact the definition of what the government considers the definition of an “unprivileged belligerent” (like the detainees at Guantanamo), and access of legal counsel to these prisoners — the new directive propounds a number of new rules that summarize the Obama administration’s detainee regime, particularly as it relates to Guantanamo.

The new directive expands upon what “humane treatment” means for those caught in its “detainee program.” It also adds an item about the collection of biometric identification information (BII). Such information “will be collected from all detainees in accordance with DoDD 8521.01E.” It also includes a statement of how long a detainee can be held, which appears to operationalize Obama’s policy of indefinite detention of detainees. Finally, the directive greatly expands on the issue of who can be held, how charges can be brought against detainees, and what procedures are necessary for a detainee’s release. (This article will not cover the very last item.)

A long analysis of all the changes would take many pages, and I am going to concentrate on those of immediate relevance to me. I would hope that Vladek, or other attorneys or human rights organizations will pursue the relevant legalities in the sections on how detainees are held and released.

No protection from sleep deprivation

In the 2006 version of the directive, the issue of humane treatment of detainees is summarized in a sentence: “All detainees shall be treated humanely and in accordance with U.S. law, the law of war, and applicable U.S. policy.”

In the new 2014 version, the section on “humane treatment” expands to nearly 250 words. To understand the significance of what is written here, one must realize that the procedures “established for the treatment of persons consistent with this directive” includes U.S. Army Field Manual 2-22.3, “Human Intelligence Collector Operations” (AFM).

As I have written at various times, numerous human rights, medical, and legal groups have identified the AFM, and in particular its Appendix M on a “restricted Separation technique,” to include methods of interrogation and conditions of confinement that amount to torture and/or cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment of prisoners. In particular, it allows use of isolation, sleep deprivation, use of drugs, sensory deprivation, environmental manipulation, and techniques that induce fear and degrading verbal treatment of prisoners, intending thereby to induce, according to the manual iself, “hopelessness and helplessness” in its victims.

Navy Continues to Persecute Nurse Who Refused to Force-feed Guantanamo Hunger Strikers

Abi Wa’el Dhiab
Abi Wa’el Dhiab, who an unidentified Navy medical officer refused to force-feed

Carol Rosenberg reported today that a Navy commander had decided not to court-martial a Guantanamo nurse for refusing to participate in the forced-feeding of hunger strikers at the U.S. military prison. Announcement of the “pending court-martial” was made in late August.

While on Twitter it appeared that many were relieved the nurse would not be going to jail for taking a principled stand against the medically unethical practice of forced “enteral” feeding — and that must be some relief, after all — the fact is the Navy announced that after some months of investigation, the nurse is now subject to an administrative review, or “Board of Inquiry,” that may continue on for up to nine more months, according to Rosenberg.

The nurse, who is threatened with expulsion from the military and loss of his military benefits, is a 40-ish year old, possibly Latino, Navy Lieutenant. The discovery of his protest against the forced feeding of Guantanamo hunger-strikers, which he had participated in for many months, noted first in a letter from Guantanamo prisoner Abu Wa’el Dhiab, a Syrian prisoner cleared for release in 2010. Dhiab languishes in ill-health at the Cuban-based prison, as he awaits possible transfer to Uruguay. (See this latest report on Dhiab from Andy Worthington.)

The military is not interested in doing its conscientious-objector nurse any favors. The Board of Inquiry will no doubt cause the Navy Lieutenant a great deal of stress and money, with no certain outcome. Anyone who has been under administrative investigation and “review” for many months knows how difficult such a procedure really is. Whatever the outcome, the continued legal wrangling by the Navy amounts to persecution of a medical officer who had decided not to obey an unlawful order.

Forced feeding of prisoners is denounced as both medically unethical and in the form practiced at Guantanamo to amount to torture, according to a report from the prestigious Institute on Medicine as a Profession (IMAP) report released last year.

The Navy certainly had little interest in an actual court-martial proceeding. As Rosenberg reported, “The administrative review, also known as a Board of Inquiry, keeps the circumstances of that episode secret. A military trial could have put a very public spotlight on both Guantánamo’s hunger-strike policy and how the military manages medical-ethics issues.” 

A very different fate for former BSCTs

It is very embittering for anyone who cares about this country’s mainstreaming of torture to reflect upon the experience of this Navy nurse. It strongly reminds me of the case of former Guantanamo guard Albert Melise, who was threatened with dishonorable discharge and forfeiture of all his military benefits because he spoke to reporter Jason Leopold about his experiences with former Guantanamo prisoner David Hicks. (Hicks today is fighting to have his conviction in the Guantanamo military commissions overturned.)

While the military continues to persecute those who stand against torture and medical maltreatment, key personnel who participated in interrogations and torture at Guantanamo are rewarded. I recently was made aware that one of the members of Guantanamo’s infamous Behavioral Consultation Science or BSCT (“biscuit”) teams, Lisa Teegarden, is today the chief of Psychology at Walter Reed National Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland (not to be confused with Walter Reed Army Hospital, which, plagued with scandals over patient neglect, closed in 2011).

According to her LinkedIn page, she was Behavioral Science Command Consultant from May 2008 to October 2010. Teegarden indicates that during this period she “[s]erved as Special Staff to Commander, Joint Task Force, Guantanamo Bay, Guantanamo Bay Cuba. Served as the subject matter expert to the Commander, JTF-GTMO on matters pertaining to clinical psychology, organizational psychology / dymanics [sic] and social psychology principles as they pertain to military organizations. Specialized in behavioral management of detainees, behavioral drift, and counter-interrogation / intelligence operations.”

The BSCTs were notorious for their participation in abusive interrogations, including use of SERE-derived torture. The American Psychiatric Association went so far as to prohibit its members from participating, while the American Psychological Association was (and to some degree still is) embroiled in controversies over allowing psychologists to staff the interrogation consultant role at Guantanamo. (For a full discussion of the pertinent issues, see this excellent article by psychologist Stephen Soldz.)

Teegarden’s stint at Guantanamo, providing her expertise on clinical psychology and “behavioral management of detainees” and intelligence operations, at the time of the mysterious death of Mohammad Ahmed Abdullah Saleh Al Hanashi in June 2009. Al Hanashi was found dead in a constantly-monitored cell in Guantanamo’s Behavioral Health Unit. An NCIS report on his death has not been released.

I requested a copy of the report via FOIA in January 2012. NCIS to date refuses to even give me a date of completion for the FOIA request. A separate request for the AR 15-16 report on Hanashi’s death has been sitting in Southcom’s FOIA office since January 2013.

When the autopsy report for Hanashi’s death was finally released, it raised many questions about what actually happened to the former hunger-striking prisoner. But one aspect of the latter document is especially relevant when it comes to Teegarden, as the autopsy stated Hanashi suffered from “stressors of confinement.”

If true, Teegarden, a psychologist who as BSCT had great responsibility in regards to “behavioral management of detainees,” should answer for what kind of conditions of confinement drove Hanashi to make multiple suicide attempts, and what the actual circumstances of his death were.

But Teegarden is not being investigated, unlike the nurse who protested the brutal process of forced cell extraction and forced feeding of hunger-striking prisoners, despairing of years of indefinite detention, psychological torture, beatings, forced drug injections, isolation and more.

Instead, Teegarden isn’t worried about her medical benefits or her job. Like scores of others involved in the torture of prisoners, including Department of Defense SERE officials, Pentagon attorneys, psychologists and doctors and nurses, flag officers, CIA and JSOC officers, Teegarden is rewarded with plum assignments for her adherence to a torture regime. Meanwhile, a lowly Navy lieutenant can only count himself lucky that he isn’t being thrown into the brig, and only must endure a stressful “inquiry” about whether to throw him out of the military.

Teegarden is not alone in being an ex-BSCT who has gone on with her career. Former head BSCT and chief psychologist at Abu Ghraib, Larry James, who personally led the rendition and detention of young teens from Afghanistan, went on to a career as dean of the School of Professional Psychology at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. (James ultimately left, and his subsequent attempt at a career has not been without controversy.)

At least one BSCT psychologist, Lt. Col. Dianne Zierhoffer was called to account for her participation in the torture of another Guantanamo juvenile prisoner, Mohammed Jawad (now released), but was allowed to plead the Fifth Amendment in order not to testify. John Leso, yet another BSCT, who had been identified in helping organize Guantanamo’s SERE-inspired torture regime, was exonerated of ethics charges by the American Psychological Association

The real message is for those who staff or would staff the military and intelligence bureaucracy of 21st century America: Don’t make waves. Do your job in support of or conducting torture, and you will be rewarded.