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.

 

CIA Intervention in Ukraine Has Been Taking Place for Decades

Glory to Ukraine! A massive pro-EU rally in Kiev, November 24, 2013. What role did the CIA have amping up the demonstrations?
“The most powerful form of lie is the omission…” — George Orwell

Of all the aspects of the current crisis over the NATO/Russia standoff in Ukraine, the determined intervention into Ukrainian political affairs by the United States has been the least reported, at least until recently. While new reports have appeared concerning CIA Director John Brennan’s mid-April trip to Kiev, and CIA/FBI sending “dozens” of advisers to the Ukrainian security services, very few reports mention that U.S. intervention in Ukraine affairs goes back to the end of World War II. It has hardly let up since then.

The fact of such intervention is not hard to find. Indeed, it’s hard to know where to start in documenting all this, there is so much out there if one is willing to look for it. But the mainstream U.S. press, and their blogger shadows, are ignoring this for the most part. Some exceptions at the larger alternative websites include Jeffrey St. Clair’s Counterpunch and Robert Perry’s Consortium News.

Even these latter outlets have almost nothing to say about the approximately 70 year history of U.S. intervention in Ukraine. The liberals and progressives avoid the subject because otherwise one would have to address the full reality of the intensive U.S. Cold War against the Soviet Union, and the covert and overt crimes and operations conducted by the U.S. against the USSR. Because the liberals share an anti-communist consensus, not far removed from Ronald Reagan’s view of the USSR as an “Evil Empire,” they have little to no interest in addressing the full history of the period.

But the current crisis in Ukraine, which pits a U.S.-backed coalition, which includes neo-Nazis, in Ukraine against Russian-speaking separatists in the eastern regions of the country, threatens to turn into a hot war between not just Ukraine and Russia, but between two nuclear-armed foes, NATO and Russia. Indeed, in the past six months, besides Brennan’s visit,  the U.S. Vice-President and the head of NATO have all visited and consulted in Kiev with the current Ukrainian regime.

And now, the U.S. has announced it is sending military “advisers” to Ukraine, as the current government there prosecutes a major military operation against separatists in the East, which human rights groups say has included indiscriminate shelling, killing of civilians, torture, and kidnappings on both sides. The bulk of indiscriminate shelling, according to Human Rights Watch, has come from the U.S.-backed government forces. Amnesty International has documented that human rights violations and war crimes are committed by even a member of the Ukrainian parliament with total impunity.

Return of the Repressed: Recruiting Fascists as Anti-Soviet Allies

Back on March 28, The Nation and Foreign Policy in Focus published jointly an excellent article pulling up some of the relevant history, “Seven Decades of Nazi Collaboration: America’s Dirty Little Ukraine Secret.” The article does a good job showing how the right-wing, fascistic Svoboda Party in Ukraine has its roots in the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists [OUN], which was one of a number of East Europe parties that allied at various points with the Nazis, and had their own racist, ethnic, nationalist doctrines.

After WWII, the U.S. made a pact with many of these leaders, ostensibly recruiting them as allies against the Soviets in the Cold War. Indeed, in the early years after World War II, the U.S. and the British hired Ukrainian nationalists, many of them associated with fascism, to parachute and conduct guerrilla war in Ukraine and the USSR. When doing so, they turned a blind eye to many of these leaders’ war crimes, including participation in the Holocaust. When these links were revealed years later, beginning in the 1980s, the CIA and State Department worked assiduously to deny these links to Congress and the press.

Almost all of these men were rounded up and shot. When the Soviets offered an amnesty to members of the Ukrainian Insurgents Army (UPA) in January 1950, 8,000 anti-Soviet guerrillas still fighting within Ukraine turned in their arms. The U.S./CIA operation to use Ukraine as a base for war against Russia and the bulk of the Soviet Union ran out of steam. (See Stephen Dorril’s MI6: Inside the Covert World of Her Majesty’s Secret Intelligence Service, The Free Press, 2000, pp. 242-243.)

It has taken many years, and the dedicated work of people like John Loftus, former Congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman, Linda Hunt, Christopher Simpson, Tom Bower, and many, many others who fought governmental inertia and lies to get out the truth. Much of that truth still needs to get out, but slowly, surely, it is trying to find its way into the public’s consciousness, as this Daily Beast article on Operation Paperclip taken from Annie Jacobsen’s new book on the same subject demonstrates so well.

One important article, by Joe Conason in the Village Voice in 1986, examined the role OUN leader Mykola Lebed played for U.S. intelligence. I’m going to take up the controversy about the VV in the near future, looking at how the CIA continued to operate to protect its Ukrainian intelligence assets, even into the early years of the Clinton administration (and likely beyond). Such protection included lying to politicians, consulting with those under investigation for war crimes how best to deal with the political fallout, and in general falsifying history to protect their covert anti-Soviet program.

Yet can the truth stand up to the daily drumbeat of lies and anti-Russian propaganda coming at a feverish pace out of the White House? The U.S. has stepped up its overt intervention in Ukraine, and it would do well for everyone to know as much as possible the lead-up to this moment, as the pending NATO/US/Russia confrontation could threaten the very world we live in, that we all live in. The U.S. is clearly ratcheting up the political and military pressure against both Russia and China, and more than even what is happening in the Middle East, it is this renewed aggressive stance towards those two countries that will dominate the news and our lives in the coming decade.

U.S. National Archives Documents U.S. Collaboration with Fascist Ukrainian Nationalists

In a remarkable book published by the United States National Archives a few years ago, historians Richard Breitman and Norman J.W. Goda have examined recent declassified documents and put together an initial history of Army and CIA collaboration with some of the most important Ukrainian fascist leaders after World War II. Hitler’s Shadow: Nazi War Criminals, U.S. Intelligence, and the Cold War (PDF) attempts to document “the Allied protection or use of Nazi war criminals; and documents about the postwar political activities of war criminals.”

Hitler’s Shadow was preceded by the 2005 publication, U.S. Intelligence and the Nazis, a Cambridge University Press book based on the earliest examination of new documents released as part of the 1998 Nazi War Crimes Disclosure Act. While the history of Ukrainian nationalism shows that nationalist movements were squeezed between the policies — and sometimes invasions — of foreign states, the book makes clear that today’s EuroMaidan heroes of yesteryear were in fact trained by the Gestapo and took part in the Holocaust.

Chapter Five of Hitler’s Shadow, “Collaborators: Allied Intelligence and the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists,” examines recently declassified documents in regards to how US intelligence agencies recruited, paid, protected and used war criminals who collaborated with the Nazis. In particular, it looks at the careers Stepan Bandera and Mykola Lebed, two WWII “heroes” of the Ukrainian nationalist movement.

These Ukrainian fascists — Lebed turned “democratic” once in U.S. hands after the war — had their careers rehabilitated by former Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko. When Putin points to the pro-fascist tendencies and Nazis within Ukraine, he is referring at least to this kind of evidence.

However, Putin cannot really address the full history of the U.S. and CIA campaign because 1) the crimes of the Stalin government is not something the Russians like to talk about, and 2) the long history of U.S intervention in Ukraine is tied up with the decades-long Cold War against Soviet communism. Putin and his allies are antagonistic to Communism, and ambivalent, at best, about the Soviet period (even if many of them were in fact former Communists or Soviet officials themselves).

Like the dilemma of the U.S. liberals mentioned above, to fully embrace a history of U.S. Cold War intervention against the Soviet Union would mean assessing what the role of the Soviet Union was, and in this, Putin and his anti-Soviet allies within Russia (like the oligarchs in Ukraine and other former Soviet states), who got rich off the corpse of the USSR de-nationalization, are not interested in dredging up Cold War history. They all shared an animus against the Communists that matched that of the CIA.

Breitman and Goda describe how the CIA’s Ukrainian operation, codenamed “Aerodynamic,” worked (this is taken from a National Archives government document and the extensive quote is not subject to copyright restrictions):

AERODYNAMIC’s first phase involved infiltration into Ukraine and then ex-filtration of CIA-trained Ukrainian agents. By January 1950 the CIA’s arm for the collection of secret intelligence (Office of Special Operations, OSO) and its arm for covert operations (Office of Policy Coordination, OPC) participated. Operations in that year revealed “a well established and secure underground movement” in the Ukraine that was even “larger and more fully developed than previous reports had indicated.” Washington was especially pleased with the high level of UPA training in the Ukraine and its potential for further guerrilla actions, and with “the extraordinary news that… active resistance to the Soviet regime was spreading steadily eastward, out of the former Polish, Greek Catholic provinces.”97

The CIA decided to expand its operations for “the support, development, and exploitation of the Ukrainian underground movement for resistance and intelligence purposes.” “In view of the extent and activity of the resistance movement in the Ukraine,” said OPC Chief Frank Wisner, “we consider this to be a top priority project.”98 The CIA learned of UPA activities in various Ukrainian districts; the Soviet commitment of police troops to destroy the UPA; the UPA’s resonance with Ukrainians; and the UPA’s potential to expand to 100,000 fighters in wartime. The work was not without hazards. Individual members of teams from 1949 to 1953 were captured and killed. By 1954 Lebed’s group lost all contact with UHVR. By that time the Soviets subdued both the UHVR and UPA, and the CIA ended the aggressive phase of AERODYNAMIC.99

Beginning in 1953 AERODYNAMIC began to operate through a Ukrainian study group under Lebed’s leadership in New York under CIA auspices, which collected Ukrainian literature and history and produced Ukrainian nationalist newspapers, bulletins, radio programming, and books for distribution in the Ukraine. In 1956 this group was formally incorporated as the non-profit Prolog Research and Publishing Association [CIA cryptonym: QRPOOL]. It allowed the CIA to funnel funds as ostensible private donations without taxable footprints.100 To avoid nosey New York State authorities, the CIA turned Prolog into a for-profit enterprise called Prolog Research Corporation, which ostensibly received private contracts. Under Hrinioch, Prolog maintained a Munich office named the Ukrainische-Gesellschaft fu?r Auslandsstudien, EV. Most publications were created here.101

…. Beginning in 1955, leaflets were dropped over the Ukraine by air and radio broadcasts titled Nova Ukraina were aired in Athens for Ukrainian consumption. These activities gave way to systematic mailing campaigns to Ukraine through Ukrainian contacts in Poland and émigré contacts in Argentina, Australia, Canada, Spain, Sweden, and elsewhere. The newspaper Suchasna Ukrainia (Ukraine Today), information bulletins, a Ukrainian language journal for intellectuals called Suchasnist (The Present), and other publications were sent to libraries, cultural institutions, administrative offices and private individuals in Ukraine. These activities encouraged Ukrainian nationalism, strengthened Ukrainian resistance, and provided an alternative to Soviet media.103

In 1957 alone, with CIA support, Prolog broadcast 1,200 radio programs totaling 70 hours per month and distributed 200,000 newspapers and 5,000 pamphlets. In the years following, Prolog distributed books by Ukrainian writers and poets. One CIA analyst judged that, “some form of nationalist feeling continues to exist [in the Ukraine] and … there is an obligation to support it as a cold war weapon.” The distribution of literature in the Soviet Ukraine continued to the end of the Cold War.104

Prolog also garnered intelligence after Soviet travel restrictions eased somewhat in the late 1950s. It supported the travel of émigré Ukrainian students and scholars to academic conferences, international youth festivals, musical and dance performances, the Rome Olympics and the like, where they could speak with residents of the Soviet Ukraine in order to learn about living conditions there as well as the mood of Ukrainians toward the Soviet regime. Prolog’s leaders and agents debriefed travelers on their return and shared information with the CIA. In 1966 alone Prolog personnel had contacts with 227 Soviet citizens. [pp. 88-89]

This is the first in a series of articles examining the history of U.S. and CIA intervention in Ukraine, from World War II to today. (more…)

Obama Admits He Banned Only “Some” of the CIA’s Torture Techniques

President Obama: “one of the first things I did was to ban some of the extraordinary interrogation techniques that are the subject of that report.”
Forgive the tongue-in-cheek, but it is almost as if the only person who reads and responds to my work on torture is President Obama.

There was a cascade of coverage of the President’s August 1 remarks concerning John Brennan and his defense of his embattled CIA chief, as Obama was also widely derided for his seeming defense of those who tortured “some folks” after 9/11. (Obama did not mention that the order to torture came from the Oval Office.)

“Well, at least he called the crimes out as ‘torture,” some observers noted. Others, including some in the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI), called for John Brennan’s resignation as CIA director after he admitted the CIA had spied on Congressional investigators who were writing a thousands-of-pages-long report on the CIA Rendition, Detention, and Interrogation program.

An Executive Summary of that report, in a censored version produced by the CIA itself, is now back in the hands of the SSCI, who may or may not release it soon. The Committee has already decided the full 6000 or so page report itself will not be released for years (if ever), a cover-up of immense proportions.

Jason Leopold, who has been covering the story for Al Jazeera America and VICE, noted astutely in a tweet the other day, that Obama’s comments at his August 1 press conference included a reference to his only banning “some” of the CIA’s torture techniques. Leopold believed Obama previously had always been more absolute in his prohibition of torture.

The full quote from the August 1 presser is worth reproducing here. The quote below begins in the middle of Obama’s defense of those who used torture after 9/11, i.e., those who are the subjects of the Senate’s controversial torture report (bold emphasis is added):

And it’s important for us not to feel too sanctimonious in retrospect about the tough job that those folks had. And a lot of those folks were working hard under enormous pressure and are real patriots.

But having said all that, we did some things that were wrong. And that’s what that report reflects. And that’s the reason why, after I took office, one of the first things I did was to ban some of the extraordinary interrogation techniques that are the subject of that report.

Only “some of the extraordinary interrogation techniques”? Not all? Was this merely a slip of the tongue by the President? No one in the press corp seemed to notice, and no one took him up on the issue. To date, no one has in the press has at all (besides Leopold’s tweets), though it is very much worth noting that Jeremy Scahill reported in July 2011 on the CIA’s continuing use of black sites and torture in an important article in The Nation. Others had surmised as much even earlier. [cont’d.] (more…)

Obama Admits He Banned Only “Some” of the CIA’s Torture Techniques

President Obama: “one of the first things I did was to ban some of the extraordinary interrogation techniques that are the subject of that report.”
Forgive the tongue-in-cheek, but it is almost as if the only person who reads and responds to my work on torture is President Obama.

There was a cascade of coverage of the President’s August 1 remarks concerning John Brennan and his defense of his embattled CIA chief, as Obama was also widely derided for his seeming defense of those who tortured “some folks” after 9/11. (Obama did not mention that the order to torture came from the Oval Office.)

“Well, at least he called the crimes out as ‘torture,” some observers noted. Others, including some in the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI), called for John Brennan’s resignation as CIA director after he admitted the CIA had spied on Congressional investigators who were writing a thousands-of-pages-long report on the CIA Rendition, Detention, and Interrogation program.

An Executive Summary of that report, in a censored version produced by the CIA itself, is now back in the hands of the SSCI, who may or may not release it soon. The Committee has already decided the full 6000 or so page report itself will not be released for years (if ever), a cover-up of immense proportions.

Jason Leopold, who has been covering the story for Al Jazeera America and VICE, noted astutely in a tweet the other day, that Obama’s comments at his August 1 press conference included a reference to his only banning “some” of the CIA’s torture techniques. Leopold believed Obama previously had always been more absolute in his prohibition of torture.

The full quote from the August 1 presser is worth reproducing here. The quote below begins in the middle of Obama’s defense of those who used torture after 9/11, i.e., those who are the subjects of the Senate’s controversial torture report (bold emphasis is added):

And it’s important for us not to feel too sanctimonious in retrospect about the tough job that those folks had. And a lot of those folks were working hard under enormous pressure and are real patriots.

But having said all that, we did some things that were wrong. And that’s what that report reflects. And that’s the reason why, after I took office, one of the first things I did was to ban some of the extraordinary interrogation techniques that are the subject of that report.

Only “some of the extraordinary interrogation techniques”? Not all? Was this merely a slip of the tongue by the President? No one in the press corp seemed to notice, and no one took him up on the issue. To date, no one has in the press has at all (besides Leopold’s tweets), though it is very much worth noting that Jeremy Scahill reported in July 2011 on the CIA’s continuing use of black sites and torture in an important article in The Nation. Others had surmised as much even earlier.

But there was a much more insidious and institutional salvage of torture by the U.S. government, which, rocked after the Abu Ghraib revelations, tried to hide and maintain its use of detention and interrogation techniques that relied on force, mental cruelty, fear, isolation, stress positions, sleep and sensory deprivation, and the use of drugs. Waterboarding, for all the attention given to that brutal form of torture, was never really a major component of U.S. torture. There were even some in the CIA who would be glad to see it go.

Using solitary confinement, loud music and 24 hour bright lights, verbal abuse and humiliation, “dislocating the expectations” of prisoners by, for instance, moving them around every day so they never had a sense of solid place or safety or time to rest, or using drugs to disorient them — this is the kind of torture that leaves deep psychological wounds, and which the U.S. wanted to maintain in its interrogation arsenal.

What Obama Meant by Banning Only “Some” Torture

Over the past few years, I have shown how first the Bush administration hid their torture program within a 2006 rewrite of the Army Field Manual on interrogation, then how the Obama administration via Executive Order made that same field manual the law of the land, incumbent on both the CIA and the Defense Department.

I showed that when in January 2009 Obama publicly revoked the Bush torture program, which the government labeled “extraordinary interrogation techniques,” and all the John Yoo/Jay Bybee/Steven Bradbury Justice Department memoranda approving that same torture program, he did not do it in a blanket fashion, but referred the memos themselves to Eric Holder for review. Ultimately, as a Department of Defense spokesperson actually told me, the Holder and the Justice Department never rescinded one of the Bush-era torture memos, in particular the one that approved forms of torture that would be used in a special section, called Appendix M, of the Army Field Manual.

Obama’s admission that he had only banned “some” of the previous administration’s torture techniques was not the first time the government has made such an admission, however obliquely.

Last April, I wrote how the Department of Defense’s main directive on interrogations (3115.09), which supposedly had banned SERE-derived torture techniques (like waterboarding, hooding, etc.) used by the government after 9/11, in fact made a note that only some of the SERE techniques were banned. The ones that were not banned resided in — the Army Field Manual on interrogation, the same manual Obama had endorsed in his Jan. 2009 executive order on “lawful interrogations.”

SERE stands for Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape, and is the name given to DoD’s program to prepare military and CIA and other specific government personnel for capture and imprisonment by a brutal enemy. Its participants take part in a mock-prison camp exercise, and it was the kinds of torture practiced during that exercise that were utilized in full-blown operational mode by CIA and Defense Department interrogators in the so-called War on Terror.

The SERE-derived model, which is what the “extraordinary interrogation techniques” really were, was superimposed on an earlier torture program based on isolation and sensory deprivation, sleep deprivation, fear and drugs, developed by the CIA and codified in a 1963 interrogation program that is referred to today as KUBARK. Earlier this year, I obtained a version of the previously declassified KUBARK manual with new portions now unredacted.

But oddly, besides myself, only Obama seems to have noticed that not all the torture techniques were rescinded by him. The press and certainly the Senate and the House of Representatives have ignored entirely the use of torture in the Army Field Manual. While some bloggers and human rights groups have noted the anomaly of having the nation’s primary instructions on interrogation include torture techniques, and some have even called for a repeal of Appendix M or a rewriting of the field manual itself, none of these groups or individuals have made this a primary issue. Nor, when the controversy over the Senate report on the CIA torture program is discussed, is the ongoing presence of torture in the Army Field Manual ever mentioned.

The failure to take on the entire torture apparatus is one reason accountability for U.S. torture cannot get sufficient traction. The argument remains shackled by what the Establishment deems reasonable dialogue about torture. So one can criticize the embrace of euphemism to describe torture, or argue why waterboarding is torture, or shout loudly why the redacted portion of the SSCI’s Executive Summary of their years-long investigation should be released, but evidently it is not reasonable, that is, establishment-sanctioned via the New York Times or other media or political authority, to bring up torture beyond the terms already established.

But now Obama has done it. He has said he banned only “some” of the torture techniques that were the target of the SSCI’s report. Now, besides me, who’s going to take him on about this?