Sunday, July 12, 2015

Forever in the Spotlight: Prison Would Be Better Fit for Many

CIA Two Torture Contractors: "Experts" Who Never Conducted an Interrogation
(their story will not go away, and rightly so)

GOP Choice to Conduct Interrogations

All the Cleaning in the World Can't Erase the Stain

Former FBI Supervisory Special Agent
(the man who first broke Abu Zubaydah)

First watch this 22-minute interview of Mr. Soufan to gain extensive background (if any is needed at this point).  It can be seen here.

2nd Update related to the 1st Update next:

Three to Leave Jobs Over Psychologists’ Involvement in Bush-Era Interrogations
WASHINGTON — The nation’s largest professional organization for psychologists announced a management shake-up on Tuesday. The action came days after a scathing report concluded that top officials of the group had colluded with government officials during the George W. Bush administration to assure that the organization’s ethics rules did not bar psychologists from involvement in harsh interrogations about terrorist activity.

The board of the organization, the American Psychological Association, said that three top officials, including the chief executive, Norman Anderson, were leaving the group. Another senior official was forced out last week, just before the report on the group’s involvement with the Bush-era interrogations was released. All of the officials who are leaving the organization were named in the 542-page report.

The report, the result of a seven-month investigation by David Hoffman, a Chicago lawyer, broadly examined the role of psychologists in the Bush-era interrogation programs conducted by the Central Intelligence Agency and the Pentagon.

1st Update: Major and Significant — Three Related Articles (July 13, 2015):

1.  U.S. “torture doctors” could face charges after report alleges post-9/11 collusion | July 10, 2015: The largest association of psychologists in the United States is on the brink of a crisis, the Guardian has learned, as an independent review prepares to reveal that medical professionals lied and covered up their extensive involvement in post-9/11 torture. The revelation, puncturing years of denials, creates the potential for leadership firings, loss of licenses and even prosecutions. For more than a decade, the American Psychological Association (APA) has maintained that a strict code of ethics prohibits its more than 130,000 members to aid in the torture of war detainees/or “prisoners” while simultaneously permitting involvement in military and intelligence interrogations. The group has rejected media reporting on psychologists’ complicity in torture; suppressed internal dissent from anti-torture doctors; cleared members of wrongdoing; and portrayed itself as a consistent ally against abuse. Now, a voluminous independent review conducted by a former assistant US attorney, David Hoffman, is said to undermine the APA's denials in full -- and vindicate the dissenters.

2.  Former chair of Oregon Health & Science University psychology department worked with CIA on torture - report | July 11, 2015: A prominent retired Oregon Health & Science University psychology professor served on a CIA psychology advisory committee and played at least a limited role in helping the agency develop the so-called “enhanced interrogation” techniques (actually classified as torture) post 9/11 program, according to an exhaustive new report commissioned by the American Psychological Association.  After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Joseph Matarazzo, former chair of the OHSU medical psychology department, exhorted his fellow psychologists to use their expertise to help the U.S. government force information out of detainees, according to the new report. “In this environment, things are different, and the CIA is going to need some help,” Matarazzo reportedly told another psychologist at a 2002 conference in Singapore, adding (almost in Dick Cheney-like words): “Things may get harsh. We may need to take the gloves off.” (Recall that former VP Dick Cheney once said (this from a NPR source): We've got to spend time in the shadows. We have to work toward the dark side, if you will.”  I surmise Cheney meant like Luke Skywalker’s father – words and intent, even if that meant breaking the law and dragging the country into the sewer, which BTW is did).

3.  Psychologists and CIA Torture | July 10, 2015:  A 542-page report concludes that prominent psychologists worked closely with the CIA to blunt dissent inside the agency over an interrogation program that is now known to have included torture. It also finds that officials at the American Psychological Association (APA) colluded with the Pentagon to make sure that the association's ethics policies did not hinder the ability of psychologists to be involved in the interrogation program.

Original Post Continues Here: Background:  Abu Zubaydah was arrested in Pakistan in March 2002. He has been in U.S. custody for more than twelve years, four-and-a-half of them in the CIA secret prison network. He was transferred among prisons in various countries as part of the U.S. rendition program. 

During his time in CIA custody Zubaydah was extensively interrogated. He was water-boarded 83 times and subjected to numerous other torture techniques including forced nudity, sleep deprivation, confinement in small dark boxes, deprivation of solid food, stress positions, and physical assaults. While in CIA custody, Zubaydah lost his left eye. Videotapes of some of Zubaydah's interrogations are amongst those destroyed by the CIA in 2005.

After Abu Zubaydah was captured, the plans originally called for a joint FBI and CIA interrogation of him. However, two FBI agents, Ali Soufan and Steve Gaudin, arrived first at the black site in Thailand where Abu Zubaydah was being held. Their interrogation started with standard interview techniques and also included cleaning and dressing Abu Zubaydah's wounds.  Ali Soufan stated at the time "... that we kept him alive. It wasn't easy, he couldn't drink, he had a fever. I was holding ice to his lips." 

The two FBI agents attempted to convince Abu Zubaydah that they knew of his activities in languages he understood: English and Arabic. Both FBI agents believed they were making good progress in gathering intelligence from Abu Zubaydah, including the fact that he revealed the name and location of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, known as "Mukhtar" (now called: KSM) to Abu Zubaydah, who was the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks and that American José Padilla wanted to use a "dirty bomb" in a terror attack on New York City. 

Then a CIA interrogation team arrived a week or two later after the FBI team, and they concluded that Abu Zubaydah was holding back information and that harsher techniques were necessary. The CIA team was led by CIA contractor and former Air Force psychologist James Mitchell, who ordered that Abu Zubaydah answer questions or face a gradual increase in aggressive techniques (waterboarding at the time was the first). 

In 2009, Soufan testified before Congress that his FBI team was removed from Abu Zubaydah's interrogation multiple times, only to be asked to return when the harsher interrogation tactics of the CIA proved unsuccessful. Soufan was alarmed by the early CIA tactics, such as enforced nudity, cold temperatures, and blaring loud rock music in Zubaydah's cell. Soufan reported to his FBI superiors that the CIA's interrogation constituted “borderline torture.” 

He was particularly concerned about a coffin-like box he discovered that had been built by the CIA interrogation team. He was so angry he called the FBI assistant director for counter-terrorism, Pasquale D'Amaro, and shouted, “I swear to God, I'm going to arrest these guys!” Afterward, the two FBI agents were ordered to leave the facility by FBI Director Robert Mueller. Mr. Soufan left, but Steve Gaudin stayed an additional few weeks and continued to participate in the interrogation.

Now the result of all that based on these two stories: (1) from the NY Times editorial board here and an extensive NY Times article here from a top notch reporter on this story (James Risen).

This NY Times summary (or bottom line if you like) is spot on and I have said so for years:The Obama administration has so far refused to prosecute the torturers. As more evidence about this program comes to light, that position becomes increasingly indefensible.

A series of posts related to this subject follow further on this blog. Enjoy your research.

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