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Torture and Brutality

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  1. -Editorial: Double Standard on Torture (
      "This [United States] double standard [on torture] is deeply flawed. Legal protections for fundamental rights of those we have locked up should not vary depending on the passport they hold. And this flaw raises a serious question not only about administration policy in the war on terror, but also about American constitutional doctrine."

      "The administration's treaty interpretation makes no sense. The Torture Convention is predicated on the principle that the conduct it prohibits is fundamentally incompatible with human dignity—and all human beings have equal dignity, regardless of their nationality, and regardless of where they are held. There is no evidence that Congress sought to limit the Torture Convention prohibition to conduct within our borders. Abraham Sofaer, who submitted the treaty to Congress on behalf of the first Bush administration, has written to Congress stating that the current administration's position is inconsistent with the original understanding of the convention and improperly turns an effort by Congress to give substantive definition to the terms "cruel, inhuman, and degrading" into a geographical loophole that frees U.S. officials to commit actions just short of torture when acting abroad." 11-05

  2. -Editorial: Falluja Is a Name that Lives in Infamy (Guardian Unlimited)
      "The destruction of Falluja was an act of barbarism that ranks alongside My Lai, Guernica and Halabja." 11-05

  3. -Editorial: Torture's Terrible Toll (MSNBC - Sen. John McCain)
      "Abusive interrogation tactics produce bad intel, and undermine the values we hold dear. Why we must, as a nation, do better." 11-05

  4. -Hersh: Assassination Wing Operated Under Cheney's Authority (
      "AMY GOODMAN: Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh created a stir last month when he said the Bush administration ran an executive assassination ring that reported directly to Vice President Dick Cheney. Hersh made the comment during a speech at the University of Minnesota on March 10th."

      "SEYMOUR HERSH: Congress has no oversight of it. It’s an executive assassination wing, essentially. And it’s been going on and on and on. And just today in the Times there was a story saying that its leader, a three-star admiral named McRaven, ordered a stop to certain activities because there were so many collateral deaths. It’s been going in—under President Bush’s authority, they’ve been going into countries, not talking to the ambassador or to the CIA station chief, and finding people on a list and executing them and leaving."

      "The intelligence we have is often very fragmentary, not very good. And the idea that the American president would think he has the constitutional power or the legal right to tell soldiers not engaged in immediate combat to go out and find people based on lists and execute them is just amazing to me. It’s amazing to me." 04-09

  5. -Obama Won't Prosecute Past Waterboarding (CBS News)
      "Attorney General Eric Holder says the government won't prosecute CIA officials for using waterboarding and other harsh interrogation tactics on terror suspects." 04-09

  6. -Psychologists and Physicians Involved in Torture (MSNBC News)
      " 'The health professionals involved in the CIA program broke the law and shame the bedrock ethical traditions of medicine and psychology,' said Frank Donaghue, chief executive of Physicians for Human Rights, an international advocacy group made up of physicians opposed to torture. 'All psychologists and physicians found to be involved in the torture of detainees must lose their license and never be allowed to practice again.' " 04-09

  7. -The Geneva Conventions (MSNBC News) star
      Provides the Geneva Conventions, international agreements adopted by the United States regarding the humane treatment of prisoners and limits on the conduct of war. President Bush has proposed legislation to allow the Geneva Conventions to be re-interpreted by the CIA. 09-06

  8. -Time: Top Bush Administration Lawyers Cleared of Misconduct Allegations (
      "Bush administration lawyers who wrote 'torture' memos have been cleared of allegations of professional misconduct after a Justice Department internal investigation, which recommends no legal consequences for their actions."

      "The report by the Justice Department concludes the high-ranking lawyers who developed controversial legal guidance on waterboarding and other enhanced interrogation techniques may have exercised poor judgment, but not professional misconduct."

      Editor's Note: According to the released DOJ Office of Professional Responsibility Report dated July 29, 2009, Time's interpretation is incorrect. The report found John Woo and Jay Bybee guilty of "professional misconduct" in its Conclusions on page 260. 02-10

  9. -Torture Ineffective--And Presents Ethical Dilema (Guardian Unlimited)
      "Prisoner interrogations at Guantánamo Bay, the controversial US military detention centre where guards have been accused of brutality and torture, have not prevented a single terrorist attack, according to a senior Pentagon intelligence officer who worked at the heart of the US war on terror."

      "Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Christino, who retired last June after 20 years in military intelligence, says that President George W Bush and US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld have 'wildly exaggerated' their intelligence value."

      Editor's Note: Use of torture is a violation of international law according to the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment Adopted and opened for signature, ratification and accession by General Assembly resolution 39-46 of 10 December 1984. Article 2 states: "No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political in stability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture." 10-04

  10. -Velvet Revolution: Top Bush Administration Lawyers Found Guilty of Misconduct by DOJ (Velvet Revolution)
      "Late Friday, the Department of Justice issued its long awaited report on the actions of the DoJ lawyers who authored the infamous legal memos authorizing torture. The report consisted of two parts: the first is a 300-page report from the DoJ’s Office of Professional Responsibility concluding that the attorneys, specifically John Yoo and Jay Bybee, engaged in 'professional misconduct.' The second is a 69-page cover letter from career Associate Deputy Attorney General David Margolis finding that the lawyers exercised 'poor judgment.' The OPR finding would under normal circumstances require transmittal to the state bar for disciplinary proceedings. However, Mr. Margolis, a 17-year employee of the DoJ who was in a supervisory position when the legal memos were written, has specifically refused to allow the OPR report to be transmitted." 02-10

  11. Amnesty: Britain Gives Approval to Torture (Guardian Unlimited)
      "Tony Blair has been accused of undermining decades of British campaigning for international human rights by using the war on terror to give a 'green light' to torture. Amnesty International is to launch an unprecedented global campaign tomorrow against the British Government after ministers admitted they would use information gained by torture to prevent attacks on the United Kingdom." 11-05

  12. CIA's Guide for Torture (MSNBC News)
      "Five years after the CIA's secret detention program came to light, much is known about the spy agency's decision to use harsh techniques, including waterboarding, to pry information from alleged al-Qaeda leaders. Now, with the release late Monday of guidelines for interrogating high-value detainees, the agency has provided -- in its own words -- the first detailed description of the step-by-step procedures used to systematically crush a detainee's will to resist by eliciting stress, exhaustion and fear." 08-09

  13. Did CIA Interrogators Violate Federal Law on Torture? CBS News)
      "A 1994 federal law prohibits U.S. nationals from performing torture upon penalty of up to 20 years in prison. 'Torture' is defined as the threat of imminent death, the threat of someone else being killed, and acts 'specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering.' " 08-09

  14. Documents: CIA Hid Nazis' Locations (CBS News)
      "Determined to win the Cold War, the CIA kept quiet about the whereabouts of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in the 1950s for fear he might expose undercover anticommunist efforts in West Germany, according to documents released Tuesday." 06-06

  15. Editorial: Bush Administration and the War Crimes Act of 1996 (Centre for Research on Globalization)
      "The War Crimes Act of 1996, a federal statute set forth at 18 U.S.C. § 2441, makes it a federal crime for any U.S. national, whether military or civilian, to violate the Geneva Convention by engaging in murder, torture, or inhuman treatment."

      "The statute applies not only to those who carry out the acts, but also to those who ORDER IT, know about it, or fail to take steps to stop it. The statute applies to everyone, no matter how high and mighty." 01-06

  16. Editorial: Waterboarding Is Torture (
      "Defenders of waterboarding say that the procedure, while awful for the prisoner, is relatively safe and has few long-term effects. But doctors and psychologists who work with torture victims disagree strongly. They say that victims of American waterboarding—like the Chileans submitted to the submarino under Pinochet—are likely to be psychologically damaged for life." 04-09

  17. Editorial: Young Iraqi Doctor's Experience (
      "Dr. Salam Ismael is in Europe to testify about the human rights violations committed against his people in Iraq." 01-06

  18. Is Torture Really Effective? (MSNBC News)
      "If we have no guarantee of getting information, if we have no reason to believe what someone tells us under duress is true, if we are allowed to decide the limits of such stress and duress techniques on a local level without oversight, and if we’re really not sure that the detainee even has the information we want— is there justification for the use of torture, or does it just become summary punishment administered perhaps by immature, misguided and untrained individuals (at best), or by manipulative self-serving sociopaths (at worst)?" 4-05

  19. Justice Department and CIA at Odds (New York Times)
      "With the appointment of a prosecutor to investigate detainee abuses, long-simmering conflicts between the Central Intelligence Agency and the Justice Department burst into plain view this week, threatening relations between two critical players on President Obama’s national security team." 08-09

  20. Justifying Torture (
      "George W. Bush defended harsh interrogations by pointing to intelligence breakthroughs, but a surprising number of counterterrorist officials say that, apart from being wrong, torture just doesn’t work. Delving into two high-profile cases, the author exposes the tactical costs of prisoner abuse." 12-08

  21. Military Agency Warned Against Use of Torture (MSNBC News)
      "The military agency that provided advice on harsh interrogation techniques for use against terrorism suspects referred to the application of extreme duress as 'torture' in a July 2002 document sent to the Pentagon's chief lawyer and warned that it would produce 'unreliable information.' "

      "There was no consideration within the National Security Council that the planned techniques stemmed from Chinese communist practices and had been deemed torture when employed against American personnel, the former administration official said. The U.S. military prosecuted its own troops for using waterboarding in the Philippines and tried Japanese officers on war crimes charges for its use against Americans and other allied nationals during World War II." 04-09

  22. National Council of Churches: Torture Unacceptable (National Coucil of Churches)
      "The General Assembly of the National Council of Churches USA and Church World Service commended the U.S. Senate’s 'anti-torture provisions' in the 2006 Defense Appropriations bill."

      "But as the House of Representatives begins debate on the bill, some high ranking U.S. government officials have declined to support the provisions."

      " 'As delegates to the General Assembly of the National Council of Churches USA and Church World Service, we find any and all use of torture unacceptable and contrary to U.S. and international legal norms,' the delegates said."

      " 'We find it particularly abhorrent that our nation's law makers would fail to approve the pending legislation disavowing the use of torture by any entity on behalf of the United States government,' the statement said." 11-05

  23. Report: Use of Restraints in Public Schools (ABC News)
      " 'Recent news reports document appalling stories of teachers tying children to chairs, taping their mouths shut, using handcuffs, denying them food, fracturing bones, locking them in small dark spaces, and sitting on them until they turn blue,' [Congressman] Miller said."

      " 'This behavior that does, in some instances, look like torture of young children certainly is so inconsistent with our beliefs about our public institution that it's hard for people to come to grasps with,' said Miller."

      "Today's hearing was spurred by a report published in January by the National Disability Rights Network, which canvassed 56 states and territories in the United States and found many examples of hard-to-manage students who've been injured or killed at school." 05-09

  24. Rice Approved Harsh Interrogation Techniques (
      "Top Bush administration officials gave the CIA approval to use waterboarding, a controversial interrogation technique, as early as 2002, a Senate intelligence report shows."

      "President Obama has called waterboarding -- which simulates drowning -- torture and last week released a series of Bush-era memos on interrogation tactics."

      Editor's Note: Torture is illegal according to U.S. and international law. 04-09

  25. Scientists: C.I.A. Misused Information on Sleep Deprivation (
      "German and French researchers whose work has been cited by the CIA and the Justice Department to help justify the legality of harsh interrogation techniques, including prolonged sleep deprivation, condemned the Bush Administration on Tuesday for misusing their scientific findings." 04-09

  26. Senator: Cheney's Claims About Torture Memos Are Wrong (CNN News)
      "Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, says former Vice President Dick Cheney's claims -- that classified CIA memos show enhanced interrogation techniques like waterboarding worked -- are wrong." 05-09

  27. Study: Torture Is Widespread in Iraq (MSNBC News)
      "The White House release of Bush administration torture memos marked another step towards closure in what President Obama called a 'dark and painful chapter in our history.' But in Iraq, torture is not a thing of the past, according to the findings of a new study on civilian causalities."

      "Executions with firearms, not bomb blasts, have killed most civilians in Iraq. Researchers say 33% of the victims examined in the study died by execution after abduction or capture. And 29% of those victims had signs of torture on their bodies such as bruises, drill holes or burns. Suicide bombers in cars or on foot were responsible for 14% of the victims in the study, while U.S. airstrikes killed 4%."

      "The Iraqi government has consistently faced accusations of torture and maltreatment of prisoners through the years — and still does. The most recent human rights report from the U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq cites 'continuing reports of the widespread and routine torture or ill-treatment of detainees, particularly those being held in pre-trial detention facilities, including police stations.' " 04-09

  28. Supreme Court Rejects Appeal of Former Gitmo Detainees (
      "The U.S. Supreme Court said on Monday that it rejected an appeal by four former Guantanamo Bay prisoners arguing that they should be able to proceed with their lawsuit against top Pentagon officials for torture and religious abuse." 12-09

  29. Top Interrogator: Against Torture (
      "Ali Soufan, a former FBI special agent and perhaps the most successful U.S. interrogator of al-Qaeda operatives, says the use of those techniques was unnecessary and often counterproductive. Detainees, he says, provided vital intelligence under non-violent questioning, before they were put through 'walling' and waterboarding."

      "In an op-ed piece in the New York Times, Soufan says Abu Zubaydah gave up the information between March and June 2002, when he was being interrogated by Soufan, another FBI agent and some CIA officers. But that was not the result of harsh techniques, including waterboarding, which were not introduced until August." 04-09

  30. Torture Defined (
      "Torture is is the infliction of severe physical or psychological torment as an expression of cruelty, a means of intimidation, deterrent, revenge or punishment, or as a tool for the extraction of information or confessions." 12-05

  31. U.N. Official: No Pass for Torturers (CBS News)
      "President Barack Obama's decision not to prosecute CIA operatives who used questionable interrogation practices violates international law, the U.N.'s top torture investigator said Saturday."

      "In a brief telephone interview with The Associated Press, Manfred Nowak, an Austrian who serves as a U.N. special rapporteur in Geneva, said the United States had committed itself under the U.N. Convention against Torture to make torture a crime and to prosecute those suspected of engaging in it." 04-09


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