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. 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.
The new SSCI report on the CIA interrogation torture program reveals that James Mitchell came to the Abu Zubaydah interrogation from contract work at CIA’s Office of Technical Services (OTS). OTS assisted Mitchell in presenting harsh interrogation techniques into the Zubaydah interrogation. But OTS supposedly also vetted the EIT program’s safety. It also belonged to the part of the CIA that at the same time was studying the debilitating effects of even mock SERE torture. Forty years ago, OTS supposedly ended its MKULTRA mind control program, or did it?
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
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. APA members involved in the review have questionable ties that also call into question their “independence.” Just how effective will this review be?
The UNCAT is to be praised for bringing to the fore some of the worst aspects of the current use of torture and abuse by the US government, and in particular for calling out the endemic abuse in the practices of forced-feeding and Appendix M techniques in the Army Field Manual. But the full story is still not out there.
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.”
A former Chicago policeman has been named in a lawsuit for wrongful imprisonment of a man released from jail after 23 years. The same cop also led the torture interrogation of a famous Guantanamo prisoner. Torture and abuse of power has turned epidemic.
A new directive from the Department of Defense regarding its Detainee Program fails to offer any protections against the use of torture techniques like isolation, sleep deprivation, and forms of sensory deprivation. Obama’s detainee program has not really changed since the days of Bush and Cheney. With the addition of biometric identification and the provision for indefinite detention, it may even be worse.
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.
One medical professional, protesting use of torturous forced-feeding of hunger-strikers, is persecuted by the Navy, while another one, working closely with Guantanamo authorities and interrogators who tortured prisoners, is rewarded with a top job at the Navy’s main hospital. These two facts speak volumes about how low the nation has fallen in relation to acceptance of torture.