Posts tagged Torture

Oops, Our Bad

Shared Article from The Independent

The CIA destroyed a copy of a torture report 'by accident'

The CIA inspector general’s office has said it “mistakenly” destroyed its only copy of a comprehensive Senate torture report, despite lawyers fo…

independent.co.uk


CIA ‘mistakenly’ destroys copy of 6,700-page US torture report

The CIA inspector general’s office has said it “mistakenly” destroyed its only copy of a comprehensive Senate torture report, despite lawyers for the Justice Department assuring a federal judge that copies of the documents were being preserved.

The erasure of the document by the spy agency’s internal watchdog was deemed an “inadvertent” foul-up by the inspector general, according to Yahoo News.

One intelligence community source told Yahoo News, which first reported the development, that last summer CIA inspector general officials deleted an uploaded computer file with the report and then accidentally destroyed a disk that also contained the document.

–Sadie Levy Gale, CIA ‘mistakenly’ destroys copy of 6,700-page US torture report
The Independent (17 May 2016)

Sometimes bad things happen, and it’s just nobody’s fault, really. Sometimes accidents happen or mistakes are made, and everything just happens to come up CIA. Whoops, there it goes. Oh, there goes the disk too.

Here’s a bit more on the oopsie.

The 6,700-page report contains thousands of secret files about the CIA’s use of “enhanced” interrogation methods, including waterboarding, sleep deprivation and other aggressive interrogation techniques at “black site” prisons overseas.

. . . Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr opposed the publication of the report in 2014. Since taking power he has attempted to recover copies of the report that were distributed throughout the Obama administration.

–Sadie Levy Gale, CIA ‘mistakenly’ destroys copy of 6,700-page US torture report
The Independent (17 May 2016)

Friday Lazy Linking

Tortured until proven innocent

Last year this article by Chris Vogel from the Houston Press won the Molly Award from the Texas Observer. It’s about teenagers locked in the Harris County (Houston), Texas jail system while awaiting a trial. They have not been convicted of any crime, or proven to pose a threat to any human being’s life or liberty; but if they are juveniles (14, 15, or 16 years old) who have been certified to be tried as adults, then they await their trial — often for over a year — in an isolation cage, with the lights on 24 hours a day, where they are held against their will apart from any human contact for 23 hours of every day. The 60 minutes they spend outside of the isolation torture cell is for recreation, where they are, very often, shackled. This is, of course, an extreme form of psychological torture. Like many of the most extreme forms of psychological torture, it is inflicted on kids who haven’t yet been convicted of any crime, but is inflicted on them For Their Own Good:

Harris County sheriff’s spokesman Lieutenant John Legg says the jail does not make special accommodations for juveniles.

They’re treated like any other inmate, he says.

Except for one glaring difference: isolation.

One reason for this, says Legg, is for their own safety. He says several years ago, teens were allowed into common areas with each other during the day, but they would fight and steal each other’s commissary items, so jail officials decided to keep them in their cells for a majority of the time. A choice, says Legg, which has had the desired result.

— Chris Vogel, For Their Own Good: Harris County juveniles certified as adults are jailed in isolation 23 hours a day–without being convicted of a crime, reprinted in the Texas Observer

The result desired by Lieutenant John Legg, no doubt. I wonder how much his prisoners desired the result of being tortured 23 hours a day for the sins of other prisoners they had no control over.

Like George, Diego [16 years old] says time drones on, blending into one seamless, never ending day. He is bored constantly. So bored, he says, that some days he can’t even concentrate to read. Occasionally, he catches himself talking to himself out loud. At times he’s thought he was hallucinating. Like many other teens in segregation, he’ll beat on his cell door and try to start a riot, sometimes because we didn’t get our full hour out of our cell and sometimes because there’s nothing else to do.

He says he can’t wait to turn 17 and get placed in with other inmates, or get convicted and go to prison, just so he can escape the isolation.

— Chris Vogel, For Their Own Good: Harris County juveniles certified as adults are jailed in isolation 23 hours a day–without being convicted of a crime, reprinted in the Texas Observer

Meanwhile, here’s Dennis McKnight, who used to do the same thing to presumed-innocent juveniles awaiting trial in Bexar County (San Antonio), on the trials and travails of jailing presumed-innocent teenagers:

To the adult jailors, though, it all comes down to a choice between the lesser of two evils: general population or segregation and isolation.

They shouldn’t be held in 23-hour lockdown, admits McKnight, but unfortunately that’s where we have to put them for their safety and for everyone else’s safety. It’s a trade-off that we are forced to make.

Well, no. It’s a trade-off that they force their prisoners to make. Or, more specifically, they make the trade and their prisoners are forced to take the goods. Even if they’d prefer being convicted if it just meant they could get out of the torture.

But I should be more sympathetic. It’s so hard, really, when you need a safe cage to lock all these presumptively innocent teenagers up in for years at a time.[1] Who knows where to put them all? Vogel quotes Liz Ryan of Youth Justice saying, It’s a Catch-22 … They don’t want the kid in isolation and they don’t want the kid in general population. They know it’s not safe either way. Well. I wonder if they’ve tried putting them, you know, not in prison?

  1. [1]It helps if you can revise the meaning of the word safe so that it includes things like being safely driven out of your mind over the course of years.

In Their Own Words: “All bets are off.”

From Small Wars Journal 2009-05-15, from a retired soldier who served under, and thinks the world of, Lieutenant General Stanley A. McChrystal, former commander of Camp Nama, now named by anti-torture Peace President Barack Hussein Obama to command the United States government’s military occupation and counter-insurgency in Afghanistan:

Obviously writing from the seat of retirement, and with absolute respect and gratefulness for LTG McChrystal’s aggressive leadership, personable demeanor, and unwavering mentoring, I envy the guys that are soon to find themselves sharing the same mess hall, weight room, and helicopter as The Pope. The man is unstoppable. Demonstrably more committed than most. More open, in fact insistent, on creative and innovative ideas from his subordinates to fight the war on terror. From my perspective, our rules of land warfare, our respect for human life, and our strategic constraints handcuff us to the point that the war in Afghanistan is unwinnable. But, with LTG McChrystal at the helm now all bets are off.

— Small Wars Journal 2009-05-14: The Pope

(Via Andrew Sullivan 2009-05-15, via Crispin Sartwell 2009-05-15.)

What a shock.

Let’s review.

The nearly 10-minute video clip, which has drawn nothing but negative comments toward the trooper on YouTube, shows Gardner approaching Massey’s SUV and asking for his driver’s license and registration. Massey asks how fast he was going, which prompts Gardner to repeat his request.

I need your driver’s license and registration — right now, the trooper says.

Massey continues to question Gardner about the posted speed limit and how fast he was going but hands over his papers. The trooper walks back to his car.

Gardner returns to the SUV and tells Massey he’s being cited for speeding. On the video, Massey can be heard refusing to sign the ticket and demanding that the trooper take him back and show him the 40 mph speed limit sign.

What you’re going to do — if you’re giving me a ticket — in the first place, you’re going to tell me why … Massey says.

For speeding, the trooper interjects.

… and second of all we’re going to go look for that 40 mph sign, Massey says.

Well you’re going to sign this first, Gardner says.

No I am not. I’m not signing anything. Massey says.

Gardner tells Massey to hop out of the car, then walks back to the hood of his patrol car, setting down his ticket book. Massey is close behind the trooper pointing toward the 40 mph speed limit sign he’d passed just before being pulled over.

Turn around. Put your hands behind your back, Gardner says. He repeats the command a second time as he draws his Taser and takes a step back.

The trooper points the Taser at Massey who stares incredulously at him.

What the hell is wrong with you? Massey asks.

Gardner repeats the command to turn around two more times as Massey, with part of his right hand in his pants pocket, starts to walk back toward his SUV.

What the heck’s wrong with you? Massey can be heard asking as Gardner fires his Taser into Massey’s back. Immobilized by the weapon’s 50,000 volts, Massey falls backward, striking his head on the highway. The impact caused a cut on Massey’s scalp.

Massey’s wife Lauren, who was seven months pregnant at the time, gets out of the SUV screaming and is ordered to get back in the vehicle or risk being arrested. Gardner handcuffs Massey and leaves him on the side of the highway while he goes to talk to Massey’s wife.

He’s fine. I Tasered him because he did not follow my instructions, Gardner explains to the audibly upset woman.

You had no right to do that! she responds. You had no right to do that!

While Gardner is still talking to Lauren Massey, her husband gets to his feet and approaches the trooper from behind. Gardner takes the handcuffed man back toward his patrol car and again orders Lauren Massey to stay in her vehicle or risk being arrested.

Officer you’re a little bit excited. You need to calm yourself down, Jared Massey tells Gardner before being put into the trooper’s patrol car where he continues to demand an explanation for his arrest.

— Geoff Liesik, Deseret Morning News (2007-11-21): Trooper’s Taser use pops up on YouTube

Cops in America are heavily armed and trained to be bullies. They routinely force their way into situations they have no business being in, use violence first and ask questions later, and pass off even the most egregious forms of violence against harmless or helpless people as self-defense or as the necessary means to accomplish a completely unnecessary goal. In order to stay in control of the situation, they have no trouble electrifying small children, alleged salad-bar thieves, pregnant women possibly guilty of a minor traffic violation, or an already prone and helpless student who may have been guilty of using the computer lab without proper papers on hand. They are willing to pepper spray lawyers for asking inconvenient questions and to beat up teenaged girls for not cleaning up enough birthday cake or being out too late at night. It hardly matters if you are an 82 year old woman supposedly benefiting from a care check, or if you are sound asleep in your own home, or if you are unable to move due to a medical condition, or if the cops attack you within 25 seconds of entering the room, while you are standing quietly against the wall with your arms at your sides. It hardly even matters if you die. What a cop can always count on is that, no matter how senselessly he escalates the use of violence and no matter how obviously innocent or helpless his victims are, he can count on his buddies to clap him on the back and he can count on his bosses to repeat any lie and make any excuse in order to find that Official Procedures were followed. As long as Official Procedures were followed, of course, any form of brutality or violence is therefore passed off as OK ….

Note that Gardner never, at any point in the video, claimed that anything that Massey did in the encounter was threatening or that he felt he had to defend himself. He explicitly stated, over and over again, to Jared Massey, to his wife, and to a fellow cop, not that the reason for his actions was self-defense, but that it was to coerce compliance. Gardner also never told Massey that he was under arrest until after knocking Massey to the ground with his taser. However, cop enablers are not about to let the mere evidence of their senses get in the way of fabricating excuses for police violence …

— GT 2007-11-27: Law and Orders #3: John Gardner of the Utah Highway Patrol tasers Jared Massey in front of his family for questioning why he was pulled over

Some days, I really hate being right.

Utah taser probe: Trooper acted reasonably

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Utah trooper who used a Taser to subdue a stubborn motorist who was walking away from him during a traffic stop felt threatened and acted reasonably, state officials said Friday.

Trooper Jon Gardner remains on leave, primarily for his safety, after numerous anonymous threats were made against him, said Supt. Lance Davenport of the Utah Highway Patrol.

Gardner twice zapped [sic] Jared Massey with a Taser when the driver walked away and refused to sign a speeding ticket on Sept. 14. The incident was recorded on Gardner’s dashboard camera. Massey filed a public-records request and posted the video on YouTube, which said it has been viewed more than 1 million times.

We found that Trooper Gardner’s actions were lawful and reasonable under the circumstances, Davenport said at a news conference, joined by Scott Duncan, commissioner of the UHP’s parent agency, the Utah Department of Public Safety.

The investigation was conducted by officials in the Department of Public Safety, which oversees the highway patrol. The officials have asked the Utah attorney general’s office to also review the case to determine if laws were broken.

Massey was not at the news conference and could not immediately be reached for comment.

The video showed Massey arguing about whether he was exceeding the speed limit on U.S. 40 in eastern Utah. Massey got out and walked to the rear of his vehicle. The trooper pulled out his Taser when the driver tried to return to his seat.

Massey shrieked, fell and said: Officer, I really don’t know what you’re doing.

Face down! Face down! Put your hands behind your back, Gardner said.

— USA Today (2007-11-30): Utah taser probe: Trooper acted reasonably

This seems to be more or less how most cops seem to think that all their conversations with the public that they serve and protect should go.

When Massey’s wife emerged from the passenger side, the trooper ordered her to get back in — or you’re going to jail, too. Moments later, when another officer arrived, one of them said, Oh, he took a ride with the Taser.

Davenport said that comment was inappropriate.

— USA Today (2007-11-30): Utah taser probe: Trooper acted reasonably

Well, that’s mighty white of him.

Officials said Gardner could have issued the ticket without Massey’s signature.

The investigation found use of the Taser was justified because Massey had turned his back and put a hand near his pocket, Davenport said.

For a law-enforcement officer, that is a very, very scary situation, he said.

Nonetheless, the trooper now realizes that other options were available, Davenport said.

— USA Today (2007-11-30): Utah taser probe: Trooper acted reasonably

Remember that at no point in the encounter did Gardner ever claim that he used the taser because he felt threatened or because he believed that Massey was reaching for a piece. In fact, he explained several times why he used the taser, to Massey, to Massey’s wife, and to another cop, and every time he said the reason was that Massey didn’t follow instructions. I’m sure he just forgot to mention that he feared for his life, too. It’s wonderful how a gang of cops investigating possible after-the-fact excuses for another cop’s use of violence can jog the memory.

However, once we strip out the self-serving lies, note that we are left with the following:

Officials said Gardner could have issued the ticket without Massey’s signature.

… Nonetheless, the trooper now realizes that other options were available, Davenport said.

Let’s review.

Officials said Gardner could have issued the ticket without Massey’s signature.

… Nonetheless, the trooper now realizes that other options were available, Davenport said.

And there you have it. In the view of the Utah Highway Patrol, it is lawful and reasonable to torture you with 50,000-volts of electricity in order to force you to comply with their orders, even when those orders are completely unnecessary and even when other options are available.

What a shock.

(Story via Strike the Root and no authority 2007-12-01.)

Further reading: