Click HERE for the 2014 CIA Torture Report
Torture Photos And Video For Media
Click hereï¿½for a YouTube video of Kevin Zeese's press conference announcing the filing of the complaints.
Watch Our June 29, 2009 Disbar Torture Lawyers Press Conference
Part 1 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nSnp7r4P4Co
Part 2 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jrx5ReAbjvY
Part 3 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S7l3esnO7Pg
Part 4 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2jo61Jyo09g
Part 5 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0BfRW5NDbg
Part 6 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rgwsp3iylXE
Click here and here for dozens of torture photos and several anti-torture ads that we are making available to organizations and the media. Please give attribution to VelvetRevolution.us. High resolution versions and hours of torture and waterboarding footage are also available upon request.
Click here for photos and the history of the Abu Garhib torture. No photos of the interrogation torture authorized in the torture memos has been released to the public.
Graphic waterboarding video on YouTube.
This YouTube music video with waterboarding and torture footage is available for rebroadcast with attribution.
Torturing Democracy, www.torturingdemocracy.org
New Music Video Opposing Torture
American Psychological Association Bolstered C.I.A. Torture Program, Report Says
WASHINGTON — The American Psychological Association secretly collaborated with the administration of President George W. Bush to bolster a legal and ethical justification for the torture of prisoners swept up in the post-Sept. 11 war on terror, according to a new report by a group of dissident health professionals and human rights activists.
The report is the first to examine the association’s role in the interrogation program. It contends, using newly disclosed emails, that the group’s actions to keep psychologists involved in the interrogation program coincided closely with efforts by senior Bush administration officials to salvage the program after the public disclosure in 2004 of graphic photos of prisoner abuse by American military personnel at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
“The A.P.A. secretly coordinated with officials from the C.I.A., White House and the Department of Defense to create an A.P.A. ethics policy on national security interrogations which comported with then-classified legal guidance authorizing the C.I.A. torture program,” the report’s authors conclude.
The involvement of health professionals in the Bush-era interrogation program was significant because it enabled the Justice Department to argue in secret opinions that the program was legal and did not constitute torture, since the interrogations were being monitored by health professionals to make sure they were safe.
The interrogation program has since been shut down, and last year the Senate Intelligence Committee issued a detailed report that described the program as both ineffective and abusive.
Rhea Farberman, a spokeswoman for the American Psychological Association, denied that the group had coordinated its actions with the government. There “has never been any coordination between A.P.A. and the Bush administration on how A.P.A. responded to the controversies about the role of psychologists in the interrogations program,” she said.
The Bush administration relied more heavily on psychologists than psychiatrists or other health professionals to monitor many interrogations, at least in part because the psychological association was supportive of the involvement of psychologists in interrogations, a senior Pentagon official explained publicly in 2006.
The American Psychological Association “clearly supports the role of psychologists in a way our behavioral science consultants operate,” said Dr. William Winkenwerder, then the assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, describing to reporters why the Pentagon relied more on psychologists than psychiatrists at the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. “The American Psychiatric Association, on the other hand, I think had a great deal of debate about that, and there were some who were less comfortable with that.”
By June 2004, the Bush administration’s torture program was in trouble. The public disclosure of the images of prisoners being abused at the Abu Ghraib prison earlier that year prompted an intense debate about the way the United States was treating detainees in the global war on terror, leading to new scrutiny of the C.I.A.’s so-called enhanced interrogation program. Congress and the news media were starting to ask questions, and there were new doubts about whether the program was legal.
On June 4, 2004, the C.I.A. director, George J. Tenet, signed a secret order suspending the agency’s use of the enhanced interrogation techniques, while asking for a policy review to make sure the program still had the Bush administration’s backing.
“I strongly believe that the administration needs to now review its previous legal and policy positions with respect to detainees to assure that we all speak in a united and unambiguous voice about the continued wisdom and efficacy of those positions in light of the current controversy,” Mr. Tenet wrote in a memo that has since been declassified.
At that critical moment, the American Psychological Association took action that its critics now say helped the troubled interrogation program.
In early June 2004, a senior official with the association, the nation’s largest professional organization for psychologists, issued an invitation to a carefully selected group of psychologists and behavioral scientists inside the government to a private meeting to discuss the crisis and the role of psychologists in the interrogation program.
Psychologists from the C.I.A. and other agencies met with association officials in July, and by the next year the association issued guidelines that reaffirmed that it was acceptable for its members to be involved in the interrogation program.
To emphasize their argument that the association grew too close to the interrogation program, the critics’ new report cites a 2003 email from a senior psychologist at the C.I.A. to a senior official at the psychological association. In the email, the C.I.A. psychologist appears to be confiding in the association official about the work of James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, the private contractors who developed and helped run the enhanced interrogation program at the C.I.A.’s secret prisons around the world.
In the email, written years before the involvement of the two contractors in the interrogation program was made public, the C.I.A. psychologist explains to the association official that the contractors “are doing special things to special people in special places.”
Obama Administration Faces Mounting Pressure To Answer For Torture
WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration is facing renewed pressure to answer for its track record on torture after the relative calm that followed the release of the Senate torture report’s damning executive summary in December.
In a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch Friday, human rights group Amnesty International pressed the Justice Department to revisit its decision not to prosecute former officials from the CIA and the George W. Bush administration for their involvement in the agency’s post-9/11 torture program. The new evidence from the report prepared by the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence merits another look, says Salil Shetty, secretary general of Amnesty International, in the letter.
“As the new Attorney General you have a critical responsibility to ensure the USA complies with its international human rights obligations to effectively investigate evidence of crimes under international law and to bring the suspected perpetrators to justice,” reads the letter, which is expected to arrive on Lynch’s desk Monday. “We urge you to personally examine the full SSCI report and to immediately order a 'preliminary review' into violations of federal and international laws, with a view to bringing an end to the impunity that has become the hallmark of this unlawful programme.”
The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.
DOJ said in December that it would not reopen any investigation into the now-defunct torture program, which included the use of interrogation techniques like waterboarding, rectal feeding and stress positions. The department cited its own 2009 investigation, led by federal prosecutor John Durham. In 2012, then-Attorney General Eric Holder announced that Durham's investigation did not find grounds to file charges.
But critics have long argued that Durham and his team did not lead a thorough inquiry, and now they say the evidence in the Senate report -- a document that even President Barack Obama has said illustrates torture, which is illegal under U.S. and international law -- is cause for another look.
DOJ has also declined to indicate whether anyone at the department has actually read the intelligence committee’s full report, which is 6,900 pages long and remains mostly classified. In court filings in January, the government indicated that no one at DOJ had opened the department's copy of the completed report, raising questions as to how, exactly, it had reached a decision not to prosecute the officials named in the study.
The department has consistently refused to clarify that position, citing ongoing litigation over a Freedom of Information Act request for the full torture report.
This is shaping up to be an uncomfortable week for the Obama administration as far as questions of torture and accountability are concerned. Early Monday morning, the U.S. appeared before the United Nations Council on Human Rights for its periodic review, its first appearance since the controversy over the Senate torture report in 2014.
Standing before a jury of its peers, both friendly and not so friendly, the U.S. was pressed on its human rights record, and was asked specifically by more than a dozen member states about its failure to hold accountable any of the officials involved in the CIA’s torture program.
Several countries, including Slovenia and the Czech Republic, had submitted questions for the U.S. about its failure to prosecute the former torturers or their superiors, as well as on the lack of legislative response to the report.
"What we would like to see is the U.S. say is that it will appoint a special prosecutor to conduct an investigation into torture in light of the Senate Torture report," said Laura Pitter, senior national security counsel for Human Rights Watch, in an email to The Huffington Post. "We have a new attorney general who when asked at her confirmation hearing whether waterboarding was torture said 'yes' and that it was a crime. So perhaps we will see a different reaction this time to recommendations from countries that the U.S. should properly and credibly investigate torture."
The Obama administration is no stranger to U.N. criticism, especially on its failure to hold officials from the previous administration accountable for the torture program. In November, the U.N. Committee Against Torture slammed the Obama administration for slow-walking the release of the Senate report. U.N. officials also criticized the Durham investigation as sloppy and inadequate.
Senate Votes To Outlaw Torture
WASHINGTON -- In a landmark showing, lawmakers voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to outlaw the practice of torture and solidify a noncoercive method of intelligence interrogation, indicating a firm departure from the years of the Bush-era torture program -- a period that many have characterized as one of the darkest chapters in the nation’s history.
The road to that symbolic vote, though, was not an easy one, despite still-simmering outrage after the December release of a gruesome Senate summary report on the CIA’s post-9/11 torture program. Even in the days leading up to the vote, anti-torture advocates both on and off the Hill remained concerned that the CIA’s defenders would rally to tank the measure.
In an effort led by Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.), senators voted in a landslide 78-21 to tack an amendment onto the fiscal 2016 National Defense Authorization Act that would forbid the use of torture by any agent of the U.S. government and standardize certain noncoercive interrogation methodsacross the government’s military and intelligence arms.
The vote marked a profound, full-circle moment for Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chair Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who has spent the better part of the past six years championing a 6,000-plus page committee report that exposed the dysfunction and abuse that plagued the CIA’s post-9/11 torture program.
â€¨“It really is a great day, because it really does mean never again,” Feinstein said leaving the chamber Tuesday, flanked by several committee staffers who helped compile the report. “It was a great moment for me, yes, and for us.”
A 500-page summary of the Intelligence Committee's report was released in December and detailed how agency officers used tactics such as waterboarding, rectal feedings and sleep deprivation against detained terror suspects at secret overseas prisons.
McCain, who experienced torture while a prisoner of war, has consistently broken with his Republican colleagues and railed against the CIA’s now-defunct program. He emerged in recent weeks as a powerful ally for the usually politically cautious Feinstein, who has championed the fight to pass a legislative ban against harsh interrogations in the wake of her committee’s report.
Indeed, the push for a ban has been riddled with political and operational landmines for Feinstein. She announced a last-ditch effort to pass anti-torture legislation immediately following the report’s release in December, but has run into problems as Senate control has switched to Republicans, many of whom continue to defend the Bush-era program.
Though McCain had proved to be a firm ally in Feinstein’s fight to release the report last year, it remained unclear even recently whether the notoriously fickle foreign policy hawk would back her effort.
Even since announcing last week that he would sponsor a joint anti-torture amendment with Feinstein, McCain has done little to quell those doubts. According to multiple sources both on and off the Hill, McCain spent the past two weeks desperately trying to stifle press attention of the provision.
Some supporters worried those efforts were setting the stage for him to quietly kill the amendment. But after the overwhelming swell of Republican support Tuesday, McCain’s tactics appeared to be strategic rather than nefarious: The Armed Services Committee chairman, some guessed, was worried his fellow Republicans wouldn’t back the amendment if there was a fanfare.
“I respect the dedication and services of those charged with protecting this country,” McCain said on the Senate floor just before the vote. “At the same time, we must continue to insist that the methods we employ in this fight for peace and freedom must always -- always -- be as right and honorable as the goals and ideals we fight for.”
He may not have swayed all of his staunch Republicans. But in the moment of truth, McCain swayed enough.
“I’ll take 70-plus votes anytime,” a smiling Feinstein said after the vote.
US torture doctors could face charges after report alleges post-9/11 'collusion'
The largest association of psychologists in the United States is on the brink of a crisis, the Guardian has learned, after an independent review revealed that medical professionals lied and covered up their extensive involvement in post-9/11 torture. The revelation, puncturing years of denials, has already led to at least one leadership firing and creates the potential for 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 detainees 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, undermines the APA’s denials in full – and vindicates the dissenters.
Sources with knowledge of the report and its consequences, who requested anonymity to discuss the findings before public release, expected a wave of firings and resignations across the leadership of an organization that Hoffman finds used its extensive institutional links to the CIA and US military to facilitate abusive interrogations.
Several officials are likely to be sacked. Already out, a past APA president confirmed to the Guardian, is Stephen Behnke, the APA’s ethics chief and a leading figure in recasting its ethics guidelines in a manner conducive to interrogations that, from the start, relied heavily on psychologists to design and implement techniques like waterboarding.
But the reckoning with psychologists’ institutional complicity in torture may not stop there.
Psychologists' collusion with US torture limited our ability to decry it anywhere
Evidence in the Hoffman report, sources believe, may merit referral to the FBI over potential criminal wrongdoing by the APA involvement in torture. The findings could reopen something human rights groups have urged for years: the potential for prosecutions of people involved in torture. The definition of “collusion” adopted by Hoffman is said to be similar to language used in the federal racketeering statute known as Rico.
If so, however, it would not be American military or intelligence interrogators themselves under investigation, nor the senior officials who devised torture policy in the Bush administration, but the psychologists who enabled them.
Additionally, sources believe there will be grounds to initiate ethics charges against responsible individuals both within the APA and in the states in which they operate, which would be the first step toward the loss of a professional license.
Sources familiar with Hoffman’s report said the APA, knowing that the findings will undermine years of its public positions, is negotiating with its dissenters and critics to deliver a public apology. Recommendations for structural reform are said to be likely ahead of the organization’s 123rd annual convention, scheduled to begin on 6 August in Toronto.
Manipulating the opposition: three doctors and torture tactics
CIA torture appears to have broken spy agency rule on human experimentation
Substantial sections of the report focus on the APA ethics chief and describes Behnke’s “behind-the-scenes attempts to manipulate Council of Representatives actions in collusion with, and to remain aligned with DoD” – a reference to the Department of Defense.
A University of Michigan-pedigreed psychologist, Behnke has held his position within the APA since 2000, and, according to sources, used it to stifle dissent. Hoffman’s report found Behnke ghostwrote statements opposing member motions to rebuke torture; was involved in voter irregularity on motion passings; spiked ethics complaints; and took other actions to suppress complaints.
Nadine Kaslow, a former APA president, told the Guardian that Behnke’s last day at the APA was 8 July, after the APA received Hoffman’s report. She would not say if Behnke resigned or was fired. She indicated that further firings and resignations are likely in the coming weeks.
For now, the APA is grappling with a number of institutional changes to salvage its credibility.
“I am certainly apologizing on behalf of APA for what occurred – in terms of the fact that there was any collusion that occurred, and the fact that this may have paved the way for abusive interrogation,” Kaslow said on Friday.
Behnke was hardly the only psychologist involved in the establishment and application of torture.
According to two landmark Senate reports, one from the armed services committee in 2009 and the other from the intelligence committee in 2014, psychologists James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen were instrumental in persuading the CIA to adopt stress positions, temperature and dietary manipulation, sleep deprivation and waterboarding in interrogations. (Neither man is an APA member.)
Psychologists assigned to the CIA’s office of medical services assisted abusive interrogations, which the Guardian revealed in June appear to violate longstanding CIA rules against human experimentation.
Those tactics, save waterboarding, spread from the CIA to the military. Psychologists joined “behavioral science consultation teams” that advised interrogations at Guantánamo Bay.
“For the APA officials who played the lead role in these actions, their principal motive was to curry favor with the Defense Department for two main reasons: because of the very substantial benefits that DoD had conferred and continued to confer on psychology as a profession, and because APA wanted a favorable result from the critical policy DoD was in the midst of developing that would determine whether and how deeply psychologists could remain involved in intelligence activities,” Hoffman found.
Human rights-minded psychologists railed for years that the APA had created an environment that was conducive to medical professionals effectively participating in torture. Critically, in 2005, a prominent and highly controversial APA taskforce ruled that members could perform “consultative roles to interrogation- or information-gathering processes for national security-related purposes”.
Yet the organization withstood all public criticism, until New York Times reporter James Risen revealed, based in part on a hoard of emails from a deceased behavioral-science researcher named Scott Gerwehr, the behind-the-scenes ties between psychologists from the APA and their influential counterparts within the CIA and the Pentagon.
In 2002 – the critical year for the Bush administration’s embrace of torture – the APA amended its longstanding ethics rules to permit psychologists to follow a “governing legal authority” in the event of a conflict between an order and the APA ethics code.
Without the change, Risen wrote in his 2014 book Pay Any Price, it was likely that psychologists would have “taken the view that they were prevented by their own professional standards from involvement” in interrogations, making it “far more difficult for the Justice Department to craft opinions that provided the legal approvals needed for the CIA to go ahead with the interrogation tactics”.
In 2004, after the Abu Ghraib torture scandal burst into public view, the emails detailed a private meeting of APA officials with CIA and military psychologists to “provide input on how the APA should deal with the growing furor”, Risen wrote.
Ethics chief Behnke emailed: “I would like to emphasize that we will not advertise the meeting other than this letter to the individual invitees, that we will not publish or otherwise make public the names of attendees or the substance of our discussions, and that in the meeting we will neither assess nor investigate the behavior of any specific individual or group.”
Risen went on to report that six of the 10 psychologists on the seminal 2005 APA taskforce “had connections with the defense or intelligence communities; one member was the chief psychologist for US Special Forces”. The subject of tremendous internal controversy, the APA ultimately rescinded the taskforce report in 2013.
Collusion to promote torture: a reckoning finally arrives
In October, the APA called Risen’s account “largely based on innuendo and one-sided reporting”. Yet the next month the association announced it had asked Hoffman to investigate potential “collusion with the Bush administration to promote, support or facilitate the use of ‘enhanced’ interrogation techniques by the United States in the war on terror”.
Throughout the controversy, the APA has preferred to treat criticism of its involvement in torture, either from journalists or from human rights-minded psychologists, with dismissal. Its internal investigations of the criticisms have typically ended up exonerating its members.
“A thorough review of these public materials and our standing policies will clearly demonstrate that APA will not tolerate psychologist participation in torture,” the APA communications chief, Rhea Farberman, told the Guardian in January 2014, after the Guardian revealed that an APA inquiry declined to pursue charges against a psychologist involved in the Guantánamo Bay torture of Mohammed al-Qahtani.
The psychologist, former US army reserve major John Leso, took part in a brutal interrogation of Qahtani, the suspected intended 20th 9/11 hijacker, according to a leaked interrogation log and investigation by the Senate armed services committee.
Interrogators extensively deprived Qahtani of sleep, forced him to perform what the log called “dog tricks”, inundated him with loud music for extended periods, and forcibly hydrated him intravenously until he urinated on himself.
“The concern that APA’s decision to close the matter against Dr John Leso will set a precedent against disciplining members who participate in abusive interrogations is utterly unfounded,” the APA’s Farberman told the Guardian in January 2014.
Private Corporation May be Sued for Role in Abu Ghraib Torture, Judge Rules
Horrific Treatment of Victims Constitutes Torture and War Crimes
February 21, 2018, Alexandria, VA – Today, a Virginia federal judge ruled that the treatment of three Iraqi individuals formerly detained at the infamous “hard site” at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq constitutes torture, war crimes, and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, based on a thorough review of U.S. domestic and international law. The ruling also held that the men have sufficiently alleged that employees of private military contractor CACI Premier Technology conspired to commit and aided and abetted these crimes. The case, Al Shimari v. CACI, was filed nearly ten years ago, and CACI has repeatedly argued that, even if its employees were involved in torture and other abuse, the company is shielded from liability. Today’s 54-page ruling definitively rejected that position, as well as attempts by certain Bush-era officials to water down the prohibition against torture, and allowed the lawsuit to proceed against CACI.
“The decision is a historic judicial rebuke to the Bush administration’s torture paradigm, which had sought to evade the well-established prohibitions against torture, and is one of the clearest statements in the post-9/11 era that victims of torture and grave human rights abuses can access the courts for a remedy,” said Center for Constitutional Rights Legal Director Baher Azmy. “The court confirmed what was plain to the eye: that the horrific treatment our clients endured at Abu Ghraib was unlawful and that, in a country operating under the rule of law, those responsible can be held accountable.”
While a number of low-level military officers were court-martialed over their roles in the abuse, CACI has gone unpunished – and continues to reap millions of dollars in government contracts – even though U.S. military investigators long ago concluded that CACI interrogators conspired with the U.S. soldiers who were later court martialed to “soften up” detainees for interrogations, according to statements by co-conspirators. A U.S. Army general referred to the treatment as “sadistic, blatant, and wanton” criminal abuses.
Today’s opinion includes a detailed account of what happened to CCR’s clients, Suhail Al Shimari, Asa’ad Al-Zuba’e, and Salah Al-Ejaili, including:
[being] subjected to repeated stress positions, including at least one that made [Plaintiff Al-Ejaili] vomit black liquid; sexually-related humiliation; disruptive sleeping patterns and long periods of being kept naked or without food or water; and multiple instances of being threatened with dogs…being doused with hot and cold liquids…sexual assault and threats of rape; being left in a cold shower until [Plaintiff Zuba’e] was unable to stand; dog bites and repeated beatings, including with sticks and to the genitals…at least one [stress position] that lasted an entire day and resulted in [Zuba’e] urinating and defecating on himself; and threats that his family would be brought to Abu Ghraib…systematic beatings…with a baton and rifle, [being] he was hit against the wall; [being] forced to kneel on sharp stones, causing lasting damage to [Plaintiff Al Shimari’s] legs; …being kept in a dark cell and with loud music nearby; threats of being shot… electric shocks; being dragged around the prison by a rope tied around [Al Shimari’s] neck; and having fingers inserted into [Al Shimari’s] rectum.
The Court concluded: “it is clear that the abuse suffered by plaintiffs was intended to inflict severe pain or suffering and rises to the level of torture.”
Al Shimari v. CACI was filed under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS), which allows non-U.S. citizens to sue for violations of international law committed abroad that “touch and concern” the United States. The opinion concludes that the political question doctrine is inapplicable to “cognizable claims” under the ATS.
For more information, visit CCR’s case page.
The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.