12.08.2009 Banned by the Catholic Church

If you go to this link and listen to it 3 times in a row…. you tell me why the church banned this ghost band?


Please leave your comments on the original page… and wait to see what happens….guess what the church was scared off???

lets see who posts the right answer before October 31 2010


Banned by the Catholic Church
Categories: Sound Oddities


Sound Clip: Shepard Tone by Roger Shepard

This is a classic sound oddity and illusion. Or is it? There are some corrections to this post with much discussion, see below and follow the trail of comments to clarify the inaccuracies.

Originally posted:

“It is rumored to be called the “devil’s tone” by the Catholic church. The Shepard tone is a sound consisting of a superposition of sine waves separated by octaves. When played with the base pitch of the tone moving upwards or downwards, it is referred to as the
Shepard Scale. This creates an auditory illusion that continually ascends or descends in pitch, yet which ultimately seems to get no higher or lower.”


Corrections here and below in comments from Brent Williams:

“Hi Margaret.

“Baned by the Catholic Church“, about a Shepard-Risset Glissando. This post contained links to certain webpages, but when the post went up (even before it was moderated) the links were missing. Just in case you want to put them up for your readers, here they are:

The original source page for this sound file is here . It is in French.

You can find the Wiki source page here . This contains a little more info on the sound. This is where I confirmed that the sound is a minor chord of synchronised Shepard-Risset glissandi.

Read about Diana Deutsch here . She is currently a Professor at UCSD.

All the best, and please continue with your excellent website.

Brent Williams”
Categories: Sound Oddities -

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Former UK ambassador: CIA sent people to be ‘raped with broken bottles’

November 6, 2009 by admin  
Filed under Featured Stories, World News

By Daniel Tencer
Wednesday, November 4th, 2009 — 3:31 pm

The CIA relied on intelligence based on torture in prisons in Uzbekistan, a place where widespread torture practices include raping suspects with broken bottles and boiling them alive, says a former British ambassador to the central Asian country.

Craig Murray, the rector of the University of Dundee in Scotland and until 2004 the UK’s ambassador to Uzbekistan, said the CIA not only relied on confessions gleaned through extreme torture, it sent terror war suspects to Uzbekistan as part of its extraordinary rendition program.

“I’m talking of people being raped with broken bottles,” he said at a lecture late last month that was re-broadcast by the Real News Network. “I’m talking of people having their children tortured in front of them until they sign a confession. I’m talking of people being boiled alive. And the intelligence from these torture sessions was being received by the CIA, and was being passed on.”

Human rights groups have long been raising the alarm about the legal system in Uzbekistan. In 2007, Human Rights Watch declared that torture is “endemic” to the country’s justice system.

Murray said he only realized after his stint as ambassador that the CIA was sending people to be tortured in Uzbekistan, country he describes as a “totalitarian” state that has never moved on from its communist era, when it was a part of the Soviet Union.

Suspects in Uzbekistan’s gulags “were being told to confess to membership in Al Qaeda. They were told to confess they’d been in training camps in Afghanistan. They were told to confess they had met Osama bin Laden in person. And the CIA intelligence constantly echoed these themes.”

“I was absolutely stunned — it changed my whole world view in an instant — to be told that London knew [the intelligence] coming from torture, that it was not illegal because our legal advisers had decided that under the United Nations convention against torture, it is not illegal to obtain or use intelligence gained from torture as long as we didn’t do the torture ourselves,” Murray said.


Murray asserts that the primary motivation for US and British military involvement in central Asia has to do with large natural gas deposits in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. As evidence, he points to the plans to build a natural gas pipeline through Afghanistan that would allow Western oil companies to avoid Russia and Iran when transporting natural gas out of the region.

Murray alleged that in the late 1990s the Uzbek ambassador to the US met with then-Texas Governor George W. Bush to discuss a pipeline for the region, and out of that meeting came agreements that would see Texas-based Enron gain the rights to Uzbekistan’s natural gas deposits, while oil company Unocal worked on developing the Trans-Afghanistan pipeline.

“The consultant who was organizing this for Unocal was a certain Mr. Karzai, who is now president of Afghanistan,” Murray noted.

Murray said part of the motive in hyping up the threat of Islamic terrorism in Uzbekistan through forced confessions was to ensure the country remained on-side in the war on terror, so that the pipeline could be built.

“There are designs of this pipeline, and if you look at the deployment of US forces in Afghanistan, as against other NATO country forces in Afghanistan, you’ll see that undoubtedly the US forces are positioned to guard the pipeline route. It’s what it’s about. It’s about money, it’s about oil, it’s not about democracy.”

The Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline is slated to be completed in 2014, with $7.6 billion in funding from the Asian Development Bank.

Murray was dismissed from his position as ambassador in 2004, following his first public allegations that the British government relied on torture in Uzbekistan for intelligence.

The following videos were posted to YouTube by the Real News Network on Oct. 26 and Nov. 4, 2009.

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Gonzales ‘flip-flops’ yet again on torture probe

September 3, 2009 by admin  
Filed under Featured Stories, World News

John Dean believes Ridge was ‘pressured’ to back down on threat alert claims

Either former Bush officials are being pressured to backtrack, or recent flip-flops are just more evidence that they had no convictions in the first place.

In a story entitled Gonzales backtracks on support for CIA probe, The Washington Times‘ Ben Conery reports, “Former Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales said Thursday that his previous assertion that it was ‘legitimate to question and examine’ charges of CIA abuses of suspected terrorists did not mean he endorsed such an investigation.”

“Contrary to press reporting and based on the information that’s available to me,” Mr. Gonzales said during an interview Thursday with The Washington Times, “I don’t support the investigation by the department because this is a matter that has already been reviewed thoroughly and because I believe that another investigation is going to harm our intelligence gathering capabilities and that’s a concern that’s shared by career intelligence officials and so for those reasons I respectfully disagree with the decision.”

Speaking to the conservative-leaning Washington Times newspaper during a Tuesday radio broadcast, Gonzales said that the Bush administration “worked very hard to establish ground rules and parameters” of the torture program.

“[If] people go beyond that, I think it is legitimate to question and examine that conduct to ensure people are held accountable for their actions, even if it’s action in prosecuting the war on terror,” he added on Tuesday, as Raw Story noted.

At his blog The ‘Skeeter Bites Report’, former newspaper editor Skeeter Sanders wrote, “Gonzales’ comments marked a dramatic reversal from remarks the former attorney general made in his earlier interview in Lubbock, Texas with the AP, in which he said that any such investigation ‘could discourage’ CIA operatives from ‘engaging in conduct that even comes close’ to department guidelines.”

“Gonzales said at the time that he had talked to CIA attorneys who had heard from the spy agency’s operatives,” Sanders added. “‘They’re very, very concerned about the legal liability and legal exposure,’ he told the AP. ‘And that’s the danger with launching some kind of investigation. But, again, this is a decision that’s got to be made by the current attorney general.’”

John Dean believes Ridge was ‘pressured’ to back down on threat alert claims

Author and one-time Nixon White House counsel John Dean believes that former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge may have been “pressured” to back down from the assertion in his new book that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Attorney General John Ashcroft pressed him to raise the terrorism threat level just before the 2004 election for political reasons.

“He did indeed imply a rather serious criminal charge if this conduct indeed had been undertaken,” Dean told MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann on Wednesday. “So I think there’s a lot of reasons he probably has backed off, and political pressure from the Bush clan is probably part of the reason.”

Ridge attempted to explain to MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Tuesday that he wondered at the time if the motive might be political, but “at the end of the day” he concluded that “politics wasn’t involved.” He also insisted that both the jacket copy and the publisher’s website misrepresent what is actually in his book.

Dean, however, is not convinced by Ridge’s protestations. “It is quite clear,” he told Olbermann, “when you listen to him on Rachel last night, he’s saying, ‘Read my book, read my book.’ You read his book and he’s saying exactly the opposite of what he’s saying now.”

“I would suspect the fact that Rumsfeld and Ashcroft came out and hit him pretty hard has affected his thinking on this whole matter,” Dean added with a chuckle. “He doesn’t seem as clear on what he wrote now that they’ve spoken out on the issue.”

“It’s difficult for me to believe that Ridge was not sent this copy and did not approve it before it went on the jacket,” Dean added. “So I’m kind of baffled by him backing off of it — other than the fact he’s being pressured to back off of it.”

When Olbermann asked whether Ridge should have been aware that the statements in his book amounted to claims of a criminal visolation, Dean pointed out that Ridge is a former US Attorney, and that “theoretically, he would know about Title 18 371, which is the conspiracy to defraud the government by abusing or misusing its agencies for, in this instance, political purposes.”

“It’s what happened to a lot of people in Watergate,” Dean commented. “It’s what happened in Iran-Contra. And it’s difficult for me not to believe he didn’t know about it, and I think this is one of those ‘oops, maybe I shouldn’t have said that’ — and so he’s recalibrating now and backing down from it.”

But, as Michael Scherer points out at the Swampland blog, that doesn’t amount to “backpedaling,” as at least one newspaper described it.

Scherer says Ridge may have simply been side-swiped by his publisher’s marketing strategy.

He points out that “in a press release on its website, Ridge’s publisher, Thomas Dunne Books, announced that the book would reveal: ‘How Ridge effectively thwarted a plan to raise the national security alert just before the 2004 Election’.”

“Did Ridge backpedal? No. What occurred was a classic sales job by a publisher trying to sell books. The press fell for it, embarrassed itself, and is now blaming Ridge for all the confusion, which makes everything more embarrassing,” Scherer writes.

At Swampland, Scherer argues that Ridge’s suspicion of political motivations was blown up by the media into an assumption that he had been pressured to raise the threat level — a claim Ridge never made.

This video is from MSNBC’s Countdown, broadcast Sept. 2, 2009.

Download video via RawReplay.com

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A Window Into C.I.A.’s Embrace of Secret Jails

August 13, 2009 by admin  
Filed under Featured Stories, US News, World News


Published: August 12, 2009

WASHINGTON — In March 2003, two C.I.A. officials surprised Kyle D. Foggo, then the chief of the agency’s main European supply base, with an unusual request. They wanted his help building secret prisons to hold some of the world’s most threatening terrorists.

Mr. Foggo, nicknamed Dusty, was known inside the agency as a cigar-waving, bourbon-drinking operator, someone who could get a cargo plane flying anywhere in the world or quickly obtain weapons, food, money — whatever the C.I.A. needed. His unit in Frankfurt, Germany, was strained by the spy agency’s operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, but Mr. Foggo agreed to the assignment.

“It was too sensitive to be handled by headquarters,” he said in an interview. “I was proud to help my nation.”

With that, Mr. Foggo went on to oversee construction of three detention centers, each built to house about a half-dozen detainees, according to former intelligence officials and others briefed on the matter. One jail was a renovated building on a busy street in Bucharest, Romania, the officials disclosed. Another was a steel-beam structure at a remote site in Morocco that was apparently never used. The third, another remodeling project, was outside another former Eastern bloc city. They were designed to appear identical, so prisoners would be disoriented and not know where they were if they were shuttled back and forth. They were kept in isolated cells.

The existence of the network of prisons to detain and interrogate senior operatives of Al Qaeda has long been known, but details about them have been a closely guarded secret. In recent interviews, though, several former intelligence officials have provided a fuller account of how they were built, where they were located and life inside them.

Mr. Foggo acknowledged a role, which has never been previously reported. He pleaded guilty last year to a fraud charge involving a contractor that equipped the C.I.A. jails and provided other supplies to the agency, and he is now serving a three-year sentence in a Kentucky prison.

The C.I.A. prisons would become one of the Bush administration’s most extraordinary counterterrorism programs, but setting them up was fairly mundane, according to the intelligence officials.

Mr. Foggo relied on C.I.A. finance officers, engineers and contract workers to build the jails. As they neared completion, he turned to a small company linked to Brent R. Wilkes, an old friend and a San Diego military contractor.

The business provided toilets, plumbing equipment, stereos, video games, bedding, night vision goggles, earplugs and wrap-around sunglasses. Some products were bought at Target and Wal-Mart, among other vendors, and flown overseas. Nothing exotic was required for the infamous waterboards — they were built on the spot from locally available materials, the officials said.

Mr. Foggo, 55, would not discuss classified details about the jails. He was not charged with wrongdoing in connection with the secret prisons, but instead accused of steering other C.I.A. business to Mr. Wilkes’ companies in exchange for expensive vacations and other favors. Before leaving the C.I.A. in 2006, he had become its third-highest official, and his plea was an embarrassment for the agency.

After the 2001 terrorist attacks, the intelligence world’s embrace of dark-of-night snatch-and-grabs, hidden prisons and interrogation tactics that critics condemned as torture has stained the C.I.A.’s reputation and led to legal challenges, investigations and internal divisions that may take years to resolve. The Justice Department is now considering opening a criminal investigation, with much of the attention focused on the agency’s network of secret prisons, which have become known as the “black sites.”

From Fringes to Spotlight

The demands of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan had transformed Mr. Foggo from a fringe player into the C.I.A.’s indispensable man. Before the 9/11 attacks, the Frankfurt base was a relatively sleepy resupply center, running one or two flights a month to outlying stations. Within days of the attacks, Mr. Foggo had a budget of $7 million, which quickly tripled.

He managed dozens of employees, directing nearly daily flights of cargo planes loaded with pallets of supplies, including saddles, bridles and horse feed for the mounted tribal forces that the spy agency recruited. Within weeks, he emptied the C.I.A.’s stockpile of AK-47s and ammunition at a Midwest depot.

He was a logical choice for the prison project: aggressive, resourceful, patriotic, ready to dispense a favor; some inside the C.I.A. jokingly compared him to Milo Minderbinder, the fictional character who rose from mess hall officer to the black-market magnate of Joseph Heller’s World War II novel “Catch-22.”

Early in the fight against Al Qaeda, agency officials relied heavily on American allies to help detain people suspected of terrorism in makeshift facilities in countries like Thailand. But by the time two C.I.A. officials met with Mr. Foggo in 2003, that arrangement was under threat, according to people briefed on the situation. In Thailand, for example, local officials were said to be growing uneasy about a black site outside Bangkok code-named Cat’s Eye. (The agency would eventually change the code name for the Thai prison, fearing it would appear racially insensitive.) The C.I.A. wanted its own, more permanent detention centers.

Eventually, the agency’s network would encompass at least eight detention centers, including one in the Middle East, one each in Iraq and Afghanistan and a maximum-security long-term site at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, that was dubbed Strawberry Fields, officials said. (It was named after a Beatles song after C.I.A. officials joked that the detainees would be held there, as the lyric put it, “forever.”)

The C.I.A. has never officially disclosed the exact number of prisoners it once held, but top officials have put the figure at fewer than 100.

At the detention centers Mr. Foggo helped build, several former intelligence officials said, the jails were small, and though they were built to house about a half-dozen detainees they rarely held more than four.

The cells were constructed with special features to prevent injury to the prisoners during interrogations: nonslip floors and flexible, plywood-covered walls to soften the impact of being slammed into the wall.

The detainees, held in cells far enough apart to prevent communication with one another, were kept in solitary confinement 23 hours a day. For their one hour of daily exercise, they were taken out of their cells by C.I.A. security officers wearing black ski masks to hide their identities and to intimidate the detainees, according to the intelligence officials.

Just like prisons in the United States, the jailers imposed a reward and punishment system: well-behaved detainees received books, DVDs and other forms of entertainment, which were taken away if they misbehaved, the officials said.

C.I.A. analysts served 90-day tours at the prison sites to assist the interrogations. But by the time the new prisons were built in mid-2003 or later, the harshest C.I.A. interrogation practices — including waterboarding — had been discontinued.

Winning a Promotion

Mr. Foggo’s success in Frankfurt, including his work on the prisons, won him a promotion back in Washington. In November 2004, he was named the C.I.A.’s executive director, in effect its day-to-day administrative chief.

The appointment raised some eyebrows at the agency. “It was like taking a senior NCO and telling him he now runs the regiment,” said A. B. Krongard, the C.I.A.’s executive director from 2001 to 2004. “It popped people’s eyes.”

Mr. Foggo soon became embroiled in agency infighting. The C.I.A. was reeling from criticism that it had exaggerated Iraq’s weapons programs. Mr. Foggo came to Washington as part of a new team that almost immediately began firing top C.I.A. officials, causing anger among veteran clandestine officers. Mr. Foggo’s fast rise and blunt approach unsettled some headquarters officials, according to Brant G. Bassett, a former agency officer and friend who served with Mr. Foggo.

“Dusty went in there with a blowtorch,” Mr. Bassett said. “Some people were overjoyed, but there were a few others who said, we’ve got to take this guy down.”

In 2005, before he came under investigation, Mr. Foggo and other officials, including John Rizzo, the agency’s top lawyer, paid a rare visit to some of the prison sites, assuring C.I.A. employees that their activities were legal, according to former intelligence officials. Mr. Foggo also met with representatives of Eastern European security services that had helped with the prisons. He expressed gratitude and offered assistance — a gesture the officials politely declined.

In February 2007, Mr. Foggo and Mr. Wilkes were indicted. Prosecutors believed that the C.I.A. had paid an inflated price to Archer Logistics, a business connected to Mr. Wilkes that had a $1.7 million C.I.A. supply contract. In return, the prosecutors claimed, Mr. Wilkes had taken Mr. Foggo on expensive vacations, paid for his meals at expensive restaurants and promised him a lucrative job when he retired.

“I was taking a trip with my best friend,” Mr. Foggo said in his defense. “It looked bad, but we had been taking trips together since we were 17 years old.”

Mr. Foggo said he had turned to Mr. Wilkes’ companies to bypass the cumbersome C.I.A. bureaucracy, not to provide a sweetheart deal to his oldest friend. “I needed something done by someone I trusted in private industry,” Mr. Foggo said.

Downfall in Court

Mr. Wilkes maintains his innocence, but he was eventually convicted in a bribery scandal involving former Representative Randall Cunningham of California. Mr. Foggo pleaded guilty and is serving a sentence on the fraud count, but he still maintains that he was unfairly prosecuted.

His lawyer, Mark J. MacDougall, said he believed that Mr. Foggo’s legal problems stemmed in part from controversies over his stint as executive director. “Nobody ever accused Dusty Foggo of putting a dime in his pocket, failing to do his job, or compromising national security,” Mr. MacDougall said. “Dusty may have made some mistakes, but this case was driven by professional animosity at C.I.A. and personal ambition.”

When Mr. Foggo’s lawyers tried unsuccessfully to obtain access to agency files about his role in the prison program, prosecutors complained that he was trying to disclose a secret program. Mr. Foggo claimed that he was reluctant to divulge his role in classified programs and pleaded guilty, in part, to avoid revealing his secrets.

In an Aug. 1, 2007, letter, a C.I.A. lawyer informed Mr. Foggo’s lawyers that they could not review any classified files related to the prisons. The agency’s letter concluded, “In light of the president’s statements regarding the extraordinary value and sensitivity of the C.I.A. terrorist detention and interrogation program, the C.I.A. denies your request in its entirety.”

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Secret cables may show doctors monitored CIA torture

May 28, 2009 by admin  
Filed under Featured Stories, World News

Published: May 28, 2009
Updated 8 hours ago

(Getty Images/AP Photo, U.S. Central Command)

The non-profit investigative journalism site ProPublica is reporting today that cables sent to CIA headquarters detailing the waterboarding of captured al Qaeda member Abu Zubaydah in August 2002 may indicate that doctors were involved in monitoring his torture. This would be in violation of medical ethics. The cables themselves remain secret, but summary descriptions released under the Freedom of Information Act show a daily “medical update” on the detainee’s condition.

The full ProPublica story follows.

Doctors may have monitored torture, CIA files show

By Sheryl Fink

Evidence is emerging that medical personnel monitored the medical effects of the waterboarding of Abu Zubaydah, the al-Qaida operative who was, according to government reports, subjected to the near-drowning at least 83 times in August 2002.

The new information comes from descriptions of cables, classified as top secret and relating to the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, that were transmitted from a Central Intelligence Agency field station to the agency’s Langley, Va., headquarters nearly every day between Aug. 1 and Aug. 18 that year.

The descriptions of the cables (here and here) reveal that a daily “medical update” and “behavioral comments” along with status and threat updates were sent to CIA headquarters throughout that period. On five occasions between Aug. 4 and Aug. 9, an additional cable was sent containing “medical information” along with such information as the strategies for interrogation sessions, raw intelligence, the use of interrogation techniques to elicit information, and the reactions to those techniques. The fact that medical information was included in these cables hints that Abu Zubaydah was medically monitored during or after being subjected to those techniques. Both professional organizations and human rights groups have rejected as unethical any monitoring role for medical personnel.

A summary of the 34 cables and of a handwritten log book were released to the American Civil Liberties Union earlier this month on orders of U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein, who is presiding over a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by the group. The lawsuit was based on a request for records related to detainee treatment that the ACLU and four other advocacy groups made of the U.S. Departments of Defense, Justice and State and the CIA in 2003. The new summary, known as a Vaughn Index, was released in response to a motion that the ACLU filed in 2007 after then-CIA director Michael Hayden acknowledged that the agency had destroyed videotapes of detainee interrogations in 2005.

The cables themselves have not been made public, and the agency is contesting their release. In response to a request for more detail on the medical information included in the cables and the reasons that information was transmitted from the field site to CIA headquarters, CIA spokesman Paul Gimigliano wrote in an e-mail to ProPublica: “The materials speak for themselves.”

The U.S. Department of Justice gave the ACLU other documents this month that suggest the cables are among nearly 550 interrogation-related cables sent from field stations to CIA headquarters between April and December 2002. Among those analyzing the new documents are National Public Radio’s Ari Shapiro, the Washington Independent’s Spencer Ackerman and Firedoglake’s Marcy

The documents are the latest installment of an ongoing story about the role of doctors and psychologists in the government’s efforts to pry information from suspected terrorists. Professional organizations of doctors, nurses, public health practitioners and psychologists have stated their opposition to health professionals’ involvement in torture. “The AMA has taken the clear stand that the participation of physicians in torture and interrogation is a violation of core ethical values,” the American Medical Association said in a statement last Friday. Last month, the AMA sent a letter to President Barack Obama reiterating, as it did during the Bush administration, that the association’s ethical code prohibits physicians from participating in torture or coercive interrogation.

However, there is evidence that health personnel, at least some of them physicians, have been involved in interrogations. For example Col. Thomas M. Pappas, former chief of military intelligence at Abu Ghraib, who was interviewed as part of the Taguba investigation, testified that a psychiatrist and another doctor monitored interrogations at the prison and had the final say in what aspects of the interrogation plan were implemented.

The question raised by the cables is, How deep was the involvement of physicians or other health professionals in the actual interrogations at CIA “black sites” such as the one where Abu Zubaydah was held?

Previously released documents show that Bush officials overseeing the waterboarding of Abu Zubaydah saw the involvement of medical personnel as crucial because it could help prevent prosecution of interrogators under U.S. law. As ProPublica previously reported, Assistant Attorney General Jay S. Bybee signed a memo on August 1, 2002 spelling out those concerns and the terms under which
interrogators could waterboard and slap Abu Zubaydah, subject him to “cramped confinement” and stress positions, and shove him into flexible walls.

“The constant presence of personnel with medical training who have the authority to stop the interrogation should it appear it is medically necessary indicates that it is not your intent to cause severe physical pain,” the memo said.

Abu Zubaydah began cooperating in late April under questioning by Ali Soufan, a Federal Bureau of Investigation agent who said he did not use coercive methods. In congressional testimony this month, Soufan disclosed that there was a “CIA medical team supporting us” when he and other FBI and CIA personnel first spoke with Abu Zubaydah. Soufan said the medical team insisted that Abu Zubaydah, who was injured during capture and in danger of dying, be taken to a hospital for treatment.

It is unclear whether the same CIA medical team that evaluated Abu Zubaydah’s health problems in the spring was still caring for him in August when he was waterboarded. Nor is it clear precisely how health personnel might have been asked to cross the line from providing medical care to participating in or supporting the interrogations, which Soufan and other sources have described as becoming increasingly abusive under the instruction of a former military Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and
Escape (SERE) training psychologist contracted by the CIA. Soufan and others, including another psychologist employed by the CIA, protested the escalating techniques and left the site. The new documents do not indicate whether medical personnel might also have objected.

In a cover letter accompanying the new Vaughn Index, acting U.S. attorney Lev L. Dassin wrote, “The Government is … acknowledging that August 2002 was the month during which Abu Zubaydah was subjected to the most intensive interrogations.” An Aug. 4, 2002, cable with the subject “Abu Zubaydah Interrogation” is a typical entry in the Vaughn Index:

This is a four-page cable from the Field to CIA Headquarters. The cable includes information concerning the strategies for interrogation sessions; the use of interrogation techniques to elicit information on terrorist operations against the U.S.; reactions to the interrogation techniques; raw intelligence; a status of threat information, and medical information.

The news that medical information was being transmitted regularly to CIA headquarters throughout the time Abu Zubaydah was being repeatedly waterboarded troubled medical ethics experts interviewed by ProPublica. Normally, health professionals who work at U.S. prisons share inmates’ medical information with authorities only “if there’s a need to know; for example if someone has a seizure disorder, we put in a medical order for a bottom bunk,” Dr. Dean Rieger, chief medical officer for Correct Care Solutions, a healthcare management company for correctional facilities, said in an interview with ProPublica. Rieger, who has been involved in corrections for more than three decades and who coauthors a column on medical ethics for the Society of Correctional Physicians, said it would be problematic to continue sharing an inmate’s medical information with authorities overseeing a system “that creates the harm in the first place.”

University of Pennsylvania bioethicist Arthur Caplan agreed. At that point, “you gotta start protesting and stop transmitting,” he said in an interview. “The issue isn’t privacy violations, it’s complicity … You’re part of the torture team at that point if you’re assessing injuries and saying whether the person’s capable of enduring more.”

Legal memos written in 2005 suggest the CIA had reached precisely the opposite conclusion — that waterboarding and other harsh interrogations should involve personnel from the CIA’s Office of Medical Services, including its physicians.

A recently declassified Justice Department memo discussed the involvement the OMS eventually had in supporting interrogations. That memo, quoting still-classified OMS guidelines from December 2004, said that the “use of the waterboard requires the presence of a physician.” Another memo said that OMS doctors and psychologists had been consulted about the effects of using several techniques together, such as “when an insult slap is simultaneously combined with water dousing or a kneeling stress position, or when wall standing is simultaneously combined with an abdominal slap and water dousing” and concluded they would not cause severe pain.

Medical personnel were also given the responsibility of monitoring the interrogations for safety. “Should it appear at any time that Abu Zubaydah is experiencing severe pain or suffering, the medical personnel on hand will stop the use of any technique,” Bybee’s 2002 memo said.

It is unclear whether the “medical personnel” designated to monitor Abu Zubaydah’s interrogation included M.D.s. “There is no role for physicians in those practices,” Dr. Otmar Kloiber, secretary-general of the World Medical Association, told ProPublica. Kloiber said that physician involvement in interrogations increases the chances that questioning will devolve into abuse and torture. A physician’s reassuring presence can give questioners a green light to escalate physical and mental pressure.

In a confidential International Committee of the Red Cross report made public by New York Review of Books contributor Mark Danner last month, Abu Zubaydah described to ICRC interviewers days of being waterboarded to the point he believed he would die, slammed into hard and flexible walls, and confined in a small box where one of his wounds reopened and began to bleed. “Eventually,” Abu Zubaydah said, “the torture was stopped by the intervention of the doctor.”

The ICRC report also reveals that other detainees who spent time in the CIA’s black sites perceived that some staff who treated them or monitored their interrogations were physicians.

The potential presence of physicians as opposed to other types of personnel raises crucial questions.

Numerous officials, both Republican and Democrat, have characterized waterboarding as torture. There is widespread agreement among doctors — whether employed by the military, other government agencies, or not — that ethical standards prohibit physicians from using medical knowledge or information about patients to support torture.

The World Medical Association, which lists 85 countries including the U.S. as members, was established in 1947 to uphold independence and ethical behavior among physicians after the horrors of Nazi medicine were revealed. It is arguably the world’s key arbiter of medical ethics.

Earlier this month, the group’s governing council issued a resolution reaffirming the group’s long-standing position that physicians are forbidden from “participating in, or even being present during, the practice of torture or other forms of cruel, inhuman, or degrading procedures” and must denounce those acts whenever they’re aware of them.

According to officials from the WMA and the Norwegian Medical Association, which put forward the resolution, the original draft made specific reference to U.S. detention facilities. At the WMA council meeting in Jerusalem earlier this month, intense discussion ensued between normally staid physicians over whether to remove mention of the U.S. and make the language more generic.

WMA officials declined to say who took up which side.

“It got heated enough I had to call a short recess and have a cooling-off period,” WMA chair Dr. Edward Hill told ProPublica. Hill, a former president of the American Medical Association, said the U.S. delegation stayed out of the debate.

But the American delegation made its views clear, according to Dr. Trond Markestad, who drafted the original resolution and who chairs the ethics committee in the Norwegian Medical Association. “They felt it was a bit unfair, wasn’t really correct, to single out that one [example] since there were so many wars going on and so many things happening all over the world and since they’d already addressed this nationally.”

The final version of the WMA resolution passed unanimously after language naming the U.S. was removed. The resolution condemns “reports worldwide” of “deeply unsettling practices by health professionals, including direct participation in the infliction of ill-treatment, monitoring specific methods of ill-treatment, and participation in interrogation processes.”

The group also resolved to support physicians who refuse to participate in or condone torture. Kloiber told ProPublica that WMA members are concerned, for example, that physicians in areas where sharia law is adopted are being asked to carry out punishments such as amputations.

The WMA resolution calls on national medical associations, such as the AMA, to investigate breaches of fundamental medical ethics among physicians. But the AMA has not made public whether its ethics and judicial body has ever investigated or sanctioned physicians for participating in torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

Last Friday, the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York launched an advocacy campaign that aims “to hold accountable healers that have harmed.” The group is encouraging citizens to file complaints against health professionals suspected of participating in torture and to support legislation, such as a proposed bill in New York state, that prohibits health professionals from participating in torture or the improper treatment of prisoners at home or abroad.

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Rove to be questioned by prosecutors on US attorney scandal

May 15, 2009 by admin  
Filed under Featured Stories, US News

Published: May 14, 2009
Updated 3 hours ago

Karl Rove, former political adviser to George W. Bush, will be interviewed Friday by prosecutors as part of an ongoing investigation into the politically motivated firing of U.S. attorneys during the Bush administration.

“He will be questioned tomorrow by Connecticut prosecutor Nora R. Dannehy, who was named last year to examine whether any former senior Justice Department and White House officials lied or obstructed justice in connection with the dismissal of federal prosecutors in 2006,” reported The Washington Post.

Rove’s attorney, Robert Luskin, declined the Post’s request for comment.

Dannehy was appointed to investigate the U.S. attorneys scandal in Sept. 2008 by then-Attorney General Michael Mukasey.

“Dannehy mostly has operated in the shadows, quietly issuing subpoenas for documents through a federal grand jury in the District,” the Post continued. “But in recent weeks she has interviewed other former government aides, including White House political deputies Scott Jennings and Sarah Taylor. She also has reached out to representatives for former Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) and his chief of staff, Steve Bell, in an effort to determine whether New Mexico U.S. Attorney David C. Iglesias was removed for improper political reasons.

“The firings were the subject of a lengthy report released last fall by the Justice Department’s inspector general and the department’s Office of Professional Responsibility. Investigators there uncovered improper political motivations in the firings of several of the nine dismissed federal prosecutors.”

“The 356-page report, prepared by the department’s inspector general and its Office of Professional Responsibility, provides the fullest account to date of a scandal that dogged the Bush administration for months last year over accusations that it had politicized the federal justice system by ousting prosecutors seen as disloyal,” reported The New York Times.

“It provided particular detail in the dismissal of David C. Iglesias, a former New Mexico prosecutor who was let go at the prodding of Republican leaders in Washington and New Mexico who were dissatisfied with his work in investigating accusations against Democrats. Despite the denials of the Bush administration, the political pressure was ‘the real reason’ for Mr. Iglesias’s dismissal, the report said.”

Dannehy led the prosecution of John G. Rowland, the former Republican governor of Connecticut who plead guilty to taking bribes. Rowland was governor of Connecticut from 1995 to 2004.

“Because of the litany of public corruption cases Dannehy, 47, has prosecuted, she has a reputation as a pitbull, say attorneys,” reported The Wall Street Journal.

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Report: much of 9/11 Commission’s findings cite intelligence garnered by torture

May 14, 2009 by admin  
Filed under Featured Stories, US News

Published: May 13, 2009
Updated 5 hours ago

Much of the material cited in the 9/11 Commission’s findings was derived from terror war detainees during brutal CIA interrogations authorized by the Bush administration, according to a Wednesday report.

“More than one-quarter of all footnotes in the 9/11 Report refer to CIA interrogations of al Qaeda operatives subjected to the now-controversial interrogation techniques,” writes former NBC producer Robert Windrem in The Daily Beast. “In fact, information derived from the interrogations was central to the 9/11 Report’s most critical chapters, those on the planning and execution of the attacks.”

“… [Information] derived from the interrogations is central to the Report’s most critical chapters, those on the planning and execution of the attacks,” reported NBC. “The analysis also shows – and agency and commission staffers concur – there was a separate, second round of interrogations in early 2004, done specifically to answer new questions from the Commission.

“9/11 Commission staffers say they ‘guessed’ but did not know for certain that harsh techniques had been used, and they were concerned that the techniques had affected the operatives’ credibility. At least four of the operatives whose interrogation figured in the 9/11 Commission Report have claimed that they told interrogators critical information as a way to stop being ‘tortured.’ The claims came during their hearings last spring at the U.S. military facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.”

“Commission executive director Philip Zelikow (later counselor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice) admitted, ‘We were not aware, but we guessed, that things like that were going on. We were wary…we tried to find different sources to enhance our credibility,’” Windrem continued. “(Zelikow testified before the Senate on Wednesday, May 13, that he had argued in a 2005 memo that some of the tactics used on suspected terrorists violated the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment.)”

He adds: “At least four operatives whose interrogation figured in the 9/11 Commission Report have claimed that they told interrogators critical information as a way to stop being ‘tortured.’ Those claims came during their hearings in the spring of 2007 at the U.S. military facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.”

Philip Zelikow, a former colleague of then-National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice, was appointed executive director of the 9/11 Commission despite his close ties to the Bush White House, and he remained in regular contact with Rove while overseeing the commission, according to New York Times reporter Philip Shenon’s new book, The Commission: The Uncensored History of the 9/11 Investigation.

Shenon, who led the Times coverage of the 9/11 Commission and still writes for the paper, based his book on myriad interviews with staffers and members of the commission, according to Holland. In addition to his ties to Rice and Rove, Zelikow had been the “architect” of a plan to demote Clinton-era counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke, who sounded the alarm about Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda months before the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks they perpetrated.

Zelikow “had laid the groundwork for much of what went wrong at the White House in the weeks and months before September 11. Would he want people to know that?” Shenon writes, according to Holland’s summary.

Shenon also reports that Zelikow received at least two calls from Rove while serving as 9/11 Commission executive director, and he made numerous calls to the White House, Holland says.

Zelikow has not denied speaking to Rove, but he apparently claimed their conversations involved his old job as director of the University of Virginia’s Miller Center of Public Affairs.

9/11 Commission members Thomas Kean and Lee H. Hamilton wrote that although US President George W. Bush had ordered all executive branch agencies to cooperate with the probe, “recent revelations that the CIA destroyed videotaped interrogations of Qaeda operatives leads us to conclude that the agency failed to respond to our lawful requests for information about the 9/11 plot.”

“Those who knew about those videotapes — and did not tell us about them — obstructed our investigation.”

They continued: “There could have been absolutely no doubt in the mind of anyone at the CIA — or the White House — of the commission’s interest in any and all information related to Qaeda detainees involved in the 9/11 plot.

“Yet no one in the administration ever told the commission of the existence of videotapes of detainee interrogations,” Kean and Hamilton wrote.

They said the panel made repeated, detailed requests to the spy agency in 2003 and 2004 for information about the interrogation of members of the Islamic extremist network but were never notified about the existence of the tapes.

The CIA has since revealed that in 2005 it destroyed videotapes of prisoners being tortured.

“I’m not a lawyer and I’m not sure if they broke the law or not but what they did do, I think, is try to impede our investigation,” said Kean. “Because we asked for…anything to do with those detainees, because they were the ones who knew most about the plot of 9/11 and that was our mandate.”

He continued: “We asked for every single thing that they had, and then my vice chairman, Lee Hamilton, looked the director of the CIA in the face and said, ‘look, even if we haven’t asked for something, if it’s pertinent to our investigation, make it available to us.’ And our staff asked again and again of their staff and the tapes were not given to us. So there was no question.”

In a telephone survey of 1200 individuals, just 47% agreed that “the 9/11 attacks were thoroughly investigated and that any speculation about US government involvement is nonsense.” Almost as many, 45%, indicated they were more likely to agree “that so many unanswered questions about 9/11 remain that Congress or an International Tribunal should re-investigate the attacks, including whether any US government officials consciously allowed or helped facilitate their success.”

A number of widows of the victims of attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 said the 9/11 Commission was a failure for not addressing all the concerns and questions about the day’s events. They have called for a new, independent commission to probe the real history of that day.

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Bush lawyer advocated for jury nullification, presidential pardons for torturers

May 8, 2009 by admin  
Filed under Featured Stories, US News

Published: May 6, 2009
Updated 1 day ago

Investigative report Murray Waas uncovered a bit of haunting truth from the past of John Yoo, one of the key Bush Administration advocates for “legal torture.”

Yoo, Waas writes, “who approved harsh interrogation techniques of terror suspects advocated in 2006 that President Bush set aside recommendations by his own Justice Department to bring prosecutions for such practices, that the President should consider pardoning anyone convicted of such offenses, and even that jurors hearing criminal cases about such matters engage in jury nullification.”

Yoo made the comments in his memoir “War by Other Means,” where he advocated that a president could take a number of steps so that people criminally charged with allegedly torturing prisoners would go free.

“There are ways that the legal system could develop effective approaches toward coercive interrogation. A president could decline to prosecute an officer whom he believed properly acted in self-defense or in an emergency, or out of necessity,” Yoo wrote. “A President could pardon those involved. Even if a prosecution occurs, a jury must find that that the defense is not met, and convict the agents and his superiors of violating the law. It would require the only juror to agree that it was reasonable for the defendants to believe the coercive interrogation would yield information that would save lives, and that it would be necessary under the circumstances, to prevent the conviction.”

Adds Waas, “Yoo’s recommendations constitute one of the most compelling pieces of a body of evidence that Yoo and other government attorneys improperly skewed legal advice to allow such practices, according to sources familiar with a still-confidential Justice Department report.”

Waas also reveals new details about the forthcoming Justice Department report. His piece is available here.

Rice gave early ‘waterboarding green light’

April 23, 2009 by admin  
Filed under Featured Stories, World News

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The CIA first sought in May 2002 to use harsh interrogation techniques including waterboarding on terror suspects, and was given key early approval by then-national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, a US Senate intelligence document said.

The agency got the green light to use the near-drowning technique on July 26, 2002, when attorney general John Ashcroft concluded “that the use of waterboarding was lawful,” the Senate Intelligence Committee said in a detailed timeline of the “war on terrorism” interrogations released Wednesday.

Nine days earlier, the panel said, citing Central Intelligence Agency records, Rice had met with then-director George Tenet and “advised that the CIA could proceed with its proposed interrogation of Abu Zubaydah,” the agency’s first high-value Al-Qaeda detainee, pending Justice Department approval.

Rice’s nod is believed to be the earliest known approval by a senior official in the administration of George W. Bush of the intelligence technique which current Attorney General Eric Holder has decried as “torture.”

The Senate panel narrative is the most comprehensive declassified chronology to date of the Bush administration’s support for the highly controversial tactics.

According to the Senate narrative, Rice was among at least half a dozen top Bush officials, including vice president Dick Cheney, who were in 2002 or 2003 debating, approving or reaffirming the legality of the interrogation practices used on Zubaydah and two other terror suspects.

After a July 2003 meeting in which Tenet briefed Rice, Cheney, Ashcroft, then White House counsel Alberto Gonzales and others on the use of waterboarding and other interrogation methods, “the principals reaffirmed that the CIA program was lawful and reflected administration policy,” according to the panel report.

The revelations come amid a raging controversy over whether President Barack Obama would seek prosecutions of Bush officials who devised legal cover for the interrogation tactics.

Last week Obama blew the lid on harsh CIA terror interrogations approved by Bush by releasing four so-called “torture memos” prepared by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel that detailed the tactics, including waterboarding as well as the use of insects and sleep deprivation.

Obama said operatives who carried out the interrogations would not be prosecuted, saying they acted on orders and were defending their country.

The CIA had asked to be able to waterboard Zubaydah, a Saudi-born Palestinian whose real name is Zayn Al Abidin Muhammad Husayn, fearing he was withholding information about “imminent” terrorist attacks, the panel said.

The committee did not wade into the growing controversy over whether so-called “enhanced interrogation” methods used on Zubaydah — who was waterboarded 83 times in August 2002 — yielded solid information.

US forces captured Zubaydah in a late March 2002 firefight in Pakistan, tended to his serious injuries, and began to question him, according to the timeline.

The agency asked senior officials in Washington, including Rice, in mid-May 2002 to discuss the possibility of using methods, including waterboarding, that were rougher than traditional interrogation methods.

The CIA made the request because it “believed that Abu Zubaydah was withholding imminent threat information during the initial interrogation sessions.”

The US Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel orally advised the CIA on July 26, 2002, “that the use of waterboarding was lawful,” a finding it put in writing on August 1, 2002, the timeline said.

A US congressman, Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, spoke out Thursday in an opinion piece against Obama’s decision to release details of the enhanced interrogation techniques, saying “members of Congress from both parties have been fully aware of them since the program began in 2002.”

“We believed it was something that had to be done in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks (of 2001) to keep our nation safe,” Republican Hoekstra wrote in The Wall Street Journal.

“After many long and contentious debates, Congress repeatedly approved and funded this program on a bipartisan basis in both Republican and Democratic Congresses.”

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April 22, 2009 by admin  
Filed under Featured Stories, Technology, World News

xtremeads.jpgThe problem with today’s stun guns is that you can unload a can of electrical whoop-ass only on one person at a time. But that’s starting to change, New Scientist says.

Militaries and their contractors are getting closer to putting the hurt on a whole bunch of people at once, according to the magazine, with “weapons that can incapacitate crowds of people by sweeping a lightning-like beam of electricity across them.”

Currently, stun guns like the Taser “work only at close quarters,” and only effect one person at a time, the magazine notes. That’s because the Taser uses a pair of darts, tethered to a wire, to deliver its electric shock. Range is limited to less than 25 feet.

If they work as planned — a big if — “the new breed of non-lethal weapons can be used on many people at once and operate over far greater distances,” by ditching the wires.

A weapon under development by Rheinmetall, based in D?sseldorf, Germany, creates a conducting channel by using a small explosive charge to squirt a stream of tiny conductive fibres through the air at the victim.

Meanwhile, Xtreme Alternative Defense Systems (XADS), based in Anderson, Indiana, will be one of the first companies to market another type of wireless weapon. Instead of using fibres, the $9000 Close Quarters Shock Rifle projects an ionised gas, or plasma, towards the target, producing a conducting channel. It will also interfere with electronic ignition systems and stop vehicles.

“We will be able to fire a stream of electricity like water out of a hose at one or many targets in a single sweep,” claims XADS president Peter Bitar.

The gun has been designed for the US Marine Corps to use for crowd control and security purposes and is due out next year. It is based on early, unwieldy technology and has a range of only 3 metres, but an operator can debilitate multiple targets by sweeping it across them for “as long as there is an input power source,” says Bitar.

XADS is also planning a more advanced weapon which it hopes will have a range of 100 metres or more. Instead of firing ionised gas, it will probably use a powerful laser to ionise the air itself.

THERE’S MORE: Slashdot is suspicious of XADS — “So, this company has a free-hosting website and and a free-email address for their ‘president,’ and the photo looks like cardboard tubes wrapped with green camouflage tape. Hmmmm.”

AND MORE: The company does have a small business contract with the Navy for a “Personnel Neuromuscular Disruptor Incapacitation System” — awarded November ’02.

AND MORE: Defense Review interviews XADS’ president here.

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