Most infamously, former Area 2 police commander Jon Burge ran literal torture chambers in the Chicago police precincts he commanded. Tactics of Burge’s included wiring detained people to a black box and electrocuting them – rumored to be a method he learned from his Vietnam service, called “the Bell telephone hour” – and beating them over the heads with telephone books. Burge was fired in 1993 for torturing a police murderer, but was only convicted in 2010 – not for his crimes, the statutes of limitations for which expired before prosecutors went after him, but for lying under oath about them.
Burge and Zuley both entered the Chicago police department in the early 1970s. Zuley became a detective in 1977, taking leaves of absences in the mid-80s to work for Naval intelligence and 2002 to interrogate at Guantanamo, before retiring in 2007. But they were assigned to different police areas: Burge at Area 2 on the south side, Zuley on the north side at what was alternatively known as Area 6 and Area 3.
Taylor, the civil rights attorney most associated with pursuing Burge, said he did not know of Burge and Zuley working together. But Chicago’s environment of police impunity has been widespread and persistent, according to criminologists.
From 1976 to 2011, payouts from 85 Illinois wrongful conviction cases, 55 of which were from Chicago, cost state taxpayers $214m. Statistics compiled by the People’s Law Office, Taylor’s civil rights firm focusing on police brutality, indicate that Chicago has paid over $64m in settlements and judgments in civil-rights cases related to Burge’s police abuses alone – though with associated lawyers’ fees, Burge’s estimated $705,000 pension and other city, county, state and even federal expenses, a true total might be closer to $102m.
But as Burge was removed from the force more than two decades ago, Lee Harris was just beginning a 90-year sentence for a major murder case Richard Zuley couldn’t seem to close without him.
“They played me like a fine-tuned fiddle,” Harris told the Guardian from prison in Pontiac, Illinois. “One guy who took me in and I thought was my friend introduced me to Zuley, and it was downhill all the way.”
Two recent events have once again raised the distressing issue of psychologists’ involvement in the Bush Administration torture program and the role of the American Psychological Association in it. A New York Times reporter, James Risen, in his new book, Pay Any Price: Greed, Power, and Endless War, reveals new information on the APA’s conduct in forming its task force on the role of psychologists in detention settings in 2005. The second and far more publicly discussed development is, of course, the recent release of the Executive Summary of the Senate Select Committee Report on Intelligence. Making public the Executive Summary of the report of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is the first public admission by the US government that it has conducted a policy of torture in detention centers around the globe. The report identifies two psychologists who contracted with the CIA to use torture techniques to extract information from detainees. Although the names of the psychologists are pseudonymed, they are known to be James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen.
The release of the Executive Summary is a step toward transparency in an area of US foreign policy that the government has tried to hide from the American people since its inception in 2002. Furthermore, it renewed national attention on our policy of torture, one of the dark episodes of US international relations. For those two reasons, making the summary public is a welcome shift in government policy.
However, there are potentially negative consequences to the release of the report that, although little discussed, need to be a focal point for any effort to uncover the truth about psychologists’ participation in the torture program. While the systematic use of torture at Guantanamo is documented in the published summary of the Senate committee report, the role of psychologists other than Mitchell and Jessen is not mentioned. Although it is possible that other psychologists are identified in the classified report itself that is, apparently, three times as long as the executive summary, the public has been made aware only of Mitchell and Jessen, owners of a Washington based consulting firm. They contracted with the CIA for $181 million to conduct “enhanced interrogations,” $81 million of which was disbursed to their company before the contract was pulled. While Mitchell and Jessen deserve all the public scrutiny and criticism directed to them for teaching, promoting, and using illegal and unethical torture techniques in their so-called “interrogation methods,” the exclusive spotlight on them has the potentially deleterious consequence of diverting attention from the widespread participation of psychologists in consulting on, and in at least one case participating in, torture at Guantanamo and other detention sites.
Another enlightening but difficult true story about the native influence of hallucinogenics in the life of everyday people and their positive and negative influences. Financial Times gets extra points for putting so much effort in this tale from Brasil.
So this is what the murder scene looks like. There, on the sun-dappled driveway, is where the shots were fired; here, at the top of the hill with its astonishing view of São Paulo, is the mausoleum where the bodies, currently in a public burial ground, will one day be laid; there, just beyond the children playing football on the lawn, is the murdered artist’s studio, since closed; and here, at the edge of the property, lies his church, still very much open. Beatriz, his widow, shows me all this when I visit her one day, and as we enter her house she stops by a giant poster hung on the patio wall. Two words are stencilled across it: “Glauco Vive!”
Glauco Villas Boas and his son Raoni, a university student, were shot and killed in their house at Osasco, a suburb of São Paulo, on March 12 2010. Glauco, 53, was one of Brazil’s best-known cartoonists. Lesser known, at first, was also his iridescent inner life as the leader of the Céu de Maria church, part of the Santo Daime congregation that treats ayahuasca, a psychedelic Amazonian brew, as a sacrament. Charged with the murder was Carlos Eduardo Sundfeld Nunes, known as Cadu. A troubled young man from an upper-class Brazilian family, Cadu, then 24, had joined the religious rituals directed by Glauco in search of relief and healing from his problems of drug abuse.
The story of Glauco’s murder had anchored itself in my mind when I first stumbled across it, and I had not been able to let it go. In part, my interest stemmed from Glauco’s fame. Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Brazil’s then-president, spoke of his great sadness and the “tremendous loss” of this “great chronicler of Brazilian society” when he learnt of Glauco’s death. More than 1,000 people attended the funeral, Beatriz told me.
But in large part my morbid interest in Glauco’s death stemmed from its ambiguous context (why had a friend shot him?), the role of the ayahuasca tea that Glauco administered as part of his faith and, in particular, the tea’s growing popularity outside Brazil. In the US and Europe, interest in ayahuasca has soared of late, creating a subculture of New Age spiritual seekers — and a following among not a few millionaire environmentalists. As a writer for The New York Times style section noted recently, it has become “exceedingly trendy”, a salve for those seeking dream-time in a world increasingly dominated by screen-time.
Among public figures, Isabel Allende, the Chilean novelist, has said ayahuasca helped her conquer writer’s block. Sting, the musician, and Oliver Stone, the film-maker, have made similar claims. Jeffrey Bronfman, a descendent of the family that founded the Seagram brewing empire, leads an ayahuasca church out of Santa Fe, New Mexico. “The tea is really an instrument to help us get in touch with our own spiritual nature,” he told US National Public Radio in 2013. When Kira Salak, a National Geographic reporter, described how an ayahuasca healing session in Peru cured her of a life-long depression, the article became the most read in the magazine’s online history.
There have been many other reports of mental and physical healing following ayahuasca ceremonies, as well as occasional stories of delusion, cultism and worse. Early last year, Henry Miller, a 19-year-old Briton, died after apparently taking part in a shamanic ayahuasca ritual in Colombia — a terrible accident which played in the British press as a cautionary tale of a gap-year adventure that went horribly wrong. And then there is Glauco’s story, largely unreported outside Brazil, although it is one of the most curious cases of them all.
When Glauco was shot, the news spread like wildfire across the Brazilian media. Commentators bewailed the death of a man whose bawdy cartoon characters had become embedded in the Brazilian psyche in much the same way that Charles M Schulz’s Peanuts cartoon strip defined the popular culture of a generation in the US.
“His drawings were very simple, almost 2D, like puppet theatre,” said Laerte Coutinho, a celebrated cartoonist and one of Glauco’s longtime collaborators. “They were also unique. Anyone could imitate his simple style but not his ideas. He was inspired.”
Amid the mourning that immediately followed Glauco’s murder — Folha de São Paulo, the national newspaper that published his work, left only white space where its cartoons normally appeared — news coverage at first maintained a respectful attitude towards ayahuasca and Glauco’s Santo Daime church. That changed abruptly after the police caught Cadu while he was trying to escape to Paraguay. Glauco’s captured murderer told TV reporters that he had wanted to kidnap the cartoonist to prove to his family that his younger brother was, in fact, Jesus Christ. Worse, Cadu’s father and lawyer both claimed that Cadu, whose mother was schizophrenic, had gone “psycho” after joining Glauco’s rituals.
What had been a national tragedy now turned into a heated debate about ayahuasca or daime as it is also known. Although legal in Brazil since 1992, because of its deep roots in indigenous shamanistic practice, ayahuasca is mostly only tolerated in what remains an essentially conservative country. Época, a popular glossy magazine, asked on its front cover: “Did daime provoke the crime?” Veja, another, splashed: “The psychotic and daime: up to what point should a hallucinogenic drug be used in the rituals of a sect?”
Five years later, Glauco’s tragic death can still be seen as just another confirmation of the risks of taking drugs. Yet his murder and its ensnarement with a potent psychedelic is also a story about the perils of first impressions, as became clear when I met Beatriz. She had been reticent to talk to a journalist again after so much heated press coverage, and it had taken me several months of emails before she agreed to see me. But now we were sitting in the tidy living room of the house that she and Glauco had built next to their church almost two decades ago.
“I am not angry with Cadu. How can I be? He was crazy,” Beatriz said, her cheeks flushed with emotion as she described the awful events of that day: how Cadu had burst into her home and pistol-whipped her around the head; how he had screamed that he wanted Glauco to confirm Cadu’s belief that, yes, his fair-haired and blue-eyed younger brother was Jesus, so obviating the need for Cadu to be sent into psychiatric care. Glauco had rushed downstairs when he heard the shouting, had tried to calm Cadu but was then forced to leave after Cadu held a gun to his head. It was the last time Beatriz saw her husband alive.
Former CIA agent John Kiriakou said Monday that the Bush-era torture program "was approved by the president himself" and that the two years he spent behind bars for blowing the whistle on that program was worth it.
Kiriakou was sentenced to 30 months in prison in 2013 after pleading guilty to releasing the name of an officer implicated in a CIA torture program to the media and violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. He was released from federal prison last week and is serving out the remainder of his sentence at home.
He is the only government employee who has gone to jail in connection with the torture program—a fact attorney Jesselyn Radack has called "a miscarriage of justice" and which Kiriakou said makes him feel like he's "in the Twilight Zone sometimes."
In an interview with Democracy Now!, Kirikou said he was convinced about the reason for his imprisonment: "My case was about blowing the whistle on torture."
He explained what led him to reveal in 2007 that "high-value detainee" Abu Zubaydah was waterboarded and tortured in numerous other ways. Kiriakou was part of the CIA team that captured Zubaydah in a house raid in Pakistan, but did not participate in his torture.
"I learned initially that he had been waterboarded in the summer of 2002, at the end of the summer of 2002. And as I said in the 2007 interview with Brian Ross, I believed what the CIA was telling us, that he was being waterboarded, it was working, and we were gathering important, actionable intelligence that was saving American lives," Kiriakou told host Amy Goodman.
"It wasn’t until something like 2005 or 2006 that we realized that that just simply wasn’t true—he wasn’t producing any information—and that these techniques were horrific. It was in 2007, Amy, that I decided to go public. President Bush said at the time, categorically, 'We do not torture prisoners. We are not waterboarding.' And I knew that that was a lie. And he made it seem as though this was a rogue CIA officer who decided to pour water on people’s faces. And that simply wasn’t true."
"Torture—the entire torture program was approved by the president himself, and it was a very carefully planned-out program. So to say that it was rogue, it was just a bald-faced lie to the American people," Kiriakou said.
He added that the Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture shows "how wrongheaded the CIA torture program was," and because of this, some prosecutions need to be made.
The reason for bringing Netanyahu is that Boehner wants to craft a super-majority in Congress that can over-ride Obama’s veto of new sanctions on Iran. He doesn’t have enough Republican votes to do so, but if he can get Democrats beholden to the Israel lobbies of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee to join the veto over-ride effort, he might succeed.
Obama has spent a great deal of time and effort trying to negotiate with Iran over its civilian nuclear enrichment program, intended to allow Iran to replicate the success of France and South Korea in supplying electicity. (That would allow Iran to save gas and oil exports for earning foreign exchange).
Because nowadays producing enriched uranium for fuel via centrifuges is always potentially double use, this program has alarmed the US, Europe, and Israel. Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has given several fatwas (akin to encyclicals) orally in which he forbids making, storing or using nuclear weapons as incompatible with Islamic law (a position also taken by his predecessor, Ayatollah Ruhullah Khomeini). So maintaining that Iran is committed to making a nuclear bomb is sort of like holding that the Pope has a huge condom factory in the basement of the Vatican.
But, there are no doubt Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps commanders and maybe some engineers and scientists who really wish Khamenei would change his mind (he won’t).
So if you wanted a compromise between Iranian nuclear doves (the hard line leadership) and Iranian nuclear hawks (the subordinates who have to take orders from the doves), what would you do? You’d keep options open. And keeping options open also has a deterrent effect, so it is almost as good as having a nuclear bomb. That is, if Iran has all the infrastructure that would be needed for a nuclear weapons program but didn’t actually initiate such a program, you’d put enemies on notice that if they try to get up a war on you the way Bush-Cheney got one up on Iraq, they could force you into going for broke and abruptly making a bomb for self-defense. This posture is called in the security literature “nuclear latency” or colloquially “the Japan Option” (we all know Tokyo could produce a bomb in short order if they felt sufficiently threatened).
I started arguing that this policy was what Iran was up to some 7 or 8 years ago, and I think it is now widely accepted in policy circles.
So the point of the UNSC plus Germany negotiations with Iran is really about how long Iran would take to break out and produce a bomb. Will it be 3 months or one year? Iran wants a shorter timeline (for maximum deterrence, since they already saw what happened to Baghdad). The P5 + 1 want a much longer timeline. They would also like to spike the centrifuges and make sure there is no heavy water reactor (plutonium builds up on the rods).
If the two sides can reach an acceptable compromise, sanctions would be lifted, Iran would run its Russian-built reactors to produce electricity (though likely within a decade they will be undercut in price by solar panels; still, solar doesn’t have deterrent properties ), and there would be thorough frequent UN inspections of its enrichment facilities (plutonium leaves a signature). It isn’t really possible to have a big nuclear facility hidden from US satellites; the US spotted Fordo immediately. You need a lot of water, truck traffic, etc.
But Iran would have latency and therefore deterrence and I suppose might be emboldened that Israel wouldn’t dare nuke it because it might well be able to nuke back some months later.
US hawks in both parties and the Israeli political right wing want to prevent Iran from having any nuclear enrichment program at all, so as to prevent Iran from having the security that comes from the deterrence Lite produced by latency.
The US Joint Chiefs of Staff looked at this issue and have decided that only an Iraq-style invasion, occupation and regime change could hope to abolish the nuclear enrichment program.
If that is what it takes, the US and Israeli hawks are perfectly all right with it. It would be good times for the military-industrial complex, and Israel’s last major conventional enemy (though a toothless one) would be destroyed. An irritant to US policy and a threat to Wahhabi Saudi Arabia, our big volatile Gasoline Station in the Sky, would also be removed.
Iran is three times as populous and three times as large as Iraq. So I figure this enterprise would cost at least 15,000 troops dead, 90,000 seriously wounded, and altogether $15- 24 trillion dollars over time (including health care for the 90,000 wounded vets). Given the size of the country and the nationalism of the population, it could be much more like the US war in Vietnam than Iraq was, i.e. it could end in absolute defeat. Russia and China would almost certainly aid insurgencies to weaken the US.
And that is what the right wing psychopaths in Washington DC and Tel Aviv have planned for us. If they can over-ride Obama’s veto and scuttle the negotiations, they set us up for a war down the line, as Obama warned in the SOTU.
After nearly 20 years as de facto ruler of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah ibn-Abdulaziz al-Saud died last night at the age of 90. Abdullah, who took power after his predecessor King Fahd suffered a stroke in 1995, ruled as absolute monarch of a country which protected American interests but also sowed strife and extremism throughout the Middle East and the world.
In a statement last night Senator John McCain eulogized Abdullah as “a vocal advocate for peace, speaking out against violence in the Middle East”. John Kerry described the late monarch as “a brave partner in fighting violent extremism” and “a proponent of peace”. Not to be outdone, Vice President Joe Biden released a statement mourning Abdullah and announced that he would be personally leading a presidential delegation to offer condolences on his passing.
It’s not often that the unelected leader of a country which publicly flogs dissidents and beheads people for sorcery wins such glowing praise from American officials. Even more perplexing, perhaps, have been the fawning obituaries in the mainstream press which have faithfully echoed this characterization of Abdullah as a benign and well-intentioned man of peace.
Tiptoeing around his brutal dictatorship, The Washington Post characterized Abdullah as a “wily king” while The New York Times inexplicably referred to him as “a force of moderation”, while also suggesting that evidence of his moderation included having had: “hundreds of militants arrested and some beheaded”. (emphasis added)
While granting that Abdullah might be considered a relative moderate within the brazenly anachronistic House of Saud, the fact remains that he presided for two decades over a regime which engaged in wanton human rights abuses, instrumentalized religious chauvinism, and played a hugely counterrevolutionary role in regional politics.
Above all, he was not a leader who shied away from both calling for and engineering more conflict in the Middle East.
The official logic of the drug war in Mexico has enabled many to accept as normal murder, massacre, disappearances, torture, and a political apparatus that not only allows these crimes to go unpunished but, in far too many cases, sanctions them. In a 2014 report, Amnesty International found that the use of torture by the Mexican military and police was widespread and routine. Indeed, the very concept of corruption in Mexico has become outmoded: In most of the country, the state forces and “narcos” are fully integrated, and none of the major political parties is exempt. Mexicans have a phrase: “The drop that spilled the glass.” It’s their version of “the straw that broke the camel’s back.” For many, Iguala was the drop that spilled the glass. It obliterated the government’s insistence that in the drug war, a clear distinction exists between good guys and bad, between law and lawlessness.
On September 27, state police arrested the 22 Iguala police officers whom the students had identified. On September 30, Mayor Abarca, his wife, and the police chief went into hiding. President Peña Nieto canceled a previously scheduled trip to Guerrero, citing unfavorable weather conditions but also giving the impression that the killings and disappearances were not his concern. He told a reporter that the “state government must assume its own responsibility to face what’s happening.” The search efforts during the first week involved state police driving groups of parents around Iguala, occasionally stopping to suggest that they knock on a door and ask if their children were hiding there.
Then, on October 4, the state prosecutor announced the discovery of four mass graves in the hills outside of Iguala. An initial excavation revealed an unknown number of charred human remains. The method that led state police to the hidden gravesite was apparently torture. “They squeezed one of those guys,” an officer told me, “and he sang.” The following day, the state prosecutor declared that a man in custody had confessed that he and other drug gang members had murdered, burned, and buried the students in the graves. By this point, the federal government had taken over the investigation, enacting its power to assume jurisdiction over cases involving organized crime, a tacit acknowledgment by the administration that the political fallout could no longer be ignored.
Prisons employ and exploit the ideal worker. Prisoners do not receive benefits or pensions. They are not paid overtime. They are forbidden to organize and strike. They must show up on time. They are not paid for sick days or granted vacations. They cannot formally complain about working conditions or safety hazards. If they are disobedient, or attempt to protest their pitiful wages, they lose their jobs and can be sent to isolation cells. The roughly 1 million prisoners who work for corporations and government industries in the American prison system are models for what the corporate state expects us all to become. And corporations have no intention of permitting prison reforms that would reduce the size of their bonded workforce. In fact, they are seeking to replicate these conditions throughout the society.
States, in the name of austerity, have stopped providing prisoners with essential items including shoes, extra blankets and even toilet paper, while starting to charge them for electricity and room and board. Most prisoners and the families that struggle to support them are chronically short of money. Prisons are company towns. Scrip, rather than money, was once paid to coal miners, and it could be used only at the company store. Prisoners are in a similar condition. When they go broke—and being broke is a frequent occurrence in prison—prisoners must take out prison loans to pay for medications, legal and medical fees and basic commissary items such as soap and deodorant. Debt peonage inside prison is as prevalent as it is outside prison.
States impose an array of fees on prisoners. For example, there is a 10 percent charge imposed by New Jersey on every commissary purchase. Stamps have a 10 percent surcharge. Prisoners must pay the state for a 15-minute deathbed visit to an immediate family member or a 15-minute visit to a funeral home to view the deceased. New Jersey, like most other states, forces a prisoner to reimburse the system for overtime wages paid to the two guards who accompany him or her, plus mileage cost. The charge can be as high as $945.04. It can take years to pay off a visit with a dying father or mother.
Fines, often in the thousands of dollars, are assessed against many prisoners when they are sentenced. There are 22 fines that can be imposed in New Jersey, including the Violent Crime Compensation Assessment (VCCB), the Law Enforcement Officers Training & Equipment Fund (LEOT) and Extradition Costs (EXTRA). The state takes a percentage each month out of prison pay to pay down the fines, a process that can take decades. If a prisoner who is fined $10,000 at sentencing must rely solely on a prison salary he or she will owe about $4,000 after making payments for 25 years. Prisoners can leave prison in debt to the state. And if they cannot continue to make regular payments—difficult because of high unemployment—they are sent back to prison. High recidivism is part of the design.
Twenty five years ago, before dawn on December 20, 1989, U.S. forces descended on Panama City and unleashed one of the most violent, destructive terror attacks of the century. U.S. soldiers killed more people than were killed on 9/11. They systematically burned apartment buildings and shot people indiscriminately in the streets. Dead bodies were piled on top of each other; many were burned before identification. The aggression was condemned internationally, but the message was clear: the United States military was free to do whatever it wanted, whenever it wanted, and they would not be bound by ethics or laws.
The invasion and ensuing occupation produced gruesome scenes: "People burning to death in the incinerated dwellings, leaping from windows, running in panic through the streets, cut down in cross fire, crushed by tanks, human fragments everywhere," writes William Blum. 
Years later the New York Times interviewed a survivor of the invasion, Sayira Marín, whose "hands still tremble" when she remembers the destruction of her neighborhood.
"I take pills to calm down," Marín told the paper. "It has gotten worse in recent days. There are nights when I jump out of bed screaming. Sometimes I have dreams of murder. Ugly things."
In the spring of 1989, a wave of revolutions had swept across the Eastern bloc. In November, the Berlin Wall fell. The Cold War was over. No country was even a fraction as powerful as the United States. Rather than ushering in an era of peace and demilitarization, U.S. military planners intensified their expansion of global hegemony. They were pathological about preventing any rival to their complete military and economic domination.
U.S. government officials needed to put the world on notice. At the same time, President George H.W. Bush's needed to shed his image as a "wimp." So they did what any schoolyard bully would: pick out the smallest, weakest target you can find and beat him to a bloody pulp. The victim is irrelevant; the point is the impression you make on the people around you.
Panama was an easy target because the U.S. already had a large military force in 18 bases around the country. Until 1979, the occupied Panama Canal Zone had been sovereign territory of the United States. The Panama Canal was scheduled to be turned over to Panama partially in 1990 and fully in 2000. The U.S. military would be able to crush a hapless opponent and ensure control over a vital strategic asset.
Washington began disseminating propaganda about "human rights abuses" and drug trafficking by President Manuel Noriega. Most of the allegations were true, and they had all been willingly supported by the U.S. government while Noriega was a CIA asset receiving more than $100,000 per year. But when Noriega was less than enthusiastic about helping the CIA and their terrorist Contra army wage war against the civilian population in Nicaragua, things changed.