Archive for the ‘torture’ Tag

London’s Metropolitan Police accused of waterboarding suspects

London’s Metropolitan Police accused of waterboarding suspects

Metropolitan Police officers subjected suspects to waterboarding, according to allegations at the centre of a major anti-corruption inquiry, The Times has learnt.

The torture claims are part of a wide-ranging investigation which also includes accusations that officers fabricated evidence and stole suspects’ property. It has already led to the abandonment of a drug trial and the suspension of several police officers.

However, senior policing officials are most alarmed by the claim that officers in Enfield, North London, used the controversial CIA interrogation technique to simulate drowning. Scotland Yard is appointing a new borough commander in Enfield in a move that is being seen as an attempt by Sir Paul Stephenson, the Met Commissioner, to enforce a regime of “intrusive supervision”.

The waterboarding claims will fuel the debate about police conduct that has raged in the wake of hundreds of public complaints of brutality at the anti-G20 protests in April.

The part of the inquiry focusing on alleged police brutality has been taken over by the Independent Police Complaints Commission. It is examining the conduct of six officers connected to drug raids in November in which four men and a woman were arrested at addresses in Enfield and Tottenham. Police said they found a large amount of cannabis and the suspects were charged with importation of a Class C drug. The case was abandoned four months later when the Crown Prosecution Service said it would not have been in the public interest to proceed. It is understood that the trial, by revealing the torture claims, would have compromised the criminal investigation into the six officers.

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Obama exempts CIA ‘torture’ staff

Obama exempts CIA ‘torture’ staff

CIA agents who used harsh interrogation techniques on terrorism suspects during the Bush era will not be prosecuted, US President Barack Obama has said.

The assurance came as memos were released detailing the range of techniques the CIA was allowed to use during the Bush administration.

Mr Obama banned the use of methods such as sleep deprivation and simulated drowning in his first week in office.

But rights groups have criticised the decision not to seek prosecutions.

Amnesty International said the Department of Justice appeared to be offering a “get-out-of-jail-free card” to individuals who were involved in acts of torture.

The Centre for Constitutional Rights, which has championed the legal rights of the “war on terror” detainees, also expressed its disappointment.

Detainee Was Tortured, a Bush Official Confirms

Detainee Was Tortured, a Bush Official Confirms

The senior Pentagon official in the Bush administration’s system for prosecuting detainees said in a published interview that she had concluded that interrogators had tortured a Guantánamo detainee who has sometimes been described as “the 20th hijacker” in the 2001 terrorist attacks.
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The public record of the Guantánamo interrogation of the detainee, Mohammed al-Qahtani, has long included what officials labeled abusive techniques, including exposure to extreme temperatures and isolation, but the Pentagon has resisted acknowledging that his treatment rose to the level of torture.

But the official, Susan J. Crawford, told Bob Woodward of The Washington Post that she had concluded that his treatment amounted to torture when she reviewed military charges against him last year. In May she decided that the case could not be referred for trial but provided no explanation at the time.

“His treatment met the legal definition of torture. And that’s why I did not refer the case” for prosecution, Ms. Crawford was quoted as saying in an article published in The Post on Wednesday.

Patton Boggs Fights N.Y. Lawyer’s ‘Kafkaesque’ Detention in KGB Prison

Patton Boggs Fights N.Y. Lawyer’s ‘Kafkaesque’ Detention in KGB Prison

New York resident and lawyer Emanuel Zeltser woke up on a private plane headed for a KGB-monitored detention center in Belarus last March. His last memory before waking was drinking coffee at a London cafe. Since then, he’s been held at three separate prison facilities in the former Soviet Union country. Zeltser, 55, has been deprived of his diabetes, heart and arthritis medications, physically tortured and mentally abused. Today, he is languishing in a KGB penal colony outside of the eastern Belarusian city of Mogilev.

It sounds like a nightmare, but these are the details laid out in the complaint filed by two Washington, D.C., Patton Boggs lawyers late last month (pdf) with the United Nations Human Rights Committee. Patton Boggs was scheduled to file another complaint Thursday with the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture.

Last July, four months after his capture, Zeltser was formally convicted in Belarus in a closed-door trial on charges of economic espionage, using false official documents and possession of illegal drugs. He was sentenced to three years in prison. According to the complaint filed with the Human Rights Committee, the drug charge references Zeltser’s doctor-prescribed medications. The U.S. State Department and U.S. Embassy in Belarus were denied access to the trial, and Zeltser and his attorneys have been denied access to the formal criminal complaint and conviction against him.

“I wouldn’t have thought in the 21st century we’d be doing a James Bond movie like this,” says Patton Boggs partner Joseph Brand, who leads Zeltser’s representation to the United Nations and calls the case “Kafkaesque,” adding, “This is the Soviet Union at its worst.”

Shocking revelation: Santa Clara University professor mirrors famous torture study

Shocking revelation: Santa Clara University professor mirrors famous torture study

Replicating one of the most controversial behavioral experiments in history, a Santa Clara University psychologist has found that people will follow orders from an authority figure to administer what they believe are painful electric shocks.

More than two-thirds of volunteers in the research study had to be stopped from administering 150-volt shocks of electricity, despite hearing a person’s cries of pain, concluded Professor Jerry M. Burger in a study published in the January issue of the journal American Psychologist.

“In a dramatic way, it illustrates that under certain circumstances people will act in very surprising and disturbing ways,” Burger said.

The study, using paid volunteers from the South Bay, is similar to the famous 1974 “obedience study” by the late Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram. In the wake of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann’s trial, Milgram was troubled by the willingness of people to obey authorities — even if it conflicted with their own conscience.

Burger’s findings are published in a special section of the journal reflecting on Milgram’s work 24 years after his death on Dec. 20, 1984. The haunting images of average people administering shocks have kept memories of Milgram’s research alive for decades, even as recently as the Abu Ghraib scandal.

The study itself can be found here.