30+ torture memos remain sealed while thousands of torture photos will eventually be released. Be prepared: Learn the deep history of US torture in SERE, Vietnam, Latin America, GMTO, Black Sites and beyond in American Torture.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Strengthening the APS Resolution on Torture and CID

Posted by Michael Otterman at 10:39 PM |

In September 2007, the Australian Psychological Society (APS) passed a strongly worded resolution banning its members from condoning or participating in torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading (CID) procedures. This resolution is crucial and well-intentioned, but technically flawed. Let me explain why.

The APS resolution was penned in opposition to the American Psychological Association's (APA) current position of allowing its members to actively participate in "national security" interrogations. To its credit, APA members are banned from participating in the following tortures: mock executions, waterboarding or any other form of simulated drowning or suffocation, sexual humiliation, rape, cultural or religious humiliation, exploitation of phobias or psychopathology, and induced hypothermia. But, the APA allows its members-- according to the wording of a 2007 resolution-- to assist in detention operations involving psychotropic drugs, mind-altering substances, hooding, forced nakedness, stress positions, the use of dogs, physical assault including slapping or shaking, exposure to extreme heat or cold, and threats of harm or death, isolation, sensory deprivation, over-stimulation and sleep deprivation. These clearly constitute CID treatment, if not outright torture.

The APA permits its members to participate in the CID treatment listed above by defining CID using loop-hole laden terms favoured by the Bush Administration. According to the 2007 APA Resolution, the APA defines
the term "cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment" to mean treatment or punishment by a psychologist that, in accordance with the McCain Amendment, is of a kind that would be "prohibited by the Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States"...
What does this mean? Well, according to former Assistant Attorney General William Moschella:
With respect to treatment of detainees by the United States Government… the pertinent Amendment is the Fifth Amendment. As relevant here, that Amendment protects against treatment that, in the words of the Supreme Court, “shocks the conscience,” such as (again in the words of the Court) “only the most egregious conduct,” such as “conduct intended to injure in some way unjustifiable by any government interest.”
Therefore, an act can only constitute CID if it "shocks the conscience". As further explained by Dick Cheney:
If it's something that shocks the conscience, the court has agreed that crosses over the line.

Now, you can get into a debate about what shocks the conscience and what is cruel and inhuman. And to some extent, I suppose, that's in the eye of the beholder. But I believe, and we think it's important to remember, that we are in a war against a group of individuals and terrorist organizations that did, in fact, slaughter 3,000 innocent Americans on 9/11, that it's important for us to be able to have effective interrogation of these people when we capture them.
Cheney's logic follows that if an individual with knowledge about an imminent terrorist attack is captured, methods like hooding, drugging, and long time standing do not "shock the conscience" in light of the importance of getting information. Given they do not shock the conscience, they do not constitute CID treatment. It is in this way that the APA can be formally against torture and CID but still allow their members to help with sensory deprivation, hooding, standing, etc.

Back to the APS. The current APS torture resolution does not define the phrase "cruel, inhuman, or degrading" treatment. To avoid any debate, I think the term should be understood using language from UN Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment. According to Principle Seven:
the term "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" should be interpreted so as to extend the widest possible protection against abuses, whether physical or mental, including the holding of a detained or imprisoned person in conditions which deprive him, temporarily or permanently of the use of any of his natural senses, such as sight or hearing, or of his awareness of place and the passing of time.
Principle Seven explicitly bans the entire set of CID treatment currently authorized by the Bush Administration and the APA. If American Psychological Association leadership was serious about banning psych-participation in all forms of torture and CID, they would adopt the language of Principle Seven.

At least the APS is on the right track. According to Arthur Veno and Julie van den Eynde of the APS, a clause incorporating CID-defining language of Principle Seven "will be brought forward to both the Australian Psychological Society and The International Congress of Psychology to be held in 2008 in Europe." If it passes, it can only add to the pressure on APA leadership to swear off all forms of torture and CID treatment once and for all.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Torturer Describes His Job

Posted by Michael Otterman at 11:15 PM |

The following poem was sent to me by San Francisco-based poet Charlotte Muse. The poem was a finalist in the 2007 War Poetry Contest sponsored by Winning Writers. It is truly a haunting poem--plus, its quite accurate in its description of various "enhanced" torture techniques formally authorized and implemented by the Bush Administration. Enjoy:


THE TORTURER DESCRIBES HIS JOB

But my people heard not my voice...
so I gave them up to the hardness of their hearts...
--Psalm 80


First you make them strip. It puts them off balance.
I always keep a poker face. They never can.
There’s a rush of dread in their eyes,
and you know they’re wishing they could be back home.
Their bed, their chair, their blanket--
that’s what they want.

There’s a science to causing pain.
You have to know how far to push it.
I keep them so cold they can’t think straight.
I keep the lights on all the time.
I don’t let them sleep.
I bend them and shackle them in ways
you might have thought were impossible.

I think to myself, You are a wall,
and I am going to break you down.

It’s better if you’re kind to them sometimes.
They’ll look at you with this yearning,
as if you were their mother
and could fix this. So I’m always stern in the beginning,
but as time goes on, I’ll let up a little.
Then they’re full of gratitude.
Their feelings get hurt when I start again.
That weakens them.

Sometimes I get the tough guys,
the ones nobody else can break.
They’re brought to me because I’m good.
I won’t take no for an answer.
If I have to kill them,
I will kill them.

I’ll hang them from ropes and listen to them sing
until blood turns their sweat to pink water.
I’ll milk every vessel in their bodies
so they glow like the moonlight,
whiter than anything alive.
They will tell me what I want to know.

The web of life spreads farther than you think.
For every one I work on,
two hundred more will fear me.
You have to know you’re right to do this job.
You have to stop your ears.

I don’t deal in mercy. I leave that to God,
but I haven’t seen him answer many prayers in here.
I hear them.
Even in this godforsaken place,
everyone calls on God.


(c) Charlotte Muse

Sunday, November 18, 2007

From GTMO to Abu Ghraib

Posted by Michael Otterman at 11:19 PM |

In September 2003, General Geoffrey Miller-- then commander of Guantanamo-- was sent to Abu Ghraib to "Gitmo-ize" detention operations at the prison. One key aspect of this process was placing Military Police (MP) under the control of Military Intelligence (MI). "It is essential", Miller advised, "that the guard force be actively engaged in setting the conditions for successful exploitation of the internees".

MI largely directed the torture while MPs carried it out. According to Charles Grainer, now serving ten years for his role in the torture at the prison: "I nearly beat a military intelligence detainee to death with military intelligence there. We treated each military detainee specifically on how the handler wanted."

Now, thanks to an anonymous leak to Wikileaks, more concrete aspects of the "Gitmo-ization" of Abu Ghraib prison have been revealed. In particular, we now know that three coercive interrogation techniques were formally authorized for use at GMTO. According to a March 2003 document signed by General Miller listing the Standard Operating Procedures at Guantanamo, the use of dogs to instill fear, sensory deprivation, and the denial of Red Cross access to detainees were standard procedures then used at GTMO. In turn, Miller took these methods to Iraq.

On page 26.1 of the uneartheard 2003 Guantanamo Standard Operating Procedures, the importance of using military working dogs as "psychological deterrence" is discussed. Their role at the Cuban prison, according to the manual, is to "demonstrate physical presence to detainees".

Sensory deprivation and the denial of Red Cross access at GTMO is discussed on page 4.3. According to the manual, during the first two weeks of detention prisoners are to receive "No ICRC or Chaplain contact". The "the process of isolating" the detainee-- with the exception of contact with interrogators-- is to continue for a period of four weeks. After that time, the "Interrogator decides when to move the detainee to general population."

The aim of these coercive methods is to "enhance and exploit the disorientation and disorganization felt by a newly arrived detainee in the interrogation process". Furthermore, they serve by "fostering dependence on the interrogator".

Miller brought all three techniques-- the use of dogs, application of sensory deprivation and denial of Red Cross access-- to Abu Ghraib in September '03. An Abu Ghraib interrogation directive dated 10 September 2003, calls for "isolation ... for interrogation purposes" for up to 30 days. The same document also permits "presence of military working dogs" because this "exploits Arab fear of dogs". Further, as I describe in American Torture:
When the Red Cross came back to inspect the [Abu Ghraib] prison in January and March 2004, Colonel Thomas M. Pappas, then head of military intelligence, and Colonel Mark Warren, a Pentagon legal adviser, barred inspectors’ access to eight ‘high value’ detainees, including one detained in a cell measuring less than one by two metres and devoid of any windows, bedding or toilet. Inspectors noted that a picture of the character Gollum from the Lord of the Rings films was taped to the door, a reference to the nickname given to the inmate by prison staff.
The catastrophic effects of these three policies are depicted in the Abu Ghraib photographs. But in a wider sense, the transfer of these methods from GTMO to Iraq reveals something else. Once authorized, torture cannot be contained. Like a cancer, torture spreads.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Students protest CIA torture

Posted by Tom Moran at 11:21 AM |

On Wednesday a group of students from the University of California Santa Barbara sabotaged a CIA recruiting presentation to protest covert U.S. torture and rendition policies and waterboarding in particular. Dressed as clowns, one of the group was placed on a table in front of the recruiter, who subsequently made a quick exit, their hands bound and water poured over their head to simulate waterboarding, the controversial mock-drowning strategy practiced by the CIA.

Furthermore, an anti-torture rally at UC Berkley went even further, seeing a man pulled from the crowd and used as the subject in a real life waterboarding demonstration. The event was clearly effective and shocked the audience significantly. In the words of one student:

"I was aware of it on a purely intellectual level but actually seeing it in person is a whole different thing. It’s one thing to know its torture and say that’s really bad, that really sucks. But to see somebody screaming and coughing and choking in front of you, it’s a very emotional experience."

With the nomination of Michael Mukasey as the new U.S. Attorney General following the departure of Alberto Gonzales, which was opposed by Citizens for Global Solutions due to his inability to state categorically on the record that waterboarding constitutes torture, California students are clearly ensuring that this issue stays on the agenda, which is an encouraging sign.

Check out Mike's detailed posts below for more information.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Anger at the Bridge Club

Posted by Michael Otterman at 11:59 PM |

Now that Michael Mukasey has been confirmed as Attorney General, public outrage over and news coverage of his stance on current US torture policy has ebbed. Still, an article I just read reminded me of the wider costs of CIA "enhanced" tortures like waterboarding and hypothermia.

At the World Bridge Championships in Shanghai, the winning US womens team held up a sign during the awards ceremony that read: "We Did Not Vote For Bush". According to the New York Times:
[Team captain] Ms. Greenberg said she decided to put up the sign in response to questions from players from other countries about American interrogation techniques, the war in Iraq and other foreign policy issues.

“There was a lot of anti-Bush feeling, questioning of our Iraq policy and about torture,” Ms. Greenberg said. “I can’t tell you it was an overwhelming amount, but there were several specific comments, and there wasn’t the same warmth you usually feel at these events.”

Not only doesn't torture work, but it also turns people against you. Forget about the Arab street-- even bridge tournaments are now hotbeds of anger against US torture policy.

Monday, November 05, 2007

The torture of Ali al-Marri, the last “Enemy combatant” on the US mainland

Posted by Andy Worthington at 3:59 PM |

As published on the website of Andy Worthington, author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison.

Torture is defined in many ways. To the US administration, nothing that it ever does is torture. In keeping with the notorious “Torture Memo” of August 2002, drafted primarily by Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief counsel David Addington, “enhanced interrogation techniques” – as the administration euphemistically defines its forays into torture – only actually become torture if the suffering produced is equivalent to organ failure or even death.

As a result, Dick Cheney was well within his comfort zone when, on a conservative radio show last October, he responded to a dismissively phrased question about waterboarding – “Would you agree a dunk in water is a no-brainer if it can save lives?” – with the response, “Well, it's a no-brainer for me.” He added, “But for a while there, I was criticized as being the vice president for torture” (courtesy of the Washington Post), and concluded with the administration’s predictable mantra, “We don't torture. That's not what we're involved in.”

To others, including the State Department, waterboarding is clearly torture, as the Department declares every year when it condemns other countries for subjecting prisoners to “a dunk in the water.” But while it should be clear to all but the most vindictively brain-washed that waterboarding and other techniques which have been used in Guantánamo, and which are still part of the CIA’s arsenal – including the prolonged use of stress positions, extreme temperature manipulation, and profound sleep deprivation – are also torture, especially when their use is combined, holding a man in solitary confinement for several years is somehow seen as a soft option.

This is in spite of the fact that, when approved by Donald Rumsfeld for use at Guantánamo, Defense Department lawyers warned that isolation was “not known to have been generally used for interrogation purposes for longer than 30 days.” The lawyers’ warnings, it should also be noted, echoed the opinion expressed in the CIA’s 1963 KUBARK Manual – with its notorious section on counter-intelligence interrogation – in which the agency warned of the “profound moral objection” of applying “duress past the point of irreversible psychological damage.”

My concern with the effects of prolonged solitary confinement hit me abruptly this week when I read – in the New York Times, one of the few media outlets to cover the story – that the case of Ali al-Marri, the last “enemy combatant” on US soil, was causing some consternation to the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, Virginia.

A Qatari national and a resident alien in the United States, al-Marri had studied computer science in Peoria, Illinois in 1991, and had legally returned to the United States on September 10, 2001, with his residency in order, to pursue post-graduate studies, bringing his family – his wife and five children – with him. Three months later he was arrested and charged with fraud and making false statements to the FBI, but in June 2003, a month before he was due to stand trial for these charges in a federal court, the prosecution dropped the charges and informed the court that he was to be held as an “enemy combatant” instead.

He was then moved to a naval brig in Charleston, South Carolina, where he was held incommunicado for 16 months, and where, according to statements eventually filed by his lawyers (see below), he was subjected to “inhumane, degrading, and physically and psychologically abusive treatment.” Held in “complete isolation” in a bare cell measuring nine feet by six feet in an otherwise unoccupied cell block, he was subjected to sleep deprivation and extreme temperature manipulation, was frequently deprived of food and water, and was only allowed outside for “recreation” – also alone – three times a week “when deemed to be ‘compliant.’” Reinforcing his isolation, his cell contained nothing but a Koran, a “suicide blanket” and a thin mattress, and even the window was blocked out, preventing him from ever seeing natural light or knowing the time of day.

Al-Marri also stated that, during the first year of his imprisonment in the brig, he was “interrogated repeatedly,” and he explained that his interrogators “falsely told [him] that four of his brothers and his father were in jail because of him, and promised that they would all be released if he cooperated with them,” and also “threatened to send [him] to Egypt or to Saudi Arabia where, they told him, he would be tortured and sodomized and where his wife would be raped in front of him.”

In August 2003, representatives of the International Red Cross were finally allowed to meet with al-Marri, and two months later he was finally permitted to meet with a lawyer, but despite sporadic visits from the Red Cross and his legal representatives, the extreme isolation in which he has been held – and the perpetuation of the ill-treatment outlined above – has been barely mitigated. Including the six months that he spent in isolation in Peoria County Jail and the Metropolitan Correction Center in New York, before being transferred to Charleston, he has now spent four years and ten months (58 times the amount of time recommended by Defense Department lawyers) in solitary confinement.

While this is not unique – the alleged “high-value” al-Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah has been in solitary since March 2002, for example, and several Guantánamo detainees have also spent a substantial amount of time in a similar situation (including, currently, the British resident Shaker Aamer, who has been alone in an isolation block since August 2005) – al-Marri, as a US resident, is supposed to be protected from this sort of treatment.

The only comparable case – and one which bears close scrutiny – is that of Jose Padilla, the only other “enemy combatant” to be held for a substantial period of time on the US mainland. A US citizen, Padilla was held in the Charleston brig for three and a half years, where, crucially, the extreme isolation to which he was subjected, combined with sensory deprivation and the use of psychotropic drugs, led to the complete disintegration of his mind, according to several psychiatrists who evaluated his mental state.

According to one of al-Marri’s lawyers, Jonathan Hafetz of the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law, his client’s mental disintegration has not been quite so severe, although he has been described as suffering “severe damage to his mental and emotional well-being, including hypersensitivity to external stimuli, manic behavior, difficulty concentrating and thinking, obsessional thinking, difficulties with impulse control, difficulty sleeping, difficulty keeping track of time, and agitation.” While this is a distressing litany of the symptoms to be expected from prolonged solitary confinement, it may be that al-Marri’s relative sanity compared to Padilla (who was described by his guards as “so docile and inactive that he could be mistaken for ‘a piece of furniture’”) is sufficient to explain why his story has not been so newsworthy, but it seems likely that his case has also been largely ignored because he is a resident alien rather than a US citizen, and because his story is not so glamorous.

Unlike Padilla, who shot to undying fame when he was accused of plotting to detonate a “dirty bomb” in a US city, al-Marri has no such tag to identify him. The presidential order which declared him an “enemy combatant” stated simply that he was closely associated with al-Qaeda and presented “a continuing, present, and grave danger to the national security of the United States,” and the “charges” against him have fluctuated: at various times it has been claimed by the government that he attended an al-Qaeda training camp, that he met Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), the self-confessed architect of 9/11, and that he had connections to the al-Qaeda financier Mustafa al-Hawsawi. It has also been alleged that he met Osama bin Laden, and that, after meeting him, pledged that he would kill Americans, that he volunteered for a “martyr mission,” and that he was working as an al-Qaeda sleeper agent in the US at the time of his capture. Rather more prosaically, it was also alleged that he had documents related to jihadi activities on his computer, including information on hydrogen cyanide (used in chemical weapons), lectures by Osama bin Laden and a cartoon of planes crashing into the World Trade Center.

Crucially, however, none of these claims are necessarily reliable. As Jonathan Hafetz explained to me when I spoke to him on Friday (and as has been apparent since Newsweek reported on it in June 2003), most of the supposed intelligence against al-Marri came from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was captured in March 2003, just three months before al-Marri was upgraded from an alleged credit card fraudster to a major terror suspect. As I discussed at length in an article in July, Guantánamo’s Tangled Web: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Majid Khan, Dubious US Convictions and a Dying Man, KSM stated during his tribunal at Guantánamo in March this year that he had given false information about other people while being tortured, and, though he was not allowed to elaborate, I traced in my article several possible victims of these false confessions, including Majid Khan, one of 13 supposedly “high-value” detainees transferred with KSM to Guantánamo from secret CIA prisons in September 2006, Saifullah Paracha, a Pakistani businessman and philanthropist held in Guantánamo, and his son Uzair, who was convicted in the United States on dubious charges in November 2005, and sentenced to 30 years in prison.

It’s possible, therefore, that al-Marri is another victim of KSM’s tangled web of tortured confessions, but whether or not this is true, the correct venue for such discussions is in a court of law, and not in leaks and proclamations from an administration that appears to be intent on holding him without charge or trial for the rest of his life. Since November 2005, when the administration dropped its “dirty bomb” allegations against Padilla and charged him with the far lesser crimes of “conspiracy to murder, kidnap, and maim people in a foreign country, conspiracy to provide material support for terrorists, and providing material support for terrorists,” for which he was convicted – pending appeal – in August this year, al-Marri has had the painful distinction of being the only US “enemy combatant” held on American soil.

The Padilla verdict caused outrage amongst those who were rightly concerned that the judge had forbidden all mention of the three and a half years that a US citizen had spent in mind-destroying isolation without charge or trial, but al-Marri’s case is, arguably, even more significant. Under the cover of his perceived second-class status as a resident alien rather than a US citizen, the administration appears to be hoping that the Fourth Circuit judges will endorse what Jonathan Hafetz described to me as “the most radical and far-reaching claim of the imperial presidency: that the President can seize any person in America and imprison him for life, without charge and without evidence, based solely upon his say-so.”

This, then, is why the news that al-Marri’s case was being scrutinized by the Fourth Circuit judges seized my attention so vigorously. While the Supreme Court will undoubtedly beckon if the verdict goes the government’s way, the Fourth Circuit judges are discussing an issue that should be of paramount importance to all Americans: their right not to be seized on a Presidential whim, and held forever without charge or trial.

It is, moreover, not the first time that the Fourth Circuit judges have looked at al-Marri’s case. In June, by a majority of 2 to 1, three judges in the Fourth Circuit appeals court delivered the following damning verdict on the President’s presumed ability to detain Americans (whether citizens or resident aliens) at will. “Put simply,” they declared, “the Constitution does not allow the President to order the military to seize civilians residing within the United States and then detain them indefinitely without criminal process, and this is so even if he calls them ‘enemy combatants.’”

The judges had apparently been swayed by the arguments presented by Jonathan Hatefz and his colleagues, who insisted, as they have maintained all along, that the President “lacks the legal authority to designate and detain al-Marri as an ‘enemy combatant’ for two principal reasons”; firstly, because the Constitution “prohibits the military imprisonment of civilians arrested in the United States and outside an active battlefield,” and secondly, because, although a district court previously held that the President was authorized to detain al-Marri under the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (the September 2001 law authorizing the President to use “all necessary and appropriate force” against those involved in any way with 9/11), Congress explicitly prohibited “the indefinite detention without charge of suspected alien terrorists in the United States” in the Patriot Act, which followed five weeks later. Even more critically, Congress actually rejected a provision in a prior draft of the bill, which would have permitted the Attorney General to detain without charge any individual he “has reason to believe may commit, further, or facilitate acts [of terrorism],” insisting instead that suspects be charged “with a criminal offense or an immigration violation within seven days of their arrest” (that’s seven days, note, not 2155 days – as of November 5, 2007 – in solitary confinement).

The verdict in June – a triumph for those who realized how crucial the al-Marri case was – lasted only until the government appealed. Instead of three judges, the Fourth Circuit court has now convened en banc to reconsider al-Marri’s indefinite detention without trial, and this critical decision – a last bulwark, effectively, against the whims of a dictatorial President – now rests in the hands of nine judges in one of the most conservative courts in the land.

Unexpectedly, however, the signs are not all bad. As the New York Times explained, “based on the pointed, practical and frequently passionate questioning” during Wednesday’s hearing, the judges were “divided and troubled, and it was not clear which way the majority was leaning.” Some responses were predictable. Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III, for example, remarked that civil liberties groups had “stirred up needless anxiety” about the President’s powers. “We’re not talking about an indiscriminate roundup,” he said. “We’re talking about two people in six years [al-Marri and Padilla] with undisputed ties to al-Qaeda.” In response, however, Judge Robert L. Gregory stated that the case was one of “constitutional principle,” and a representative of the government, Gregory J. Garre, faced tough questions about the administration’s position. Judge M. Blane Michael asked, “How long can you keep this man in custody?” and when Garre replied that it could “go on for a long time,” depending on the duration of the “war” with al-Qaeda, Judge Michael stated, “It looks like a lifetime.”

Under questioning from Judge William B. Traxler Jr., who inquired about the circumstances required for holding people in secret detention, Garre blustered that al-Marri had been given an opportunity to rebut the government’s allegations, but had “squandered” the opportunity. This was not strictly true. Al-Marri had indeed been given an opportunity to face his accusers in court, but, as his lawyers pointed out, the burden was actually on the government to prove its accusations. “How is a person who is held incommunicado to challenge these things?” Judge Traxler asked, to silence from Garre.

With the judges’ overall opinions unclear, al-Marri, his lawyers, and all responsible American citizens will have to wait for the verdict to be announced, which could be before the end of the year. I can only hope that the judges have listened carefully to the arguments made by his lawyers. As Jonathan Hafetz explained to me, “Mr. al-Marri's four-plus years of solitary confinement in a navy prison crosses a line that should never be crossed in a civilized society, and cannot be accepted in a nation, like America, committed to basic human rights and the principles of its Constitution.”

Debate Dies Down... For Now

Posted by Michael Otterman at 12:40 AM |

Now that Dianne Feinstein and Charles Schumer have pledged break party ranks and vote to confirm Mukasey-- virtually assuring Mukasey's confirmation as AG-- the tempest over his stance on waterboarding and the national debate over US torture have begun to quiet down. Well, it was good while it lasted-- any debate on the American use of torture is healthy and vital.
Perhaps the most interesting-- and strangest-- item to emerge the last few days is this: an article revealing that former acting assistant attorney general, Daniel Levin, actually waterboarded himself to find out if the act constituted torture. According to ABC News:
Levin told White House officials that even though he knew he wouldn't die, he found the experience terrifying and thought that it clearly simulated drowning. Levin, who refused to comment for this story, concluded waterboarding could be illegal torture unless performed in a highly limited way and with close supervision. And, sources told ABC News, he believed the Bush Administration had failed to offer clear guidelines for its use.
His conclusion-- in some ways like Mukasey's own comments on waterboarding-- are a bit of a hedge themselves. Waterboarding apparently is not torture if its performed in a "highly limited way and with close supervision"? I am sure the fact that he volunteered to be waterboarded, and knew it was being performed by trained SERE professionals, shaped his experience. Those that are waterboarded in real-life situations tell quite a different tale:
The sufferer of water torture who stood out most for Dr. Keller was an Ethiopian, a man so traumatized that “when he’d go out in the rain, he’d gasp for air — or even in the shower.”

“He’d just panic,” the doctor said.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

CGS is opposing Mukasey

Posted by Raj at 9:13 AM |

Here is our statement:

“Citizens for Global Solutions opposes the nomination of Judge Michael Mukasey for United States Attorney General because of his unwillingness to support long-established international legal standards related to torture and interrogation. An individual unable to state on the record that waterboarding is torture cannot be trusted to hold the position of Attorney General. The United States is a nation of laws and our standing in the world has eroded in recent years because the current administration has flouted well-established legal norms. The Senate must prevent a continuation of this negative trend and should reject the nomination of Judge Michael Mukasey.”

We will be putting a real push on Capitol Hill to help stop this nomination.