Thursday, October 27, 2011

Understanding the US Torture State

by , October 28, 2011

When I was a child in Reagan’s America, a common theme in Cold War rhetoric was that the Soviets tortured people and detained them without cause, extracted phony confessions through cruel violence, did the unspeakable to detainees who were helpless against the full, heartless weight of the communist state. It was torture as much as any evil that differentiated the bad guys, the commies, from the good guys, the American people and their government. However imperfect the U.S. system was, it had civilized standards rejected by the enemy.

In April 2004, the world was shocked to see photos exposing the torment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, one of Saddam Hussein’s most infamous prisons, which was taken over and used by the United States in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Well, most of the world was shocked. Some, mostly conservative commentators, dismissed or defended the barbarity, even comparing it to frat-boy hazing. Others were disgusted but shrugged it off as the work of a few bad apples, not something that should draw judgment down on the whole of U.S. policy and the brave men and women in uniform....We have actually come to the point where the rhetoric of Reagan’s day no longer holds: American exceptionalists and conservatives no longer claim emphatically that the United States does not and never will torture, as they did before (however disingenuously). An AP poll in June 2009 found that 52 percent of Americans thought torture was justified in some situations — up from only 38 percent in 2005. In Obama’s America, torture is now normalized.

But Americans should recoil from torture absolutely, should recognize it is not an anomaly of the Bush war in Iraq but a practice with decades of U.S. precedent, should understand that responsibility for the Bush-era torture went all the way to the top, should know that domestic and international laws were unambiguously violated in the war on terrorism, should understand and oppose torture even when it’s “only” psychological or used against domestic criminal convicts, and should recognize that Obama has not put a stop to the abuse. A single book will offer a crash course in all these elements of the U.S. torture state: The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration, and Abuse, a remarkable and multidisciplinary collection of chapters by scholars, lawyers, and journalists, all compiled by Marjorie Cohn, past president of the National Lawyers Guild and a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law.

Not just Bush

It is crucial to recognize that torture is not a new policy that began with George W. Bush’s war on terrorism. Despite the Cold War rhetoric, the U.S. government has been responsible for torture for decades, particularly in Latin America. The preface to the book is written by Dianna Ortiz, a nun who was raped, burnt, beaten, and otherwise tortured in Guatemala in 1989, all under the auspices of a U.S. commander, she is sure. There is no reason to doubt her. A chapter by Bill Quigley surveys the legacy of the School of the Americas (SOA), a U.S. Army installation with origins in Panama in 1946 that was moved to Fort Benning, Georgia, in 1984 and renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC) in 2001. “Together these schools have trained more than 60,000 members of the military from 22 Central and South American countries.”

Students were trained in “the systematic use of torture and executions to neutralize dissidents.” In 1996 the Pentagon admitted using torture training manuals in the SOA. The manuals “were based on materials used in the Vietnam War in the 1960s.”

Some of the worst graduates include Bolivian Gen. Hugo Banzer, who seized the country in a violent coup in 1971; the dictator of Guatemala, Gen. Romeo Lucas Garcia, who is implicated in “5,000 political murders and up to 25,000 civilian deaths”; Panama’s famed dictator, Manuel Noriega; and “most of the Chilean military who overthrew the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende on September 11, 1973.”

El Salvador was probably the scene of most of this U.S.-sponsored barbarity. American support for the death squads is the focus of Terry Lynn Karl’s chapter. The Reagan administration repeatedly defended the regime in El Salvador, despite its outright murder of moderate reformers, Jesuit priests and nuns, and other innocent men, women, and children. “On December 10, 1981, units of the Atlactl Battalion and the Third Infantry Brigade detained between 500 and 900 people in the village of El Mozote and the surrounding area, then executed them in groups, first the men, and then the women and children.” It is telling that “U.S. aid totals in the two years of greatest repression (1980–1981) were far greater than the total for the previous 33 years.” This is one great shame of both the Carter and the Reagan administrations.

Even before George W. Bush took office, what became one of his most scandalous torture programs — the outsourcing of abusive interrogation to foreign thugs, known as “extraordinary renditioning” — was already being developed. Jane Mayer tells of its fledgling beginnings in the Clinton years, when it was also used in the war on al-Qaeda, with most of the renditioned detainees handed over to Egypt, “the largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid after Israel.” At the hands of Mubarak’s brutal regime, Shawki Salama Attiya claims “that he suffered electrical shocks to his genitals, was hung from his limbs, and was kept in a cell in filthy water up to his knees.” The abuses only expanded under Bush, who renditioned at least dozens of terror suspects. At least some of them, such as Canadian citizen Maher Arar, tortured in Syria, appear to have been completely innocent of any terrorist-related activities.

Just as U.S.-sponsored torture didn’t begin with Bush, it didn’t end with him. The last chapter, written by Thomas Ehrlich Reifer, points out that the Obama administration has “implied that it would continue the practice of extraordinary rendition” and as of his writing Obama “is not complying with the UN Convention Against Torture, the Geneva Conventions, or other obligations under international and domestic law, as reports from the Washington Post and other reputable news organizations indicate that torture continues at various U.S. prisons oversees.” Of course, indefinite detention without charge has also continued and Obama has shielded Bush officials from legal recourse.

Psychological abuse and solitary confinement

One misconception about torture is that it has to leave a physical mark, or be physical at all. Alfred W. McCoy’s chapter, “The CIA’s Pursuit of Psychological Torture,” dispels this myth, detailing the agency’s most disturbing past in attempting to master the art of mind control. Starting in the late 1940s and early 1950s and guided by a report on Nazi experiments, chemist Henry Beecher consulted for the CIA in psychological experiments in postwar Germany. Later, “Beecher won a classified military contract to test heavy LSD doses on unwitting human subjects at Massachusetts General Hospital in 1953-4 — a clear violation of the Nuremberg medical code.” McCoy explains how severe psychological torture techniques can be and traces their propagation “among anti-communist allies across Asia and Latin America” and their link to the Phoenix Program in South Vietnam.

The importance of psychological torture is not lost on U.S. officials, who have in the war on terrorism cooperated with professional psychologists to hone this diabolical craft. “[Psychologists] helped to define what constitutes ‘torture’ in general terms of detainee breaking points” to help the administration find the threshold of what would “officially constitute illegal torture,” writes Stephen Soldz. The psychologists “were not just monitors of abuse.” They helped design it. U.S. troops are put through abusive conditions to “evaluate how much stress an individual could tolerate. It was these psychologists on whom the government relied, when it ‘reversed engineered’ … techniques to design ‘counterresistance techniques’ to break down detainees.” Soldz is highly critical of the American Psychological Association for what he says is complicity in this shameful collaboration between members of the profession and the torture state.

Just as physical torture is not the only kind of torture, so wartime enemies are not the only victims. Lance Tapley indicts the entire institution of solitary confinement in America’s supermax prisons as a form of torture. But is he exaggerating?

Severe pain and suffering as punishment are plainly the norm in a supermax. Even when mental suffering alone is considered — ignoring, for example, the coordinated beatings and violent subjugation of recalcitrant prisoners known as “cell extractions” — the prolonged solitary confinement of prisoners has increasingly been described by UN agencies and human-rights organizations as cruel, inhuman, degrading, or torturous.

You don’t have to take the UN’s word for it. Tapley describes compellingly a totalitarian hell for domestic prisoners. Nothing like it can be found in the world of criminal justice, especially the so-called civilized world. And what are “cell extractions”? The author describes one prisoner who endures them “up to five times a day”:

Five hollering guards wearing helmets and body armor charge into a cell. The point-man smashes a big shield into the prisoner, knocking him down. The others spray Mace into his face, push him onto the bed, and twist his arms behind his back to handcuff him, connecting the cuffs by a chain to leg irons. Then they haul him into the corridor, cut off all his clothes, and carry him screaming through the cell block while they continue to Mace him. They put him in an observation room, and bind him to a special chair. He remains there for hours, naked and cold, yelling and mumbling.

Estimates of how many American prisoners sit in supermaxes range between 36,000 and 100,000. Not all inmates are violent rapists and murderers. Many are mentally troubled. Their terrible treatment is one reason some of us were not so shocked by the photos at Abu Ghraib.

Legal violations and philosophical dilemmas

Yet there was something particularly evil about the Bush administration’s torture policies. Many thousands were detained without due process and were exposed to particularly disturbing cruelties. Up to a hundred died in detention, many tortured to death.

The chapter by Marc D. Falkoff, a lawyer for a Guantánamo inmate, humanizes such prisoners, many of whom were swept up in the war in Afghanistan, called the “worst of the worst” by American officials, and deprived of due process for years, even as the Supreme Court struck down one administration attempt after another to circumvent habeas corpus. Falkoff’s client, Adnan, appears to be an innocent victim of circumstance, deprived of the right to see the evidence against him, accused of connections with al-Qaeda, an organization he seems not to know anything about. He suffers from chronic headaches and inner ear pain, the results of a 1994 car accident. He is denied suitable food or anywhere near adequate medical attention for his many health problems. The water he is given has bugs in it. Excerpts from the proceedings and interrogations indicate a code of justice reaching Kafkaesque absurdity. After years of torturous confinement, Adnan went on a hunger strike. In response, “twice a day, soldiers force-feed Adnan a liquid nutrient by inserting a tube up his nose and into his stomach. His arms and legs are strapped to a special restraint chair during the feedings.” more...

Friday, October 21, 2011

Real-Life Inception: Army Looks to ‘Counteract Nightmares’ With Digital Dreams (edited)

source: Wired

At this phase digital dreams are promoted as a safe, comforting fantasy land just like the Magic Kingdom, which of course is quite ugly beneath the surface. In a few years the same technology will likely be openly used to torture people without leaving a mark, thereby making prosecution for war crimes much more difficult to achieve while increasing potential damages exponentially. The possibilities are nearly endless: synthetic sexual assault, drowning, suffocation and nearly anything a sick mind can dream up to torture social dissidents. Trigger search algorithms could even be used to mine the target for particularly upsetting scenarios. Of course this will all seem like paranoia unless you're aware of the U.S. military sponsored MK Ultra project and its history of destroying the minds and bodies of U.S. civilians, in no small part via the use of microchips that alter neural impulses responsible for regulating emotional well-being. Happy dreaming!

A soldier tries to sleep. But he is not safe in his dreams. Jolted awake by a nightmare, the combat veteran fumbles in the dark for his 3-D glasses.

He puts them on. Around him are the faces of people whom he trusts. They fight the darkness with him. The soldier’s re-lived this scene in his head and the laboratory over and over again, until it has become reassuringly familiar. The soldier knows that his pixelated friends will take him away from these troubled dreams. When the scene is over, he takes off his goggles and looks around him. The soldier is home.

The U.S. Army wants this dream sequence to become reality. In an Army-backed experiment called “Power Dreaming,” Naval Hospital Bremerton in Washington State will help traumatized troops battle their nightmares — with soothing, digitally-made dreams crafted in virtual worlds. more...

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Update: Opus Dei involved in Roman Catholic child trafficking network*

The recent scandal in Spain involving the theft and subsequent trafficking of hundreds of babies by the Spanish Roman Catholic Church has been revealed to be linked to an adoption agency run by the secret society Opus Dei. Children were typically taken from single mothers who were sometimes threatened with exposure as adulterers if they exposed the crimes of the Church. Here is an excerpt from a news article followed by brief commentary, via El Pais. Skeptical readers can verify the involvement of Opus Dei here as well.

On the trail of Spain's stolen children

In the decade following the end of the Spanish Civil War, an unholy alliance of doctors, priests, and General Francisco Franco's secret police systematically took thousands of children from vulnerable women known to have supported the Republican cause. These women were often in prison, or their husbands had been killed or were also in jail. It was seen at the time as an effective way of inflicting a lasting punishment on those who had backed the wrong side in the war, at the same time as preventing the appearance of a new generation of "reds" by placing the children in the care of families who supported the new regime.

But over recent years, it has emerged that the practice continued beyond the war, which came to an end in 1939, and was widespread throughout the Franco era - even after the dictator died in 1975. A network of Catholic Church-run children's homes and private hospitals would take newborn infants, typically from young, impoverished single mothers, who were told that their baby had died. Estimates put the total number of children who may have been illegally adopted between 1950 and 1980 at around 300,000.

...The link that enabled the practice of taking children from their mothers - now through deception rather than by force - up to and beyond the death of Franco, was made up of a network of priests and nuns, as well as Catholic doctors, judges and notaries, many of them belonging to the highly secretive Opus Dei movement.

What is highly interesting here is that it reveals the extent to which Opus Dei has been involved in supporting right wing dictatorships, a history the group has repeatedly attempted to minimize, despite the fact that, in 1958, Josemaria Escriva, Opus Dei's founder, wrote a letter to General Franco announcing his congratulations and support for the regime. Not mentioned in the above article is Opus Dei's practice of recruiting members through highly developed techniques of cult mind control. Here is an excerpt from a personal testimony on the Opus Dei Awareness Network website:

"While many Catholic religious organizations now question whether corporal mortification brings a person closer to God, the lay organization Opus Dei embraces corporal mortification in their program of making modern-day martyrs. The use of the cilice (see photo), a barbed-wire chain worn around the groin for two hours each day and the disciplines (see photo), a flagellation device, is well-documented by former numerary (celibate) members. And Opus Dei’s 1950 Constitutions, whose operational and governing paragraphs are still in effect say:

“They conserve faithfully the pious custom of chastisement of the body to keep it in a state of servitude, by wearing a small cilice for at least two hours a day, taking the discipline and sleeping on the floor once a week, making adequate provision to safeguard the health.”...I found out to what extreme this philosophy is carried out when I began to have doubts about my numerary vocation after living in an Opus Dei center for two years. They assigned me a new spiritual director to get me back on track with my life-long commitment to the organization. She was the same age as me, 24. She took me on pilgrimages, and I explained to her that I wanted to leave because I wanted to get married some day. She laughed and told me that the lives of the supernumeraries were far worse and that “men are jerks in pants.” In addition to spending more time with me than our usual weekly fraternal chat, she assigned me the following spiritual reading:..The secret internal document in which Fr. Alvaro del Portillo describes an incident which happened while he and Escriva were hiding in the Madrid’s Honduran consulate in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War. This testimony is recounted in Andrea Tornielli’s book on Escriva and is translated by John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter, ““Escriva would ask for the use of the bedroom alone when it was time for his spiritual practices. Once, however, his chief aide, Fr. Alvaro del Portillo (who would later succeed Escriva as head of Opus Dei), was sick and could not leave the room. Escriva thus told Portillo to cover his head with his blanket. Portillo described what followed: ‘Soon I began to hear the forceful blows of his discipline. I will never forget the number: there were more than a thousand terrible blows, precisely timed, and always inflicted with the same force and the same rhythm. The floor was covered with blood, but he cleaned it up before the others came in.’” more...

It is also interesting that, when most people discuss covert rule by secret societies, the focus is on the "secular humanism" of the Illuminati, with scant mention of the cult's origins in rituals of the Jesuits, a Catholic secret society whose founder also belonged to a secret society named Alumbrados(Illuminated). The Illuminati's founder, Adam Weishaupt, was himself a Jesuit and he based the rituals of the Illuminati upon those of the Jesuits. Ultimately, both right wing religious ideologies and their supposed left wing counterpart in libertinism are rooted in Gnostic sects of antiquity, and both sides have repeatedly been linked to gross abuses of power, whether through politics, industry, religion or the media. Since geopolitical centralization is by no means partisan in nature, it is vital to dig deeper to understand the philosophical undercurrent which unifies the seeming opposites in dictatorial criminal rule. For now, I will wrap things up by comparing images of the pagan sun cross with the insignia of Opus Dei and the Jesuits, an organization that has repeatedly been linked to assassinations(notice what appears to be the image of a sword in their logo. It's the first one down). The Knights of Malta, yet another Catholic secret society linked to right wing dictatorships, will have to wait for another day.

*Credit is due my East Bay reader for inspiration for this post. ;)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Spanish Catholic Church sponsored child trafficking network


Let's keep this story firmly in the context of what has recently been occurring between Roman Catholic sex abuse scandals, Church genocide of Mohawk children and Catholic priests openly admitting to their involvement in organizations formed with the specific purpose of legalizing pedophilia. Viewed in this light it should not be too hard to put two and two together. Moreover, recently published an article about similar child trafficking practices occurring in Viet Nam, and of course many of those children were also taken from their families and sold at an exorbitant rate for the benefit of the Church, as usual. Let's also remember that this incident, Operation Baby Lift, was not the only time a relief agency has been charged with trafficking children, as can be evidenced in the history of Dyncorp, a private military contractor whose employees were charged with kidnapping Eastern European girls and forcing them into prostitution. Similar to child-molesting priests within the Vatican, Dyncorp employees have been given legal immunity from prosecution under international law. But I suppose it would be unreasonable to suggest there's some kind of a pattern here, wouldn't it? (eyeroll)

Spain's Stolen Babies

Spain is reeling from an avalanche of allegations of baby theft and baby trafficking. It is thought that the trade began at the end of the Spanish civil war and continued for 50 years, with hundreds of thousands of babies traded by nuns, priests and doctors up to the 1990s. This World reveals the impact of Spain's stolen baby scandal through the eyes of the children and parents who were separated at birth, and who are now desperate to find their relatives.

Exhumations of the supposed graves of babies and positive DNA tests are proof that baby theft has happened.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Vatican genocide of Mohawk children, continued...

The following video describes how children from the Mohawk Nation were systematically starved, beaten, ritually tortured, sold into pedophile rings run by the Canadian government and deliberately murdered at a missionary school run by the Vatican. Reverend Kevin Annett of the International Tribunal for Crimes of Church and State has worked with a group of Mohawk elders to bring this story to the light despite a widespread media blackout. Please spread this video far and wide to speak out against Native American genocide.

Vatican implicated in ritual torture and genocide of Mohawk children

via:The Examiner:

And everyone has called David Icke crazy for his claim that the British royal family has been involved in the ritual torture of children....

Mass genocide of Mohawk children by UK Queen and Vatican uncovered in Canada

BRANTFORD, ON, CANADA - Mass graves of Mohawk children have been uncovered by ground-penetrating radar at the Mohawk Institute, a residential school for Mohawk operated by the Church of England and the Vatican before its closure in 1970.

According to Rev. Kevin Annett, Secretary of the International Tribunal for Crimes of Church and States (, the Mohawk Institute was “set up by the Anglican Church of England in 1832 to imprison and destroy generations of Mohawk children. This very first Indian [First Nations] residential school in Canada lasted until 1970, and, like in most residential schools, more than half of the children imprisoned there never returned. Many of them are buried all around the school.”

Preliminary scanning by ground penetrating radar adjacent to the now closed main building Mohawk Institute has revealed that “between 15-20 feet of soil” was brought in and put over the mass graves just before the Mohawk Institute closed in 1970 in order to camouflage the mass graves of Mohawk Children and avoid prosecution for genocide and crimes against humanity under the Geneva Conventions, the International Criminal Court, and cooperating national courts.

International Tribunal for Crimes of Church and States ( is expected to commence judicial proceedings starting in late October 2011 in Brussels, Belgium and Dublin, Ireland for child genocide crimes against humanity against defendants Elizabeth Windsor, head of state of Canada and head of the Church of England and Pope Joseph Ratzinger, both of whom knowingly participated in the planning and coverup of the child genocide, according to forensic evidence.

The Tribunal sessions were originally to have been held in London, U.K. However, The U.K. government has denied entrance to the Secretary and major jurists and staff of the International Tribunal for Crimes of Church and States ( without cause.

The discovery of the mass graves of Mohawk children, uncovered by ground-penetrating radar at the Mohawk Institute comes on the heels of videotaped evidence by eyewitness William Coombes, who in Oct. 1964 witnessed Elizabeth Windsor, as Head of State of Canada and Head of the Church of England, visit an aboriginal school in Kamloops, British Columbia, choose 10 young aboriginal children, made them kiss her feet, and allegedly took them from the school for a picnic at a lake.

The 10 aboriginal children were never seen again. Mr. Coombes, who was to give evidence at the International Tribunal for Crimes of Church and States ( of Elizabeth Windsor’s child genocide, was murdered in Feb. 2011. Fortunately, Mr. Coombes’ testimony was videotaped before his death and is available for the Tribunal.

Rev. Kevin Annett states that instruments of torture such as a rack for torturing the Mohawk children in ritual torture have been found at the now closed Mohawk Institute. Eyewitnesses from the Mohawk community have stated they witnessed priests in red robes torturing children in ritual torture.

Rev. Annett made these revelations in an exclusive Oct. 7, 2011 interview with Alfred Lambremont Webre. In the interview, Rev. Annett acknowledges the close parallels between the Oct. 1964 personal child genocide and possible ritual killings of 10 aboriginal children by Elizabeth Windsor, Head of State of Canada and Head of the Church of England, and the child genocides occurring during the same period at the Mohawk Institute.

These parallels suggest that Elizabeth Windsor, as Head of State and Head of the Church of England was personally aware of, ordered, and participated in this systematic program of genocide and ritual torture and killings at Church of England residential schools operated by the Church of England and the Vatican.