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What Is Obama Doing At Bagram? (Part One): Torture And The Black Prison (Andy Worthington 6/4)

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chill_wind Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-05-10 08:41 PM
Original message

What Is Obama Doing At Bagram? (Part One):
Torture And The Black Prison

By Andy Worthington

04 June, 2010

Ambinder began by explaining how it had been previously reported that the secret prison, which is beige on the outside with a green gate, was operated by members of a Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) group, which was allegedly outside of the jurisdiction of Vice Admiral Robert Harward, the commander in charge of detention operations in Afghanistan. However, he added, JSOC, a component command made up of highly secret special mission units and task forces, does not operate the facility. Instead, it is manned by intelligence operatives and interrogators who work for the Defense Counterintelligence and Human Intelligence Center (DCHC), a branch of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the Pentagons main military intelligence department.

Complicating matters further, Ambinder also explained that DCHC perform interrogations for a sub-unit of Task Force 714, an elite counter-terrorism brigade, which, last year, was described to Spencer Ackerman of the Washington Independent by a National Security Council staffer as small groups of Rangers going wherever the hell they want to go in Afghanistan and operating under legal authority granted at the end of the Bush Administration that President Obama has not revoked.

Describing the process through which prisoners end up at the black prison, Ambinder added, Usually, captives are first detained at one of at least six classified Field Interrogation Sites in Afghanistan, and then dropped off at the DIA facility and, when the interrogators are finished, transferred to the main prison population at the Bagram Theater Internment Facility. This provides an additional insight into the web of other secret, frontline facilities feeding into Bagram that I touched upon in an article earlier this year entitled, Bagram: Graveyard of the Geneva Conventions, and which were also exposed in an article by Anand Gopal for

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman attempted to dismiss Ambinders claim, stating that DoD does operate some temporary screening detention facilities which are classified to preserve operational security, but that both the and the host nation have knowledge of these facilities. However, Ambinders report painted a bleaker picture, involving torture techniques contained in a little-known appendix to the current Army Field Manual.

Although President Obama issued an executive order on his second day in office, in January 2009, requiring interrogations to conform to the Army Field Manual (PDF), which prohibits physical violence and enhanced interrogation, Ambinder reported that, in the black jail, prisoners are subjected to sleep deprivation and isolation based on the Field Manuals Appendix M (which Jeff Kaye has been writing about since last January), and which, under controlled circumstances, allows a range of Bush-era enhanced interrogation techniques to be used, including sleep deprivation and isolation. Ambinder also explained that when Appendix M techniques are being used, the man responsible for overseeing them is Gen.James Clapper (Ret.), the undersecretary of defense for intelligence.

full article:

Currrently related threads on DU:

Jeremy Scahill's story that includes talk about Task Force 714 or TF-714

Under the Obama administration, according to sources,TF-714 has expanded and recently changed its classified name. The Task Force's budge has reportedly expanded 40 percent on the request of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, and has added additional forces. "It was at Mullen's request and they can do more now," according to a special forces source. "You don't have to work out of the embassies, you don't have to play nice with (the State Department), you can just set up anywhere really."


Obama's choice of Clapper as National Intelligence Director

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truth2power Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-05-10 09:21 PM
Response to Original message
1. I thought WE weren't going to torture...
More useless babble from Obama. :eyes:

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chill_wind Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-05-10 10:56 PM
Response to Reply #1
3. We like to look for loopholes in some things and rebrand the names of other things.
Edited on Sat Jun-05-10 10:58 PM by chill_wind
Like the war on Terrah. Like this:

GWOT -> OCO (Overseas Contingency Operations-- didn't catch on) -> "CVE" -- Countering Violent Extremism.
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truth2power Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-06-10 08:48 AM
Response to Reply #3
4. Thanks for the link. Bookmarked to read later...
Re: the OP..I listen very closely to what Obama says and I can always pick out the "lawyerese", the weasel words.
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chill_wind Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-06-10 04:34 PM
Response to Reply #4
6. Thank you for commenting.
Edited on Sun Jun-06-10 04:35 PM by chill_wind
300 views and you are the only one who has. Depressingly, as more and more time has past, I fear we, even at DU, are really are becoming more and more inured to the subject.
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chill_wind Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-05-10 10:41 PM
Response to Original message
2. Scott Horton and others: A few things about Appendix M.
Edited on Sat Jun-05-10 10:43 PM by chill_wind

DIA and the Black Jail at Bagram (Harper's)
By Scott Horton May 17

Ambinder also reports that the rough interrogation techniques used at the prison are taken from the notorious Appendix M to the Army Field Manual, which the Pentagon itself acknowledges is not compliant with the Geneva Conventions standards for prisoners of war.

So the jail is not a JSOC operation? Its not so simple as that. Task Force 714 was headed by two successive JSOC commanders, Stanley McChrystal and then William McRaven, and it has often been tied to the blackest of the JSOC black ops. Heres what Spencer Ackerman had to say about it in a piece posted last year:

McRaven runs a secretive detachment of Special Forces known as Task Force 714 once commanded by McChrystal himself that the NSC staffer described as direct-action units conducting high-intensity hits. In an email, Sholtis said that because Task Force 714 was a special ops organization he cant go into much detail on authorities, etc. But the NSC staffer who called McRaven McChrystal Squared said Task Force 714 was organized into small groups of Rangers going wherever the hell they want to go in Afghanistan and operating under legal authority granted at the end of the Bush Administration that President Obama has not revoked.

Its true that JSOC relies on other branches of the vast Defense Department intelligence community for support, and I dont doubt Ambinders reporting, but I still believe based on everything I have heard that this is, at its heart, a JSOC operation. Regardless, its time to ask Secretary Gates why hes decided to put DIA in charge of a prison operation that looks almost identical to the one that President Obama outlawed back on January 22, 2009, and why hes giving them free rein to employ the non-Geneva compliant techniques found in Appendix M.


How the U.S. Army's Field Manual Codified Torture -- and Still Does
Buried in Appendix M of the Army Field Manual, the Guantanamo virus is spreading, and eradicating it will require all of us to spread the word.

January 7, 2009 |

In early September 2006, the U.S. Department of Defense, reeling from at least a dozen investigations into detainee abuse by interrogators, released Directive 2310.01E. This directive was advertised as an overhaul and improvement on earlier detainee operations and included a newly rewritten Army Field Manual for Human Intelligence Collector Operations (FM-2-22-3). This guidebook for interrogators was meant to set a humane standard for U.S. interrogators worldwide, a standard that was respectful of the Geneva Conventions and other U.S. and international laws concerning treatment of prisoners.

While George W. Bush was signing a presidential directive allowing the CIA to conduct other, secret "enhanced interrogation techniques," which may or may not have included waterboarding, the new AFM was sold to the public as a return to civilized norms, in regards to interrogation.

Before long, opponents of U.S. torture policy were championing the new AFM as an appropriate "single-standard" model of detainee treatment. Support for implementing the revised AFM, as a replacement for the hated "enhanced" techniques earlier championed by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the CIA, began to appear in legislation out of Congress, in the literature of human-rights organizations and in newspaper editorials. Some rights groups have felt the new AFM offered some improvements by banning repellent interrogation tactics, such as waterboarding, use of nudity, military dogs and stress positions. It was believed the AFM cemented the concept of command responsibility for infractions of the law.

There was only one problem: the AFM did not eliminate torture. Despite what it said, it did not adhere to the Geneva Conventions. Even worse, it took the standard operating procedure of Camp Delta at Guantanamo Bay and threatened to expand it all over the world.


This program is nothing less than the one established in researcher Albert Biderman's Chart of Coercion, which, as revealed by the recent Senate Armed Services Committee investigation into detainee abuse, was the blueprint used by SERE instructors at Guantanamo in late 2002 to teach abusive interrogation techniques. (SERE stands for Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape and is the military program to "inoculate" certain military personnel against torture or abusive treatment by an enemy that doesn't recognize Geneva protocol.)

One last example should suffice to demonstrate the perfidy upon which the Army Field Manual was rewritten. (The revamping of the AFM was supervised by Stephen Cambone, Rumsfeld's undersecretary of defense for intelligence, also notoriously in charge of the Pentagon's secretive sabotage and assassination teams, code-named Grey Fox.)


Bagram: What Appendix M Says About Interrogation

May 14 2010,
Marc Ambinder

Several readers have asked me to provide more information on the Army Field Manual's Appendix M, which sanctions a "restricted" interrogation technique, but which the D.I.A.'s interrogators are using, under secret orders, to employ harsher techniques. The Appendix is not classified. It applies to a category of detainees -- "unlawful combatants" -- that isn't terribly well-defined in current law. In theory, the Appendix's technique can only be applied to "specific unlawful enemy combatants for whom proper approvals have been granted in accordance with this appendix." But it appears as if this approval has been granted a priori and in secret.

And that's an issue, because detainees' official statuses aren't usually determined until AFTER they've passed through the D.I.A. facility.

That means that, so far as the D.I.A's interrogators and intelligence collectors are concerned, a lot of detainees can be given the Appendix M treatment

more: /

Who Runs The Secret 'Black Jail' at Bagram?

Jeremy Scahill
May 14, 2010

This week the International Committee of the Red Cross confirmed the existence of a secret prison facility within the larger Bagram prison complex in Afghanistan. This followed in-depth reports by the BBC and detailing specific allegations of abuse at the facility that some prisoners referred to as the "Black Jail." There has been speculation and reporting indicating that the prison was run by the Joint Special Operations Command, the elite of the elite of US special forces.

Today Marc Ambinder has a big scoop over at The Atlantic. According to defense and administration sources, Ambinder reports, the "classified interrogation facility for high-value detainees" is actually run by the Defense Intelligence Agency's Defense Counterintelligence and Human Intelligence Center (DCHC). "They perform interrogations for a sub-unit of Task Force 714, an elite counter-terrorism brigade," Ambinder writes. "Intelligence gleaned from these interrogations has often led to some of the military's highest profile captures. Usually, captives are first detained at one of at least six classified Field Interrogation Sites in Afghanistan, and then dropped off at the DIA facility -- and, when the interrogators are finished, transferred to the main prison population at the Bagram Theater Internment Facility."


"When interrogators are using Appendix M measures, the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, Gen.James Clapper (Ret.) is the man on the hook. Detainees designated as prisoners of war cannot be subjected to Appendix M measures."
Ambinder reports that the White House is "kept appraised of the methods used by interrogators at the site." Ambinder's whole post is here. You can also follow him on Twitter: @marcambinder


Republicans won't give a rat's arse, but I hope there's a line of questioning from some Dems at least for Clapper about Bagram and Appendix M.

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chill_wind Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-06-10 01:26 PM
Response to Original message
5. Are we so inured?

The Torture of Omar Khadr, a Child in Bagram and Guantnamo

Andy Worthington 13.5.10

Are we so inured to the implementation of torture by the Bush administration that we no longer recognize what torture is? Torture, according to the UN Convention Against Torture, to which the US is a signatory, is any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person.

Under President Bush, however, John Yoo, an ideological puppet in the Justice Departments Office of Legal Counsel, which is supposed to objectively interpret the law as it applies to the executive branch, purported to redefine torture, in two memos that have become known as the torture memos, as the infliction of physical pain equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death, or the infliction of mental pain which result(s) in significant psychological harm of significant duration e.g. lasting for months or even years.

I ask this question about torture and our attitude to it because of what took place last week, in pre-trial hearings at Guantnamo preceding the trial by Military Commission of the Canadian prisoner Omar Khadr, who was just 15 years old when he was seized after a firefight in Afghanistan in July 2002. A number of witnesses revealed details of Khadrs mistreatment, in the US prison at Bagram airbase in Afghanistan, which hinted at his inclusion in an abusive program that, before the 9/11 attacks, before Yoos memos and before a general coarsening of attitudes towards abuse and the mistreatment of prisoners, would have led to calls for that mistreatment to be thoroughly investigated, and, very possibly, for it to be regarded as torture or as cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment.

In Khadrs case, these questions should not even need raising, for a number of other compelling reasons. The first concerns his age. Under the terms of the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, on the involvement of children in armed conflict, to which the US is also a signatory, juveniles defined as those under the age of 18 when the crime they are accused of committing took place require special protection. The Optional Protocol specifically recognizes the special needs of those children who are particularly vulnerable to recruitment or use in hostilities, and requires its signatories to promote the physical and psychosocial rehabilitation and social reintegration of children who are victims of armed conflict.

Instead, however, the US government is attempting, for the third time, to prosecute Khadr for war crimes in a special trial system for foreign terror suspects the Military Commissions which were first ruled illegal by the Supreme Court in 2006, were then revived by Congress but abandoned by President Obama on his first day in office (after they had succeeded in delivering just three dubious results), and were then revived again by President Obama, with the support of Congress, last summer.

Compounding the dark absurdity of Khadrs proposed trial is an uncomfortable truth that has been particularly noted by Lt. Col. David Frakt, a former military defense attorney for the Commissions, who has regularly pointed out that the Military Commissions are fundamentally flawed because they contain law of war offenses invented by Congress, including Providing Material Support to Terrorism and Murder in Violation of the Law of War. Lt. Col. Frakt has recently expressed even graver concerns about how the new Military Commissions Act includes a passage which claims that a detainee may be convicted of murder in violation of the law of war even if they did not actually violate the law of war.


At various points in 2003, while the use of these techniques was still widespread, Khadr stated that he was short-shackled in painful positions and left for up to ten hours in a freezing cold cell, threatened with rape and with being transferred to another country where he could be raped, and, on one particular occasion, when he had been left short-shackled in a painful position until he urinated on himself:

Military police poured pine oil on the floor and on me, and then, with me lying on my stomach and my hands and feet cuffed together behind me, the military police dragged me back and forth through the mixture of urine and pine oil on the floor. Later, I was put back in my cell, without being allowed a shower or a change of clothes. I was not given a change of clothes for two days. They did this to me again a few weeks later.

Crucially, when describing the interrogations that punctuated these experiences at Guantnamo, Khadr explained, I did not want to expose myself to any more harm, so I always just told interrogators what I thought they wanted to hear. Having been asked the same questions so many times, I knew what answers made interrogators happy and would always tailor my answers based on what I thought would keep me from being harmed.

Until two weeks ago, these claims though well-known to those who have followed Khadrs case had, for the most part, not been aired in a courtroom. In response to the defense motion, however, the government attempted to refute Khadrs claims, calling a female interrogator who stated that Khadr had voluntarily admitted that he threw the grenade that killed US Sgt. Christopher Speer, during sessions after his arrival at Guantnamo in October 2002 that were perfectly amicable, and an FBI agent, Robert Fuller, who stated that his interrogations of Khadr at Bagram earlier in October 2002 were also conversational and non-confrontational, and that Khadr had freely admitted to throwing the grenade that killed Sgt. Speer. /

There is much more in there on the treatment of Omar Khadr. A Canadian citizen, Khadr was 15 years old when he was seized by US forces.

Prosecuting a Tortured Child: Obamas Guantnamo Legacy
Andy Worthington 3.5.10

Since coming to power 15 months ago, promising to close Guantnamo within a year, and suspending the much-criticized Military Commission trial system for terror suspects, President Obamas zeal for repudiating the Bush administrations War on Terror detention policies has ground to a halt.

The rot set in almost immediately, when the new administration invoked the state secrets doctrine last February, to combat a lawsuit brought by several men subjected to extraordinary rendition and torture, and was sealed last May, when Obama delivered a major national security speech in which he announced that the Military Commissions were back on the table, and also announced his intention to continue holding some prisoners at Guantnamo without charge or trial. /


What is Obama Doing at Bagram? (Part Two): Executive Detention, Rendition, Review Boards, Released Prisoners and Trials

Andy Worthington /

(bold-emphasis mine)
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pmorlan1 Donating Member (763 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-06-10 07:12 PM
Response to Original message
7. It makes me sick...
I'm so sick of politicians LYING to us.
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