15 November 2007

Gitmo operating manual

A never-before-seen military manual detailing the day-to-day operations of the U.S. military's Guantánamo Bay detention facility has been leaked to the web, affording a rare inside glimpse into the institution where the United States has imprisoned hundreds of suspected terrorists since 2002.

The 238-page document, "Camp Delta Standard Operating Procedures," is dated March 28, 2003. It is unclassified, but designated "For Official Use Only." It hit the web last Wednesday on Wikileaks.org.


The Camp Delta document (.pdf) includes schematics of the camp, detailed checklists of what "comfort items" such as extra toilet paper can be given to detainees as rewards, six pages of instructions on how to process new detainees, instructions on how to psychologically manipulate prisoners, and rules for dealing with hunger strikes.

"What strikes me is the level of detail for handling all kind of situations, from admission to barbers and burials," says Jamil Dakwar, advocacy director of the ACLU's Human Rights program. Dakwar was in Guantánamo last week for a military-commission hearing.

The Pentagon did not reply to a request for comment on the document.

Dakwar sees hints of Abu Ghraib in a section instructing guards to use dogs to intimidate prisoners. He also raises concerns over a section on the International Committee of the Red Cross, or ICRC, which indicates that some prisoners were hidden from Red Cross representatives.

The manual shows how the military coded each prisoner according to the level of access the Red Cross would have. The four levels are:

* No Access
* Visual Access -- ICRC can only look at a prisoner's physical condition.
* Restricted Access -- ICRC representatives can only ask short questions about the prisoner's health.
* Unrestricted Access

The No Access level troubles Dakwar.

"That actually raises a lot of concerns about the administration's genuineness in terms of allowing ICRC full access, as was promised to the world," Dakwar says. "They are the only organization that has access to the detainees, and this raises a lot of questions."

The ICRC does not make public reports about the conditions in prisons and gulags around the world, but instead meets privately with governments to persuade them to change their policies.

The manual also includes instructions on how to use military dogs to intimidate prisoners.

"MWD (Military Working Dogs) will walk 'Main Street' in Camp Delta during shifts to demonstrate physical presence to detainees," reads a directive in the "Psychological Deterrence" section. "MWD will not be walked through the blocks unless directed by the (Joint Detention Operations Group)."

The document was signed by Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller. According to media reports, Miller introduced harsh interrogation methods to Guantánamo, such as shackling detainees into stress positions and using guard dogs to exploit what the former head commander in Iraq Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez referred to as "Arab fear of dogs."

Miller visited Iraq in 2003 to share the Guantánamo methods. Soon after that visit, the infamous Abu Ghraib photos were taken.

President Bush said in 2006 he wanted to close the Guantánamo Bay prison camp. The military is prosecuting some detainees under military-commission rules set by Congress, and trying to repatriate hundreds of others.
Link to Wired story
Link to Wikilinks

Link to pdf of document

02 November 2007

Acupuncture for back pain

Acupuncture 'best therapy for back pain'

By Nic Fleming, Science Correspondent

Acupuncture can provide significantly more relief from lower back pain than conventional therapies, scientists say.

The Chinese needle treatment was 74 per cent more likely to lead to a sustained reduction in pain or improved ability to function normally than physiotherapy, medication and advice on exercise, according to German researchers.

Acupuncture 'best therapy for back pain'
Scientists say both acupuncture and
‘sham acupuncture’ are beneficial

However, the study also found "sham acupuncture" — in which needles are applied away from points usually used in traditional Chinese medicine — to be almost as effective, suggesting that the positive effects may have more to do with the way the body deals with pain than with the specific points where the needles are applied.

Dr Michael Haake, of the University of Regensburg in Bad Abbach, whose research was published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine, said: "Acupuncture gives physicians a promising and effective treatment option for chronic low back pain, with few adverse effects or contra-indications.

"The improvements in all primary and secondary outcome measures were significant and lasted long after completion of treatment. The superiority of both forms of acupuncture suggests a common underlying mechanism that may act on pain generation, transmission of pain signals or processing of pain signals by the central nervous system."

Dr Haake and colleagues carried out a clinical trial involving 1,162 patients who had experienced chronic low back pain for an average of eight years.

All participants underwent 10 half-hour sessions in five weeks. One group had acupuncture, while another had sham acupuncture.

The final group had conventional therapy consisting of a combination of medication, physical manipulation and exercise.

A successful response was defined as a 33 per cent reduction in pain or a 12 per cent improvement in ability to function normally. Both were assessed using questionnaires.

Six months after the trial was completed, 47.6 per cent of those in the real acupuncture group had responded to their treatment, compared to 44.2 per cent of the sham acupuncture group and 27.4 per cent in the conventional therapy group.

When a patient goes to see their GP about lower back pain in Britain, the doctor will firstly check for serious conditions, such as tumours or rheumatoid arthritis, before providing advice about exercise and the use of painkillers.

If the problem is not resolved within several weeks, patients are sometimes offered manipulation therapies including chiropractic, osteopathy or physiotherapy.

A survey of 2,240 people with back problems carried out by the charity BackCare in 2005 found that of those who had tried acupuncture 30 per cent said it had no effect, 41 per cent believed it provided only temporary relief and 19 per cent said it provided significant, sustained improvements.

Nia Taylor, the chief executive of BackCare, said: "We know from talking to patients that they are often dissatisfied with the attention they receive from their GPs. So-called alternative therapies such as acupuncture often provide longer consultation periods, and that in itself can be beneficial."

The NHS spends more than £1 billion per year on back pain, including £512?million for hospital treatment, £141 for GP consultations and £150 million on physiotherapy.

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01 November 2007

More waterboarding

Even with the fictional narrator this looks pretty horrifying.

Is it torture? Don't forget...

Video of waterboarding

Video of a reporter being waterboarded.

Watch the full story.

And, of course, don't forget this.

The heart of torture

No debate about whether something counts as torture should ignore this passage from Orwell's 1984.

"By itself," he said, "pain is not always enough. There are occasions when a human being will stand out against pain, even to the point of death. But for everyone there is something unendurable --something that cannot be contemplated. Courage and cowardice are not involved. If you are falling from a height it is not cowardly to clutch at a rope. If you have come up from deep water it is not cowardly to fill your lungs with air. It is merely an instinct which cannot be disobeyed. It is the same with the rats. For you, they are unendurable. They are a form of pressure that you cannot withstand, even if you wish to. You will do what is required of you." [284]

Waterboarding is torture

An extraordinary account of waterboarding and torture by a former SERE instructor.

Read the whole thing.

Last week the Attorney General nominee Judge Michael Mukasey refused to define waterboarding terror suspects as torture. On the same day MSNBC television pundit and former Republican Congressman Joe Scarborough quickly spoke out in its favor. On his morning television broadcast, he asserted, without any basis in fact, that the efficacy of the waterboard a viable tool to be used on Al Qaeda suspects.

Scarborough said, "For those who don't know, waterboarding is what we did to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who is the Al Qaeda number two guy that planned 9/11. And he talked …" He then speculated that “If you ask Americans whether they think it's okay for us to waterboard in a controlled environment … 90% of Americans will say 'yes.'” Sensing that what he was saying sounded extreme, he then claimed he did not support torture but that waterboarding was debatable as a technique: "You know, that's the debate. Is waterboarding torture? … I don't want the United States to engage in the type of torture that [Senator] John McCain had to endure."

In fact, waterboarding is just the type of torture then Lt. Commander John McCain had to endure at the hands of the North Vietnamese. As a former Master Instructor and Chief of Training at the US Navy Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape School (SERE) in San Diego, California I know the waterboard personally and intimately. SERE staff were required undergo the waterboard at its fullest. I was no exception. I have personally led, witnessed and supervised waterboarding of hundreds of people. It has been reported that both the Army and Navy SERE school’s interrogation manuals were used to form the interrogation techniques used by the US army and the CIA for its terror suspects. What was not mentioned in most articles was that SERE was designed to show how an evil totalitarian, enemy would use torture at the slightest whim. If this is the case, then waterboarding is unquestionably being used as torture technique.

The carnival-like he-said, she-said of the legality of Enhanced Interrogation Techniques has become a form of doublespeak worthy of Catch-22. Having been subjected to them all, I know these techniques, if in fact they are actually being used, are not dangerous when applied in training for short periods. However, when performed with even moderate intensity over an extended time on an unsuspecting prisoner – it is torture, without doubt. Couple that with waterboarding and the entire medley not only “shock the conscience” as the statute forbids -it would terrify you. Most people can not stand to watch a high intensity kinetic interrogation. One has to overcome basic human decency to endure watching or causing the effects. The brutality would force you into a personal moral dilemma between humanity and hatred. It would leave you to question the meaning of what it is to be an American.

We live at a time where Americans, completely uninformed by an incurious media and enthralled by vengeance-based fantasy television shows like “24”, are actually cheering and encouraging such torture as justifiable revenge for the September 11 attacks. Having been a rescuer in one of those incidents and personally affected by both attacks, I am bewildered at how casually we have thrown off the mantle of world-leader in justice and honor. Who we have become? Because at this juncture, after Abu Ghraieb and other undignified exposed incidents of murder and torture, we appear to have become no better than our opponents.

With regards to the waterboard, I want to set the record straight so the apologists can finally embrace the fact that they condone and encourage torture.

History’s Lessons Ignored

Before arriving for my assignment at SERE, I traveled to Cambodia to visit the torture camps of the Khmer Rouge. The country had just opened for tourism and the effect of the genocide was still heavy in the air. I wanted to know how real torturers and terror camp guards would behave and learn how to resist them from survivors of such horrors. I had previously visited the Nazi death camps Dachau and Bergen-Belsen. I had met and interviewed survivors of Buchenwald, Auschwitz and Magdeburg when I visited Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. However, it was in the S-21 death camp known as Tuol Sleng, in downtown Phnom Penh, where I found a perfectly intact inclined waterboard. Next to it was the painting on how it was used. It was cruder than ours mainly because they used metal shackles to strap the victim down, and a tin flower pot sprinkler to regulate the water flow rate, but it was the same device I would be subjected to a few weeks later.

On a Mekong River trip, I met a 60-year-old man, happy to be alive and a cheerful travel companion, who survived the genocide and torture … he spoke openly about it and gave me a valuable lesson: “If you want to survive, you must learn that ‘walking through a low door means you have to be able to bow.’” He told his interrogators everything they wanted to know including the truth. They rarely stopped. In torture, he confessed to being a hermaphrodite, a CIA spy, a Buddhist Monk, a Catholic Bishop and the son of the king of Cambodia. He was actually just a school teacher whose crime was that he once spoke French. He remembered “the Barrel” version of waterboarding quite well. Head first until the water filled the lungs, then you talk.

Once at SERE and tasked to rewrite the Navy SERE program for the first time since the Vietnam War, we incorporated interrogation and torture techniques from the Middle East, Latin America and South Asia into the curriculum. In the process, I studied hundreds of classified written reports, dozens of personal memoirs of American captives from the French-Indian Wars and the American Revolution to the Argentinean ‘Dirty War’ and Bosnia. There were endless hours of videotaped debriefings from World War Two, Korea, Vietnam and Gulf War POWs and interrogators. I devoured the hundreds of pages of debriefs and video reports including those of then Commander John McCain, Colonel Nick Rowe, Lt. Dieter Dengler and Admiral James Stockdale, the former Senior Ranking Officer of the Hanoi Hilton. All of them had been tortured by the Vietnamese, Pathet Lao or Cambodians. The minutiae of North Vietnamese torture techniques was discussed with our staff advisor and former Hanoi Hilton POW Doug Hegdahl as well as discussions with Admiral Stockdale himself. The waterboard was clearly one of the tools dictators and totalitarian regimes preferred.

There is No Debate Except for Torture Apologists

1. Waterboarding is a torture technique. Period. There is no way to gloss over it or sugarcoat it. It has no justification outside of its limited role as a training demonstrator. Our service members have to learn that the will to survive requires them accept and understand that they may be subjected to torture, but that America is better than its enemies and it is one’s duty to trust in your nation and God, endure the hardships and return home with honor.

2. Waterboarding is not a simulation. Unless you have been strapped down to the board, have endured the agonizing feeling of the water overpowering your gag reflex, and then feel your throat open and allow pint after pint of water to involuntarily fill your lungs, you will not know the meaning of the word.

Waterboarding is a controlled drowning that, in the American model, occurs under the watch of a doctor, a psychologist, an interrogator and a trained strap-in/strap-out team. It does not simulate drowning, as the lungs are actually filling with water. There is no way to simulate that. The victim is drowning. How much the victim is to drown depends on the desired result (in the form of answers to questions shouted into the victim’s face) and the obstinacy of the subject. A team doctor watches the quantity of water that is ingested and for the physiological signs which show when the drowning effect goes from painful psychological experience, to horrific suffocating punishment to the final death spiral.

Waterboarding is slow motion suffocation with enough time to contemplate the inevitability of black out and expiration –usually the person goes into hysterics on the board. For the uninitiated, it is horrifying to watch and if it goes wrong, it can lead straight to terminal hypoxia. When done right it is controlled death. Its lack of physical scarring allows the victim to recover and be threaten with its use again and again.
Torture in captivity simulation training reveals there are ways an enemy can inflict punishment which will render the subject wholly helpless and which will generally overcome his willpower. The torturer will trigger within the subject a survival instinct, in this case the ability to breathe, which makes the victim instantly pliable and ready to comply. It is purely and simply a tool by which to deprive a human being of his ability to resist through physical humiliation. The very concept of an American Torturer is an anathema to our values.

That last paragraph reminds me of something...

More Taser misuse

Not cool.

LAist: OC Deputies Taser, Cuff 15-Year-Old Autistic Boy
Taylor Karras was reported missing by his mother yesterday, after running away from a Westminster social services facility where he was receiving therapy for autism.

Around 9:30 p.m., the 15-year-old boy was found just a block from his North Tustin home. Orange County Sheriff's deputies spotted Karras pushing a shopping cart in the street, chased him on foot, Tasered him once, and handcuffed him.

Only when a passing neighbor recognized Karras did the authorities realize he had been reported missing nearly ten hours earlier and that he had a disability.

Taylor Karras's mother, Doris, said she saw the entire incident and felt the police action was excessive. "He had been stopping at bus stops and reading the maps to find his way home," she said.

OC Sheriff Lt. Hal Brotheim claimed that Karras took off running through traffic when the deputies approached him. Traffic in unincorporated North Tustin at 9:30 p.m. on a Monday night. Link

Guard Tasers Man Holding Baby
In a confrontation captured on videotape, a hospital security guard fired a stun gun to stop a defiant father from taking home his newborn, sending both man and child crashing to the floor. Now William Lewis says his baby girl suffers from head trauma because she was dropped.

"I've got to wonder what kind of moron would Tase an adult holding a baby," said George Kirkham, a former police officer and criminologist at Florida State University. "It doesn't take rocket science to realize the baby is going to fall."

..."The Taser itself is a legitimate law-enforcement tool," said Kirkham, the criminologist. "The problem is the abusive use of them. They're supposed to be only used to protect yourself or another person from imminent aggression and physical harm. They're overused now." Link

Hog-tied woman tasered in jail
A Butterfield woman who allegedly was "hog-tied" and shocked multiple times with a Taser at the Barry County Jail is suing in federal court.

Melissa A. "Missy" Norman, 41, claims her civil rights were violated during a July 23 incident at the jail.

At least a half dozen officers from the Barry County Sheriff's Department and Cassville Police Department previously were placed on leave because of the incident, which is being investigated by the Missouri Highway Patrol.

None of the officers has been charged.

Norman "was handcuffed, leg shackled, hog-tied, blindfolded and tasered numerous times," according to a news release issued by her her attorneys, John Lewright and Robert Foulke.

Lewright said Monday the Taser incident was recorded by a video camera in the booking area, although he had yet to receive a copy of the recording. Lewright said he took the case — he normally focuses on criminal defense — because it "infuriated" him. The slow pace of the investigation into the woman's jail treatment and a delay in receiving the video have only added to that frustration, he said.

"If people hog-tied a dog and then took a cattle prod to that dog ... they would be federally prosecuted," he said.

The lawsuit claims: Norman's constitutional rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments were violated; the departments failed to properly supervise the officers; Norman was discriminated against under the Americans with Disabilities Act; and she was the victim of battery, negligence and infliction of emotional distress.
According to the lawsuit, Norman "was having personal difficulties" July 23 and contacted a law enforcement officer at his home. She was taken by ambulance to St. John's hospital in Cassville and given medicine to make her vomit.

Norman then left the hospital voluntarily but was later apprehended by a group of law enforcement officers, who "tackled, handcuffed, and leg-shackled" her, according to the lawsuit. The handcuffs and leg shackles were tied together behind her back while an officer "was digging his knee into Missy's neck so she could not breathe," the lawsuit said.

Norman allegedly was put into the back of a patrol car without a seat belt and taken to the Barry County Jail. Once there, a group of officers carried her into a booking area and allegedly taunted her. Norman "was terrified and started hitting her head," the lawsuit said.

The officers allegedly taped a towel around her head with duct tape, then began shooting her with a Taser multiple times. The lawsuit said that at one point the officers lifted Norman's shirt above her stomach to administer the Taser to her bare skin, causing burn wounds. Norman's screams of pain and pleas that the officers stop were repeatedly ignored, the lawsuit said.She eventually was placed in a jail cell but not released to a hospital until the next morning.

Six were punished for incident. Neither Epperly, the sheriff, nor McCullough, the police chief, returned phone calls seeking comment Monday.

Epperly — who was away at a conference at the time of the incident — said in an interview in July that Norman was emotionally disturbed and went to the home of an off-duty officer threatening suicide at about 10 p.m. the night of the incident.

Epperly said he was told officers tracked down Norman after she left the hospital out of concern for her safety.She became combative, he said, spat at and tried to harm officers, as well as herself. At the jail, Norman reportedly was hitting her head on the floor before a deputy used a Taser on her twice, the sheriff said. Link

At least the goat got away
DECATUR, Ala. (AP) - A nanny goat eluded police and a Taser stun after being spotted running into traffic in Decatur. Sergeant Jeremy Hayes said the goat, which occasionally ran onto roads, had been spotted repeatedly Sunday. He said Decatur police got three calls on the goat. Police didn't know where the goat came from and weren't sure where it was today. Lieutenant Frank DeButy said patrol officers tried zapping the goat with a Taser near Somerville Elementary school but missed as the goat was running full-stride.Hayes said police were having trouble catching the goat because they don't want to injure it. Link

H/T to Jesus' General