• Torture Laid Bare at Nuremberg, and Maybe Guantanamo?

    May 7, 2014

    Tags: , , , , , , ,
    Posted in: Democracy, Military, Post-Constitution America

    In another time and place, the intentional mistreatment and torture of human beings, often with the assistance of medical doctors and learned men and women, was made public to destroy it. But open justice at Nuremberg and hidden justice at Guantanamo are so very, very different.

    Or maybe not. New details in the trial of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri may give the world the clearest view yet of America’s torture program.


    Following World War II the United States and its Allies could have easily executed Nazis responsible for the Holocaust at a black site, or simply have thrown them into some forever jail on an isolated, island military base. It would have been hard to find anyone who would not have supported brutally torturing them. Instead, those evil men and women were put on public trial at Nuremberg, supplied with lawyers and made to defend their actions as the evidence against them was laid bare. The point was in part to demonstrate justice, that We were better than Them. The hope was also to ensure it all would never happen again.

    Though the scale remains very different, the intentions and actions echo across the decades. The United States, as a policy of our nation, used its full range of global resources to kidnap, imprison and torture human beings for its political aims. Now, in an obscene reimaging of justice, that same United States government works to the extent of its ability to hide what it did.

    What it did was torture. Here’s how the United States is trying to hide it.

    The Sham of Justice

    Trials of a sort are ongoing at Guantanamo. The case of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, a Saudi accused of orchestrating the 2000 bombing of the destroyer USS Cole, is underway.

    Nashiri was held in CIA “black sites” and was one of three prisoners that the United States admits waterboarding. The CIA’s inspector general called Nashiri the “most significant” case of a detainee who was brutalized in ways that went beyond even the tortures approved by the Bush administration, including being threatened with a power drill. A specialist in treating torture victims (prosecuters aggressively tried to disqualify the witness as an expert) testified that Nashiri had been subjected to “physical, psychological and sexual torture.” As part of his torture, Nashiri was analy raped.

    Nashiri no doubt remembers every detail: his own screams, the looks on his torturers faces as they broke him, what they said to him about freedom and America as he was beaten, raped and waterboarded. But at Guantanamo, Nashiri’s lawyers cannot introduce those tortures as part of his defense, because the U.S. government classified them. Nashiri cannot discuss the details of his own torture at his own trial, nor can his lawyers access CIA files of his torture. They are classified.

    Even the court at Guantanamo found this too far from any concept of justice, and ordered the government to release the documentation, albeit still with the classifications, to Nashiri’s lawyer.

    (BACKGROUND: At one point government prosecutors argued against the release order as too broad, stating at one point that the defense must specify exact documents by name, impossible as even such details are classified– a Catch 22. Also in Nashiri’s case, the government admitted it had “inadvertently” accessed confidential e-mails among Nashiri’s defense lawyers made via Guantanamo’s computer systems. No mistrial was declared.)

    Torture Records Sought, Fought

    Despite the court’s order that the torture records be released to the defense team (the team also seeks testimony from the CIA torturers themselves, who, if they are indeed compelled to speak of their actions in front of their victim, will be allowed to testify under false names), the government is now arguing in a new motion that they should not be required to release any records.

    The government’s argument would be funny in less dire circumstances. In an motion, prosecuters state the chief reason not to release the torture documents is that information from Gitmo should not get ahead of information that may be made public out of the White House at some vague future date.

    (BACKGROUND: The Senate Intelligence Committee voted April 3 to ask the Obama administration to declassify a lengthy executive summary of its investigative report on the torture and rendition program. The administration punted the issue to CIA claiming they had to review the document and make redactions first. There is no target date for release even now, more than a month since that process should have started.)

    The real reason for trying to block release of the documentation of Nashiri’s torture however seems darker than just wanting to avoid upstaging the White House: Prosecutors at Gitmo likely remain fearful that the unredacted documents pertaining to Nashiri’s torture may reveal far more heinous actions by the government than whatever sanitized version emerges from the CIA-edited version. Here’s why.

    Why the Government is Trying to Block Release of the Documents

    The goal of the defense in seeking the torture records is to show that Nashiri’s treatment was so outside any standards of accepted human behavior that any statements or confessions he made should not be admissible in the trial designed to determine if he should now be executed. The defense also seeks to show that the traumas purposely inflicted on Nashiri, and the lack of medical care afforded him afterwards, rendered him so psychologically damaged that he is not competent to stand trial in defense of his own life.

    At the same time, these same documents could provide the clearest picture to date of the U.S. government’s torture program. That’s what the prosecutors in Guantanamo are very likely really trying to suppress. Specifically, why is the government so scared? Have a look at what the current judge’s order requires them to produce:

    — A chronology identifying where Nashiri was held in detention between the date of his capture to the date he arrived at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba in September 2006; [NOTE: Nashiri was captured in Dubai and believed to have been held in Afghanistan, Thailand, Poland, Morocco, and Romania.]

    — A description of how Nashiri was transported between the various locations including how he was restrained and how he was clothed;

    — All records, photographs, videos and summaries the Government of the United States has in its possession which document the condition of Nashiri’s confinement at each location, and Nashiri’s conditions during each movement between the various locations; [NOTE: The CIA destroyed video of Nashiri’s waterboarding in 2005.]

    — The identities of medical personnel (examining and treating physicians, psychologist, psychiatrists, mental health professionals, dentists, etc.), guard force personnel, and interrogators, whether employees of the United States Government or employees of a contractor hired by the United States Government, who had direct and substantial contact with Nashiri; [Note that former CIA case officer John Kiriakou is currently serving a sentence in federal prison for revealing the identity of a CIA staffer involved in the torture program.]

    — Copies of the standard operating procedures, policies, or guidelines on handling, moving, transporting, treating, interrogating, etc., high value detainees at and between the various facilities;

    — The employment records of individuals identified memorializing adverse action and/or positive recognition in connection with performance of duties at a facility or in transporting Nashiri between the various facilities;

    — The records of training in preparation for the performance of duties of the individuals at the various facilities or during transport of Nashiri;

    — All statements obtained from interrogators, summaries of interrogations, reports produced from interrogations, interrogations logs, and interrogator notes of interrogations of Nashiri and all co-conspirators identified on the Charge Sheet dated 15 September 2011; [Note the date. Despite the USS Cole bombing having occurred 11 years earlier, Nashiri was not charged with any crime until four days after 9/11.]

    — Un-redacted copies of requests with any accompanying justifications and legal reviews of same to employ Enhanced Interrogation Techniques on Nashiri and all co-conspirators;

    — Un-redacted copies of documents memorializing decisions (approving or disapproving), with any additional guidance, on requests to employ Enhanced Interrogation Techniques on Nashiri and all co-conspirators.

    What if Nashiri Wins?

    Ahead, many things are unclear. Prosecutors may win their motion now in front of the Gitmo judge, meaning some or all of the documents will not be released. They may succeed in editing or redacting what is released. They may block Nashiri’s lawyers from discussing in any public forum what is contained in the documents, meaning even their release will never see the information leave Guantanamo.

    But what if Nashiri wins?

    If, against very long odds, Nashiri wins, and if some or all of the documents are made public, the world will learn in much of the same banal evil of detail as from Nuremburg what the United States has done in the name of its own twisted definition of freedom.

    The world will learn– maybe by name– who did these things and thus have the ability to someday hold them responsible for their acts, should we acquire the courage to do so. It will learn in part who authorized and approved torture, and what efforts were made to train and equip the men and women who carried out that torture.

    Of most value to us all is that these detailed records from the case of Nashiri will pressure Obama to release the more comprehensive record of torture he and his CIA now hold in their hands. The sanitized version of events the White House would likely prefer to release would not stand up to the details that might be heard in Guantanamo.

    Obama and the CIA have to feel now that the troops are closing in on their bunker in Berlin. What will they do, now, with their enemy at the gates?

    We learned significant details of the torture program already out of Guantanamo, through the testimony of a psychiatrist in the trial of Shaker Aamer.

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  • Recent Comments

    • jim hruska said...


      This topic is of prime importance when evaluating the Phony WOT.
      The court uses the word “captured” when in fact this denotes a military concept. If captured then this covers the EPW as a GC protected individual.
      Was this man ever arrested? Was he kidnapped?
      Historically US fed crts do NOT ever really care how a defendant ended up in front of the judge.
      Do we accept the rule of law and properly use extradition, or do we kidnap/buy defendants?
      What is the chain of evidence?
      What about speedy trial?
      Where is a jury of ones peers?
      Now having said all that there is now evidence that the FBI(not CIA) has agents assigned to SOCOM/JSOC and are operational with teams that Col. Lang call murder squads.How’s that for justice? This transcends torture by a few notches.
      The FBI national HRT is filled with ….you can fill in the rest.This is/was under the current administration and not the former group at the NCA.
      jim hruska

      05/7/14 1:12 PM | Comment Link

    • jim hruska said...


      I went to a speech sponsored by the FSU law school and all the usual suspects were there.One was a USMC LTC Atty stationed at gitmo as a JAG specialist.
      He knew and saw the abuses and said nothing at the scene even though the torture was evident.
      He did NOTHING until he decided that the treatment violated the Christian precepts of Christ as written in the Bible.
      This guy was a JAG/USMC officer sworn to uphold the Constitution and all our treaties etc… and his legal knowledge meant nothing as he hung his hat on the Bible.
      What a joke.
      I still think of this from time to time.

      We in modern America talk about the “good German”of ww2 fame, but where was the “good American” at these prisons that weren’t prisons.?
      The question is so huge that our entire system stands or fails based upon how we handle the resulting mess.We can’t have it both ways.
      Either we have a rule of law or the US POTUS is a tin pot despot free to act like a tantrum ADHD child ,when provoked.
      Now think of all the nucs that we have deployed world wide and ask yourself if you trust the NCA to be adults if we are attacked. Will we use the same rules of conduct when popping nucs?
      These gitmo cases are the symptoms of a greater disease.
      jim hruska

      05/7/14 1:27 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...


      Jim, notwithstanding Peter’s post, your analysis is dead on. Indeed, we CAN’T have it both ways.

      What’s astounding to me though..is the mere fact the “debate” over “torture” is even happening. Had I grown up, like millions of kids are today, being FORCED to PLEDGE an allegiance to a nation that tortures human beings to this day, if I were a parent..I WOULD BE SCREAMING. This is exactly why we are living a lie. The educational system will NEVER EVER allow the true history of post 9/11 torture by our government, to ever enter the classbooks or discussion. And THAT pisses me off more than anything. Public education is rewriting history by virtue of silence and obfuscation. Moreover, 9/11 will become the sole scapegoat for everything that has happened. As for the “cause”…hahahahaha…move on folks..nothing to see here.

      All I know any more is this country makes me sick to my stomach. I’m just glad my dad didn’t live to see where this is going. It would have broke his heart. Even when he was alive, he saw what happened up until his death 3 years ago. At that point, he had already decided the military he served had become THAT which he fought against during WW11. And it made him SICK. To the point…well, I’ve already told that story..twice. I won’t go there again.

      05/7/14 2:17 PM | Comment Link

    • meloveconsullongtime said...


      The late Pope – and recently canonised Saint – John Paul II, on torture. He made no exceptions for when Americans do it:

      “While Constitutions and legislation make room for the principle of the right to defense at all stages of justice, while proposals are put forward to humanize places of detention, it is obvious, nevertheless, that techniques of torture are being perfected to weaken the resistance of prisoners, and that people sometimes do not hesitate to inflict on them irreversible injuries, humiliating for the body and for the spirit.”

      To which I add, in the same spirit: To torture is to intend the reduction of a Human Being to something other than Human. The purpose of torture is total control over another Human’s essence, and THAT is the ultimate evil.

      No excuses for torture, ever.

      05/7/14 3:00 PM | Comment Link

    • meloveconsullongtime said...


      To which I shall add:

      Torture isn’t wrong because it’s against the US Constitution. And Torture isn’t wrong because it’s un-American.

      Torture is an absolute evil because it is a violation of Human Nature.

      05/7/14 3:03 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...


      quote”Torture is an absolute evil because it is a violation of Human Nature.”unquote

      I’ll file that under…

      “Things to hot brand on US war criminal’s foreheads…before sentencing them to hang of course.”

      05/7/14 5:43 PM | Comment Link

    • Kyzl Orda said...


      It is also hypocritical to claim to advocate rights for gays, then sanction men to rape men, with or without a power drill

      05/7/14 6:05 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...


      Actually,on second thought, after hot branding.. I think it would be better to put all “torturers” in one of these on Times Square..for the rest of their lives.


      05/7/14 6:24 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...


      quote:”…then sanction men to rape men, with or without a power drill”unquote

      I wonder WHO in the CIA was the rapist? I pray it comes out. This would do the CIA in.

      05/7/14 6:30 PM | Comment Link

    • wemeantwell said...


      My unsubstantiated information is that the rapes were committed by “allies” of the US in Afghanistan and other MidEast countries as the US turned its back on what they knew was being done. Such tactics are common in the MidEast and like any rape anywhere, are all about power and control and have nothing to do with sexual desires per se.

      05/7/14 6:44 PM | Comment Link

    • meloveconsullongtime said...


      Re all the above:

      Peter is correct. Once again, Peter Van Buren has spoken the Truth.

      And rape isn’t only an instrument of war, it’s also a common and standard instrument against domestic prisoners in the USA today.

      (Sarcasm on), and then some of you wonder why I keep referring to Jesus Christ as the answer to Satanic American shit like THIS!:


      05/7/14 7:47 PM | Comment Link

    • meloveconsullongtime said...



      I make ZERO apologies for the following three minute video, by an Irish comedian, about Jesus Christ!

      For the past 60 years or so, American Jews have claimed and used the high ground of American publicity, to make their Jewish experiences a common ground for American morals and American literature AND popular culture…

      …and that was good for a while, but now I say, if the Jews could do it, then why can’t American Catholics do it too?

      Therefore, please enjoy this! And I especially love AND agree with this Irish Catholic comedian’s final lines, spoken by Jesus Christ:

      “I…am waiting… for you!”

      Seriously, if the Jews can rise high in American culture, then why can’t we Catholics do the same? “Diversity”, yeah? ;-):


      05/7/14 8:06 PM | Comment Link

    • Helen Marshall said...


      Perhaps the only encouraging element is the existence of this judge, who has demanded the release of all this material. We can only hope that he remains steadfast in this demand.

      Despite our honorable conduct regarding war criminals post-WWII, our history is replete with ghastly treatment of other human beings as if they were wild animals…vermin…as many of our Founding Fathers described the native peoples who had to be destroyed or corralled to allow for colonial settlement. Almost nothing we learned in public schools about our history is anything close to the truth.

      05/7/14 10:15 PM | Comment Link

    • Jhoover said...


      Did any one get tiem to know this etrrorest?
      Abu Hamza al-Masri, he admiting a Terror king’s strip club ownership

      Why this ugly face not been held in Guantanamo like Nashiri?
      Any idea please?

      05/8/14 9:40 AM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...


      quote:”Did any one get tiem to know this etrrorest?”unquote

      Please drink your coffee before posting next time.

      05/8/14 2:45 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...


      Good thing I’m a cryptology expert…

      quote:”Did any one get tiem to know this etrrorest?”unquote

      So..you are asking people HERE if they had “time” to “know” this “terrorist”..right?

      Either you’re an idiot of biblical proportions or your satire knows no bounds. Regardless, I suggest you seek some medical help for your addiction to Synthetic Lobotomy Serum.

      05/8/14 2:52 PM | Comment Link

    • jim hruska said...


      Last night i thought about this thread and the following is my addition.
      The torture is a natural out growth of a illegal war of aggression.
      The torture is the symptom and the war is the disease.Did ! US officer above the rank of CPT ever question the legality of the wars?
      We think of torture and call it evil.
      The Japanese of ww2 tortured to their glee and we firebombed and popped WMD on them.
      Which is the worse?
      In just war theory the evil done to defeat evil must be offset by greater good being achieved.
      This is missing in US wars since day one.
      jim hruska

      05/8/14 3:38 PM | Comment Link

    • Jhoover said...


      Some can’t be polite to the degree so they are just through their rubbish out like pich

      05/9/14 12:57 AM | Comment Link

    • Kyzl Orda said...


      Jhoover, sounds like he’s gonna be put away soon enough

      05/9/14 4:27 AM | Comment Link

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