Category Archives: Re-education camps

Former UK ambassador: CIA sent people to be ‘raped with broken bottles’

Raw Story | Nov 4, 2009

By Daniel Tencer

The CIA relied on intelligence based on torture in prisons in Uzbekistan, a place where widespread torture practices include raping suspects with broken bottles and boiling them alive, says a former British ambassador to the central Asian country.

Craig Murray, the rector of the University of Dundee in Scotland and until 2004 the UK’s ambassador to Uzbekistan, said the CIA not only relied on confessions gleaned through extreme torture, it sent terror war suspects to Uzbekistan as part of its extraordinary rendition program.

“I’m talking of people being raped with broken bottles,” he said at a lecture late last month that was re-broadcast by the Real News Network. “I’m talking of people having their children tortured in front of them until they sign a confession. I’m talking of people being boiled alive. And the intelligence from these torture sessions was being received by the CIA, and was being passed on.”

Human rights groups have long been raising the alarm about the legal system in Uzbekistan. In 2007, Human Rights Watch declared that torture is “endemic” to the country’s justice system.

Murray said he only realized after his stint as ambassador that the CIA was sending people to be tortured in Uzbekistan, country he describes as a “totalitarian” state that has never moved on from its communist era, when it was a part of the Soviet Union.

Suspects in Uzbekistan’s gulags “were being told to confess to membership in Al Qaeda. They were told to confess they’d been in training camps in Afghanistan. They were told to confess they had met Osama bin Laden in person. And the CIA intelligence constantly echoed these themes.”

“I was absolutely stunned — it changed my whole world view in an instant — to be told that London knew [the intelligence] coming from torture, that it was not illegal because our legal advisers had decided that under the United Nations convention against torture, it is not illegal to obtain or use intelligence gained from torture as long as we didn’t do the torture ourselves,” Murray said.

UK/USA made use of Uzbek torture

Murray asserts that the primary motivation for US and British military involvement in central Asia has to do with large natural gas deposits in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. As evidence, he points to the plans to build a natural gas pipeline through Afghanistan that would allow Western oil companies to avoid Russia and Iran when transporting natural gas out of the region.

Murray alleged that in the late 1990s the Uzbek ambassador to the US met with then-Texas Governor George W. Bush to discuss a pipeline for the region, and out of that meeting came agreements that would see Texas-based Enron gain the rights to Uzbekistan’s natural gas deposits, while oil company Unocal worked on developing the Trans-Afghanistan pipeline.

“The consultant who was organizing this for Unocal was a certain Mr. Karzai, who is now president of Afghanistan,” Murray noted.

Murray said part of the motive in hyping up the threat of Islamic terrorism in Uzbekistan through forced confessions was to ensure the country remained on-side in the war on terror, so that the pipeline could be built.

“There are designs of this pipeline, and if you look at the deployment of US forces in Afghanistan, as against other NATO country forces in Afghanistan, you’ll see that undoubtedly the US forces are positioned to guard the pipeline route. It’s what it’s about. It’s about money, it’s about oil, it’s not about democracy.”

The Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline is slated to be completed in 2014, with $7.6 billion in funding from the Asian Development Bank.

Murray was dismissed from his position as ambassador in 2004, following his first public allegations that the British government relied on torture in Uzbekistan for intelligence.

The following videos were posted to YouTube by the Real News Network on Oct. 26 and Nov. 4, 2009.

Rock rages against the torture machine


The list of music used included death metal band Deicide’s F..k Your God

Air Force lieutenant colonel Dan Kuehl, who teaches psychological operations to the US military, invoked the Old Testament use of loud music. “Joshua’s army used horns to strike fear into the hearts of the people of Jericho.”

The Australian | Oct 24, 2009

by Tim Reid

A COALITION of musicians including Pearl Jam and REM. has backed a formal demand to be told if their songs have been used to torture detainees in Guantanamo Bay and Iraq.

Many former prisoners have claimed they were blasted with excruciatingly loud music for months on end – a tactic banned under the UN Convention Against Torture but not yet from the US Army Field Manual.

The musicians spoke out yesterday as a Freedom of Information request was lodged by the US campaign group No More Guantanamos, a legal move backed by the British human rights group Reprieve, which has been campaigning against “music torture” for more than a year.

According to evidence gained by human rights organisations, the list of music used included songs ranging from death metal band Deicide’s F..k Your God, Sesame Street tunes, and the song most frequently blasted at inmates, I Love You by the children’s TV character Barney the Purple Dinosaur.

Former detainees have said the tactic was one of the worst and most painful used against them. The National Security Archive, a freedom of information organisation helping the musicians, said the playlist also featured cuts from AC/DC, Britney Spears, the Bee Gees, and Marilyn Manson.

Archive executive director Thomas Blanton said: “At Guantanamo the US government turned a jukebox into an instrument of torture. The musicians and the public have the right to know how an expression of popular culture was transformed into an interrogation technique.”

Tom Morello, guitarist with the band Rage Against the Machine – whose song Killing in the Name of was also used – said: “The fact that music I helped create was used as a tactic against humanity sickens me.”

The musicians’ campaign comes as the Obama administration has been forced to concede that the President’s pledge to shut Guantanamo by January will fail. His bold promise to close the prison within a year of coming to office has run into myriad political and logistical problems, including fierce opposition at home to the transportation of detainees to US prisons and a reluctance by Western allies to receive many of the remaining inmates. Congress is refusing to fund the closure of the facility, which still holds about 220 prisoners.

After the September 11 attacks and the war on terror it appears the use of loud music first became common inside Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad, scene of the infamous inmate abuse photographs.

Haj Ali, the hooded man in one of the most notorious pictures, told of being stripped and forced to listen to a looped version of David Gray’s Babylon at a volume so loud that he said he thought his head “would explode”. Metallica’s Enter Sandman was often used in Guantanamo Bay, while Queen’s We Are the Champions was a favourite among US guards at Camp Cropper in Iraq. One Iraqi talked of being taken to an unidentified location and blasted with music in a building referred to as “the disco”.

In one case interrogators allegedly played music to “stress” Mohamedou Ould Slahi, a citizen of Mauritania, who has been at Guantanamo for more than seven years, because he believed music was forbidden.

Slahi said he was questioned over a 10-day period in July 2003 by an interrogator called “Mr X” while being “exposed to variable lighting patterns” and repeated playing of a song called Let the Bodies Hit the Floor by the band Drowning Pool.

Last year, retired US air force lieutenant colonel Dan Kuehl, who teaches psychological operations to the US military, invoked the Old Testament use of loud music. “Joshua’s army used horns to strike fear into the hearts of the people of Jericho,” he told the St Petersburg Times in Florida. “His men might not have been able to break down literal walls with their trumpets but the noise eroded the enemy’s courage.”

Cub Scout faces 45 days in reform school for carrying Swiss Army camp set

Cub Scout utensil gets boy, 6, school suspension

First-grader brought it to eat his lunch with; now he’s facing reform school | Oct 13, 2009

By Mike Celizic

A combination fork, knife, spoon and bottle opener is Zachary Christie’s favorite utensil — but it got him in trouble at school. Photo: TODAY

A combination fork, knife, spoon and bottle opener is Zachary Christie’s favorite utensil — but it got him in trouble at school. Photo: TODAY

Dressed in a button-down shirt and tie and speaking calmly and articulately, first-grader Zachary Christie hardly looks or acts like the sort of kid who should be spending 45 days in reform school. But, thanks to a zero-tolerance policy, that’s where Zachary’s Delaware school system wants him to go after he made the mistake of taking his favorite camping utensil to school.

A Swiss Army-type combination of fork, spoon, bottle opener and knife, the tool has been Zachary’s favorite ever since he got it to take on Cub Scout camping expeditions. “He eats dinner with it, breakfast and everything else, so it never occurred to him that this would have been something wrong to do,” the 6-year-old’s mother, Debbie Christie, told TODAY’s Meredith Vieira Tuesday from Newark, Del.

‘Can I have that?’

Zachary, an A student who sometimes wears a shirt and tie to school just because he likes to, told Vieira he put the tool in his pocket on Sept. 29 for a very simple reason: “To eat lunch with. I had absolutely no idea this was going to happen. I wasn’t thinking about this. I was thinking about having lunch with it.”

But when the tool fell out of his pocket on the bus and he walked off the vehicle with it in his hand, a teacher intercepted him. “She said, ‘Can I have that?’ ” Zachary recalled.

What Zachary didn’t realize was that he had fallen afoul of the Christina School District’s zero-tolerance policy toward weapons in school, one of many such policies implemented in the wake of such incidents as the Columbine High School massacre. The policy does not allow teachers or administrators to take into account intentions or the character of the student; if a student has a knife, suspension and subsequent assignment to the district’s “alternative placement school” — aka reform school — is mandatory.

Racial issue

Christina, which, according to its Web site, is the largest school district in Delaware with some 17,000 students, made its policy zero-tolerance because of concerns over racial discrimination. Studies have shown in other districts that when school officials are given discretion over such cases, African-American students are disciplined at a disproportionately high rate.

“The idea was to avoid discriminating against any student and to treat all students the same,” George Evans, president of the Christina school board, told NBC News.

While some experts favor such zero-tolerance policies, others question their efficacy, saying there is no indication that they cut down on violent incidents in schools. One of them, national school safety consultant Kenneth Trump, told NBC News, “The school administrators have to be able to administer consequences and still have some discretion to fit the totality of the circumstances.”

The totality of Zachary’s circumstances was that he had no idea that it was wrong to take his favorite camping tool to class. When the teacher asked for it when he got off the bus, he handed it over, unaware that he was already in serious trouble. He went to class while his principal called his mother.

“She said that I needed to come to the school immediately; that Zachary had brought a dangerous weapon into school, and I needed to come and pick him up. He would be suspended for five days pending a disciplinary action committee hearing. She said that he had a knife,” Christie told Vieira.

When his mother arrived at the John R. Downes Elementary School with her fiance, Lee Irving, Zachary was called from his first-grade classroom to join them.

“When they called my name up, I was like, ‘Uh-oh,’ ” he said.

Home school, not reform school

Zachary was suspended immediately for five school days. At the end of the suspension, he and his mother appeared before the district’s disciplinary action committee, where his principal and others spoke up for his good character. It didn’t matter. The committee’s hands were tied. The rules said he had brought a knife to school and would have to spend 45 days in the reform school.

Christie decided she would not send her son to that school. Instead, she has been home schooling Zachary while waiting for an opportunity to address the district’s board of education, which was to meet Tuesday night.

“I understand why they have it, but I don’t agree with the implementation of it,” Christie said of the zero-tolerance policy. “I think they need to look at the age, maturity, intent, situation; bring in the teachers who know the child or the principal, and allow them to make the first call in these situations,” she said. “Looking at other schools’ codes of conduct in the Delaware Valley, their first step would have been a suspension.”

Christie assured Vieira that her son is well aware of the necessity of not taking anything new to school without first asking and is not a threat to anyone. She hopes the school board will agree with her.

“I hope that they expunge his record and allow him to go back to Downes immediately,” she said of the board. “I think he has had an over-excess of education on this issue. I’m hoping that out of all of this the policy changes and that no other child is affected negatively by what is supposed to keep them all safe.”

Vieira asked Zachary if he’s nervous about the prospect of eventually returning to his school.

“I’m not very nervous,” Zachary said. “I like being home-schooled. It’s happy in some ways; it’s sad in some ways. Sometimes I’m strict, and sometimes I can get into my serious mode. I can get into my happy mode. It’s just kind of fun being home-schooled, but I’m not scared to go back.”

And what has he learned from everything that’s happened to him?

“To always ask before taking something new into school,” he said.