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Is there a torture manual?

KUBARK Manual: A User's Guide to Torture?

The 1950s appear to have been a time when the CIA put a tremendous amount of energy into perfecting the science of torture. The CIA conducted covert experiments, at times on unsuspecting Americans, using LSD in the search of a “truth serum” [source: The New York Times]. It used electrical currents to inflict pain [source: The Boston Globe]. The agency conducted trials investigating the effects of sensory deprivation [source: The Washington Post]. The CIA found that the best methods for extracting information from detainees come not through the infliction of physical pain or torture, but through psychological torture.

Although the brand of torture the CIA devised through more than a decade of trial and error may not inflict physical pain, it can still do some real damage. Historian and expert on the subject of the CIA and torture, Alfred McCoy, writes, “Although seemingly less brutal, no-touch torture leaves deep psychological scars. The victims often need treatment to recover from trauma far more crippling than physical pain”.

There is indeed a torture manual and the CIA literally wrote it. In 1963, the Agency created the KUBARK Counterintelligence Interrogation manual. It was, as Alfred McCoy puts it, the “codification” of everything the CIA had learned from its experiments throughout the 50s. In the KUBARK (the codename for the CIA in the Vietnam War [source: The Washington Post]) manual, methods for breaking detainees are based generally on psychology. Identifying a victim’s sense of self and then stripping it away is part of the first step toward breaking him or her. An introverted or shy detainee might be kept naked and perhaps sexually humiliated, for example. Clothes may also be taken simply to alienate the detainee and make him or her less comfortable.

Creating a sense of unfamiliarity, disorientation and isolation seems to be the hallmarks of psychologically undermining a detainee in the purview of the KUBARK manual. Practices like starvation, keeping inmates in small, windowless cells with unchanging artificial light and forcing inmates to sit or stand in uncomfortable positions (stress positions) for long periods of time have been decried or banned outright by the United States government. Yet these techniques are part of the regimen prescribed by KUBARK. So, too, are using hypnosis and drugs to extract information.

While it doesn’t mention electric shock directly, the manual calls for interrogators to be sure that a potential safe house to be used for torture has access to electricity. As one source told The Baltimore Sun, “The CIA has acknowledged privately and informally in the past that this referred to the application of electric shocks to interrogation suspects” [source: The Baltimore Sun].

Physical pain, however, is ultimately deemed counterproductive by the manual. It’s a much worse experience, the guidebook concludes, for an inmate to fear that pain may be coming than to actually experience it. The old adage that anticipation is worse than the experience appears to also have a basis in the shadowy field of torture.

A newer book, largely a revision of the KUBARK manual, draws the same foundational conclusion -- that psychological torment is paramount to physical abuse. The Human Resource Exploitation Manual -- 1983 was first publicized as the result of an investigative report into the human rights abuses in Honduras.

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Saudi Police Crack Ethiopian Prostitution Ring, Distilleries

Albawaba News

Saudi police busted an Ethiopian prostitution ring and two distilleries in Riyadh, a newspaper reported Friday.

The prostitution ring was headed by an Ethiopian "infected with AIDS" and two of his brothers who employed several female compatriots in a brothel which also housed a distillery for the illegal brewing of alcohol, Al-Riyadh said.

The Ethiopian had previously been expelled from Saudi Arabia for pimping but managed to return on false papers, the paper said.

The police bust a second distillery run by four Indians with no residency papers and seized pornographic films on the premises, it said.

Authorities arrested last December 29 African prostitutes, some of them with AIDS, who entered the oil-rich Gulf state under the guise of pilgrims to Mecca - RIYADH (AFP)

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You probably have to look at imagery of death and dying regularly to stay focused on what really counts in life: great sex before you are gone anyway.

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Alan Dershowitz Joins Legal Team Defending Female Genital Mutilation on Religious Freedom Grounds

High-priced defense attorney Alan Dershowitz has joined the legal team for three Michigan residents accused of conducting female genital mutilation on two young Minnesota girls.

This is the first such case prosecuted in the United States. The defense team is expected to make a two-pronged argument, saying that what happened to the girls does not qualify as “female genital mutilation” but was instead “legal and benign.” Moreover, they are expected to argue that the practice is constitutionally protected as a religious practice.

Dr. Jumana Nagarwala, along with Dr. Fakrhuddin Attar and his wife, Farida, belong to the Detroit-area Dawoodi Bohra community, a sect of Shiite Islam with more than a million adherents worldwide.

The Dawoodi Bohra’s religious leader, Syedna Muffadal Saifuddin, endorsed female genital mutilation at a Mumbai mosque last year, saying it “needs to be done.”

Dershowitz, whose past clients include Jeffrey Epstein, Jack Kevorkian and O.J. Simpson, was retained by the Dawat-e-Hadiyah, an international organization that serves as the administrative arm for the Dawoodi Bohra community, the Detroit News reported.

The trial will begin on Oct. 10 in a Detroit federal court. The two doctors face up to life in prison if they’re convicted, while Farida Attar, Fakhruddin’s wife, could serve 20 years. All three are currently being held without bond after it was determined they are a flight risk.

A central legal question will be whether the procedure—also known as “khatna” or “female circumcision”—harmed the two seven-year-old Minnesota girls.

Because male circumcision is not deemed harmful and can have health benefits, it is not unlawful. In contrast, courts have historically ruled against parents deemed to have caused their children harm when adhering to a religious practice, such as Jehovah’s Witnesses who denied their children medical care.

Shannon Smith, a defense attorney for Nagarwala, has said that instead of mutilating the girl’s genitals, her client used a “scraper” to wipe off a portion of the mucus membrane around their clitorises. The practice did not cause harm and had cultural and religious significance, she said.

But the World Health Organization said the practice has no health benefits. And according to the 11-page complaint filed against Nagarwala, one of the seven-year-old girls described screaming, feeling “pain all the way down to her ankle” and scarcely being able to walk after the procedure.

At a May hearing, U.S. Magistrate Elizabeth Stafford denied bond to Fakhruddin and Farida Attar, calling their religious defense “a shield,” the Detroit Free Press reported.

“It is important to me … to take religion out of it and focus on the allegations that young girls’ genitals were mutilated and that the defendants played a role. … I think it’s common knowledge that the cutting of the genitalia of a 7-year-old child would be painful. I find this to be a serious crime,” Stafford said.

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