[Ppnews] Seven Paragraphs - Released Binyan Mohamed Abuse Evidence

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Thu Feb 11 10:44:15 EST 2010

The Seven Paragraphs

Released Binyan Mohamed Abuse Evidence Poses 
Problems for Both British and US Governments

By <http://www.zcommunications.org/zspace/stephensoldz>Stephen Soldz

Thursday, February 11, 2010

In a major development in the struggle to curb 
the abuses committed as part of the War on 
Terror, the British government today released 
under court order previously redacted information 
on the abuse of Binyan Mohamed by US 
interrogators. Here are the 
paragraphs that were released which summarizes 
intelligence information which both the British 
and US governments fought hard to suppress:

"It was reported that a new series of interviews 
was conducted by the United States authorities 
prior to 17 May 2002 as part of a new strategy 
designed by an expert interviewer.

"v) It was reported that at some stage during 
that further interview process by the United 
States authorities, BM had been intentionally 
subjected to continuous sleep deprivation. The 
effects of the sleep deprivation were carefully observed.
"vi) It was reported that combined with the sleep 
deprivation, threats and inducements were made to 
him. His fears of being removed from United 
States custody and "disappearing" were played upon.
"vii) It was reported that the stress brought 
about by these deliberate tactics was increased 
by him being shackled in his interviews
"viii) It was clear not only from the reports of 
the content of the interviews but also from the 
report that he was being kept under self-harm 
observation, that the interviews were having a 
marked effect upon him and causing him significant mental stress and suffering.
"ix) We regret to have to conclude that the 
reports provide to the SyS [security services] 
made clear to anyone reading them that BM was 
being subjected to the treatment that we have 
described and the effect upon him of that intentional treatment.
"x) The treatment reported, if had been 
administered on behalf of the United Kingdom, 
would clearly have been in breach of the 
undertakings given by the United Kingdom in 1972. 
Although it is not necessary for us to categorise 
the treatment reported, it could readily be 
contended to be at the very least cruel, inhuman 
and degrading treatment by the United States authorities."

This case has aroused tremendous attention in 
Britain, as it clearly revealed British 
intelligence agents', and the British 
Government's, complicity in abuse of a British 
citizen. The British public, unlike much of the 
American, finds complicity in torture by its 
intelligence agents to be deeply disturbing.

The court decision ordering the release of this 
material is causing additional outrage because it 
of years of legal precedent in allowing only one 
side, the British government, to suggest changes 
in the decision. These changes were made without 
an opportunity of the defense to object. The 
to the court from the government lawyers 
requesting the changes was released, however. 
That letter gives a sense of what was excluded:

"The Master of the Rolls's observations
 will be 
read as statements by the Court (i) that the 
Security Service does not in fact operate a 
culture that respects human rights or abjures 
participation in coercive interrogation 
techniques; (ii) that this was in particular true 
of Witness B whose conduct was in this respect 
characteristic of the service as a whole ('it 
appears likely that there were others'); (iii) 
that officials of the Service deliberately misled 
the Intelligence and Security Committee on this 
point; (iv) that this reflects a culture of 
suppression in its dealings with the Committee, 
the Foreign Secretary and indirectly the Court, 
which penetrates the service to such a degree as 
to undermine any UK government assurances based 
on the Service's information and advice; and (v) 
that the Service has an interest in suppressing 
information which is shared, not by the Foreign 
Secretary himself (whose good faith is accepted), 
but by the Foreign Office for which he is responsible."

Thus, the British government is afraid that the 
lies they perpetrated in the Binyan Mohamed case 
will disincline future courts from believing 
claims that the British government can be trusted 
when it asserts that they are opposed to torture 
or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. In 
other words, the court might correctly understand 
that the British government, like the US and many 
other governments, is a serial liar when  it 
comes to abuses committed by its agents.

What may be less clear to US citizens is the 
potential enormous impact of the released 
information to the anti-torture struggle in the 
Wheeler [emptywheel] has pointed out the major 
significance of the apparent timing of Binyan 
Mohamed's abuse. It is reported to have occurred 
before a visit by an MI5 officer on May 17, 2002. 
The significance of the date is that it is before 
the Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel 
providing a legal cover for torture were issued 
in august, 2002.Thus, Binyan Mohamed's abuse, 
unlike later abuses, cannot be justified as being 
conducted in good faith under an authoritative legal opinion from the OLC.

Thus, this information just might provide an 
opportunity for prosecuting some of the torture 
perpetrators. And if the perpetrators are 
culpable, so may be those officials, however high 
they may be, who authorized the abuse.

Wheeler also points out that it is likely that 
the "expert interviewer" who designed the "new 
strategy" used on Binyan Mohamed was likely one 
of the CIA's chief torture psychologists, 
Mitchell or 
Jessen, or at least an 
of theirs. Thus, these architects of the CIA's 
torture techniques may sweat a bit more after the 
release of these seven paragraphs.

The material released today also has several 
phrases that suggest that Binyan Mohamed was 
being experimented upon. As the material staes, 
tThe interrogations were "part of a new strategy 
designed by an expert interviewer." And "The 
effects of the sleep deprivation were carefully 
observed." Why were these effects being 
"carefully observed" unless to determine their 
effectiveness in order to see whether they should 
be inflicted used upon others? That is, the 
observations were designed to generate knowledge 
that could be generalized to other prisoners. 
The  seeking of "generalizable knowledge" is the 
official definition of "research," raising the 
question of whether the CIA conducted illegal research upon Binyan Mohamed.

Last summer Physicians for Human Rights 
that materials in the then released CIA 
General's report on the "enhanced interrogation" 
program suggested that the CIA had an systematic 
program of research. Such research is patently 
illegal and violates the rules that have governed 
human research since the Nuremberg Trials 
convicted German doctors for illegal research. 
This CIA research also violates rules of the US 
government regulating all research on people.

Similarly, bioethicist Steven Miles argued in an 
appendix to the second edition of his classic 
Betrayed: America's Torture Doctors that the 
log of Mohammed al-Qahtan only made sense as the 
notes for a research protocol.

This new evidence on the torture of Binyan 
Mohamed adds to the considerable evidence that, 
as part of its torture program, the CIA also had 
a program to systematically study the 
effectiveness of torture techniques. Last summer, 
Physicians for Human Rights called for an 
independent investigation of this potential CIA 
research. The new evidence suggesting that Binyan 
Mohamed may have been an unwitting research 
subject only adds to the urgency of an investigation.

In addition to the usual human rights advocates, 
all those who conduct research on people -- 
psychologists, sociologists, anthropologists, and 
biomedical researchers among others -- should 
join the call for an investigation. For torture 
effectiveness research violates all the 
principles that guide our work, that our efforts 
should improve human welfare rather than degrade 
and destroy. We cannot allow the possibility that 
our society will remain one where inhumane 
research can be conducted with total impunity.

<mailto:ssoldz at bgsp.edu>Stephen Soldz is a 
psychoanalyst, psychologist, public health 
researcher, and faculty member at the 
<http://www.bgsp.edu/>Boston Graduate School of 
Psychoanalysis. He edits the 
Science, and Society blog. He is a founder of the 
Coalition for an Ethical Psychology, one of the 
organizations working to change American 
Psychological Association policy on participation 
in abusive interrogations. He is President-Elect 
of <http://psysr.org/>Psychologists for Social Responsibility [PsySR].

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