Guantánamo torturer [Richard Zuley] led brutal Chicago regime of shackling and confession

Spencer Ackerman, Guantánamo torturer led brutal Chicago regime of shackling and confession. The Guardian, 18 February 2015. “In a dark foreshadowing of the United States’ post-9/11 descent into torture, a Guardian investigation [reveals] that Richard Zuley, a detective on Chicago’s north side from 1977 to 2007, repeatedly engaged in methods of interrogation resulting in at least one wrongful conviction and subsequent cases more recently thrown into doubt following allegations of abuse.” Part One: Bad lieutenant–American police brutality, exported from Chicago to Guantánamo. 18 February 2015. “At the notorious wartime prison, Richard Zuley oversaw a shocking military interrogation that has become a permanent stain on his country. Part One of a Guardian investigation reveals he used disturbingly similar tactics to extract confessions from minorities for years–as a police officer in urban America [Chicago].” Part Two: How Chicago police condemned the innocent: a trail of coerced confessions. 19 February 2015. “Before his interrogation tactics got supercharged on detainees in Guantánamo, Richard Zuley extracted confessions from minority Americans in Chicago–at least one leading to a wrongful conviction. Part Two of a Guardian investigation finds a trail of dubious murder cases and a city considering the costs.”

Part One:

[W]hile Zuley’s brutal interrogation techniques – prolonged shackling, family threats, demands on suspects to implicate themselves and others – would get supercharged at Guantánamo for the war on terrorism, a Guardian investigation has uncovered that Zuley used similar tactics for years, behind closed police-station doors, on Chicago’s poor and non-white citizens. Multiple people in prison in Illinois insist they have been wrongly convicted on the basis of coerced confessions extracted by Zuley and his colleagues.

The Guardian examined thousands of court documents from Chicago and interviewed two dozen people with experience at Guantánamo and in the Chicago criminal-justice system. The results of its investigation suggests a continuum between Guantánamo interrogation rooms and Chicago police precincts. Zuley’s detective work, particularly when visited on Chicago’s minority communities, contains a dark foreshadowing of the United States’ post-9/11 descent into torture.

Allegations stemming from interviews and court documents, concerning five Chicago suspects, suggest Zuley and his colleagues shackled suspects to walls for extended periods, threatened their family members, and perhaps even planted evidence on them. The point was to yield confessions, even while ignoring potentially exculpatory evidence.

Several of those techniques bear similarities to those used by Zuley when he took over the interrogation of Mohamedou Ould Slahi at Guantánamo, described in official government reports and a best-selling memoir serialised last month by the Guardian as one of the most brutal ever conducted at the US wartime prison….

The Defense Department asked a renowned retired Army colonel, Stuart Herrington, to visit Guantánamo and advise the interrogations command. When he arrived in March 2002, Herrington despaired to see that military and civilian interrogators had no idea who their new charges were, reversing the desired dynamic of the “omniscient” interrogator.

“Of the 300, they were sure they had the correct identification, name and biometric data of about 30% of them,” Herrington told the Guardian. “If you don’t know who you have, that pulls the props right from under the interrogation.”…

Part Two:

Shackled by his wrist to the wall and by his ankle to the floor, Lathierial Boyd waited for the detective to return to the Chicago police station. In what he considered a sign he had nothing to hide, the 24-year-old Boyd had given the white detective permission to search his swank loft. It would be clear, he thought, that Boyd was no murderer.

Yes, Boyd had sold drugs when he was younger. But he had turned a corner with his life, and the contents of his briefcase, which Boyd had also handed over, could prove where his money came from. His business papers were in order: contracts for his real-estate business, tax documents, the forgettable dealings of a successful man – hardly what a killer might carry. As soon as Detective Richard Zuley came back, Boyd thought, he’d be free.

A quarter-century later, Boyd remembered Zuley’s words when the detective returned from his well-heeled home: “No nigger is supposed to live like this.”…

[I]n 2013, after Boyd lived half his life in prison, the state of Illinois exonerated him, admitting that he should never have been prosecuted in the first place.

A Guardian investigation into Zuley’s police record and thousands of court documents – forgotten paperwork from old cases in Chicago, a new civil-rights lawsuit in federal court and the detective’s interrogation work for the US military at Guantánamo Bay – has found that Boyd was far from alone in facing brutality and manipulated justice. If anything, he is alone in going free….

Chicago has a longstanding history of police abuse, much of it racialized….

Police tactics of the sort Zuley used stretch back decades. They have left generations of scars across Chicago’s black residents.

“Having fought against police torture and abuse in the courts here in Chicago for more than 45 years,” said local civil-rights lawyer Flint Taylor, “I have reached the inescapable conclusion that Chicago police violence is systemic, fundamentally racist, and disproportionately impacts the poor and communities of color.”

Most infamously, former Area 2 police commander Jon Burge ran literal torture chambers in the Chicago police precincts he commanded. Tactics of Burge’s included wiring detained people to a black box and electrocuting them – rumored to be a method he learned from his Vietnam service, called “the Bell telephone hour” – and beating them over the heads with telephone books. Burge was fired in 1993 for torturing a police murderer, but was only convicted in 2010 – not for his crimes, the statutes of limitations for which expired before prosecutors went after him, but for lying under oath about them.

Democracy Now!, Exporting Torture: Former Chicago Police Detective [Richard Zuley] Tied to Brutality at Guantánamo26 February 2015. “A former Guantánamo Bay interrogator involved in torture was also a longtime Chicago police officer known for abusing people of color. According to The Guardian, Richard Zuley spent three decades as a notoriously brutal detective on the Chicago police force. From 1977 to 2007, Zuley used tactics including torture, threats and abuse to elicit confessions from suspects, the majority of whom were not white. One of those confessions was later ruled to be false, and the sentence was vacated. Zuley’s methods included shackling suspects to walls through eyebolts for several hours, allegedly planting evidence, and issuing threats of harm to family members and sentences of the death penalty unless a suspect confessed. Zuley was also accused of brutal methods at Guantánamo Bay, where he was a reserve officer in charge of interrogating a prisoner who said he made a false confession due to torture. The Guardian report comes just after the notorious Chicago police commander Jon Burge was released from a halfway house after he served four-and-a-half years for lying under oath about torturing prisoners in Chicago in the 1970s and 1980s. We speak to Spencer Ackerman, national security editor at The Guardian.”