Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror

Equal Justice Initiative, Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror. Equal Justice Initiative, 10 February 2015. “The Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) today [10 February 2015] released Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror, which documents EJI’s multi-year investigation into lynching in twelve Southern states during the period between Reconstruction and World War II. EJI researchers documented 3959 racial terror lynchings of African Americans in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia between 1877 and 1950 – at least 700 more lynchings of black people in these states than previously reported in the most comprehensive work done on lynching to date.” Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror: Report Summary. “For a copy of the full-length report, please e-mail EJI at or call 334.269.1803.”

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The Black Sites: A rare look inside the C.I.A.’s secret interrogation program

Jane Mayer, The Black Sites: A rare look inside the C.I.A.’s secret interrogation programThe New Yorker, 13 August 2007. After 11 September 2001 a secret C.I.A. program was started “in which terrorist suspects…were detained in ‘black sites’–secret prisons outside the United States–and subjected to unusually harsh treatment.” [Read more…]

CIA Holds Terror Suspects in Secret Prisons

Dana Priest, CIA Holds Terror Suspects in Secret Prisons. The Washington Post, 2 November 2005. “Debate Is Growing Within [the CIA] About Legality and Morality of Overseas System Set Up After 9/11.” Dana Priest won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Beat Reporting for her stories on the CIA and the “War on Terror.”

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Outsourcing Torture: The secret history of America’s “extraordinary rendition” program

Jane Mayer, Outsourcing Torture: The secret history of America’s “extraordinary rendition” program. The New Yorker, 14 February 2005. “On January 27th, President Bush, in an interview with the Times, assured the world that “torture is never acceptable, nor do we hand over people to countries that do torture.” Maher Arar, a Canadian engineer who was born in Syria, was surprised to learn of Bush’s statement. Two and a half years ago, American officials, suspecting Arar of being a terrorist, apprehended him in New York and sent him back to Syria, where he endured months of brutal interrogation, including torture. When Arar described his experience in a phone interview recently, he invoked an Arabic expression. The pain was so unbearable, he said, that “you forget the milk that you have been fed from the breast of your mother.”

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Torture at Abu Ghraib: [US] soldiers brutalized Iraqis. How far up does the responsibility go?

Seymour Hersh, Torture at Abu Ghraib. The New Yorker, 10 May 2004. “A fifty-three-page report, obtained by The New Yorker, written by Major General Antonio M. Taguba and not meant for public release, was completed in late February [2004]. Its conclusions about the institutional failures of the Army prison system [at Abu Ghraib] were devastating. Specifically, Taguba found that between October and December of 2003 there were numerous instances of “sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses” at Abu Ghraib. This systematic and illegal abuse of detainees, Taguba reported, was perpetrated by soldiers of the 372nd Military Police Company, and also by members of the American intelligence community….”

Excerpts from story:

Taguba’s report listed some of the wrongdoing: Breaking chemical lights and pouring the phosphoric liquid on detainees; pouring cold water on naked detainees; beating detainees with a broom handle and a chair; threatening male detainees with rape; allowing a military police guard to stitch the wound of a detainee who was injured after being slammed against the wall in his cell; sodomizing a detainee with a chemical light and perhaps a broom stick, and using military working dogs to frighten and intimidate detainees with threats of attack, and in one instance actually biting a detainee.There was stunning evidence to support the allegations, Taguba added—“detailed witness statements and the discovery of extremely graphic photographic evidence.” Photographs and videos taken by the soldiers as the abuses were happening were not included in his report, Taguba said, because of their “extremely sensitive nature.”…

As the international furor grew, senior military officers, and President Bush, insisted that the actions of a few did not reflect the conduct of the military as a whole. Taguba’s report, however, amounts to an unsparing study of collective wrongdoing and the failure of Army leadership at the highest levels. The picture he draws of Abu Ghraib is one in which Army regulations and the Geneva conventions were routinely violated, and in which much of the day-to-day management of the prisoners was abdicated to Army military-intelligence units and civilian contract employees. Interrogating prisoners and getting intelligence, including by intimidation and torture, was the priority…

House of Screams: Torture by Electroshock: Could it happen in a Chicago police station? Did it happen at Area 2?

John Conroy, House of Screams: Torture by Electroshock. Chicago Reader. 25 January 1990. “Torture by Electroshock: Could it happen in a Chicago police station? Did it happen at Area 2?… What if a parade of men arrested by detectives at Area 2 over the course of a decade…claimed that they had been interrogated by electrical means, or had plastic bags put over their heads, or had their fingers put in bolt cutters, or were threatened with being thrown off a roof? What if there was no connection at all between the alleged victims, no evidence of any collusion among them, and yet they kept pointing to the same police station and the same group of officers?” [Read more…]