TBR News December 17, 2010

Dec 18 2010

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C., December 17, 2010: “Whenever some subject arises that is unpleasant for the bureaucracy/government, trust that the paid garbage on their list as “assets’ will crawl our from under a pile of reeking moose feces and begin to bray like donkeys at feeding time. We see all manner of this up on a recently ad-infested Google. We discover from a crazy source that ‘Flying Saucers are Part of WikiLeaks deal’ and elsewhere, ‘A recent publishing of a dangerous cable is not true’ (probably because your paymasters don’t want it to be true) I think that ‘journalists’ who whore for our increasingly disreputable buearucracy/governmentl should have their home addresses published on the Internet so people can send them packages they might find of value. This is the crazy season in Washington as the back-ward Tea Party people join forces with the like of the weird religious ninny, Bachmann (who holds revival meetings in a Capitol closet along with other floor-wetters) and the Divine Sara Palen, she of the pointy nipples and drooling idiot baby. My, what a come down from the Republican Teddy Roosevelt, isn’t it? And in advance of the coming Presidential elections, we can hear rustlings and bangings in the Beltway garbage cans as the likes of News Gingrich and Ron Paul are coming to life, eager to flop about the alley, bellowing like drunken seals. Jim DeMint no doubt will want to introduce a bill closing all businesses on Sunday so that Jesus the Spavined is not offended and mandate the erection of eight foot high granite Ten Commandments be placed on courthouse lawns all across the neo-Confederate Bible Belt. Why not entertain everyone with cogent quotes from the ever-popular ‘Song of Solomon’  What with the creeps, ass-sucks and back-ward ninnies, it reminds me of the time the back wall fell off of the local loony bin and all the dudes in paper nightgowns ran out into the town. It looked like a Congressional committee was visiting to attend the local Special Olympics and watch their children run around in circles whilst wetting themselves.

As the century progresses, Americans who take the trouble to think clearly are noting the growing manifestations of the shrinking of an empire and the resulting increase in petty punitive behaviors of its leaders. The recent release of tens of thousands of government documents, civil and military, have highlighted the rise of fear-impelled punishments. The so-called ‘WikiLeaks’ business is a case in point. One of the many tens of thousands of government employees who have access to repositories of many of the government papers in question had extracted tens of thousands of documents, many of which came into public view. The government, caught out in embarrassing detail, has lashed out in a manner that ought to be repugnant to those citizens who believe that a man is considered innocent until he is proven guilty, and in a court of law, not government fury. The following article more than points up the fact that when empires crumble, they become desperate dictatorships and the end comes even more quickly. Do read the following article with this in mind.”

The inhumane conditions of Bradley Manning’s detention

December 15, 2010

by Glenn Greenwald


Bradley Manning, the 22-year-old U.S. Army Private accused of leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks, has never been convicted of that crime, nor of any other crime.  Despite that, he has been detained at the U.S. Marine brig in Quantico, Virginia for five months — and for two months before that in a military jail in Kuwait — under conditions that constitute cruel and inhumane treatment and, by the standards of many nations, even torture.  Interviews with several people directly familiar with the conditions of Manning’s detention, ultimately including a Quantico brig official (Lt. Brian Villiard) who confirmed much of what they conveyed, establishes that the accused leaker is subjected to detention conditions likely to create long-term psychological injuries.

Since his arrest in May, Manning has been a model detainee, without any episodes of violence or disciplinary problems.  He nonetheless was declared from the start to be a “Maximum Custody Detainee,” the highest and most repressive level of military detention, which then became the basis for the series of inhumane measures imposed on him.

From the beginning of his detention, Manning has been held in intensive solitary confinement.  For 23 out of 24 hours every day — for seven straight months and counting — he sits completely alone in his cell.  Even inside his cell, his activities are heavily restricted; he’s barred even from exercising and is under constant surveillance to enforce those restrictions.  For reasons that appear completely punitive, he’s being denied many of the most basic attributes of civilized imprisonment, including even a pillow or sheets for his bed (he is not and never has been on suicide watch).  For the one hour per day when he is freed from this isolation, he is barred from accessing any news or current events programs.  Lt. Villiard protested that the conditions are not “like jail movies where someone gets thrown into the hole,” but confirmed that he is in solitary confinement, entirely alone in his cell except for the one hour per day he is taken out.

In sum, Manning has been subjected for many months without pause to inhumane, personality-erasing, soul-destroying, insanity-inducing conditions of isolation similar to those perfected at America’s Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado:  all without so much as having been convicted of anything.  And as is true of many prisoners subjected to warped treatment of this sort, the brig’s medical personnel now administer regular doses of anti-depressants to Manning to prevent his brain from snapping from the effects of this isolation.

Just by itself, the type of prolonged solitary confinement to which Manning has been subjected for many months is widely viewed around the world as highly injurious, inhumane, punitive, and arguably even a form of torture.  In his widely praised March, 2009 New Yorker article — entitled “Is Long-Term Solitary Confinement Torture?” — the surgeon and journalist Atul Gawande assembled expert opinion and personal anecdotes to demonstrate that, as he put it, “all human beings experience isolation as torture.”  By itself, prolonged solitary confinement routinely destroys a person’s mind and drives them into insanity.  A March, 2010 article in The Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law explains that

“solitary confinement is recognized as difficult to withstand; indeed, psychological stressors such as isolation can be as clinically distressing as physical torture.”

For that reason, many Western nations — and even some non-Western nations notorious for human rights abuses — refuse to employ prolonged solitary confinement except in the most extreme cases of prisoner violence.  “It’s an awful thing, solitary,” John McCain wrote of his experience in isolated confinement in Vietnam. “It crushes your spirit.”  As Gawande documented: “A U.S. military study of almost a hundred and fifty naval aviators returned from imprisonment in Vietnam . . . reported that they found social isolation to be as torturous and agonizing as any physical abuse they suffered.”  Gawande explained that America’s application of this form of torture to its own citizens is what spawned the torture regime which President Obama vowed to end:

This past year, both the Republican and the Democratic Presidential candidates came out firmly for banning torture and closing the facility in Guantánamo Bay, where hundreds of prisoners have been held in years-long isolation. Neither Barack Obama nor John McCain, however, addressed the question of whether prolonged solitary confinement is torture. . . .

This is the dark side of American exceptionalism. . . . Our willingness to discard these standards for American prisoners made it easy to discard the Geneva Conventions prohibiting similar treatment of foreign prisoners of war, to the detriment of America’s moral stature in the world.  In much the same way that a previous generation of Americans countenanced legalized segregation, ours has countenanced legalized torture. And there is no clearer manifestation of this than our routine use of solitary confinement . . . .

It’s one thing to impose such punitive, barbaric measures on convicts who have proven to be violent when around other prisoners; at the Supermax in Florence, inmates convicted of the most heinous crimes and who pose a threat to prison order and the safety of others are subjected to worse treatment than what Manning experiences.  But it’s another thing entirely to impose such conditions on individuals, like Manning, who have been convicted of nothing and have never demonstrated an iota of physical threat or disorder.

In 2006, a bipartisan National Commission on America’s Prisons was created and it called for the elimination of prolonged solitary confinement.  Its Report documented that conditions whereby “prisoners end up locked in their cells 23 hours a day, every day. . . is so severe that people end up completely isolated, living in what can only be described as torturous conditions.”  The Report documented numerous psychiatric studies of individuals held in prolonged isolation which demonstrate “a constellation of symptoms that includes overwhelming anxiety, confusion and hallucination, and sudden violent and self-destructive outbursts.”  The above-referenced article from the Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law states:  “Psychological effects can include anxiety, depression, anger, cognitive disturbances, perceptual distortions, obsessive thoughts, paranoia, and psychosis.”

When one exacerbates the harms of prolonged isolation with the other deprivations to which Manning is being subjected, long-term psychiatric and even physical impairment is likely.  Gawande documents that “EEG studies going back to the nineteen-sixties have shown diffuse slowing of brain waves in prisoners after a week or more of solitary confinement.”  Medical tests conducted in 1992 on Yugoslavian prisoners subjected to an average of six months of isolation — roughly the amount to which Manning has now been subjected — “revealed brain abnormalities months afterward; the most severe were found in prisoners who had endured either head trauma sufficient to render them unconscious or, yes, solitary confinement.  Without sustained social interaction, the human brain may become as impaired as one that has incurred a traumatic injury.”  Gawande’s article is filled with horrifying stories of individuals subjected to isolation similar to or even less enduring than Manning’s who have succumbed to extreme long-term psychological breakdown.

Manning is barred from communicating with any reporters, even indirectly, so nothing he has said can be quoted here.  But David House, a 23-year-old MIT researcher who befriended Manning after his detention (and then had his laptops, camera and cellphone seized by Homeland Security when entering the U.S.) is one of the few people to have visited Manning several times at Quantico.  He describes palpable changes in Manning’s physical appearance and behavior just over the course of the several months that he’s been visiting him.  Like most individuals held in severe isolation, Manning sleeps much of the day, is particularly frustrated by the petty, vindictive denial of a pillow or sheets, and suffers from less and less outdoor time as part of his one-hour daily removal from his cage.

This is why the conditions under which Manning is being detained were once recognized in the U.S. — and are still recognized in many Western nations — as not only cruel and inhumane, but torture.  More than a century ago, U.S. courts understood that solitary confinement was a barbaric punishment that severely harmed the mental and physical health of those subjected to it.  The Supreme Court’s 1890 decision in In re Medley noted that as a result of solitary confinement as practiced in the early days of the United States, many “prisoners fell, after even a short confinement, into a semi-fatuous condition . . . and others became violently insane; others still, committed suicide; while those who stood the ordeal better . . . [often] did not recover sufficient mental activity to be of any subsequent service to the community.”  And in its 1940

decision in Chambers v. Florida, the Court characterized prolonged solitary confinement as “torture” and compared it to “[t]he rack, the thumbscrew, [and] the wheel.”

The inhumane treatment of Manning may have international implications as well.  There are multiple proceedings now pending in the European Union Human Rights Court, brought by “War on Terror” detainees contesting their extradition to the U.S. on the ground that the conditions under which they likely will be held — particularly prolonged solitary confinement — violate the European Convention on Human Rights, which (along with the Convention Against Torture) bars EU states from extraditing anyone to any nation where there is a real risk of inhumane and degrading treatment.  The European Court of Human Rights has in the past found detention conditions violative of those rights (in Bulgaria) where “the [detainee] spent 23 hours a day alone in his cell; had limited interaction with other prisoners; and was only allowed two visits per month.”  From the Journal article referenced above:

International treaty bodies and human rights experts, including the Human Rights Committee, the Committee against Torture, and the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture, have concluded that solitary confinement may amount to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment in violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment or Punishment.  They have specifically criticized supermax confinement in the United States because of the mental suffering it inflicts.

Subjecting a detainee like Manning to this level of prolonged cruel and inhumane detention can thus jeopardize the ability of the U.S. to secure extradition for other prisoners, as these conditions are viewed in much of the civilized world as barbaric.  Moreover, because Manning holds dual American and U.K. citizenship (his mother is British), it is possible for British agencies and human rights organizations to assert his consular rights against these oppressive conditions.  At least some preliminary efforts are underway in Britain to explore that mechanism as a means of securing more humane treatment for Manning.  Whatever else is true, all of this illustrates what a profound departure from international norms is the treatment to which the U.S. Government is subjecting him.

* * * * *

The plight of Manning has largely been overshadowed by the intense media fixation on WikiLeaks, so it’s worth underscoring what it is that he’s accused of doing and what he said in his own reputed words about these acts.  If one believes the authenticity of the highly edited chat logs of Manning’s online conversations with Adrian Lamo that have been released by Wired (that magazine inexcusably continues to conceal large portions of those logs), Manning clearly believed that he was a whistle-blower acting with the noblest of motives, and probably was exactly that.  If, for instance, he really is the leaker of the Apache helicopter attack video — a video which sparked very rare and much-needed realization about the visceral truth of what American wars actually entail — as well as the war and diplomatic cables revealing substantial government  deceit, brutality, illegality and corruption then he’s quite similar to Daniel Ellsberg.  Indeed, Ellsberg himself said the very same thing about Manning in June on Democracy Now in explaining why he considers the Army Private to be a “hero”:

The fact is that what Lamo reports Manning is saying has a very familiar and persuasive ring to me.  He reports Manning as having said that what he had read and what he was passing on were horrible — evidence of horrible machinations by the US backdoor dealings throughout the Middle East and, in many cases, as he put it, almost crimes. And let me guess that — he’s not a lawyer, but I’ll guess that what looked to him like crimes are crimes, that he was putting out. We know that he put out, or at least it’s very plausible that he put out, the videos that he claimed to Lamo.  And that’s enough to go on to get them interested in pursuing both him and the other.

And so, what it comes down, to me, is — and I say throwing caution to the winds here — is that what I’ve heard so far of Assange and Manning — and I haven’t met either of them — is that they are two new heroes of mine.

To see why that’s so, just recall some of what Manning purportedly said about why he chose to leak, at least as reflected in the edited chat logs published by Wired:

Lamo: what’s your endgame plan, then?. . .

Manning: well, it was forwarded to [WikiLeaks] – and god knows what happens now – hopefully worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms – if not, than [sic] we’re doomed – as a species – i will officially give up on the society we have if nothing happens – the reaction to the video gave me immense hope; CNN’s iReport was overwhelmed; Twitter exploded – people who saw, knew there was something wrong . . . Washington Post sat on the video… David Finkel acquired a copy while embedded out here. . . . – i want people to see the truth… regardless of who they are… because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public.if i knew then, what i knew now – kind of thing, or maybe im just young, naive, and stupid . . . im hoping for the former – it cant be the latter – because if it is… were fucking screwed (as a society) – and i dont want to believe that we’re screwed.

Manning described the incident which first made him seriously question the U.S. Government: when he was instructed to work on the case of Iraqi “insurgents” who had been detained for distributing so-called “insurgent” literature which, when Manning had it translated, turned out to be nothing more than “a scholarly critique against PM Maliki”:i had an interpreter read it for me… and when i found out that it was a benign political critique titled “Where did the money go?” and following the corruption trail within the PM’s cabinet… i immediately took that information and *ran* to the officer to explain what was going on… he didn’t want to hear any of it… he told me to shut up and explain how we could assist the FPs in finding *MORE* detainees…i had always questioned the things worked, and investigated to find the truth… but that was a point where i was a *part* of something… i was actively involved in something that i was completely against…

And Manning explained why he never considered the thought of selling this classified information to a foreign nation for substantial profit or even just secretly transmitting it to foreign powers, as he easily could have done:

Manning: i mean what if i were someone more malicious- i could’ve sold to russia or china, and made bank?

Lamo: why didn’t you?

Manning: because it’s public data

Lamo: i mean, the cables

Manning: it belongs in the public domain -information should be free – it belongs in the public domain – because another state would just take advantage of the information… try and get some edge – if its out in the open… it should be a public good.

That’s a whistleblower in the purest and most noble form:  discovering government secrets of criminal and corrupt acts and then publicizing them to the world not for profit, not to give other nations an edge, but to trigger “worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms.”  Given how much Manning has been demonized — at the same time that he’s been rendered silent by the ban on his communication with any media — it’s worthwhile to keep all of that in mind.

But ultimately, what one thinks of Manning’s alleged acts is irrelevant to the issue here.  The U.S. ought at least to abide by minimal standards of humane treatment in how it detains him.  That’s true for every prisoner, at all times.  But departures from such standards are particularly egregious where, as here, the detainee has merely been accused, but never convicted, of wrongdoing.  These inhumane conditions make a mockery of Barack Obama’s repeated pledge to end detainee abuse and torture, as prolonged isolation — exacerbated by these other deprivations — is at least as damaging, as violative of international legal standards, and almost as reviled around the world, as the waterboard, hypothermia and other Bush-era tactics that caused so much controversy.

What all of this achieves is clear.  Having it known that the U.S. could and would disappear people at will to “black sites,” assassinate them with unseen drones, imprison them for years without a shred of due process even while knowing they were innocent

, torture them mercilessly, and in general acts as a lawless and rogue imperial power created a climate of severe intimidation and fear.  Who would want to challenge the U.S. Government in any way — even in legitimate ways — knowing that it could and would engage in such lawless, violent conduct without any restraints or repercussions?

That is plainly what is going on here.  Anyone remotely affiliated with WikiLeaks, including American citizens (and plenty of other government critics), has their property seized and communications stored at the border without so much as a warrant.  Julian Assange — despite never having been charged with, let alone convicted of, any crime — has now spent more than a week in solitary confinement with severe restrictions under what his lawyer calls “Dickensian conditions.”

But Bradley Manning has suffered much worse, and not for a week, but for seven months, with no end in sight.  If you became aware of secret information revealing serious wrongdoing, deceit and/or criminality on the part of the U.S. Government, would you — knowing that you could and likely would be imprisoned under these kinds of repressive, torturous conditions for months on end without so much as a trial:  just locked away by yourself 23 hours a day without recourse — be willing to expose it?  That’s the climate of fear and intimidation which these inhumane detention conditions are intended to create.


The United States holds tens of thousands of inmates in long-term solitary confinement. Is this torture?

by Atul Gawand

The New Yorker

Human beings are social creatures. We are social not just in the trivial sense that we like company, and not just in the obvious sense that we each depend on others. We are social in a more elemental way: simply to exist as a normal human being requires interaction with other people.

Children provide the clearest demonstration of this fact, although it was slow to be accepted. Well into the nineteen-fifties, psychologists were encouraging parents to give children less attention and affection, in order to encourage independence. Then Harry Harlow, a professor of psychology at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, produced a series of influential studies involving baby rhesus monkeys.

He happened upon the findings in the mid-fifties, when he decided to save money for his primate-research laboratory by breeding his own lab monkeys instead of importing them from India. Because he didn’t know how to raise infant monkeys, he cared for them the way hospitals of the era cared for human infants—in nurseries, with plenty of food, warm blankets, some toys, and in isolation from other infants to prevent the spread of infection. The monkeys grew up sturdy, disease-free, and larger than those from the wild. Yet they were also profoundly disturbed, given to staring blankly and rocking in place for long periods, circling their cages repetitively, and mutilating themselves.

At first, Harlow and his graduate students couldn’t figure out what the problem was. They considered factors such as diet, patterns of light exposure, even the antibiotics they used. Then, as Deborah Blum recounts in a fascinating biography of Harlow, “Love at Goon Park,” one of his researchers noticed how tightly the monkeys clung to their soft blankets. Harlow wondered whether what the monkeys were missing in their Isolettes was a mother. So, in an odd experiment, he gave them an artificial one.

In the studies, one artificial mother was a doll made of terry cloth; the other was made of wire. He placed a warming device inside the dolls to make them seem more comforting. The babies, Harlow discovered, largely ignored the wire mother. But they became deeply attached to the cloth mother. They caressed it. They slept curled up on it. They ran to it when frightened. They refused replacements: they wanted only “their” mother. If sharp spikes were made to randomly thrust out of the mother’s body when the rhesus babies held it, they waited patiently for the spikes to recede and returned to clutching it. No matter how tightly they clung to the surrogate mothers, however, the monkeys remained psychologically abnormal.

In a later study on the effect of total isolation from birth, the researchers found that the test monkeys, upon being released into a group of ordinary monkeys, “usually go into a state of emotional shock, characterized by . . . autistic self-clutching and rocking.” Harlow noted, “One of six monkeys isolated for three months refused to eat after release and died five days later.” After several weeks in the company of other monkeys, most of them adjusted—but not those who had been isolated for longer periods. “Twelve months of isolation almost obliterated the animals socially,” Harlow wrote. They became permanently withdrawn, and they lived as outcasts—regularly set upon, as if inviting abuse.

The research made Harlow famous (and infamous, too—revulsion at his work helped spur the animal-rights movement). Other psychologists produced evidence of similarly deep and sustained damage in neglected and orphaned children. Hospitals were made to open up their nurseries to parents. And it became widely accepted that children require nurturing human beings not just for food and protection but also for the normal functioning of their brains.

We have been hesitant to apply these lessons to adults. Adults, after all, are fully formed, independent beings, with internal strengths and knowledge to draw upon. We wouldn’t have anything like a child’s dependence on other people, right? Yet it seems that we do. We don’t have a lot of monkey experiments to call upon here. But mankind has produced tens of thousands of human ones, including in our prison system. And the picture that has emerged is profoundly unsettling.

Among our most benign experiments are those with people who voluntarily isolate themselves for extended periods. Long-distance solo sailors, for instance, commit themselves to months at sea. They face all manner of physical terrors: thrashing storms, fifty-foot waves, leaks, illness. Yet, for many, the single most overwhelming difficulty they report is the “soul-destroying loneliness,” as one sailor called it. Astronauts have to be screened for their ability to tolerate long stretches in tightly confined isolation, and they come to depend on radio and video communications for social contact.

The problem of isolation goes beyond ordinary loneliness, however. Consider what we’ve learned from hostages who have been held in solitary confinement—from the journalist Terry Anderson, for example, whose extraordinary memoir, “Den of Lions,” recounts his seven years as a hostage of Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Anderson was the chief Middle East correspondent for the Associated Press when, on March 16, 1985, three bearded men forced him from his car in Beirut at gunpoint. He was pushed into a Mercedes sedan, covered head to toe with a heavy blanket, and made to crouch head down in the footwell behind the front seat. His captors drove him to a garage, pulled him out of the car, put a hood over his head, and bound his wrists and ankles with tape. For half an hour, they grilled him for the names of other Americans in Beirut, but he gave no names and they did not beat him or press him further. They threw him in the trunk of the car, drove him to another building, and put him in what would be the first of a succession of cells across Lebanon. He was soon placed in what seemed to be a dusty closet, large enough for only a mattress. Blindfolded, he could make out the distant sounds of other hostages. (One was William Buckley, the C.I.A. station chief who was kidnapped and tortured repeatedly until he weakened and died.) Peering around his blindfold, Anderson could see a bare light bulb dangling from the ceiling. He received three unpalatable meals a day—usually a sandwich of bread and cheese, or cold rice with canned vegetables, or soup. He had a bottle to urinate in and was allotted one five- to ten-minute trip each day to a rotting bathroom to empty his bowels and wash with water at a dirty sink. Otherwise, the only reprieve from isolation came when the guards made short visits to bark at him for breaking a rule or to threaten him, sometimes with a gun at his temple.

He missed people terribly, especially his fiancée and his family. He was despondent and depressed. Then, with time, he began to feel something more. He felt himself disintegrating. It was as if his brain were grinding down. A month into his confinement, he recalled in his memoir, “The mind is a blank. Jesus, I always thought I was smart. Where are all the things I learned, the books I read, the poems I memorized? There’s nothing there, just a formless, gray-black misery. My mind’s gone dead. God, help me.”

He was stiff from lying in bed day and night, yet tired all the time. He dozed off and on constantly, sleeping twelve hours a day. He craved activity of almost any kind. He would watch the daylight wax and wane on the ceiling, or roaches creep slowly up the wall. He had a Bible and tried to read, but he often found that he lacked the concentration to do so. He observed himself becoming neurotically possessive about his little space, at times putting his life in jeopardy by flying into a rage if a guard happened to step on his bed. He brooded incessantly, thinking back on all the mistakes he’d made in life, his regrets, his offenses against God and family.

His captors moved him every few months. For unpredictable stretches of time, he was granted the salvation of a companion—sometimes he shared a cell with as many as four other hostages—and he noticed that his thinking recovered rapidly when this occurred. He could read and concentrate longer, avoid hallucinations, and better control his emotions. “I would rather have had the worst companion than no companion at all,” he noted.

In September, 1986, after several months of sharing a cell with another hostage, Anderson was, for no apparent reason, returned to solitary confinement, this time in a six-by-six-foot cell, with no windows, and light from only a flickering fluorescent lamp in an outside corridor. The guards refused to say how long he would be there. After a few weeks, he felt his mind slipping away again.

“I find myself trembling sometimes for no reason,” he wrote. “I’m afraid I’m beginning to lose my mind, to lose control completely.”

One day, three years into his ordeal, he snapped. He walked over to a wall and began beating his forehead against it, dozens of times. His head was smashed and bleeding before the guards were able to stop him.

Some hostages fared worse. Anderson told the story of Frank Reed, a fifty-four-year-old American private-school director who was taken hostage and held in solitary confinement for four months before being put in with Anderson. By then, Reed had become severely withdrawn. He lay motionless for hours facing a wall, semi-catatonic. He could not follow the guards’ simplest instructions. This invited abuse from them, in much the same way that once isolated rhesus monkeys seemed to invite abuse from the colony. Released after three and a half years, Reed ultimately required admission to a psychiatric hospital.

“It’s an awful thing, solitary,” John McCain wrote of his five and a half years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam—more than two years of it spent in isolation in a fifteen-by-fifteen-foot cell, unable to communicate with other P.O.W.s except by tap code, secreted notes, or by speaking into an enamel cup pressed against the wall. “It crushes your spirit and weakens your resistance more effectively than any other form of mistreatment.” And this comes from a man who was beaten regularly; denied adequate medical treatment for two broken arms, a broken leg, and chronic dysentery; and tortured to the point of having an arm broken again. A U.S. military study of almost a hundred and fifty naval aviators returned from imprisonment in Vietnam, many of whom were treated even worse than McCain, reported that they found social isolation to be as torturous and agonizing as any physical abuse they suffered.

And what happened to them was physical. EEG studies going back to the nineteen-sixties have shown diffuse slowing of brain waves in prisoners after a week or more of solitary confinement. In 1992, fifty-seven prisoners of war, released after an average of six months in detention camps in the former Yugoslavia, were examined using EEG-like tests. The recordings revealed brain abnormalities months afterward; the most severe were found in prisoners who had endured either head trauma sufficient to render them unconscious or, yes, solitary confinement. Without sustained social interaction, the human brain may become as impaired as one that has incurred a traumatic injury.

On December 4, 1991, Terry Anderson was released from captivity. He had been the last and the longest-held American hostage in Lebanon. I spoke to Keron Fletcher, a former British military psychiatrist who had been on the receiving team for Anderson and many other hostages, and followed them for years afterward. Initially, Fletcher said, everyone experiences the pure elation of being able to see and talk to people again, especially family and friends. They can’t get enough of other people, and talk almost non-stop for hours. They are optimistic and hopeful. But, afterward, normal sleeping and eating patterns prove difficult to reëstablish. Some have lost their sense of time. For weeks, they have trouble managing the sensations and emotional complexities of their freedom.

For the first few months after his release, Anderson said when I reached him by phone recently, “it was just kind of a fog.” He had done many television interviews at the time. “And if you look at me in the pictures? Look at my eyes. You can tell. I look drugged.”

Most hostages survived their ordeal, Fletcher said, although relationships, marriages, and careers were often lost. Some found, as John McCain did, that the experience even strengthened them. Yet none saw solitary confinement as anything less than torture. This presents us with an awkward question: If prolonged isolation is—as research and experience have confirmed for decades—so objectively horrifying, so intrinsically cruel, how did we end up with a prison system that may subject more of our own citizens to it than any other country in history has?

Recently, I met a man who had spent more than five years in isolation at a prison in the Boston suburb of Walpole, Massachusetts, not far from my home. Bobby Dellelo was, to say the least, no Terry Anderson or John McCain. Brought up in the run-down neighborhoods of Boston’s West End, in the nineteen-forties, he was caught burglarizing a shoe store at the age of ten. At thirteen, he recalls, he was nabbed while robbing a Jordan Marsh department store. (He and his friends learned to hide out in stores at closing time, steal their merchandise, and then break out during the night.) The remainder of his childhood was spent mostly in the state reform school. That was where he learned how to fight, how to hot-wire a car with a piece of foil, how to pick locks, and how to make a zip gun using a snapped-off automobile radio antenna, which, in those days, was just thick enough to barrel a .22-calibre bullet. Released upon turning eighteen, Dellelo returned to stealing. Usually, he stole from office buildings at night. But some of the people he hung out with did stickups, and, together with one of them, he held up a liquor store in Dorchester.

“What a disaster that thing was,” he recalls, laughing. They put the store’s owner and the customers in a walk-in refrigerator at gunpoint, took their wallets, and went to rob the register. But more customers came in. So they robbed them and put them in the refrigerator, too. Then still more customers arrived, the refrigerator got full, and the whole thing turned into a circus. Dellelo and his partner finally escaped. But one of the customers identified him to the police. By the time he was caught, Dellelo had been fingered for robbing the Commander Hotel in Cambridge as well. He served a year for the first conviction and two and a half years for the second.

Three months after his release, in 1963, at the age of twenty, he and a friend tried to rob the Kopelman jewelry store, in downtown Boston. But an alarm went off before they got their hands on anything. They separated and ran. The friend shot and killed an off-duty policeman while trying to escape, then killed himself. Dellelo was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. He ended up serving forty years. Five years and one month were spent in isolation.

The criteria for the isolation of prisoners vary by state but typically include not only violent infractions but also violation of prison rules or association with gang members. The imposition of long-term isolation—which can be for months or years—is ultimately at the discretion of prison administrators. One former prisoner I spoke to, for example, recalled being put in solitary confinement for petty annoyances like refusing to get out of the shower quickly enough. Bobby Dellelo was put there for escaping.

It was an elaborate scheme. He had a partner, who picked the lock to a supervisor’s office and got hold of the information manual for the microwave-detection system that patrolled a grassy no man’s land between the prison and the road. They studied the manual long enough to learn how to circumvent the system and returned it. On Halloween Sunday, 1993, they had friends stage a fight in the prison yard. With all the guards in the towers looking at the fight through binoculars, the two men tipped a picnic table up against a twelve-foot wall and climbed it like a ladder. Beyond it, they scaled a sixteen-foot fence. To get over the razor wire on top, they used a Z-shaped tool they’d improvised from locker handles. They dropped down into the no man’s land and followed an invisible path that they’d calculated the microwave system would not detect. No alarm sounded. They went over one more fence, walked around a parking lot, picked their way through some woods, and emerged onto a four-lane road. After a short walk to a convenience store, they called a taxi from a telephone booth and rolled away before anyone knew they were gone.

They lasted twenty-four days on the outside. Eventually, somebody ratted them out, and the police captured them on the day before Thanksgiving, at the house of a friend in Cambridge. The prison administration gave Dellelo five years in the Departmental Disciplinary Unit of the Walpole prison, its hundred-and-twenty-four-cell super-maximum segregation unit.

Wearing ankle bracelets, handcuffs, and a belly chain, Dellelo was marched into a thirteen-by-eight-foot off-white cell. A four-inch-thick concrete bed slab jutted out from the wall opposite the door. A smaller slab protruding from a side wall provided a desk. A cylindrical concrete block in the floor served as a seat. On the remaining wall was a toilet and a metal sink. He was given four sheets, four towels, a blanket, a bedroll, a toothbrush, toilet paper, a tall clear plastic cup, a bar of soap, seven white T-shirts, seven pairs of boxer shorts, seven pairs of socks, plastic slippers, a pad of paper, and a ballpoint pen. A speaker with a microphone was mounted on the door. Cells used for solitary confinement are often windowless, but this one had a ribbonlike window that was seven inches wide and five feet tall. The electrically controlled door was solid steel, with a seven-inch-by-twenty-eight-inch aperture and two wickets—little door slots, one at ankle height and one at waist height, for shackling him whenever he was let out and for passing him meal trays.

As in other supermaxes—facilities designed to isolate prisoners from social contact—Dellelo was confined to his cell for at least twenty-three hours a day and permitted out only for a shower or for recreation in an outdoor cage that he estimated to be fifty feet long and five feet wide, known as “the dog kennel.” He could talk to other prisoners through the steel door of his cell, and during recreation if a prisoner was in an adjacent cage. He made a kind of fishing line for passing notes to adjacent cells by unwinding the elastic from his boxer shorts, though it was contraband and would be confiscated. Prisoners could receive mail and as many as ten reading items. They were allowed one phone call the first month and could earn up to four calls and four visits per month if they followed the rules, but there could be no physical contact with anyone, except when guards forcibly restrained them. Some supermaxes even use food as punishment, serving the prisoners nutra-loaf, an unpalatable food brick that contains just enough nutrition for survival. Dellelo was spared this. The rules also permitted him to have a radio after thirty days, and, after sixty days, a thirteen-inch black-and-white television.

“This is going to be a piece of cake,” Dellelo recalls thinking when the door closed behind him. Whereas many American supermax prisoners—and most P.O.W.s and hostages—have no idea when they might get out, he knew exactly how long he was going to be there. He drew a calendar on his pad of paper to start counting down the days. He would get a radio and a TV. He could read. No one was going to bother him. And, as his elaborate escape plan showed, he could be patient. “This is their sophisticated security?” he said to himself. “They don’t know what they’re doing.”

After a few months without regular social contact, however, his experience proved no different from that of the P.O.W.s or hostages, or the majority of isolated prisoners whom researchers have studied: he started to lose his mind. He talked to himself. He paced back and forth compulsively, shuffling along the same six-foot path for hours on end. Soon, he was having panic attacks, screaming for help. He hallucinated that the colors on the walls were changing. He became enraged by routine noises—the sound of doors opening as the guards made their hourly checks, the sounds of inmates in nearby cells. After a year or so, he was hearing voices on the television talking directly to him. He put the television under his bed, and rarely took it out again.

One of the paradoxes of solitary confinement is that, as starved as people become for companionship, the experience typically leaves them unfit for social interaction. Once, Dellelo was allowed to have an in-person meeting with his lawyer, and he simply couldn’t handle it. After so many months in which his primary human contact had been an occasional phone call or brief conversations with an inmate down the tier, shouted through steel doors at the top of their lungs, he found himself unable to carry on a face-to-face conversation. He had trouble following both words and hand gestures and couldn’t generate them himself. When he realized this, he succumbed to a full-blown panic attack.

Craig Haney, a psychology professor at the University of California at Santa Cruz, received rare permission to study a hundred randomly selected inmates at California’s Pelican Bay supermax, and noted a number of phenomena. First, after months or years of complete isolation, many prisoners “begin to lose the ability to initiate behavior of any kind—to organize their own lives around activity and purpose,” he writes. “Chronic apathy, lethargy, depression, and despair often result. . . . In extreme cases, prisoners may literally stop behaving,” becoming essentially catatonic.

Second, almost ninety per cent of these prisoners had difficulties with “irrational anger,” compared with just three per cent of the general population.* Haney attributed this to the extreme restriction, the totality of control, and the extended absence of any opportunity for happiness or joy. Many prisoners in solitary become consumed with revenge fantasies.

“There were some guards in D.D.U. who were decent guys,” Dellelo told me. They didn’t trash his room when he was let out for a shower, or try to trip him when escorting him in chains, or write him up for contraband if he kept food or a salt packet from a meal in his cell. “But some of them were evil, evil pricks.” One correctional officer became a particular obsession. Dellelo spent hours imagining cutting his head off and rolling it down the tier. “I mean, I know this is insane thinking,” he says now. Even at the time, he added, “I had a fear in the background—like how much of this am I going to be able to let go? How much is this going to affect who I am?”

He was right to worry. Everyone’s identity is socially created: it’s through your relationships that you understand yourself as a mother or a father, a teacher or an accountant, a hero or a villain. But, after years of isolation, many prisoners change in another way that Haney observed. They begin to see themselves primarily as combatants in the world, people whose identity is rooted in thwarting prison control.

As a matter of self-preservation, this may not be a bad thing. According to the Navy P.O.W. researchers, the instinct to fight back against the enemy constituted the most important coping mechanism for the prisoners they studied. Resistance was often their sole means of maintaining a sense of purpose, and so their sanity. Yet resistance is precisely what we wish to destroy in our supermax prisoners. As Haney observed in a review of research findings, prisoners in solitary confinement must be able to withstand the experience in order to be allowed to return to the highly social world of mainline prison or free society. Perversely, then, the prisoners who can’t handle profound isolation are the ones who are forced to remain in it. “And those who have adapted,” Haney writes, “are prime candidates for release to a social world to which they may be incapable of ever fully readjusting.”

Dellelo eventually found a way to resist that would not prolong his ordeal. He fought his battle through the courts, filing motion after motion in an effort to get his conviction overturned. He became so good at submitting his claims that he obtained a paralegal certificate along the way. And, after forty years in prison, and more than five years in solitary, he got his first-degree-homicide conviction reduced to manslaughter. On November 19, 2003, he was freed.

Bobby Dellelo is sixty-seven years old now. He lives on Social Security in a Cambridge efficiency apartment that is about four times larger than his cell. He still seems to be adjusting to the world outside. He lives alone. To the extent that he is out in society, it is, in large measure, as a combatant. He works for prisoners’ rights at the American Friends Service Committee. He also does occasional work assisting prisoners with their legal cases. Sitting at his kitchen table, he showed me how to pick a padlock—you know, just in case I ever find myself in trouble.

But it was impossible to talk to him about his time in isolation without seeing that it was fundamentally no different from the isolation that Terry Anderson and John McCain had endured. Whether in Walpole or Beirut or Hanoi, all human beings experience isolation as torture.

The main argument for using long-term isolation in prisons is that it provides discipline and prevents violence. When inmates refuse to follow the rules—when they escape, deal drugs, or attack other inmates and corrections officers—wardens must be able to punish and contain the misconduct. Presumably, less stringent measures haven’t worked, or the behavior would not have occurred. And it’s legitimate to incapacitate violent aggressors for the safety of others. So, advocates say, isolation is a necessary evil, and those who don’t recognize this are dangerously naïve.

The argument makes intuitive sense. If the worst of the worst are removed from the general prison population and put in isolation, you’d expect there to be markedly fewer inmate shankings and attacks on corrections officers. But the evidence doesn’t bear this out. Perhaps the most careful inquiry into whether supermax prisons decrease violence and disorder was a 2003 analysis examining the experience in three states—Arizona, Illinois, and Minnesota—following the opening of their supermax prisons. The study found that levels of inmate-on-inmate violence were unchanged, and that levels of inmate-on-staff violence changed unpredictably, rising in Arizona, falling in Illinois, and holding steady in Minnesota.

Prison violence, it turns out, is not simply an issue of a few belligerents. In the past thirty years, the United States has quadrupled its incarceration rate but not its prison space. Work and education programs have been cancelled, out of a belief that the pursuit of rehabilitation is pointless. The result has been unprecedented overcrowding, along with unprecedented idleness—a nice formula for violence. Remove a few prisoners to solitary confinement, and the violence doesn’t change. So you remove some more, and still nothing happens. Before long, you find yourself in the position we are in today. The United States now has five per cent of the world’s population, twenty-five per cent of its prisoners, and probably the vast majority of prisoners who are in long-term solitary confinement.

It wasn’t always like this. The wide-scale use of isolation is, almost exclusively, a phenomenon of the past twenty years. In 1890, the United States Supreme Court came close to declaring the punishment to be unconstitutional. Writing for the majority in the case of a Colorado murderer who had been held in isolation for a month, Justice Samuel Miller noted that experience had revealed “serious objections” to solitary confinement:

A considerable number of the prisoners fell, after even a short confinement, into a semi-fatuous condition, from which it was next to impossible to arouse them, and others became violently insane; others, still, committed suicide; while those who stood the ordeal better were not generally reformed, and in most cases did not recover suffcient mental activity to be of any subsequent service to the community.

Prolonged isolation was used sparingly, if at all, by most American prisons for almost a century. Our first supermax—our first institution specifically designed for mass solitary confinement—was not established until 1983, in Marion, Illinois. In 1995, a federal court reviewing California’s first supermax admitted that the conditions “hover on the edge of what is humanly tolerable for those with normal resilience.” But it did not rule them to be unconstitutionally cruel or unusual, except in cases of mental illness. The prison’s supermax conditions, the court stated, did not pose “a sufficiently high risk to all inmates of incurring a serious mental illness.” In other words, there could be no legal objection to its routine use, given that the isolation didn’t make everyone crazy. The ruling seemed to fit the public mood. By the end of the nineteen-nineties, some sixty supermax institutions had opened across the country. And new solitary-confinement units were established within nearly all of our ordinary maximum-security prisons.

The number of prisoners in these facilities has since risen to extraordinary levels. America now holds at least twenty-five thousand inmates in isolation in supermax prisons. An additional fifty to eighty thousand are kept in restrictive segregation units, many of them in isolation, too, although the government does not release these figures. By 1999, the practice had grown to the point that Arizona, Colorado, Maine, Nebraska, Nevada, Rhode Island, and Virginia kept between five and eight per cent of their prison population in isolation, and, by 2003, New York had joined them as well. Mississippi alone held eighteen hundred prisoners in supermax—twelve per cent of its prisoners over all. At the same time, other states had just a tiny fraction of their inmates in solitary confinement. In 1999, for example, Indiana had eighty-five supermax beds; Georgia had only ten. Neither of these two states can be described as being soft on crime.

Advocates of solitary confinement are left with a single argument for subjecting thousands of people to years of isolation: What else are we supposed to do? How else are we to deal with the violent, the disruptive, the prisoners who are just too dangerous to be housed with others?

As it happens, only a subset of prisoners currently locked away for long periods of isolation would be considered truly dangerous. Many are escapees or suspected gang members; many others are in solitary for nonviolent breaches of prison rules. Still, there are some highly dangerous and violent prisoners who pose a serious challenge to prison discipline and safety. In August, I met a man named Robert Felton, who had spent fourteen and a half years in isolation in the Illinois state correctional system. He is now thirty-six years old. He grew up in the predominantly black housing projects of Danville, Illinois, and had been a force of mayhem from the time he was a child.

His crimes were mainly impulsive, rather than planned. The first time he was arrested was at the age of eleven, when he and a relative broke into a house to steal some Atari video games. A year later, he was sent to state reform school after he and a friend broke into an abandoned building and made off with paint cans, irons, and other property that they hardly knew what to do with. In reform school, he got into fights and screamed obscenities at the staff. When the staff tried to discipline him by taking away his recreation or his television privileges, his behavior worsened. He tore a pillar out of the ceiling, a sink and mirrors off the wall, doors off their hinges. He was put in a special cell, stripped of nearly everything. When he began attacking counsellors, the authorities transferred him to the maximum-security juvenile facility at Joliet, where he continued to misbehave.

Felton wasn’t a sociopath. He made friends easily. He was close to his family, and missed them deeply. He took no pleasure in hurting others. Psychiatric evaluations turned up little more than attention-deficit disorder. But he had a terrible temper, a tendency to escalate rather than to defuse confrontations, and, by the time he was released, just before turning eighteen, he had achieved only a ninth-grade education.

Within months of returning home, he was arrested again. He had walked into a Danville sports bar and ordered a beer. The barman took his ten-dollar bill.

“Then he says, ‘Naw, man, you can’t get no beer. You’re underage,’ ” Felton recounts. “I says, ‘Well, give me my ten dollars back.’ He says, ‘You ain’t getting shit. Get the hell out of here.’ ”

Felton stood his ground. The bartender had a pocket knife on the counter. “And, when he went for it, I went for it,” Felton told me. “When I grabbed the knife first, I turned around and spinned on him. I said, ‘You think you’re gonna cut me, man? You gotta be fucked up.’ ”

The barman had put the ten-dollar bill in a Royal Crown bag behind the counter. Felton grabbed the bag and ran out the back door. He forgot his car keys on the counter, though. So he went back to get the keys—“the stupid keys,” he now says ruefully—and in the fight that ensued he left the barman severely injured and bleeding. The police caught Felton fleeing in his car. He was convicted of armed robbery, aggravated unlawful restraint, and aggravated battery, and served fifteen years in prison.

He was eventually sent to the Stateville Correctional Center, a maximum-security facility in Joliet. Inside the overflowing prison, he got into vicious fights over insults and the like. About three months into his term, during a shakedown following the murder of an inmate, prison officials turned up a makeshift knife in his cell. (He denies that it was his.) They gave him a year in isolation. He was a danger, and he had to be taught a lesson. But it was a lesson that he seemed incapable of learning.

Felton’s Stateville isolation cell had gray walls, a solid steel door, no window, no clock, and a light that was kept on twenty-four hours a day. As soon as he was shut in, he became claustrophobic and had a panic attack. Like Dellelo, Anderson, and McCain, he was soon pacing back and forth, talking to himself, studying the insects crawling around his cell, reliving past events from childhood, sleeping for as much as sixteen hours a day. But, unlike them, he lacked the inner resources to cope with his situation.

Many prisoners find survival in physical exercise, prayer, or plans for escape. Many carry out elaborate mental exercises, building entire houses in their heads, board by board, nail by nail, from the ground up, or memorizing team rosters for a baseball season. McCain recreated in his mind movies he’d seen. Anderson reconstructed complete novels from memory. Yuri Nosenko, a K.G.B. defector whom the C.I.A. wrongly accused of being a double agent and held for three years in total isolation (no reading material, no news, no human contact except with interrogators) in a closet-size concrete cell near Williamsburg, Virginia, made chess sets from threads and a calendar from lint (only to have them discovered and swept away).

But Felton would just yell, “Guard! Guard! Guard! Guard! Guard!,” or bang his cup on the toilet, for hours. He could spend whole days hallucinating that he was in another world, that he was a child at home in Danville, playing in the streets, having conversations with imaginary people. Small cruelties that others somehow bore in quiet fury—getting no meal tray, for example—sent him into a rage. Despite being restrained with handcuffs, ankle shackles, and a belly chain whenever he was taken out, he managed to assault the staff at least three times. He threw his food through the door slot. He set his cell on fire by tearing his mattress apart, wrapping the stuffing in a sheet, popping his light bulb, and using the exposed wires to set the whole thing ablaze. He did this so many times that the walls of his cell were black with soot.

After each offense, prison officials extended his sentence in isolation. Still, he wouldn’t stop. He began flooding his cell, by stuffing the door crack with socks, plugging the toilet, and flushing until the water was a couple of feet deep. Then he’d pull out the socks and the whole wing would flood with wastewater.

“Flooding the cell was the last option for me,” Felton told me. “It was when I had nothing else I could do. You know, they took everything out of my cell, and all I had left was toilet water. I’d sit there and I’d say, ‘Well, let me see what I can do with this toilet water.’ ”

Felton was not allowed out again for fourteen and a half years. He spent almost his entire prison term, from 1990 to 2005, in isolation. In March, 1998, he was among the first inmates to be moved to Tamms, a new, high-tech supermax facility in southern Illinois.

“At Tamms, man, it was like a lab,” he says. Contact even with guards was tightly reduced. Cutoff valves meant that he couldn’t flood his cell. He had little ability to force a response—negative or positive—from a human being. And, with that gone, he began to deteriorate further. He ceased showering, changing his clothes, brushing his teeth. His teeth rotted and ten had to be pulled. He began throwing his feces around his cell. He became psychotic.

It is unclear how many prisoners in solitary confinement become psychotic. Stuart Grassian, a Boston psychiatrist, has interviewed more than two hundred prisoners in solitary confinement. In one in-depth study, prepared for a legal challenge of prisoner-isolation practices, he concluded that about a third developed acute psychosis with hallucinations. The markers of vulnerability that he observed in his interviews were signs of cognitive dysfunction—a history of seizures, serious mental illness, mental retardation, illiteracy, or, as in Felton’s case, a diagnosis such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, signalling difficulty with impulse control. In the prisoners Grassian saw, about a third had these vulnerabilities, and these were the prisoners whom solitary confinement had made psychotic. They were simply not cognitively equipped to endure it without mental breakdowns.

A psychiatrist tried giving Felton anti-psychotic medication. Mostly, it made him sleep—sometimes twenty-four hours at a stretch, he said. Twice he attempted suicide. The first time, he hanged himself in a noose made from a sheet. The second time, he took a single staple from a legal newspaper and managed to slash the radial artery in his left wrist with it. In both instances, he was taken to a local emergency room for a few hours, patched up, and sent back to prison.

Is there an alternative? Consider what other countries do. Britain, for example, has had its share of serial killers, homicidal rapists, and prisoners who have taken hostages and repeatedly assaulted staff. The British also fought a seemingly unending war in Northern Ireland, which brought them hundreds of Irish Republican Army prisoners committed to violent resistance. The authorities resorted to a harshly punitive approach to control, including, in the mid-seventies, extensive use of solitary confinement. But the violence in prisons remained unchanged, the costs were phenomenal (in the United States, they reach more than fifty thousand dollars a year per inmate), and the public outcry became intolerable. British authorities therefore looked for another approach.

Beginning in the nineteen-eighties, they gradually adopted a strategy that focussed on preventing prison violence rather than on delivering an ever more brutal series of punishments for it. The approach starts with the simple observation that prisoners who are unmanageable in one setting often behave perfectly reasonably in another. This suggested that violence might, to a critical extent, be a function of the conditions of incarceration. The British noticed that problem prisoners were usually people for whom avoiding humiliation and saving face were fundamental and instinctive. When conditions maximized humiliation and confrontation, every interaction escalated into a trial of strength. Violence became a predictable consequence.

So the British decided to give their most dangerous prisoners more control, rather than less. They reduced isolation and offered them opportunities for work, education, and special programming to increase social ties and skills. The prisoners were housed in small, stable units of fewer than ten people in individual cells, to avoid conditions of social chaos and unpredictability. In these reformed “Close Supervision Centres,” prisoners could receive mental-health treatment and earn rights for more exercise, more phone calls, “contact visits,” and even access to cooking facilities. They were allowed to air grievances. And the government set up an independent body of inspectors to track the results and enable adjustments based on the data.

The results have been impressive. The use of long-term isolation in England is now negligible. In all of England, there are now fewer prisoners in “extreme custody” than there are in the state of Maine. And the other countries of Europe have, with a similar focus on small units and violence prevention, achieved a similar outcome.

In this country, in June of 2006, a bipartisan national task force, the Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons, released its recommendations after a yearlong investigation. It called for ending long-term isolation of prisoners. Beyond about ten days, the report noted, practically no benefits can be found and the harm is clear—not just for inmates but for the public as well. Most prisoners in long-term isolation are returned to society, after all. And evidence from a number of studies has shown that supermax conditions—in which prisoners have virtually no social interactions and are given no programmatic support—make it highly likely that they will commit more crimes when they are released. Instead, the report said, we should follow the preventive approaches used in European countries.

The recommendations went nowhere, of course. Whatever the evidence in its favor, people simply did not believe in the treatment.

I spoke to a state-prison commissioner who wished to remain unidentified. He was a veteran of the system, having been either a prison warden or a commissioner in several states across the country for more than twenty years. He has publicly defended the use of long-term isolation everywhere that he has worked. Nonetheless, he said, he would remove most prisoners from long-term isolation units if he could and provide programming for the mental illnesses that many of them have.

“Prolonged isolation is not going to serve anyone’s best interest,” he told me. He still thought that prisons needed the option of isolation. “A bad violation should, I think, land you there for about ninety days, but it should not go beyond that.”

He is apparently not alone among prison officials. Over the years, he has come to know commissioners in nearly every state in the country. “I believe that today you’ll probably find that two-thirds or three-fourths of the heads of correctional agencies will largely share the position that I articulated with you,” he said.

Commissioners are not powerless. They could eliminate prolonged isolation with the stroke of a pen. So, I asked, why haven’t they? He told me what happened when he tried to move just one prisoner out of isolation. Legislators called for him to be fired and threatened to withhold basic funding. Corrections officers called members of the crime victim’s family and told them that he’d gone soft on crime. Hostile stories appeared in the tabloids. It is pointless for commissioners to act unilaterally, he said, without a change in public opinion.

This past year, both the Republican and the Democratic Presidential candidates came out firmly for banning torture and closing the facility in Guantánamo Bay, where hundreds of prisoners have been held in years-long isolation. Neither Barack Obama nor John McCain, however, addressed the question of whether prolonged solitary confinement is torture. For a Presidential candidate, no less than for the prison commissioner, this would have been political suicide. The simple truth is that public sentiment in America is the reason that solitary confinement has exploded in this country, even as other Western nations have taken steps to reduce it. This is the dark side of American exceptionalism. With little concern or demurral, we have consigned tens of thousands of our own citizens to conditions that horrified our highest court a century ago. Our willingness to discard these standards for American prisoners made it easy to discard the Geneva Conventions prohibiting similar treatment of foreign prisoners of war, to the detriment of America’s moral stature in the world. In much the same way that a previous generation of Americans countenanced legalized segregation, ours has countenanced legalized torture. And there is no clearer manifestation of this than our routine use of solitary confinement—on our own people, in our own communities, in a supermax prison, for example, that is a thirty-minute drive from my door.

Robert Felton drifted in and out of acute psychosis for much of his solitary confinement. Eventually, however, he found an unexpected resource. One day, while he was at Tamms, he was given a new defense lawyer, and, whatever expertise this lawyer provided, the more important thing was genuine human contact. He visited regularly, and sent Felton books. Although some were rejected by the authorities and Felton was restricted to a few at a time, he devoured those he was permitted. “I liked political books,” he says. “ ‘From Beirut to Jerusalem,’ Winston Churchill, Noam Chomsky.”

That small amount of contact was a lifeline. Felton corresponded with the lawyer about what he was reading. The lawyer helped him get his G.E.D. and a paralegal certificate through a correspondence course, and he taught Felton how to advocate for himself. Felton began writing letters to politicians and prison officials explaining the misery of his situation, opposing supermax isolation, and asking for a chance to return to the general prison population. (The Illinois Department of Corrections would not comment on Felton’s case, but a spokesman stated that “Tamms houses the most disruptive, violent, and problematic inmates.”) Felton was persuasive enough that Senator Paul Simon, of Illinois, wrote him back and, one day, even visited him. Simon asked the director of the State Department of Corrections, Donald Snyder, Jr., to give consideration to Felton’s objections. But Snyder didn’t budge. If there was anyone whom Felton fantasized about taking revenge upon, it was Snyder. Felton continued to file request after request. But the answer was always no.

On July 12, 2005, at the age of thirty-three, Felton was finally released. He hadn’t socialized with another person since entering Tamms, at the age of twenty-five. Before his release, he was given one month in the general prison population to get used to people. It wasn’t enough. Upon returning to society, he found that he had trouble in crowds. At a party of well-wishers, the volume of social stimulation overwhelmed him and he panicked, headed for a bathroom, and locked himself in. He stayed at his mother’s house and kept mostly to himself.

For the first year, he had to wear an ankle bracelet and was allowed to leave home only for work. His first job was at a Papa John’s restaurant, delivering pizzas. He next found work at the Model Star Laundry Service, doing pressing. This was a steady job, and he began to settle down. He fell in love with a waitress named Brittany. They moved into a three-room house that her grandmother lent them, and got engaged. Brittany became pregnant.

This is not a story with a happy ending. Felton lost his job with the laundry service. He went to work for a tree-cutting business; a few months later, it went under. Meanwhile, he and Brittany had had a second child. She had found work as a certified nursing assistant, but her income wasn’t nearly enough. So he took a job forty miles away, at Plastipak, the plastics manufacturer, where he made seven-fifty an hour inspecting Gatorade bottles and Crisco containers as they came out of the stamping machines. Then his twenty-year-old Firebird died. The bus he had to take ran erratically, and he was fired for repeated tardiness.

When I visited Felton in Danville last August, he and Brittany were upbeat about their prospects. She was working extra shifts at a nursing home, and he was taking care of their children, ages one and two. He had also applied to a six-month training program for heating and air-conditioning technicians.

“I could make twenty dollars an hour after graduation,” he said.

“He’s a good man,” Brittany told me, taking his arm and giving him a kiss.

But he was out of work. They were chronically short of money. It was hard to be optimistic about Felton’s prospects. And, indeed, six weeks after we met, he was arrested for breaking into a car dealership and stealing a Dodge Charger. He pleaded guilty and, in January, began serving a seven-year sentence.

Before I left town—when there was still a glimmer of hope for him—we went out for lunch at his favorite place, a Mexican restaurant called La Potosina. Over enchiladas and Cokes, we talked about his family, Danville, the economy, and, of course, his time in prison. The strangest story had turned up in the news, he said. Donald Snyder, Jr., the state prison director who had refused to let him out of solitary confinement, had been arrested, convicted, and sentenced to two years in prison for taking fifty thousand dollars in payoffs from lobbyists.

“Two years in prison,” Felton marvelled. “He could end up right where I used to be.”

I asked him, “If he wrote to you, asking if you would release him from solitary, what would you do?”

Felton didn’t hesitate for a second. “If he wrote to me to let him out, I’d let him out,” he said.

This surprised me. I expected anger, vindictiveness, a desire for retribution. “You’d let him out?” I said.

“I’d let him out,” he said, and he put his fork down to make the point. “I wouldn’t wish solitary confinement on anybody. Not even him.” ♦

*Correction, April 6, 2009: Three per cent of the general population had difficulties with “irrational anger,” not three per cent of prisoners in the general population, as originally stated.

Skimming the (S)cream Off the WikiLeaks Terror Accusations

December 16, 2010

by Tom Engelhardt


Here in the United States of Fear, official voices are again rising in a remarkable crescendo of hysteria.

My advice: don’t even try getting on the subway car filled with American politicians and their acolytes accusing WikiLeaks and Julian Assange of terrorist activity.  It’s already standing room only.  Among those who have recently spoken out:  Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (“I think the man is a high-tech terrorist”); former speaker of the House and possible 2012 presidential candidate Newt Gingrich (“information terrorism… [Assange] should be treated as an enemy combatant”); Republican Congressman Peter King, the next head of the House Homeland Security Committee (“…asked the Obama administration today to ‘determine whether WikiLeaks could be designated a foreign terrorist organization'”); former Republican Senator and possible 2012 presidential candidate Rick Santorum (“We haven’t gone after this guy, we haven’t tried to prosecute him, we haven’t gotten our allies to go out and lock this guy up and bring him up on terrorism charges, because what he’s doing is terrorism, in my opinion.”); Fox News host, Iran-Contra figure, and bestselling author Oliver North (“This is an act of terrorism. It’s information terrorism instead of a bomb going off in Times Square, but it’s still terrorism.”)

And that’s just to skim the (s)cream off the top of the terror accusations boiling out of this Congress and Republican presidential ranks.  It’s quite a brew, especially when you add in senators like Joe Lieberman and Diane Feinstein calling for Assange to be prosecuted under the Espionage Act of 1917 and figures like Sarah Palin calling for him to simply be taken out as a terrorist, pure and simple (“Why was he not pursued with the same urgency we pursue al Qaeda and Taliban leaders?”)

Here, however, is a small catch.  If this is “terrorism,” a question arises (or at least should arise): Who has been terrorized?  Who exactly has been terrified by the recent WikiLeaks releases of, so far, more than 1,000 State Department documents, some going back decades?  The answer, I think, is clear enough — not the American people, but the Washington elite who have, in these last years, put in place a version of secrecy so wide-ranging that most of the government’s significant operations abroad (and many at home) have been cast into the shadows beyond the sightlines of the voters in this supposed democracy.

Within the penumbra of spreading secrecy, that elite, sometimes aided and abetted by the mainstream media, has acted with remarkable impunity in invading other countries, kidnapping“suspects” off the streets of global cities, secretly imprisoning under catch-all categories, and torturing, abusing, or even murdering those believed to be terrorists, or at least opposed to Washington’s desires.  At the same time, they have been moving to lock down this country in ever more severe (and expensive) ways.  So for them, it may indeed feel like a genuinely terrifying experience to see any aspect of that secrecy removed, to discover yet again that what they thought they controlled was not really theirs to control.

And don’t think it’s just a matter of Julian Assange or WikiLeaks in the gun sights either.  The Espionage Act of 1917, under which Assange may be charged, was a classic suppressive response to antiwar opposition during World War I.  It remains dangerous.  Prosecuting Assange under it or any other terror statute would indeed prove an ominous development.  It would have — and I’m not one for throwing around totalitarian analogies — a distinctly Soviet feel to it.

Julian Assange may be the one they are coming after right now, but he’s unlikely to prove the end of it.  After all, if you’re the next one to give them a fright, you, too, could be declared a terrorist or an enemy combatant (even if you do work for the New York Times).  As TomDispatch regular Stephan Salisbury points out in his latest piece, “Terrorama,” the rhetoric of terror has entered the American bloodstream and it’s going to be the rage (so to speak) of the new Congress in 2011.

Julian Assange granted bail at high court

WikiLeaks founder is wanted in Sweden for questioning over allegations of rape

December 16, 2010

by Mark Tran


Britain’s high court today granted bail to Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder who is wanted in Sweden for questioning over allegations of rape.

Mr Justice Duncan Ouseley agreed with a decision by City of Westminister magistrates court earlier in the week to release Assange on strict conditions: £200,000 cash deposit, with a further £40,000 guaranteed in two sureties of £20,000, and strict conditions on his movement.

Assange stood in a dark grey suit in the dock as Ouseley began hearing an appeal by British prosecutors acting on behalf of Sweden.

There was an early sign that the day would go in Assange’s favour when Ouseley said: “The history of the way it [the case] has been dealt with by the Swedish prosecutors would give Mr Assange some basis that he might be acquitted following a trial.”

Mark Stephens, one of Assange’s lawyers, said he expected Assange to be released later today, or tomorrow in a worst case scenario.

“We are hopeful that he will be released from here [the court] but if the formalities are not completed before the bus goes back to Wandsworth, he will be released from Wandsworth later,” Stephens said.

“We haven’t addressed the question of American legal action or the potential for it. Our main focus is delight and joy, and delight and joy of Julian’s family, that he is going to be released in the very foreseeable future. He will not be going back to that Victorian prison. He will not be going back to that cell once occupied by Oscar Wilde.”

The Crown Prosecution Service suggested that Assange’s wealthy supporters were offering surety for a cause, not because they could vouch for him.

The 39-year-old Australian arrived at the high court in a white prison van. Photographers swarmed around the vehicle in an attempt to get a picture. Amid intense media interest, a queue of journalists had formed as early as 6am.

Stephens said before the proceedings that the bail money had been raised from Assange’s supporters and “appears to be in the banking system”. .

Assange has been held in solitary confinement, released from his cell for only one hour a day, and his mail has been heavily censored, according to his supporters.

Assange is fighting attempts to extradite him to Sweden for questioning over allegations of sexual misconduct including rape made by two female WikiLeaks volunteers, which he denies.

“It’s an ongoing investigation in Sweden and the prosecutor needs to interrogate him to make a decision on the matter,” said Karin Rosander, a spokeswoman for the Swedish prosecution agency.

Bail conditions stipulate that Assange must stay at a country house in Suffolk owned by Vaughan Smith, the founder of the Frontline club in west London, report to police daily and wear an electronic tag.

Meanwhile, it emerged that the decision to seek a remand in custody for Assange was taken by the British authorities and not by prosecutors in Sweden.

It had been widely supposed that Sweden had taken the decision to oppose bail, with the Crown Prosecution Service acting merely as its representative. But the Swedish prosecutor’s office told the Guardian it had “not got a view at all on bail” and that Britain had made the decision to oppose bail.

Karin Rosander, the director of communications for Sweden’s prosecutor’s office, said: “The decision was made by the British prosecutor. I got it confirmed by the CPS this morning that the decision to appeal the granting of bail was entirely a matter for the CPS. The Swedish prosecutors are not entitled to make decisions within Britain. It is entirely up to the British authorities to handle it.”

As a result, she said, Sweden would not submit any new evidence or arguments to the high court hearing. “The Swedish authorities are not involved in these proceedings. We have not got a view at all on bail.”

The CPS confirmed that decisions to oppose bail for Assange had been taken by its lawyers. “In all extradition cases, decisions on bail issues are always taken by the domestic prosecuting authority,” it said. “It would not be practical for prosecutors in a foreign jurisdiction … to make such decisions.”

Assange and his lawyers have expressed fears of a legal battle in the US, where prosecutors may be preparing to indict him for espionage over WikiLeaks’ publication of the documents.

The New York Times reported that federal prosecutors were looking for evidence that Assange had conspired with a former US army intelligence analyst suspected of leaking classified documents.

Among the material prosecutors are studying is an online chat log in which Private Bradley Manning is said to claim that while he was downloading government files he was directly communicating with Assange using an encrypted internet conferencing service, according to the Times. Manning is also said to have claimed that Assange gave him access to a dedicated server for uploading some of them to WikiLeaks.

Wikileaks: Bumpy ride ahead for US diplomats

November 28, 2010

by Jonathan Marcus BBC Diplomatic Correspondent

BBC Diplomatic Correspondent

Red faces in Washington? Well yes, almost certainly, and probably in a significant number of other capitals too, not least in the Middle East where a series of leaders and senior figures in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Abu Dhabi are quoted as urging Washington to bomb Iran’s nuclear programme.

This avalanche of cables from the internal, supposedly secure e-mail switching system linking US embassies abroad with the state department and Pentagon in Washington is a nightmare for US diplomacy.

A White House statement noted in response that by its very nature, “field reporting to Washington is candid and often incomplete information”. It goes on: “It is not an expression of policy, nor does it always shape final policy decisions.”

That may all be true. But world leaders do not expect to have their private conversations with US officials or candid assessments of their capabilities and peculiarities publicised for all to see.

This is a security breach of the highest order and if there is not to be at least a temporary uneasiness between US diplomats and foreign governments – especially friendly governments – then the US is going to have to convince its allies that a breach like this will not happen again.

There is a terrible irony here since this centralised method of exchanging key diplomatic communications was instituted as part of the efforts in the wake of the 9/11 attacks to get different parts of the US government machine talking to each other better.

Gold mine

Another embarrassing story is that which suggests that US officials crossed the line from diplomacy to spying in gathering all sorts of travel data about senior United Nations officials, the UN’s communications systems and so on.

Here, too, not terribly surprising. Yes, it’s a fact: most governments, if they have the resources and indeed the perceived need, spy upon all sorts of other countries and organisations, friendly or otherwise. But here again, seeing it all in stark print on your breakfast newspaper does not make comfortable reading.

In terms of policy, there is little in this first batch of stories that is especially new.

Take the allegations that Iran and North Korea have collaborated on missile programmes, for example. This has been the conventional view of many ballistic missile experts for a long time now. I have been briefed by senior US officials myself and given substantially the same line.

But this horde of documents is going to prove a gold mine for academic research.

Serious scholars of foreign policy will be able to have something of an inside track on US diplomacy for the years covered by these cables, at least in terms of being able to monitor some of the inputs coming into the foreign policy-making process.

The New York Times coverage has already been able to piece together a fascinating study of the twists and turns of US policy towards Iran and how this relates to Saudi-China relations – guaranteed oil deliveries were offered if Beijing cut its links with Tehran – and the US-Russia debate on missile defence.

The goal for the Americans in both cases was to get Moscow and Beijing on board to back tougher sanctions against Iran.

More to come

However, while fascinating, there’s no game-changer so far – nothing where we believed that US policy was X and it has actually turned out to be Y.

Are there any shadowy groups, for example, that America publicly refuses to speak to but is actually having some kind of dialogue with below the radar? So far, at least, there is nothing like that.

But it’s all embarrassing enough.

Consider the Gulf revelations. Everyone believed that many Arab leaders wanted Iran taken down a peg or two. But seeing it in black and white may leave them with some uneasy domestic questions to answer.

Public opinion in many Arab countries is rather more sympathetic to the Iranians than are their leaders – the proverbial “Arab street” seeing Iran often as a rather more active champion of causes like that of the Palestinians.

This, though, is only batch one of several days’ worth of stories. Unflattering comments about Britain’s new Prime Minister David Cameron are promised for a future revelation as, too, are “claims of inappropriate behaviour” by a member of Britain’s Royal Family.

But most of the red faces will still be in Washington. It’s time for US diplomats to buckle up tight and prepare for a bumpy ride ahead.

Pro-WikiLeaks hackers may be hard for U.S. to pursue

December 17, 2010

by Andrew Longstreth


New York- Legal hurdles could make it tough for U.S. prosecutors to go after pro-WikiLeaks hackers who waged cyber attacks last week on Visa, MasterCard, PayPal and other companies.

Attorney General Eric Holder said last week he was “looking into” it but there are enormous challenges finding, moving, investigating and finally convicting those the United States might accuse.

Typically the federal government prosecutes hacking under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which prohibits the “transmission of a program, information, code, or command” that “intentionally causes damage without authorization, to a protected computer.” It’s a broad, powerful statute that applies even to computer crime committed abroad, and can carry prison sentences and heavy fines. But to use it, authorities will first have to locate the elusive hackers and bring them to the United States.

In this case, a group of Internet activists working under the name Operation Payback claimed responsibility for the attacks, which briefly shut down the websites of several companies that had cut off services to WikiLeaks after the whistleblower organization last month made public a massive trove of secret U.S. diplomatic cables. Dutch police arrested two Dutch teenagers last week, and other hackers around the globe are believed to be involved. If the U.S. seeks to prosecute these or any other hackers who may be apprehended overseas, it will have to rely on foreign counterparts to extradite them to the United States. Extraditions often get caught up in politics.


Over the last decade, international cooperation in computer crimes has increased; since 2004, dozens of countries have ratified the Council of Europe’s Convention on Cybercrime, which was designed to harmonize computer crime policy and foster international cooperation. Still, a handful of countries, including Russia, have not ratified the treaty. Prosecuting hackers in those countries could prove difficult. The Wall Street Journal reported that the Federal Bureau of Investigation worked with Dutch authorities on the arrests; Justice Department spokeswoman Laura Sweeney declined to comment on the arrests in the Netherlands or the extent to which the two countries may be cooperating.

The targeted companies apparently suffered “distributed denial-of-service attacks,” which overload websites with so much traffic that they slow down or stop functioning altogether. In such attacks, hackers infect many computers with a program designed to flood the target’s Web server. To find the people responsible, the U.S. government might be able to use undercover agents and cooperators, or get help from international organizations that track the sources of viruses and cyber-weapons.


In the absence of such assistance, investigators would have to trace the source of the attacks themselves. First, the infected computers must be located. For investigators in the United States, this technological challenge also presents a legal hurdle: obtaining subpoenas for multiple Internet service providers. Then, once the infected computers are tracked down, and if the owners don’t voluntarily turn them over, investigators face another legal obstacle: getting a search warrant to examine the hard drives. Only then can they begin the complex forensic analysis aimed at tracing the program back to its source.

The U.S. Computer Fraud and Abuse Act imposes another hurdle, albeit a minor one: The government must show that the alleged computer crime caused losses in excess of $5,000 over a one-year period. In this case, that would be easy to do. But so far, no evidence has emerged to suggest that any of the companies targeted by Operation Payback suffered serious losses. MasterCard, for example, said in a statement that while it had “seen limited interruption in some web-based services,” its “core processing capabilities have not been compromised and cardholder account data has not been placed at risk.” Prosecutors may feel less urgency to bring charges because the damages appear to be relatively small.

In contrast, the federal government last year won a conviction against Albert Gonzalez, an American who pleaded guilty in connection with the computer hacking of several major U.S. retailers. More than 40 million credit and debit card numbers were allegedly stolen in the process. Gonzalez was sentenced to 20 years in prison in March.

David Goldstone, a former attorney in the Justice Department’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and now a partner at Goodwin Procter, said that a decision whether to prosecute the Operation Payback could come down to the allocation of resources and the perceived importance of the attacks. “The government may give it less of a priority,” Goldstone said. “They may treat it as graffiti.”

(Editing by Eric Effron and Amy Stevens of Reuters Legal)

Blessed Prozac Moments!

‘Birther’ army doctor Lakin convicted for not deploying

December 15, 2010

BBC News

A military jury has convicted an army doctor of disobeying orders to deploy to Afghanistan because he questioned US President Barack Obama’s eligibility as commander-in-chief.

Lt Col Terrence Lakin, a so-called “birther”, questioned whether Mr Obama was a natural-born citizen as US law requires to be president.

Lakin pleaded guilty to the charge at court-martial proceedings.

He faces up to three-and-a-half years in prison and dismissal from the army.

In videos posted on YouTube earlier this month, Lakin aligned himself with the “birther” movement, which has questioned whether Mr Obama was born in the US as required by the Constitution.

In recent years, “birthers” have accused Mr Obama’s home state of Hawaii of covering up evidence allegedly showing that he was born in another country.

Change of heart

The military doctor had said before his court martial at Fort Meade, Maryland, that he would “gladly deploy” if Mr Obama’s original birth certificate were released and proven to be authentic.

But Lakin changed his mind on Wednesday, saying he would deploy to Afghanistan even if his request went unanswered.

“I don’t want it to end this way,” Lakin said. “I want to continue to serve.”

He pleaded guilty to disobeying orders to meet a superior and to report to Fort Campbell in the state of Kentucky, a move which would have eventually led him to deployment in Afghanistan.

The doctor, who has served for 17 years in the army, asked the jury to allow him to remain in the military.

Jurors in the case are due to begin deliberating on his sentence on Thursday

Maryland: Obama-Doubting Army Doctor Sentenced

December 16, 2010


An Army doctor who disobeyed orders to deploy to Afghanistan because he questioned President Obama’s eligibility to be commander in chief was sentenced by a jury on Thursday to six months in a military prison and dismissal from the Army. The military jury spent nearly five hours deliberating punishment for Lt. Col. Terrence Lakin after three days of court-martial proceedings at Fort Meade, Md. Colonel Lakin was convicted of disobeying orders — he had pleaded guilty to that count — and missing a flight that would have gotten him to his eventual deployment. In online videos posted on YouTube, he aligned himself with the so-called birther movement, which questions whether Mr. Obama was born in the United States.

House votes to repeal ban on gays in military

December 15, 2010

BBC News

The US House of Representatives has voted to repeal a ban on openly gay men and women serving in the US military.

The Democratic-led House voted 250-175, sending the bill, which is backed by President Barack Obama, to the Senate for approval.

The vote comes a week after Senate Republicans blocked a similar measure to end the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which came into force in 1993.

The policy forbids gay soldiers from acknowledging their sexual orientation.

The law is “the only law in the country that requires people to be dishonest or be fired if they choose to be honest”, said Democratic Representative Jared Polis, of Colorado.

‘Very confident’

Democrats who support repeal say they are committed to getting the 60 votes in the 100-member Senate needed to pass the legislation during the lame duck session of Congress, referring to the time between November’s congressional elections and the January start of the new Congress.

But Democrats face tough opposition from Republicans on the measure and an already busy agenda before the end of the year, including finishing work on legislation to finance the government and ratification of a nuclear arms treaty with Russia.

A Senate aide told Reuters news agency that Democrats were “very confident” the measure would get at least 60 votes in the Senate.

Roughly 13,000 men and women have been expelled from the military under the 17-year-old policy implemented under Democratic President Bill Clinton.

Mr Obama has made repealing the policy a key part of his agenda since taking office in 2009.

Earlier this month, the Pentagon released a report which found that allowing openly gay troops would have little, if any, impact on the readiness and cohesion of America’s armed forces

US embassy cables: Mexico is losing drug war, says US

Friday, 29 January 2010, 20:49
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 05 MEXICO 000083
EO 12958 DECL: 2020/01/29
SUBJECT: Scenesetter for the Opening of the Defense Bilateral Working

Group, Washington, D.C., February 1


Classified Secret.

1. (SBU) Summary: The inauguration of the Defense Bilateral Working Group (DBWG) on February 1 comes at a key moment in our efforts to deepen our bilateral relationship and to support the Mexican military’s nascent steps toward modernization. On the heels of our bilateral joint assessments in Ciudad Juarez and Tijuana, as well as the GOM’s move to replace the military with the Federal Police as lead security agency in Juarez, the DBWG can help ensure that the GOM stays focused on making the kinds of institutional improvements – including greater attention to human rights and broader regional participation – that are needed to bolster its effectiveness in the immediate fight against organized crime, and to position it to become a twenty first century military in one of the leading democracies in the region. End Summary

2. (SBU) The DBWG is an important component of our overall bilateral Merida strategy for 2010. We ended 2009 with an unprecedented commitment from the Mexican government to work closely with us on an ambitious effort to move beyond a singular focus on high value targets and address some of the institutional and socio-economic constraints that threaten to undermine our efforts to combat the cartels. A truly joint effort to implement a new U.S.-Mexico strategy is yielding stronger organizational structures and interagency cooperation on both sides and a deeper understanding of the threat posed by the drug trafficking organizations. In the coming year, we will help Mexico institutionalize civilian law enforcement capabilities and phase down the military’s role in conducting traditional and police functions. The DBWG will also provide a vehicle for Washington to brief the GOM on the importance of human rights issues to U.S. security policy, thus reinforcing a new formal Bilateral Human Rights Dialogue with the GOM that will include SEDENA and SEMAR.

Political and Economic Context


3. (SBU) It is a challenging moment to address some of the institutional weaknesses that dot the Mexican political landscape and which periodically impede our larger efforts. President Calderon has entered the last three years of his six-year term facing a complicated political and economic environment. His National Action Party (PAN) emerged seriously weakened from a dramatic set-back suffered in the July congressional elections and was unable to recoup any real momentum during the last legislative session. Calderon’s bold plan for ten ambitious areas for reform, announced in September, has yet to translate into politically viable initiatives. His personal popularity numbers have dropped, driven largely by massive economic contraction and a public sense that there is little strategy to create new and sustainable jobs. Overall, Calderon’s approval ratings are still well above 50 percent, sustained largely by his campaign against organized crime. Increasingly, Mexicans realize that combating DTOs is a matter of citizen security, and thus support a tough stance. Yet the failure to reduce violence is also a liability.

4. (SBU) Meanwhile, the opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) is in the ascendency, cautiously managing its illusory unity in an effort to dominate the twelve gubernatorial contests this year and avoid missteps that could jeopardize its front-runner status in the run-up to the 2012 presidential elections. With a

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strategy best described as political pragmatism, PRI insiders indicate that the party is unlikely to support any major reform efforts over the next several years – no matter how necessary – that could be publicly controversial. Slow economic recovery and budgetary pressures are reducing government resources and complicating the government’s ability to balance priorities and come up with a compelling and sustainable narrative that ties the fight against organized crime to the daily concerns of most Mexicans. Mexico’s rapidly declining oil production, a projected six to seven percent GDP contraction in 2009, a slow recovery in 2010, and a 47 percent poverty rate all present difficult challenges for the Calderon administration in 2010. Still, we see no “softening” of the administration’s resolve to confront the DTOs head on.

Security Challenges


5. (C) Calderon has aggressively attacked Mexico’s drug trafficking organizations but has struggled with an unwieldy and uncoordinated interagency and spiraling rates of violence that have made him vulnerable to criticism that his anti-crime strategy has failed. Indeed, the GOM’s inability to halt the escalating numbers of narco-related homicides in places like Ciudad Juarez and elsewhere – the nationwide total topped 7,700 in 2009 – has become one of Calderon’s principal political liabilities as the general public has grown more concerned about citizen security. Mexican security institutions are often locked in a zero-sum competition in which one agency’s success is viewed as another’s failure, information is closely guarded, and joint operations are all but unheard of. Official corruption is widespread, leading to a compartmentalized siege mentality among “clean” law enforcement leaders and their lieutenants. Prosecution rates for organized crime-related offenses are dismal; two percent of those detained are brought to trail. Only 2 percent of those arrested in Ciudad Juarez have even been charged with a crime.

6. (S) The failure to reduce violence has focused attention on the military’s perceived failures and led to a major course change in January to switch the overall command in Ciudad Juarez from the military to the federal police. The military was not trained to patrol the streets or carry out law enforcement operations. It does not have the authority to collect and introduce evidence into the judicial system. The result: arrests skyrocketed, prosecutions remained flat, and both the military and public have become increasingly frustrated. The command change in Juarez has been seen by political classes and the public as a Presidential repudiation of SEDENA. When SEDENA joins you at the DBWG, it will be an agency smarting from the very public statement of a lack of confidence in its performance record in Juarez.

7. (C) Below the surface of military professionalism, there is also considerable tension between SEDENA and SEMAR. SEMAR succeeded in the take down of Arturo Beltran Leyva, as well as with other major targets. Aside from the perceived failure of its mission in Juarez, SEDENA has come to be seen slow and risk averse even where it should succeed: the mission to capture HVTs. The risk is that the more SEDENA is criticized, the more risk averse it will become. The challenge you face in the DBWG is to convince them that modernization and not withdrawal are the way forward, and that transparency and accountability are fundamental to modernization. There is no alternative in today’s world of information technology.

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8. (C) The DBWG is just one mechanism for addressing the challenge of modernization. SEDENA’s shortfalls are at times quite noticeable and serve for dramatic charges on human rights and other grounds. We have actively sought to encourage respect for the military’s role in Mexican society and tread carefully with regard to the larger theme of military modernization. What SEDENA, and to a lesser extent SEMAR, need most is a comprehensive, interactive discussion that will encourage them to look holistically at culture, training and doctrine in a way that will support modernization and allow them to address a wider range of military missions. This is where the DBWG can help.

9. (C) Currently, the military is the lightening rod for criticism of the Calderon Administration’s security policies. We are having some success in influencing the GOM to transition the military to secondary support functions in Juarez. Still, the GOM’s capacity to replicate the Juarez model is limited. They simply lack the necessary numbers of trained federal police to deploy them in such numbers in more than a few cities. There are changes in the way that the military can interact with vetted municipal police, as we have seen in Tijuana, that produce better results. But in the near term, there is no escaping that the military will play a role in public security.

10. (C) Military surges that are not coordinated with local city officials and civilian law enforcement, particularly local prosecutors, have not worked. In Ciudad Juarez, a dramatic increase in troop deployments to the city early last year brought a two-month reduction in violence levels before narcotics-related violence spiked again. The DTOs are sophisticated players: they can wait out a military deployment; they have an almost unlimited human resource pool to draw from in the marginalized neighborhoods; and they can fan complaints about human rights violations to undermine any progress the military might make with hearts and minds.

11. (SBU) SEDENA lacks arrest authority and is incapable of processing information and evidence for use in judicial cases. It has taken a serious beating on human rights issues from international and domestic human rights organizations, who argue with considerable basis, in fact that the military is ill-equipped for a domestic policing role. While SEDENA has moved to address human rights criticisms, its efforts are mechanistic and wrapped in a message that often transmits defensiveness about bringing a hermetically sealed military culture into the twenty-first century. The military justice system (fuero militar) is used not only for a legitimate prosecutorial function, but also to preserve the military’s institutional independence. Even the Mexican Supreme Court will not claim civilian jurisdiction over crimes involving the military, regardless of whether a military mission is involved. Fortunately, the Mexican military is under increasing pressure to change on a number of fronts. A recent Inter-American Human Rights Court ruling found Article 57 of Mexico’s code of military justice, which effectively allows the military to keep all violators within its own justice system, violate Mexico’s constitution and mandated improvements in the way cases involving alleged human rights abuses by the military are handled. A report issued by Amnesty International in December noted that complaints to the National Commission on Human Rights against the military increased from 367 in 2007 to over 2000 from 2008-June 2009.

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Change on the Horizon


12. (SBU) Calderon has undertaken serious reforms since coming to office, but he also must tread carefully in dealing with the Mexican military. With our help, he has refined his anti-crime strategy and made significant progress in a number of important areas, including inaugurating a new Federal Police command and intelligence center, establishing stronger vetting mechanisms for security officials, and constructing information-sharing databases to provide crime fighting data to various federal, state, and local elements. Calderon also has recognized that the blunt-force approach of major military deployments has not curbed violence in zones like Ciudad Juarez, and has replaced SEDENA forces with Federal Police officers as the lead security agency in urban Ciudad Juarez.

13. (C) These steps reflect the GOM’s willingness to respond to public pressure and to focus on building strong, civilian law enforcement institutions that are necessary for sustained success against organized crime in Mexico. Indeed, Public Security Secretary Genaro Garcia Luna has sought to raise the standards of his Federal Police so it is capable of gradually replacing the military’s role in public security through improved hiring, training, and vetting practices. With new authorities granted under federal police reform legislation passed last year, including a broadened wire-tapping mandate, the SSP is well-placed to significantly expand its investigative and intelligence-collection capabilities. The GOM is exploring new ways to bring local and state police up to standards to support the anti-crime fight. Federal judicial reform has been slower in coming, but the Attorney General’s Office (PGR) is looking to modernize as an institution. For example, PGR created with USG assistance the Constanza Project (Justicia Para Todos), a $200 million dollar initiative designed to transform PGR’s culture, in part by promoting transparency, training attorneys to build stronger cases, and digitizing files in order to incorporate a paperless system less susceptible to corruption.

14. (C) USG assistance has been crucial to these efforts, and we are looking ahead to ensure that we help Mexico build its most key institutions with seamless integration of operations, investigations, intelligence, prosecutions, and convictions. Joint assessment missions — one to Tijuana and San Diego and one to Ciudad Juarez and El Paso – were designed to further guide our bilateral efforts and address one potential weakness — the dysfunctionally low level of collaboration between Mexican military and civilian authorities along the border. The Tijuana assessment was completed December 3-4 and Ciudad Juarez’s January 14-15. Mexico also has agreed to explore a task force model for joint intelligence and operations, and Mexico’s intelligence civilian intelligence service, CISEN, has been charged with overseeing such efforts. We need to develop new programs to build a greater intelligence fusion capability, and continue to support the Federal Police’s own institutional development and training capacity, and swifter implementation of judicial reform. Moreover, with many of our federal programs well underway, we are broadening our efforts to include work at the state level.

Military Modernization Key


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15. (S) In this context, it is absolutely necessary that we intensify our efforts to encourage modernization of the Mexican military. General Galvan Galvan, head of SEDENA, is an impressive military man with an appreciation for the uncomfortable, non-traditional challenges facing the Mexican military forces. But he is also a political actor who has succeeded, at least in part, by protecting the military’s prerogatives and symbolic role. His experience provides him with little guidance on how to manage change and modernization against a backdrop of criticism and often vitrolic accusations. Historically, suspicion of the United States has been a prime driver of a military bureaucratic culture that has kept SEDENA closed to us. We believe Galvan is committed to at least following orders when it comes to Calderon’s vision of a more modern Mexican state and a closer relationship with the United States. Our ties with the military have never been closer in terms of not only equipment transfers and training, but also the kinds of intelligence exchanges that are essential to making inroads against organized crime. Incipient steps towards logistical interoperability with U.S. forces are ongoing related to Haiti relief. SEDENA, for the first time and following SEMAR’s lead, has asked for SOF training. We need to capitalize on these cracks in the door. Any retreat on engagement on our side will only reinforce SEDENA’s instincts to revert to a closed and unaccountable institution.

16. (C) Our engagement on human rights in the DBWG must also be carefully structured. Presentations from the U.S. side on how human rights play into our conduct of military and security policy will be constructive. It will be useful to transmit to SEDENA the kinds of systemic human rights concerns that arise in Washington. But neither SEDENA nor SEMAR will engage in a dialogue on human rights in the DBWG. That will be reserved for the ad hoc meeting of the Bilateral Human Right Dialogue with Paul Stockton scheduled for Mexico City on February 12.

17. (C) SEDENA and SEMAR still have a long way to go toward modernization. The DBWG can go a long way in addressing a number of key points. We have seen some general officers, in Tijuana for example, who are looking for ways to build links between units in the field and local prosecutors, but this has not been done systematically. It needs to be encouraged. Encouraging the Mexican military to participate more actively in the international arena, such as through greater security cooperation outreach to Central America and Colombia, and even with limited participation in regional humanitarian ops to possibly peacekeeping, will also be key to helping the military transition from a mentality of “Protecting the Revolution” to a more active, dynamic, and flexible force. SEDENA and SEMAR share the parochial, risk-averse habits that often plague their civilian counterparts in Mexican law enforcement agencies. While the Navy’s capture of Beltran Leyva may up the ante and encourage innovation by competition between security services, both SEDENA and SEMAR have serious work to do on working more effectively and efficiently with their security partners. FEELEY

Friday, 22 January 2010, 15:17
S E C R E T USNATO 000035
EO 12958 DECL: 01/22/2030
REF: IMSWM-0028-2010
Classified By: D/Political Advisor A. “Hoot” Baez. Reasons: 1.4 (b) an d (d).

1. (S/REL NATO) On January 22, NATO’s Military Committee agreed to expand EAGLE GUARDIAN, the Alliance’s contingency plan for the reinforcement and defense of Poland, to also include the defense and reinforcement of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.

2. (S/REL NATO) The Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), ADM Stavridis, had proposed the EAGLE GUARDIAN expansion at the January 20 meeting of the Military Committee, after which the expansion was formally submitted to Allies for decision under a silence procedure. HEFFERN

Conversations with the Crow

When the CIA discovered that their former Deputy Director of Clandestine Affairs, Robert  T. Crowley, had been talking with author Gregory Douglas, they became fearful (because of what Crowley knew) and outraged (because they knew Douglas would publish eventually) and made many efforts to silence Crowley, mostly by having dozens of FBI agents call or visit him at his Washington home and try to convince him to stop talking to Douglas, whom they considered to be an evil, loose cannon.

Crowley did not listen to them (no one else ever does, either) and Douglas made through shorthand notes of each and every one of their many conversation. TBR News published most of these (some of the really vile ones were left out of the book but will be included on this site as a later addendum ) and the entire collection was later produced as an Ebook.

Now, we reliably learn, various Washington alphabet agencies are trying to find a way to block the circulation of this highly negative, entertaining and dangerous work, so to show our solidarity with our beloved leaders and protectors, and our sincere appreciation for their corrupt and coercive actions, we are going to reprint the entire work, chapter by chapter. (The complete book can be obtained by going to:


Here is the fifty second chapter

Conversation No. 52

Date: Monday, December 2, 1996

Commenced:  9:45 AM CST

Concluded: 10:21 AM CST

GD: Good morning, Robert. Well, we should be having a nice lunch in a week from today.

RTC: I’m very eager to meet you, Gregory. The telephone is fine, but nothing like a face-to-face to really establish a good relationship.

GD: I agree. As I understand it, you will ship your annotated copies of the complete Warren Report to my hotel and you will bring with you the material on ZIPPER. And pass it to me away from the others. Right?

RTC: That’s the drill now, Gregory. I have the books boxed and you may have to take them with you as shipped baggage. A bit much to stick into the overhead bins.

GD: Understood. But the rest of it?

RTC: No, that you can keep under your seat or up above. No problem with that.

GD: I am looking forward to all of this, Robert, but a little concerned about your friends. Kimmel I can do without, if you take my meaning.

RTC: Gregory, I will be there and he won’t stray off the path.

GD: That’s a comfort. Dueling with the blind is not entertaining. You know, I have been doing my homework on the ZIPPER themes and if you have the time, I have a number of questions.

RTC: Go ahead.

GD: Well, theories abound on this. One says this and another says that. You have given me your background, pretty much, and I am trying to pick the wheat from the chaff as they say. Why use Oswald?

RTC: Obvious, Gregory. We wanted a war with Soviet Russia, that’s why we used Oswald. Here he is, a professed Marxist and defector to the Soviet Union, shooting the president. We had to establish a trail to the KGB so we got, or rather Jim Angleton got, our station chief in Mexico City, Win Scott, to work up a scenario placing Oswald in that city and visiting the Soviet and Cuban embassies. They prepared a paper showing Oswald was in connection with Comrade V.V. Kostikov, head of the 13th section of the KGB…assassinations…and so on. They fucked the whole thing up so badly that we had to drop it. Fake pictures of someone not even remotely resembling Oswald, fake stories and they were working on a fake letter from Oswald to Kostikov in which he told him he was going to become a great hero by killing Kennedy. The motives? Kennedy’s humiliation of the Russians over the Cuban missile business. Howard Hunt was involved with this and he is a very vain and stupid person. He’s a little like Bill Corson, Gregory, but you mustn’t repeat any of this. Very self-important person, with delusions.

GD: Won’t say a word.

RTC: I knew you wouldn’t. Bill can fool the Trentos, who are as gullible as he is phony and they both deserve each other, believe me. No, they ruined the Russian plan at the beginning. You see, after Kennedy was dead, our agency would reveal to all the world that the Russians had plotted this and then Johnson would order a surprise nuclear attack on them. Of course, Johnson was a gutless wonder, going this way and going that, so unless we got The New York Times and other papers we influenced, to start a firestorm of anger in Americans, that one was as dead as the dodo. We had it all planned out, too. Later, they got Oswald’s bitch of a wife being deposed and two phony Russian translators who would claim that she had seen the very rifle in Russia. Of course that was a .22 target rifle and the one we planted was the cheap wop piece with a cheaper scope, so that one went out.

GD: Posner claims that Marina’s uncle was only a deputy sheriff in Russia. He said uncle had been a local bigwig in the MVD which was “just like the sheriff’s office.” Even I know better than that. In fact, as you know, Robert, the MVD was the ministry that ran the KGB. Did Posner expect anyone to believe that silly shit?

RTC: I know what you mean, but of course he did. Another self-important hebe with the brains of a cockroach but a willing tool, Gregory, You don’t have to love them to use them after all.

GD: So the war fell through. Did Johnson get wet pants?

RTC: No, it never went that far. Still, it was a distraction, but I always wince when I read the breathless expose in the Warren sludge.

GD: And there are so many theories.

RTC: Tell me about it, Gregory. Some we cooked up but mostly they are the work of the tiny of brain and the huge of ego. Oh yes, it was the mob, out to get Kennedy because of his brother’s attacks on them ordered by Joe, the ex-bootlegger. Listen, I know people in the Chicago mob and as much as they detested Kennedy, and they did get him elected by voting every cemetery early and often, they are far too smart to even try to kill a sitting president. We had the cooperation of the leadership of the FBI, who would have the lead in the investigation, but the mob would not and if that ever got out, Hoover would have to clean their respective clocks for them. No, in spite of their hatred of him, they would never have done such a thing.

GD: And the Cuban anti-Castro people…

RTC: Yes, emotional enough and after they felt Kennedy had deserted them during the Bay of Pigs disaster, they had plenty of motive, but no opportunity and emotional as they are, they would boast and Hoover’s men would have nailed them.

GD: And Lansky and the mob people who wanted to get back into the gambling business in Cuba?

RTC: The same. Meyer Lansky was a very smart man and the same I said about the Chicago mob would hold true for him and his boys. They wished Kennedy dead, but let someone else do it.

GD: Yes, and Castro.

RTC: Castro is not a stupid man and even though it leaked out, on purpose, of course, that we were trying to kill him, Castro did not have the connections to reverse the attacks on him. Like the mob and others, he was not sad to see Kennedy killed but had nothing to do with any real plotting. This sort of silly shit keeps the buffs all atwitter and with all of the books, seminars, tapes and so on, they keep anyone from digging too deeply into the realities of the dastardly deed. All the stories about mysterious tramps, men with umbrellas, men in the sewer, fake epileptics throwing convenient fits and so on are just smoke and mirrors. All the mob bosses, Cuban exiles, rich Texas oilmen, Richard Nixon and anyone else suggested either couldn’t or wouldn’t have tried to shoot Kennedy. You see, we had Hoover and the Johnson people in our camp. With these, we could shut off any inconvenient revelations at any time. And we have iron influence, let’s call it, with the major media, so no worry there. We have various retrospective television programs, usually somewhere around November 22 each year that rehash all the idiot stories and I watch them with great humor. Beats ‘I Love Lucy’ for real humor.

GD: When you started this, was it solely to provide an excuse for nuking the Russians?

RTC: No, that was a sort of afterthought, Gregory. Angleton hated the Russians and he did know that the Kennedy people were in touch with the KGB and Khrushchev people so he went from there. You might say that Jim was the sparkplug on that engine, right along. I wouldn’t pay any attention to the conspiracy books, Gregory. You know better than that, don’t you?

GD: Yes, of course, but if I am going to write about it, I will have to know what others have said. And I can just hear the squealings if and when I do this.

RTC: Oh yes, hell hath no fury like a woman scorned or a tin-horned academic one-upped.

GD: That I agree with, but the concept of one man, Jim Angleton, having the power to start a nuclear war is horrifying to me and I assume it will be to others. This is a manifestation of far too much power concentrated in too few hands. What kind of oversight was there? How many wars and assassinations were caused by someone’s upset stomach or throbbing piles? I said this Kennedy business is a microcosm of ill-advised plots and I hope you aren’t upset with me when I tell you that I am very glad it never happened. You sent me the German intercepts of the Roosevelt and Churchill talks over their secret lines and that smacks of the same thing. Personal spite, vaunting ambition and tens of thousands or millions die. Not good, Robert, not good at all.

RTC: If you ever walked in the corridors of power, Gregory, you would have a more realistic view. I don’t mind that you have occasional lapses into idealism, but please don’t let it cloud your judgment.

GD: It’s a little like doing the breast stroke in a septic tank.

(Concluded at 10:21 AM CST)

Dramatis personae:

James Jesus Angleton: Once head of the CIA’s Counterintelligence division, later fired because of his obsessive and illegal behavior, tapping the phones of many important government officials in search of elusive Soviet spies. A good friend of Robert Crowley and a co-conspirator with him in the assassination of President Kennedy

James P. Atwood: (April 16, 1930-April 20, 1997) A CIA employee, located in Berlin, Atwood had a most interesting career. He worked for any other intelligence agency, domestic or foreign, that would pay him, was involved in selling surplus Russian atomic artillery shells to the Pakistan government and was also most successful in the manufacturing of counterfeit German dress daggers. Too talkative, Atwood eventually had a sudden, and fatal, “seizure” while lunching with CIA associates.

William Corson: A Marine Corps Colonel and President Carter’s representative to the CIA. A friend of Crowley and Kimmel, Corson was an intelligent man whose main failing was a frantic desire to be seen as an important person. This led to his making fictional or highly exaggerated claims.

John Costello: A British historian who was popular with revisionist circles. Died of AIDS on a trans-Atlantic flight to the United States.

James Critchfield: Former U.S. Army Colonel who worked for the CIA and organizaed the Cehlen Org. at Pullach, Germany. This organization was filled to the Plimsoll line with former Gestapo and SD personnel, many of whom were wanted for various purported crimes. He hired Heinrich Müller in 1948 and went on to represent the CIA in the Persian Gulf.

Robert T. Crowley: Once the deputy director of Clandestine Operations and head of the group that interacted with corporate America. A former West Point football player who was one of the founders of the original CIA. Crowley was involved at a very high level with many of the machinations of the CIA.

Gregory Douglas: A retired newspaperman, onetime friend of Heinrich Müller and latterly, of Robert Crowley. Inherited stacks of files from the former (along with many interesting works of art acquired during the war and even more papers from Robert Crowley.) Lives comfortably in a nice house overlooking the Mediterranean.

Reinhard Gehlen: A retired German general who had once been in charge of the intelligence for the German high command on Russian military activities. Fired by Hitler for incompetence, he was therefore naturally hired by first, the U.S. Army and then, as his level of incompetence rose, with the CIA. His Nazi-stuffed organizaion eventually became the current German Bundes Nachrichten Dienst.

Thomas K. Kimmel, Jr: A grandson of Admiral Husband Kimmel, Naval commander at Pearl Harbor who was scapegoated after the Japanese attack. Kimmel was a senior FBI official who knew both Gregory Douglas and Robert Crowley and made a number of attempts to discourage Crowley from talking with Douglas. He was singularly unsuccessful. Kimmel subsequently retired and lives in retirement in Florida

Willi Krichbaum: A Senior Colonel (Oberführer) in the SS, head of the wartime Secret Field Police of the German Army and Heinrich Müller’s standing deputy in the Gestapo. After the war, Krichbaum went to work for the Critchfield organization and was their chief recruiter and hired many of his former SS friends. Krichbaum put Critchfield in touch with Müller in 1948.

Heinrich Müller: A former military pilot in the Bavarian Army in WWI, Müller  became a political police officer in Munich and was later made the head of the Secret State Police or Gestapo. After the war, Müller escaped to Switzerland where he worked for Swiss intelligence as a specialist on Communist espionage and was hired by James Critchfield, head of the Gehlen Organization, in 1948. Müller subsequently was moved to Washington where he worked for the CIA until he retired.

Joseph Trento: A writer on intelligence subjects, Trento and his wife “assisted” both Crowley and Corson in writing a book on the Russian KGB. Trento believed that he would inherit all of Crowley’s extensive files but after Crowley’s death, he discovered that the files had been gutted and the most important, and sensitive, ones given to Gregory Douglas. Trento was not happy about this. Neither were his employers.

Frank Wisner: A Founding Father of the CIA who promised much to the Hungarian and then failed them. First, a raging lunatic who was removed from Langley, screaming, in a strait jacket and later, blowing off the top of his head with a shotgun.

Robert Wolfe: A retired librarian from the National Archives who worked closely with the CIA on covering up embarrassing historical material in the files of the Archives. A strong supporter of holocaust writers

Register of the Dead in the Bush/Obama war   33


December 1, 2010

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

1st. Lt. Scott F. Milley, 23, of Sudbury, Mass., died Nov. 30 in Logar province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit using small arms fire.  He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Polk, La.

The Department of Defense announced today the death of an airman who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Lt. Col. Gwendolyn A. Locht, 46, of Fort Walton Beach, Fla., was medically evacuated from Kandahar, Afghanistan, on May 22 for treatment of a non-combat related illness.  She died Nov. 16 in Houston, Texas.  Locht was assigned to the 96th Inpatient Operations Squadron, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

The Department of Defense announced today the deaths of six soldiers who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.  They died Nov. 29, in Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when an insurgent attacked their unit with small arms fire.

Killed were:

Sgt. 1st Class Barry E. Jarvis, 36, of Tell City, Ind.

Staff Sgt. Curtis A. Oakes, 29, of Athens, Ohio.

Spc. Matthew W. Ramsey, 20, of Quartz Hill, Calif.

Pfc. Jacob A. Gassen, 21, of Beaver Dam, Wis.

Pfc. Austin G. Staggs, 19, of Senoia, Ga.

Pvt. Buddy W. McLain, 24, of Mexico, Maine.

They were assigned to the 1st Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.

December 2, 2010

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Cpl. Chad S. Wade, 22, of Bentonville, Ark., died Dec. 1 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.  He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.

December 4, 2010

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Sgt. Matthew T. Abbate, 26, of Honolulu, Hawaii, died Dec. 2 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.  He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Sgt. 1st Class James E. Thode, 45, of Kirtland, N.M., died Dec. 2 at Sabari District, Khowst Province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit using an improvised explosive device.  He was assigned to the 1457th Engineer Battalion, 204th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, Salt Lake City, Utah.

December 6, 2010-

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Lance Cpl. Lucas C. Scott, 20, of Peebles, Ohio, died Dec. 3 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.  He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

December 7, 2010

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Staff Sgt. Jason A. Reeves, 32, of Odessa, Texas, died December 5 at Gardez District, Paktia Province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit using an improvised explosive device.  He was assigned to the 2nd Military Intelligence Battalion, 66th Military Intelligence Brigade, Hohenfels, Germany.

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Sgt. Nicholas J. Aleman, 24, of Brooklyn, N.Y., died Dec. 5 while supporting combat operations in Paktia province, Afghanistan.  He was assigned to the Deployment Processing Command-East, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Cpl. Derek A. Wyatt, 25, of Akron, Ohio, died Dec. 6 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.  He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Pfc. Colton W. Rusk, 20, of Orange Grove, Texas, died Dec. 6 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.  He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.

December 8, 2010

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Staff Sgt. Vincent W. Ashlock, 45, of Seaside, Calif., died Dec. 4 in Khost province, Afghanistan, in a non-combat related incident.  He was assigned to the 890th Engineer Battalion, 168th Engineer Brigade, Lucedale, Miss.

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Sgt. Jason D. Peto, 31, of Vancouver, Wash., died Dec. 7 from wounds received Nov. 24 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.  He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.

December 9, 2010

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Lance Cpl. Michael E. Geary, 20, of Derry, N.H., died Dec. 8 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.  He was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

December 10, 2010

The Department of Defense announced today the deaths of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.  They died Dec. 8 in Balkh province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when an insurgent attacked their unit with an improvised explosive device.

Killed were:

Sgt. James A. Ayube, II, 25, of Salem, Mass.

Spc. Kelly J. Mixon, 23, of Yulee, Fla.

The soldiers were assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, Vilseck, Germany.

December 11, 2010

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation New Dawn.

Pfc. David D. Finch, 24, of Bath Springs, Tenn., died Dec. 8 in Wasit province, Iraq, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit using small arms fire.  He was assigned to the 2nd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, Fort Hood, Texas.

December 13, 2010

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Spc. Ethan L. Goncalo, 21, of Fall Rivers, Mass., died Dec. 11 in Kabul, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained in a non-combat related incident.  He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 181st Infantry Regiment, Worcester, Mass.

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Staff Sgt. Stacy A. Green, 34, of Alexander City, Ala., died Dec. 10 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.  He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

December 14, 2010

The Department of Defense announced today the deaths of six soldiers who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

They died Dec. 12 in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked their unit with an improvised explosive device.

Killed were:

Cpl. Sean M. Collins, 25, of Ewa Beach, Hawaii.

Cpl. Willie A. McLawhorn Jr., 23, of Conway, N.C.

Cpl. Patrick D. Deans, 22 of Orlando, Fla.

Cpl. Kenneth E. Necochea Jr., 21, of San Diego, Calif.

Cpl. Derek T. Simonetta, 21, of Redwood City, Calif.

Cpl. Jorge E. Villacis, 24, of Sunrise, Fla.

They were assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell

December 15, 2010

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Staff Sgt. Justin E. Schmalstieg, 28, of Pittsburgh, Pa., died Dec. 15 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.  He was assigned to the 1st Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company, 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Lance Cpl. Jose A. Hernandez, 19, of West Palm Beach, Fla., died Dec. 14 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Army Releases November Suicide Data

The Army released suicide data today for the month of November.  Among active-duty soldiers, there were 11 potential suicides:  none have been confirmed as suicides, and 11 remain under investigation.  For October, the Army reported nine potential suicides among active-duty soldiers.  Since the release of that report, two have been confirmed as suicides, and seven remain under investigation.

During November 2010, among reserve component soldiers who were not on active duty, there were five potential suicides:  none have been confirmed as suicides, and all five remain under investigation.  For October, among that same group, there were 17 potential suicides.  Of those, six were confirmed as suicides and 11 are pending determination of the manner of death.

December 17, 2010

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Spc. Sean R. Cutsforth, 22, of Radford, Va., died Dec. 15 at Ghazni Province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit using small arms fire.  He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.

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