Reminder: Torture is not our only crime


Gina Haspel, who oversaw a CIA black site in Thailand, is poised to become the agency’s new director.

The Senate is prepared to confirm Gina Haspel, a longtime CIA official, to replace Mike Pompeo as the agency’s director. During her confirmation hearings, Haspel’s role in overseeing CIA torture programs – or “enhanced interrogation” – was a focal point. Haspel made headlines when she refused to answer Senator Kamala Harris’s question of whether “the previous interrogation techniques were immoral.” Her record on torture led Republican Senator John McCain, famously a torture survivor himself, to announce his opposition to her appointment. Continue reading

Homan Square isn’t quite Chicago’s Gitmo

This innocuous-looking warehouse is used by Chicago police as a CIA-style "black site" for detaining and interrogating suspects.

This innocuous-looking warehouse is used by Chicago police as a CIA-style “black site” for detaining and interrogating suspects.

If only the mildest claims about it are true, Chicago’s Homan Square is a frightening escalation in the War on America currently being waged by domestic law enforcement. The Chicago Police Department has been using the building – to outside appearances, an equipment warehouse – as an off-the-book “black site” to detain suspects without charging them or giving them access to a lawyer.

Immediately, the similarities between Homan Square and the prisoner abuse scandals in places like Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay are obvious. Many observers already refer to Homan Square as “Chicago’s Gitmo,” and activists have begun using a hashtag, #Gitmo2Chicago. Suspects taken into Homan Square are roughed up, bound in compromising positions for hours at a time, locked in cages that resemble dog kennels, and not processed through any official booking. Attorneys are turned away at the front door. Continue reading

CIA torture relevations are unsurprising, but should be prosecuted

Shortly after World War II, the well-known psychologist Carl Jung ascribed a collective guilt to Germans for the crimes of the Nazi Party, Kollektivschuld. Whether Germans realized it or not, the horrors carried out in their borders, by their leaders, and with their tacit blessing would come to bear on their national psyche. To reinforce this feeling of Kollektivschuld, the U.S. and the UK hit Germany with propaganda posters following the war, depicting images of the Holocaust and sternly reminding the German people, “These atrocities: you are to blame!”

A series of photographs reveal torture and humiliation at Abu Ghraib.

A series of photographs reveal torture and humiliation at Abu Ghraib.

So at what point must we, the people of the U.S., acknowledge our own Kollektivschuld for the crimes of our leaders? Few crimes in world history, let alone U.S. history, compare to the Holocaust, but there is still plenty to reckon with that we have yet to maturely confront: the genocide of American Indians, the enslavement of Africans, a system of racism and violence against blacks that continues to the present, the use of napalm in Vietnam, the dropping of two atomic bombs on Japan, support of brutal dictators and the overthrow of democratically elected governments, the war and sanctions in Iraq that killed perhaps a million or more people – and that’s just what springs to mind off the cuff. Continue reading