Disturbing New Photos of CIA Torture

New Torture Photos Release Delayed (indefinitely)

One former CIA official, Dr. Mark M. Lowenthal, speaking to ABC, describes the photos’ release as “prurient” and “reprehensible.” Lowenthal then goes on to lament what he sees as an unnecessary and egregious effort to throw the CIA under the bus.

“These photographs provide visual proof that prisoner abuse by U.S. personnel was not aberrational but widespread, reaching far beyond the walls of Abu Ghraib,” said Amrit Singh, staff attorney with the ACLU. “Their disclosure is critical for helping the public understand the scope and scale of prisoner abuse as well as for holding senior officials accountable for authorizing or permitting such abuse.” Lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union. Continue reading: HuffPost

Human Rights Watch report detailing unusually cruel torture techniques used by the CIA in Libya, including prolonged diapering, insects and water boarding.

Wired News did a report detailing some of the alleged Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) torture techniques used in Libya (see article: U.S. Used This Torture Box to Interrogate Gadhafi’s Enemies) Continue reading: WashingtonIndependent

Former Vice President Dick Cheney made an appearance on Meet the Press and declared he would “do it again in a minute” and had no problem with enhanced interrogation “as long as we achieve our objective.” Did forcing a detainee to wear a diaper lead to the capture of Osama bin Laden? Cheney seems to think so.

However, 20 different case studies based on the CIA’s internal records found that enhanced interrogations did not help to disrupt terror plots or capture terror leaders.

Few, if any, CIA officers or contractors were held accountable even after being caught with significant events of wrongdoing. One detainee, suffering from insomnia, paranoia, and severe hallucinations caused by the extreme interrogation methods, attempted to chew his arm off at the elbow. When a detainee died of hypothermia after being chained to a concrete floor partially nude, the CIA decided not to take any punitive action against the officer in charge. The report states, “The director strongly believes that mistakes should be expected in a business filled with uncertainty.”

CIA torture program earned two men millions

The names James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen don’t show up at all in the 500-page Senate Intelligence Committee report on the CIA torture program, but they’re definitely mentioned throughout it, according to multiple reports.

Even though their names and alleged involvement in the “enhanced interrogation techniques” (EITs) program have been known for some time, the CIA contractors appear in the report (respectively) under the names “Dr. Grayson Swigert” and “Dr. Hammond Dunbar.” A. U.S. official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, confirmed their identities to The Associated Press.

Although they had no first-hand experience with interrogation or no “specialized knowledge” of al-Qaeda or terrorism, as the Senate Intelligence Committee report indicated, the men had plenty of experience with “coercive interrogation techniques.”

But by the time their involvement with the CIA’s interrogation program wrapped up in 2009, they had earned millions of dollars off of the torture of detainees.

Mitchell and Jessen formed a private company in 2005, specifically for the purpose of conducting their work with the CIA. Mitchell, Jessen and Associates have ultimately earned $81 million from the CIA.

CIA “Tortured and Sodomized” Wrongly Detained German Citizen

CIA agents tortured a German citizen, sodomizing, shackling, and beating him, as Macedonian state police looked on, the European Court of Human rights said in a historic judgment.

In a unanimous ruling, it also found Macedonia guilty of torturing, abusing, and secretly imprisoning Khaled el-Masri, a German of Lebanese origin allegedly linked to terrorist organizations.

Masri was seized in Macedonia in December 2003 and handed over to a CIA “rendition team” at Skopje airport and secretly flown to Afghanistan.

It is the first time the court has described CIA treatment meted out to terror suspects as torture.

“Despite this clear repudiation of the unlawful actions carried out by the Bush-era CIA, many of the facts remain classified, and no public official has so far been brought to justice in the United States,” Emmerson said in a report to the U.N. Human Rights Council.

Emmerson, an international lawyer from Britain, has served since August 2011 in the independent post set up by the U.N. Human Rights Council in 2005 to probe human rights violations committed during counter-terrorism operations worldwide.

The “war on terror” waged by Bush after al Qaeda attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001 led to “gross or systematic” violations involving secret prisons for Islamic militant suspects, clandestine transfers and torture Ben Emmerson, U.N. special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights, said.

How many Children held at Guantanamo Bay? Guardian

The United Nations high commissioner for human rights said there should be no impunity or statute of limitations for torture.

The Convention against Torture prohibits torture and allows for “no exceptional circumstances whatsoever”, not even a state of war, as justification, Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein said in a statement issued in Geneva on the annual human rights day.

“The Convention lets no one off the hook – neither the torturers themselves, nor the policy-makers, nor the public officials who define the policy or give the orders,” he said.

The pact has been ratified by 156 countries.

Romania and Lithuania also have cases pending for hosting secret CIA prisons. Continue reading: FBI

Poland’s former president has publicly acknowledged for the first time that his country hosted a secret CIA prison where a US Senate report says torture was used against Al Qaeda suspects.

Former British Ambassador to Tashkent Craig Murray lost his job and has endured severe vituperation at the hands of his government because he objected to Britain’s collaboration in CIA-sponsored torture conducted in Uzbekistan.

Murray recalls, Uzbeks made use of a torture method specifically endorsed by the execrable John Yoo: Torturing children in order to compel the parents to submit.

Yoo, the impenitent war criminal who wrote many of the key torture memos for the Bush regime, claims that the president has the authority to order the sexual mutilation of a child if he considers such action necessary.

Ninety percent of all “rendition” flights that visited the former KGB prison in Poland used as a CIA torture facility “went straight on to Tashkent,” Murray observes. “There was an overwhelming body of evidence that … people from all over the world were being taken by the CIA to Uzbekistan specifically in order to be tortured.

Let’s assume that every individual who was tortured was in fact a member of a terrorist group; have we officially discarded the bothersome notion that basic human rights are “inalienable”? Forgive the rhetorical question – we know the answer.

Former CIA Deputy Director for Operations Jose Rodriguez has written a book with the assistance of former Agency press officer Bill Harlow. Hard Measures: How Aggressive CIA Actions After 9/11 Saved American Lives is largely a defense of Rodriguez’s role in the CIA’s use of torture on suspected terrorists in the aftermath of 9/11. Rodriguez argues that what he describes as “enhanced interrogation techniques” were necessary to obtain information on terrorist activities. His employment of the euphemism underscores his argument that these procedures were found to be legal by Bush administration lawyers and that they do not constitute torture, which is a war crime.

In November 2005, Rodriguez, ordered on his own authority and contrary to Agency general counsel advice the destruction of 92 videotapes that recorded interrogation sessions in a secret prison in Thailand. This was done, he says, to protect the identities of CIA interrogators from possible reprisals by terrorists, not to cover-up waterboarding being used to obtain information, a procedure he claims was both an acceptable interrogation technique and one that was subject to congressional oversight before it was employed. He does not explain exactly how terrorists could obtain the tapes or be able to make identifications from them; perhaps the idea is that someday the recordings might leak to the public. Whatever its plausibility, or lack thereof, his argument might just as well be a deliberate deception if the primary purpose of his actions was to eliminate evidence of what many would consider a war crime. I leave it up to the reader to decide what explanation is most likely. For what it’s worth, Amazon reviews are running about five to one in praise of the book rather than condemning what it describes.

What is most disturbing to me about the book and the interviews is that Rodriguez is apparently seen by some in the media as the “new normal” and even some kind of hero. CIA officers overseas are indeed operating on the “dark side,” in that spying overseas is illegal in the countries where one is operationally engaged. But that does not mean all gloves are off in terms of international and U.S. law, especially in the case of war crimes. It is worth noting that Japanese Army officers were executed in 1946 for waterboarding Allied prisoners, while the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution explicitly forbids “cruel and unusual punishment.” The United States is also a signatory to the International Convention on Torture and to the Geneva Conventions. And then there is the War Crimes Act of 1996, which requires the United States Justice Department to prosecute anyone involved in torture, no exceptions.  President Obama has refused to permit justice to be served, making him as complicit in war crimes as his predecessor was.

To promote Hard Measures, Rodriguez has been appearing on a number of television programs. I have seen him on “60 Minutes” with Lesley Stahl and on Bill O’Reilly’s program. He has also appeared with Sean Hannity. Stahl failed to push Rodriguez on the illegality of torture and frequently allowed him to drift into the kind of mumbo-jumbo tradecraft language that former spies use when they don’t want to answer a question. Rodriguez stated that the (CIA) are part of the “dark side — that’s what we do.”  That was the end of the story for “60 Minutes.”

White House Asks Court to Block Torture Photos’ Release(PHOTO DELETED)

Doctors and nurses tasked with monitoring the health of terror suspects were complicit in abuses committed at prisons run by the Pentagon and the CIA, AFP reports.

The CIA wrongfully held at least 22 percent due to bad intelligence. Throughout the program, the CIA repeatedly underreported the number of people it detained. It claimed it had detained “fewer than 100 people.” But why would the CIA need 50 black sites to torture only 100 detainees?  One of the wrongfully held was an “intellectually challenged” man, Nazir Ali. His taped interrogation was used as leverage to get a family member to provide information.

Secret prisons, renditions, and enhanced interrogations are characteristic of police states, not constitutional republics.

Such methods might gain wider approval, the lawyers figured, if they were proved to have saved lives.

“A policy decision must be made with regard to US use of torture,” CIA lawyers wrote in November 2001, in a previously undisclosed memo titled “Hostile Interrogations: Legal Considerations for CIA Officers.”

The lawyers argued that “states may be very unwilling to call the US to task for torture when it resulted in saving thousands of lives.”

Former military interrogator Matthew Alexander refutes Dick Cheney’s claim that torture saved American (see video below.)

A DIY resistance tries to keep the fight against Trump fresh

By NICHOLAS RICCARDI, Associated Press

Colo. — Stationing herself outside a bank building and holding a sign in the unforgiving midday sun, Katie Farnan was multitasking, as usual. She’s a mother of two young children and works for a nonprofit firm but also has a third job: Chair of the town hall committee of the activist group Indivisible Front Range Resistance.

And at noon on this spring Friday, she was the very face of a protest movement run by amateurs that has provided the greatest challenge to President Donald Trump: A distracted mother dispensing fruit snacks to her sons, ages 1 and 3, while hoping to intercept a Republican senator attending a private meeting with bank employees.

“He sticks in my craw,” Farnan said of Sen. Cory Gardner, who hasn’t held a public town hall this year despite activists’ pressure campaign. “It’s my responsibility to try to get town halls with him and if I can’t get town halls with him, I feel like–” She stopped, cut off by 3-year-old Leo’s cries of “Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!”

A few months into Trump’s presidency, resistance to it is much like Farnan — exhausted, sometimes exasperated, but determined. The initial electric jolt of the record-setting women’s marches against Trump across the country and the spontaneous outpouring of protesters to airports the night Trump announced his initial travel ban on certain immigrants have given way to a long slog of activist trench warfare.

Though there’s still plenty of protest aimed at the president, attendance has tapered off, and the self-described resistance has expanded its targets to members of Congress. In doing so, it’s following both the tea party playbook and the recommendations of a pair of former Democratic congressional staffers whose Indivisible Guide has become a sort of bible to rookie activists.

The decentralized approach has been effective. Enormous pressure from constituents at town halls preceded the Republican-controlled House’s decision to abandon a first bill to revise President Barack Obama’s health care law. (A revised bill has since cleared the House.) Videos of angry voters shouting down congressional Republicans have gone viral. Donations to longshot Democratic candidates running for open congressional seats in Republican districts have skyrocketed.

Encouraged, activists are looking for fresh tactics and ways to maintain the energy. In February, Farnan’s group held a town hall without Gardner, where constituents fired off questions to a cardboard cutout of the senator. It paid for a plane to fly over the Colorado Rockies’ April home opener trailing a banner calling on Gardner to hold a town hall. And Farnan tried to squeeze more out of the bank demonstration by taking cell phone video of demonstrators offering questions they’d ask Gardner at a town hall, for a social media campaign.

Trained as a librarian, briskly efficient and perpetually upbeat, Farnan, 38, produced a box of chalk, drew pictures of a bulldozer and garbage truck on the pavement to captivate her boys, and moved through the protesters, filming quick clips. When, Jack, age 1, wanted to be picked up, she held him with one arm, her cell phone camera with the other. After an hour, she knew she had to go.

Farnan and Lisa Clark, who leads another brand-new activist group in the area, tried to figure out how they’d meet during the next day’s tax day protests in Denver. “If anyone else wants to do videos, get them,” Farnan called to Clark as she wheeled her stroller toward the car.

Clark, whose full-time job is raising her two children, marveled at Farnan’s schedule. “I don’t know how she does it,” Clark said.

Farnan didn’t make the tax protest the following day. She nearly collapsed Friday night and rushed to urgent care, where she was diagnosed with strep throat.

Before Election Day, Farnan was relatively uninvolved in politics. Born and raised in Ohio, she lived there until she and her husband David moved to Boulder in 2011. She was able to tele-commute for her 30-hour-a-week job as director of operations for a New York-based nonprofit. She volunteered for Barack Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012, but didn’t do the same for Hillary Clinton’s presidential run last year. She had two young kids. Plus, she added, “I thought it was in the bag.”

For a month after the election, Farnan was heartbroken and adrift. Her husband said, “It was more difficult from Nov. 9 to January because it was impossible to participate in any way.”

Then, one day while browsing Twitter, Farnan saw a link to something called the Indivisible Guide. Her life was about to be changed by Ezra Levin and Leah Greenberg.

As Congress’ Easter recess loomed, Farnan was trying to come up with new tactics. After putting her sons to bed, she went to the finished basement of her split-level Boulder house. The only sign that this was the base of the resistance was a bumper sticker reading “#NotNormal Resist.” Farnan turned on her MacBook; she and other leaders in her group communicate through 27 different Slack channels. One had proudly posted an image of a tweet he’d fired off that morning. “Brian’s wife is in labor now but he’s tweeting,” Farnan sighed.

Her responsibility that night was to post a daily “call to action” — various tasks the group’s 4,000 members could perform the next day. Farnan read reports, memos and emails before settling on her plans. They ranged from calling the Republican leader of the state Senate to support legislation guaranteeing Colorado wouldn’t round up Muslims to a health care protest.

But she didn’t know what to do about Gardner. She didn’t want to repeat herself with another town hall minus the senator. “We don’t want to be the group that can’t get anyone to show up,” she said.

It was nearly 10 p.m. Farnan’s gaze drifted to pictures of her sons on the mantel, and she grew downbeat thinking about the world they’d grow up in. “Every time I try to check out, I look at my kids — and I get so depressed,” she said. When she became an activist, she gave up her one leisure activity, guitar lessons. “My fingers have gotten all soft,” she said.

As Congress’ spring recess rolled around, Farnan got some relief from her workload — her group, overloaded, scaled back from a nightly call to action to a weekly one. Other groups spearheaded protests.

Levin says that every congressional district in the country has at least two groups affiliated with the Indivisible movement. These organizations only need to agree to follow certain basic principles like nondiscrimination to get included in the network. Indivisible now has a Washington, D.C., office, which suggests issues to focus on but doesn’t dictate tactics.

“These groups are all bottom-up,” Levin said. “We’re not Subway, we’re not franchising.”

In Colorado, the benefits of a decentralized resistance were clear. An Indivisible group in Republican Rep. Mike Coffman’s district helped pack his first town hall of the year with hostile questioners.

Another group affiliated with Indivisible, Clark’s Together We Will, Colorado, heard about Gardner’s private visit to the bank for a private town hall with employees. The following week, environmental and immigration activists smuggled a mariachi band into Gardner’s meeting with members of the local chamber of commerce. Last week, demonstrators massed outside Gardner’s office to protest Trump’s firing of FBI director James Comey and to demand a special counsel for the Russia investigation.

At the end of the 2-week spring recess, Farnan and her family joined thousands of other demonstrators in Denver for the march for science. Icy grey clouds parted just as the march began. Farnan had 182 videos addressing Gardner in hand, including one she shot of herself, and she would post them. She felt that she and the movement had gotten over a hump — keeping people engaged after the explosion of interest following the Women’s March.

“People are looking at midterms. I don’t think they’re going anywhere,” Farnan said, already talking about starting sessions training Indivisible members on how to become canvassers for upcoming elections. “We’ve passed a couple of critical flameout points.”

Hit Him Where It Hurts: Boycott Trump By TomDispatch

As his polling figures sag, the chaos of his presidency increases exponentially, and the news turns ever grimmer (for him), President Trump faces growing opposition nationwide.

As TomDispatch regular Mattea Kramer reports today, from boycotting businesses carrying his products to jamming the phone lines of his hotels, an expanding, if somewhat uncoordinated, set of anti-Trump organizations are focused on how to divest America of its 45th president. They are, in particular, aiming at what he undoubtedly cares most about (other, of course, than himself): his business dealings and those of his children. (And just wait until such anti-Trumpism gains traction abroad and those businesses with the giant golden letters become ongoing targets of protest — or worse — globally.)

And yet these days, believe it or not, that may be the least of his problems. There seems to be another Resist Trump movement growing right in the heart of our nation’s capital in what has become the unofficial fourth branch of our government, the one not written into the Constitution but funded as if it were the only thing that Constitution contained: the national security state.

Among the many missteps (a kind word under the circumstances) of a president who clearly thought the worst was over when he won the election, none may prove more disastrous than his — you can’t call it a decision, but perhaps an impulse — to take on parts of that state within a state. He began memorably by comparing the CIA and other intelligence agencies to so many Nazis and proceeded from there. That he evidently never imagined such institutions, which now surveil the world in a way that might have amazed George Orwell and stunned the totalitarian regimes of the previous century, having the power to respond to him should amaze us all. That he fired James Comey, for instance, without any sense that the FBI director or his supporters inside the Bureau could or would strike back was perhaps the ultimate in blind self-faith. (Of course, in these years, America’s intelligence agencies have often seemed like the proverbial gang that couldn’t shoot straight, as with the recent — possibly North Korean — ransomware attack on computer networks globally that was based in part on hacking tools pilfered from the National Security Agency.)

Now, from secret memos about “pledges of loyalty” to leaks of every sort, the national security state may be in the process of trying to divest itself of President Trump. It looks like some of its professionals have stopped collecting intelligence for him and started collecting it on him. If his recently tweeted threat — “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” — wasn’t so much hot air (and he does have a past history of taping phone conversations), he might turn out to have done their work for them. If so, he better hope that such tapes turn out to have an 18-and-a-half hour gap.

At the moment, the scandals seem unending. Campaign collusion (or was it confusion?) with Putin’s Russia, the Comey firing, the never-ending disaster of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, including the president’s possible request that the FBI director shut down the Flynn investigation, and the sharing of “highly classified” information with the Russian foreign minister just head a list that seems to grow by the day, as congressional muttering about “obstruction of justice” and “impeachment” grows. Meanwhile — signs of the times — the president’s aides are reportedly polishing their CVs and joining the crew leaking about him, while he remains angry with them for his own crazed behavior.

If this isn’t the potential script for a modern Dr. Strangelove, what is? Only the nuclear weapons are missing (so far). Tom

Boycott Trump Can a Movement to Hurt the President Financially Change the Political Landscape?
By Mattea Kramer

In normal times, Dee from New York would have ordered her copy of The Handmaid’s Tale from Amazon, but these are not normal times. Amazon is on the Grab Your Wallet list, a campaign to boycott retailers that sell Trump family products, which began as a response to the video revealing our now-president’s penchant for grabbing women “by the pussy.” Dee bought her book from a smaller retailer instead.

Since Donald Trump’s election in November, and especially since his January inauguration, hundreds of small and not-so-small organizations have sprung up to oppose the president. They joined the ranks of established left-leaning and liberal groups already revving up their engines to fight the administration. Among all the ways you can now voice your dissent, though, there’s one tactic that this president will surely understand: economic resistance aimed at his own businesses and those of his children. He may not be swayed by protesters filling the streets, but he does speak the language of money. Through a host of tactics — including boycotting stores that carry Trump products, punishing corporations and advertisers that underwrite the administration’s agenda, and disrupting business-as-usual at Trump companies — protesters are using the power of the purse to demonstrate their opposition and have planned a day of resistance against his brand on June 14th.

Such economic dissent may prove to be an especially apt path of resistance, especially for the millions of Americans who reside in blue states and have struggled with a sense of powerlessness following the election. After all, it’s not immediately obvious how to take effective political action in the usual American way when your legislators already agree with you. But what blue-state dwellers lack in political sway they make up for in economic clout, since blue states have, on average, greater household incomes and more purchasing power than their red-state compatriots. The impact of coordinated blue-state boycotts could be enormous. That’s why Grab Your Wallet, along with Color of Change, a racial-justice group, and numerous other organizations are encouraging individuals to see their purchasing power as political muscle.

“It was close at the polls, but it’s not close at the cash register,” Shannon Coulter, a founder of Grab Your Wallet, told me recently.

And yet, even as throngs of organizations and hundreds of thousands of individuals throw their energy into economic tactics intended to weaken the president, it’s still an open question whether this type of resistance — or, more specifically, its current implementation — can precipitate anything in the way of meaningful change.

“A Sprawling Landscape of Resistance”

At first glance, Grab Your Wallet is a modest website: a Google spreadsheet that lists about 50 companies to boycott. Included are the department stores Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, and Lord & Taylor, as well as online retailers like Overstock.com, Zappos, and Amazon, all of which sell some type of Trump swag. (The precise number of companies listed continues to decline, as retailers dump the Trump brand.) The site gets an impressive two million unique visitors every month, and when I spoke with Coulter, she told me that 22 retailers had dropped Trump products since the start of the boycott. She believes that this is just the beginning.

“I don’t think we’ll see the full impact of the boycott until summer, because of how the retail cycle works,” she explained. The department store Nordstrom, for instance, the biggest company to date to drop the Ivanka Trump brand, sold through its existing inventory before indicating that it would not reorder. That announcement even attracted attention from the president, who tweeted: “My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by @Nordstrom. She is a great person — always pushing me to do the right thing! Terrible!”

Color of Change has long deployed strategies of economic resistance, specifically by going after advertisers who underwrite hate. Now that Trump is in the White House, Rashad Robinson, the group’s executive director, told me that they’re focusing on the role of corporate enablers “who’ve made this administration possible.” He described a strategy in which his organization carefully selects a corporate target and then rallies its million-plus members to participate in a campaign designed to tarnish the company’s brand — unless its executives make more ethical advertising choices. Color of Change played a role in the recent ouster of Bill O’Reilly from Fox News by helping to influence some of the more than 50 major advertisers who pulled their financial support from his top-rated program. After advertisers fled, Fox gave O’Reilly the boot.

Progressive groups are proving increasingly savvy when it comes to designing such consumer-driven tactics. The Center for Popular Democracy and the immigrant-rights group Make the Road New York recently co-launched a campaign called Corporate Backers of Hate, which targets Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, The Walt Disney Company, and a handful of other corporations that have provided various forms of support for Trump and his agenda. Wells Fargo, for instance, has lent millions of dollars to the president’s companies, is an investor in immigrant detention centers run by private, for-profit contractors, and has loaned money to developers for the Dakota Access Pipeline, the 1,172-mile oil pipe that would cross Standing Rock Sioux Tribe lands in North Dakota. (Trump signed a memo authorizing that pipeline within days of taking office.) The Corporate Backers of Hate website allows protesters to bypass customer service staff at these corporations and send messages directly to top executives and board members to express their disapproval.

This strategy of going after the funding underlying Trump’s network has won some early victories.

Several groups have been trying to cut off the flow of advertising dollars to Breitbart, the xenophobic pseudo-news site formerly run by White House strategist Steve Bannon. Leading the charge in this work is a Twitter-based group, Sleeping Giants, with a relatively simple proposition: it asks followers to take screenshots of ads on Breitbart — preferably next to an offensive headline — and then tweet that screenshot to the company in the ad along with a polite message asking it to stop underwriting hate. This approach has been wildly successful; according to Sleeping Giants, thousands of advertisers have pulled out of Breitbart. Nicholas Reville is a seasoned online organizer who has become a leading figure in the campaign to, as he says, make “hate unprofitable.”

He believes that the Sleeping Giants model of digital resistance represents a new and important type of political action. “It’s very, very rare that you have an activism campaign where people are doing something other than signing a petition, showing up to a rally, [or] donating money,” he told me. Instead, he pointed out, an individual can now take a discrete action on his or her personal device and actually help win a victory when an advertiser pulls out of Breitbart.

Some activists are going beyond screenshots and tweets. Journalist Naomi Klein recently released a video highlighting the fact that Trump’s brand is one of his most important sources of revenue and suggesting that “jamming” the brand — by turning it from a money-maker into a money-loser — would be a powerful form of resistance. She mentions tactics like clogging phone lines at Trump companies or making, and then canceling, reservations at his hotels.

One activist who has been working on jamming those Trump phone lines, and who spoke with me on condition of anonymity, said that resisters like her had discovered that it was surprisingly easy to disrupt the president’s businesses. “The phone lines do not have the capacity to handle even medium-volume call traffic,” she said, and assured me that there was more phone jamming planned for the future. When I asked what she hoped to achieve through this tactic, she responded that the goal was to weaken President Trump financially, politically, and in every way imaginable.

“These strategies are complements to other kinds of organizing,” she went on. “None of these tactics alone are going to bring down the Trump administration… that’s not how it works. This is part of a sprawling landscape of resistance.”

Easy to Resist, Hard to Win

The multitude of groups, campaigns, and individuals going after Donald Trump, Trump businesses, and companies supporting him or his political agenda do indeed form a sprawling, often chaotic landscape of resistance. I receive a dozen different, mostly uncoordinated action-alert messages in my inbox daily. In the weeks immediately following the inauguration, I found all that frenetic energy strangely appealing. After a couple of months of diffuse efforts, however, I began to wonder whether such efforts would be better spent on fewer, more coordinated campaigns. While Trump oppositionists undoubtedly feel a thrill of satisfaction when Nordstrom drops Ivanka’s product line and legions of advertisers pull out of Breitbart, it’s unclear whether these are steps on the path to a revised political landscape, or whether they are just feel-good wins leading nowhere in particular.

This dilemma is perhaps best exemplified by the Boycott Trump app, which has been downloaded 350,000 times. The concept behind it is similar to the one that animates Grab Your Wallet. The app is essentially a list of companies to boycott, though it includes more than 250 of them, rather than the dozens on Grab Your Wallet, many because they sponsored Trump’s NBC show The Apprentice back in 2011. I asked Nathan Lerner, who heads an organization called the Democratic Coalition Against Trump, which is responsible for the app, what qualifies a company to be listed, and he said that any company connected to the president was worth listing. I then asked if his group was collaborating with other boycott efforts.

“We’ve been a little frustrated with partnering,” Lerner told me. “Right now we’re seeing a ton of enthusiasm around boycotting Trump, but it’s fragmented. Folks are popping up doing great work, but they’re doing it on their own.” That seemed like a remarkably on-target summary of the situation, and Lerner’s group seemed to be an example of those working “on their own.”

In search of answers, I called up Marshall Ganz, who would surely be in the hall of fame of community organizing if there were one. He worked with Cesar Chavez in the 1960s to organize California farmworkers and was an architect of Barack Obama’s organizing strategy for his presidential run in 2007. A professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School (and, full disclosure, once my professor), Ganz defines “strategy” as “how we turn what we have into what we need to get what we want.” That applies nicely to the Trump boycott concept, in which activists are trying to turn their discrete consumer power into collective influence great enough to change where our country is headed.

When I mentioned to Ganz that so many different boycotts and related campaigns are happening without much coordination, he described the problem this way: “The mechanisms for starting my thing, my thing, my thing, they’re so easy in virtual space.” Bringing those initiatives together is the problem. As he pointed out, back in 2007 the San Francisco Bay Area alone had about 54 different pro-Obama groups registered online; the hard part was getting them to work together in a way that channeled their energy toward a shared goal. When it comes to fighting Donald Trump, Ganz suggested that it would be far more strategic for the many different boycott and pressure groups to pool their efforts. Were this to happen, he suggested, the anti-Trump movement could become more proactive, rather than reactive.

Not all experts agree with his assessment. L.A. Kaufman is the author of the recent book, Direct Action: Protest and the Reinvention of American Radicalism. “I think that the decentralized character of the resistance gives it resilience,” she told me in a phone interview. In her view, the fact that all this activity is totally grassroots and happening outside the Democratic Party is a sign of political renewal in this country. She has a point. Yet it’s hard to see how economic resistance, surely a suitable weapon against a businessman-in-chief, can be effective without a critical mass coalescing around an agreed-upon set of actions and goals.

I asked Shannon Coulter whether she’s coordinating with other campaigns, and she pointed out that Grab Your Wallet is now aligned with the organizers of the Women’s March, the vast post-inauguration protest that swept the country. Those same organizers were also the driving force behind the formation of roughly 5,500 groups of local activists who convened after the march to consider the next steps for the emerging anti-Trump movement. This alliance seemed like a promising sign.

Recalling what Ganz had said about uniting groups that supported Obama in 2007, I asked Coulter whether she would ever consider merging Grab Your Wallet into a larger organization. To this, she responded in the negative. “I say that,” she explained, “because Grab Your Wallet is one of the only women-led ones in the movement.”

Coulter isn’t the only one to offer such reasoning. Since the anti-Trump movement is a heterogeneous collection of groups representing women, people of color, immigrants, LGBTQ folks, and lots of straight white people, there’s concern that combining efforts could result in a resistance dominated by white men who might compromise the priorities of specific groups and their constituents. In order to be effective, says Rashad Robinson of Color of Change, campaigns must carry the “moral authority of an impacted constituency.” He described situations in which white-led groups had tried to mimic campaigns led by Color of Change — without realizing that they lacked the moral authority to do so effectively.

In 2014, Zeynep Tufekci, a professor at the University of North Carolina who studies social movements, gave a TED talk titled “Online social change: easy to organize, hard to win,” in which she described the March on Washington in 1963. That historic event, where Martin Luther King delivered his famed “I Have a Dream” speech, drew 250,000 people. Tufekci underscored the significance of attracting such a crowd in 1963, when organizers used landline phones, flyers, and word of mouth, in a landscape lacking today’s easy digital tools. Fifty years ago it was nothing short of awe-inspiring to draw a quarter million people to the National Mall. “If you’re in power,” said Tufekci, “you realize that you have to take the capacity signaled by that march, not just the march, but the capacity signaled by that march, seriously.”

The anti-Trump movement has yet to accomplish anything so awe-inspiring. Nearly half a million people gathered in Washington for the Women’s March — a number that climbed to more than a million when all the protests around the country were added in — but it’s not at all clear that such numbers carry the same weight today as smaller crowds did in previous eras. Though protesters filled the streets in Washington one day after the inauguration, anti-Trump activity remains fragmented several months into his term.

And when it comes to waging economic resistance against this billionaire president, the pressing question is whether innumerable people across the country, like Dee from New York, who are changing their spending habits, tweeting at advertisers, contacting chief executives, and jamming phones at Trump businesses, will do so in a way that converts their discrete actions into real influence and power.

It’s still too early to tell.

Mattea Kramer, a TomDispatch regular, writes cultural commentary. Follow her on Twitter.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, John Dower’s The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II, as well as John Feffer’s dystopian novel Splinterlands, Nick Turse’s Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead, and Tom Engelhardt’s Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.

Copyright 2017 Mattea Kramer

CIA Destroys Interrogation Tapes, NSA Uses Porn to “Break Down Detainees”

By ACLU

From jailing children together with adults in prisons where they were raped to failing to notify their parents of their arrest, the U.S. committed numerous war crimes against children in Afghanistan and Iraq, a new book on President Bush states.

~snip~  “American guards videotaped Iraqi male prisoners raping young boys but took no action to stop the offenses (and) children in Abu Ghraib were deliberately frightened by dogs,” writes political scientist Michael Haas in his new book, “George W. Bush, War Criminal?”(Praeger), a question he answers in the affirmative.

According to a letter filed by the government in court, the CIA acknowledged it destroyed 92 tapes of interrogations. The admission comes in an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit seeking records of the treatment of prisoners in U.S. custody abroad. In December 2007, the ACLU filed a motion to hold the CIA in contempt for its destruction of videotapes recording the harsh interrogation of prisoners in violation of a court order requiring the agency to produce or identify all the requested records.

The following can be attributed to Amrit Singh, staff attorney with the ACLU:

“This letter provides further evidence for holding the CIA in contempt of court. The large number of videotapes destroyed confirms that the agency engaged in a systemic attempt to hide evidence of its illegal interrogations and to evade the court’s order. Our contempt motion has been pending in court for over a year now – it is time to hold the CIA accountable for its flagrant disregard for the rule of law.”

The tapes, which show CIA operatives subjecting suspects to extremely harsh interrogation methods, should have been identified and processed for the ACLU in response to its FOIA request demanding information on the treatment and interrogation of detainees in U.S. custody. The tapes were also withheld from the 9/11 Commission, appointed by former President Bush and Congress, which had formally requested that the CIA hand over transcripts and recordings documenting the interrogation of CIA prisoners.

A copy of the government’s letter is available at:  ACLU

The ACLU’s contempt motion and related legal documents are available online at: www.aclu.org/torturefoia

‘She was up to her eyeballs in torture’: Trump’s nominee for CIA director oversaw the torture of detainees under Bush By , BusinessInsider

President Donald Trump’s controversial nominee to lead the Central Intelligence Agency helped implement the agency’s torture program under the George W. Bush administration, a record that will make her confirmation process difficult and likely ugly.

Gina Haspel, who joined the CIA in 1985 and spent most of her career undercover, oversaw the waterboarding and use of other “enhanced interrogation techniques” — authorized by the Bush administration and later outlawed by President Barack Obama and Congress — at a secret CIA prison in Thailand in 2002.

Haspel was nominated to become the agency’s first female director after Trump fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and asked CIA Director Mike Pompeo to replace him.

At the Thai prison, known as a “black site,” that Haspel ran, two terror suspects were extensively tortured. One detainee, Abu Zubaydah, was waterboarded 83 times in one month and subjected to other dangerous treatment, including having his head slammed against a wall repeatedly.

Interrogators ultimately determined that Zubaydah, who lost an eye during his CIA detention, did not possess any useful information.

In 2005, Haspel signed a cable ordering the destruction of 92 video tapes of Zubaydah’s interrogations — a decision that became the subject of a lengthy criminal investigation by the Justice Department that did not result in charges. Haspel also helped facilitate the “extraordinary rendition program,” in which the US government handed detainees over to foreign officials, who detained and tortured them in secret prisons.

Hundreds of terror suspects were tortured and abused by the CIA and Department of Defense in the years following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. And while the Bush administration’s program, which violated longstanding US and international law, has been widely condemned both domestically and around the world, no government official has ever been prosecuted for their involvement in it.

Current CIA director Mike Pompeo has said that waterboarding and other “enhanced interrogation techniques” do not constitute torture. And he has defended intelligence officials and others who engaged in these practices as “heroes” and “patriots” simply protecting their country.

Trump repeatedly expressed his support for torture, including waterboarding, on the campaign trail.

“Would I approve waterboarding? You bet your ass I would. In a heartbeat,” Trump said during a 2016 campaign rally. “I would approve more than that. It works.”

The ACLU, which has engaged in extensive litigation concerning the government’s torture program, is pushing the CIA to declassify and release “every aspect of Haspel’s torture record” before she is put through the nomination process.

Former CIA Director John Brennan, who led the agency under Obama, praised Haspel as someone with “a lot of integrity,” despite her record, during a Tuesday interview on MSNBC.

What do you suppose was on those tapes? The International Criminal Court prosecutor asked for authorization to investigate reported human rights abuses in Afghanistan, including allegations of rape and torture by U.S. military and the CIA, crimes against humanity by the Taliban and war crimes by Afghan security forces. Source: NBC

Controversial nominee Gina Haspel confirmed as first female CIA director 

Gina Haspel was confirmed Thursday to be the first female director of the CIA with the help of votes from a half-dozen Senate Democrats.

Haspel was confirmed in a 54-45 vote, the culmination of a roller-coaster nomination that appeared to be in danger at several points after she was abruptly selected by President Donald Trump in March.

Three Republicans opposed Haspel’s nomination: Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Jeff Flake of Arizona and John McCain of Arizona, although McCain did not vote because he’s battling brain cancer at home.

But Haspel secured enough votes to win confirmation with the backing of six Democrats, including Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee. Continue reading: CNN

NSA Used Porn to “Break Down Detainees” in Iraq — and Other Revelations From 297 Snowden Documents By , , TheIntercept

He was an NSA staffer but also a volunteer, having signed up to provide technical expertise for a wide-ranging, joint CIA mission in Iraq. He did not know what he was getting himself into.

After arriving in Baghdad “grungy and tired,” the staffer would later write, he discovered that the CIA and its partner, the Defense Intelligence Agency, had moved beyond talking to locals and were now intent on looking through their computer files. Marines would bring the NSA man “laptops, hard drives, CDs, phones and radios.” Sometimes the devices were covered in blood — and quite often they contained pornography, deemed “extremely useful” in humiliating and “breaking down” for interrogation the people who owned them.

The story of how the National Security Agency harvested porn for use against prisoners in Iraq is just one of the revelations disclosed in the agency’s internal newsletter SIDtoday during the second half of 2005.

There’s also the tale of how some intercepts would be rushed almost instantly to the president at Camp David via golf cart “with virtually no oversight.”

Then there’s one about how the NSA declared it could find “not many” Arabic translators it could trust among “the largest Arabic-speaking population in the United States.”

Or the story of how the agency listened as the Egyptian government dictated through its communication channels the final results for an election that had barely begun.

Told in more detail below, these are highlights from some 297 SIDtoday articles published today by The Intercept as part of an ongoing project to release, after careful review, material provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

From the same SIDtoday release — our sixth thus far — we are publishing three other articles. One is an investigation into a secretive global intelligence-sharing alliance led by the NSA, comprising 18 members and known as the SIGINT Seniors. Another looks at increased surveillance in the United Kingdom following the London bombings in 2005 — and discloses for the first time a secret agreement to share metadata harvested from the vast data repositories of the NSA and its counterparts in the U.K., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

Also today, in collaboration with the Norwegian Broadcaster NRK, we shine light on a large spy base located outside Oslo. The base was built with the NSA’s help to aid Norway’s military and counterterrorism operations overseas. But it has also swept up Norwegian citizens’ phone and email records – and is now at the center of a dispute over illegal surveillance.

The NSA declined to comment for this article.

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U.S. Military nudes exposed (NSFW)

CIA director Mike Pompeo was “blindsided” by an executive order that opens the door for American intelligence agencies to resume waterboarding and other “enhanced interrogation techniques” at newly reopened CIA “black site” prisons overseas, according to a source familiar with conversations he has had about the document.

Trump told ABC News anchor David Muir: “We’re not playing on an even field. When they’re chopping off the heads of our people, and other people — when they’re chopping off the heads of people because they happen to be a Christian in the Middle East — when ISIS is doing things that nobody has ever heard of since medieval times, would I feel strongly about waterboarding? As far as I’m concerned, we have to fight fire with fire.”

Trumps executive order does not seem to be limited to ‘foreign’ detainees but “anyone, anywhere that the President deems to be a threat to the safety and security of the United States.”

ANTI-TORTURE LINKS:

Anti-Torture Initiative with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment.

irct International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims

UN Committee Against Torture

Abolish Torture Muslims Against Torture And Political Imprisonment Everywhere

Witness Against Torture formed in 2005 when 25 Americans went to Guantánamo Bay and attempted to visit the detention facility. Once we returned from that journey, we began to organize more broadly to shut down Guantánamo, working with interfaith, human rights and activists’ organizations.

Stop Torture The Harvard Anti-Torture Coalition

Human Rights Watch is a nonprofit, nongovernmental human rights organization made up of roughly 400 staff members around the globe. Its staff consists of human rights professionals including country experts, lawyers, journalists, and academics of diverse backgrounds and nationalities. Established in 1978, Human Rights Watch is known for its accurate fact-finding, impartial reporting, effective use of media, and targeted advocacy, often in partnership with local human rights groups.

TASSC (Torture Abolition & Survivors Support Coalition) is a coalition of torture survivors, representing countries and ethnic groups throughout all parts of the world.

APT  The Association for the Prevention of Torture was founded in 1977 by the Swiss banker and lawyer Jean-Jacques Gautier. Our work is built on the insight that torture and forms of ill-treatment happens behind closed doors, out of public view. We therefore promote transparency in all places where people are deprived of liberty.

Amnesty International is a global movement of people fighting injustice and promoting human rights.

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Int’l Criminal Court Prosecutor Seeks Probe of US Personnel in Afghanistan for Rape and Torture

Clinton Foundation Donors Got Weapons Deals From Hillary Clinton’s State Department

Saudi officials were ‘supporting’ 9/11 hijackers, commission member says

Saudi Arabia Bankrolled 9/11

False Flag: How the U.S. Armed Syrian Rebels to Set Up an Excuse to Attack Assad

The Red Line and the Rat Line

How Turkey Exports ISIS Oil To The World: The Scientific Evidence

ICE put detained immigrants in solitary confinement for hunger striking

By

The solitary confinement cases outlined in the records obtained by The Verge took place at the Stewart Detention Center, a facility managed by CoreCivic outside Lumpkin, Georgia. The Lumpkin facility has been the subject of past allegations of inhumane treatment of immigrant detainees, who can be kept behind bars for years awaiting resolution of their deportation cases.

In April, it was reported that two detainees at Lumpkin had gone on hunger strike to protest their prolonged detention. The detainment logs obtained by The Verge do not specifically address the April incidents but show that, shortly thereafter, detainees at the facility launched a previously unreported series of hunger strikes that spanned months.

ICE has been previously accused of using solitary confinement to retaliate against hunger-striking detainees at other facilities. In comments to The Verge, ICE sent its detention standards stating that hunger-striking detainees should be put in isolation when “medically advisable.” In at least a half-dozen cases, detainees were placed in solitary confinement immediately after having declared hunger strike, although they hadn’t yet had an opportunity to miss a single meal. In most logs, detainees relented and began eating again after less than a week locked in solitary confinement — a form of captivity that human rights groups say can amount to psychological torture.

“These documents confirm what we’ve been hearing in terms of immediate and really brutal crackdowns by using solitary as a means of deterring the hunger strikes and almost as a punishment,” Azadeh Shahshahani, an attorney with the Atlanta-based social justice group Project South, said of the Lumpkin facility. Shahshahani says that the facility responded to detainee demonstrations in 2014 and 2015 by using what she views as excessive force, including placing detainees in solitary confinement.

The logs obtained by the Verge, which span the entirety of 2016, detail a variety of reasons relating to the hunger strike for placing detainees in solitary confinement. In late December, CoreCivic locked a group of detainees in solitary confinement for terms of 60 days because surveillance footage allegedly showed them “being involved in initiating a group demonstration, encouraging others to go on a hunger strike and refusing to lock down for count,” according to the logs. One detainee went on hunger strike after CoreCivic locked him in isolation while it investigated allegations that he was “charging detainees for haircuts as he is a barber.”

The logs indicate that CoreCivic may have attempted to cultivate detainee informants to help gather information about the hunger strike. The entries state that detainees were placed in solitary confinement as a protective measure after other detainees had identified them as serving as “snitches” for CoreCivic personnel seeking to gather information on the demonstrations.

“This incident involved the above listed detainee believing to have been a snitch in the hunger strike incident which occurred in unit 6,” one log reads. “The unit team received a message that Detainee […] would be physically assaulted due his alleged cooperation with the unit staff.”

In comments to The Verge, CoreCivic spokesperson Steve Owen said that detainees had not been punished for hunger striking. No “detainees at the Stewart facility have been placed in restrictive housing in retaliation for hunger strikes,” Owen said in an email. “Providing a safe, humane and appropriate environment for those entrusted to our care is our top priority, and we work in close coordination with our partners at ICE to ensure the wellbeing of the detainees at the Stewart Detention Center.”

Daniel B. Vasquez, a former warden of San Quentin State Prison, where he oversaw a large bloc containing more than a thousand solitary confinement cells, told The Verge that it is necessary to isolate hunger strikers from the general population. “If a person has declared a hunger strike, you have to isolate them in administrative segregation and monitor them on a medical basis,” Vasquez said. He added that it is also possible to punish such detainees by issuing an order to eat that detainees continuing to strike would defy. “So then I issue you a violation report for refusing orders.”

The logs make clear that, in some cases, ICE had ordered CoreCivic to place detainees in solitary confinement for hunger striking. Several of the ICE logs state that ICE officials within the agency’s Health Services Corps had ordered striking detainees to be kept in segregated housing for medical monitoring, although most of the logs do not specify ICE’s specific involvement.

Citing medical privacy laws, ICE declined to comment on any cases of hunger strikers being placed in solitary confinement at Lumpkin. Pointing to various offices that provide oversight of the use of solitary confinement for ICE detainees, an agency spokesperson said that “ICE provides several levels of oversight in order to ensure that detainees in ICE custody reside in safe, secure and humane environments and under appropriate conditions of confinement.”

CoreCivic’s Owen also challenged The Verge’s use of language. “It’s also important to note that restrictive housing is not ‘solitary confinement,” Owen said. “We do not have the latter at our facilities.”

CoreCivic emphasized that detainees locked in Stewart’s “restrictive housing” units have the same access to visitation, telephone time, law library, mail, and barber shop as general-population detainees, and are given one hour of recreation time per day. The detainees “continue to have daily interaction facility staff, including medical professionals, chaplains, and ICE officials,” Owen said of CoreCivic’s restrictive housing.

Vasquez agrees, calling the term imprecise and “a word that doesn’t really exist any longer.”

Craig Haney, an expert on solitary confinement at the University of California, Santa Cruz, said that CoreCivc’s description of its restrictive housing at Stewart seemed to be simply a description of conditions generally referred to as “solitary confinement.” “The fact that they get things like haircuts and mail, and must have routine contact with staff,” Haney said, “does not change the nature of the experience.”

Solitary confinement has been repeatedly found to exact a lasting psychological toll. It is common for prisoners who are locked in solitary confinement in the United States to be kept in their cells 23 hours a day and given one hour of recreation per day. At Lumpkin, CoreCivic limited opportunities to go outdoors for some of the hunger-striking detainees. “As a precaution,” several logs stated, “outdoor recreation will be suspended for the duration of their strike.”

ICE has previously been accused of using solitary confinement to punish detainees who hunger strike. In Washington state, after ICE reportedly locked some 20 detainees in solitary confinement during a hunger strike, the state’s branch of the American Civil Liberties Union sued, alleging that the state had infringed on the prisoner’s First Amendment rights. A judge ordered ICE to release the detainees.

Located more than a two-hour drive from Atlanta — home to the closest regional ICE Enforcement and Removal Office and many of the state’s attorneys that would represent immigrants — the Lumpkin facility, has been deemed a “black hole” of the US immigration system where unrepresented detainees can languish for years in harsh conditions. A report published last year by the American Immigration Council stated that only 6 percent of detained immigrants at Lumpkin had representation from an attorney.

Shahshahani, who has been involved with efforts to close the Lumpkin facility for years, says that the facility also saw hunger strikes in both 2014 and 2015. At issue, she says, where both facility conditions — documented by the Southern Poverty Law Center and others — and long periods of detention even for detainees who said they would rather be deported than stay in the facility.

Noting that it can take an entire day for a lawyer or advocate to travel from Atlanta to the Lumpkin detention center for a meeting, Shahshahani says that the facility’s remote location compounds detainees’ feeling of helplessness.

“It goes back to this same issue of isolation at the facility,” said Shahshahani. “Immigrants at the facility feel that they don’t have anyone representing them.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions– the more people he sends to jail, the more money he makes. Prison Inc.: Immigration busts a boon for America’s biggest private lockup By Aimee Picchi CBS

When it comes to companies that are set to profit from President Donald Trump’s policies, here’s a clear winner: private prison operator CoreCivic (CXW).

The Nashville, Tennessee-based company has experienced almost a complete turnabout since Mr. Trump emerged victorious in the November election. Before voters cast their ballots, CoreCivic was having a rough year. Its stock had plunged by almost 50 percent from January 1, 2016 through Election Day. In August, the Justice Department said it would stop using private prisons, representing a hit to CoreCivic’s operations.

Yet just a few months later, CoreCivic’s fortunes have reversed, thanks largely to the election of President Trump and his directives to crack down on illegal immigrants. Since Mr. Trump’s victory, its shares have more than doubled, far outpacing the 9 percent gain in the S&P 500. Analysts now expect the company to have a strong 2017, with SunTrust Robinson Humphrey analyst Tobey Sommer describing it among one of his best investment picks for the year.

“It’s gone from a risk of seeing business go away to a chance for the company to grow,” Sommer said. “Because they have a lot of idle beds, they have an opportunity to sign new contracts and generate new profits.”

CoreCivic may not be a familiar name, which in part may be due to its rebranding push in October. Previously known as Corrections Corporation of America, it changed its name to CoreCivic to reflect its shift from a corrections-focused company to providing a “wider range of government solutions,” CEO Damon Hininger said in a statement.

For instance, CoreCivic is investing in reentry programs, which help former inmates transition out of prisons and into the workforce, as well as in real estate.

CoreCivic declined an interview but in a statement said it offers services “to governments led by elected officials from across the political and ideological spectrum.”

Yet key to its near-term turnabout is President Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigrants. Mr. Trump has ordered the hiring of thousands of additional border patrol agents and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) workers as part of his vow to deport millions of unauthorized immigrants.

In a February 9 call with analysts to discuss CoreCivic’s latest earnings, Hininger credited the company’s fourth-quarter growth largely to what he called ICE’s “heightened utilization” of its services in Southwestern states. He also specifically cited Mr. Trump’s immigration policy, saying it will drive demand for the company’s detention facilities.

Carl Takei, staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Prison Project, said while investors stand to profit, they shouldn’t lose sight of what he calls the moral issues wrapped up with the private prison industry.

A September ACLU report alleged that privately operated detention facilities “have a particularly grisly track record” because they have incentives to cut costs and boost shareholder return, such as by reducing medical staffing. The report cited alleged cases of violence, suicide and sexual assault.

Some students at universities such as Princeton are pushing their colleges to divest from private prison companies, which could make the industry the latest to be targeted by the student divestment movement. In recent years, college students have pushed their campus administrators to rethink investments in stocks that they perceive as contributing to environmental or social harm, such as oil and tobacco companies.

“The contracts make it clear that this is about commodifying human beings,” the ACLU’s Takei said. “The government specifies they will deliver a certain number of units to the private prisons. The units in this context are human beings.”

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Know your rights: ICE

Jeff Sessions Getting Rich Filling Private Prisons

Know Your Rights: Police Officers

The US Police Force Is an Extension of Slavery

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.

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.

Hedge Fund Gamblers Earn the Same In One Hour As a Middle-Class Household Makes In Over 47 Years

By Les Leopold / AlterNet