The CIA director John Brennan pauses while speaking about a senate committee report on the use of torture by his agency, at the CIA headquarters in Virginia on December 11, 2014. Larry Downing / Reuters
The CIA director John Brennan pauses while speaking about a senate committee report on the use of torture by his agency, at the CIA headquarters in Virginia on December 11, 2014. Larry Downing / Reute

Torture photos add to pressure on US administration



New York // After a wave of anger over brutal interrogation methods used by the CIA, US officials face another backlash if a federal judge orders the release of decade-old photos reportedly showing the torture, including rape, of detainees at US military facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Since 2004, both the George W Bush and Barack Obama administrations have used various legal means to withhold as many as 2,100 images that are potentially more explosive than the original Abu Ghraib photos.

Mr Obama argued in 2009 that their disclosure would “inflame anti-American opinion ... put our troops in greater danger” and “have a chilling effect on future investigations” of abuse.

But in October, a federal judge in a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union gave the justice department until next Friday to give a photo-by-photo rationale justifying their suppression. At the earliest, Judge Alvin Hellerstein will not decide on whether some or all of the redacted images are to be released publicly until January 20, when he will meet again with both sides.

At least parts of the US administration’s rationale will probably remain sealed from the public.

The decade-long saga of the photos comes to a head just as a scathing declassified summary of a report by Democrats on the senate intelligence committee provided new details about the CIA’s torture of suspected Al Qaeda militants detained between 2001 and 2007 and reignited calls for accountability and even prosecution of Bush-era officials. The report said nearly a quarter of those arrested were cases of mistaken identity or bad intelligence. Thirty-nine of the 119 detainees in the “rendition, detention and interrogation” programme were subjected to what the CIA calls “enhanced interrogation techniques”.

Former CIA officials and its current director, John Brennan, have said that the years after 2001 required extraordinary measures, and that only a small number of interrogators exceeded the expanded legal bounds of detainee treatment permitted by the justice department after the September 11 attacks. No CIA or Bush administration official has faced punishment for the treatment of the CIA detainees, and a separate investigation into similar abuses by military personnel at US bases has seen only a handful of low-ranking soldiers prosecuted.

But the unreleased photos were taken from at least seven US military bases under the command of different officers during the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, where tens of thousands of detainees were held, and proponents of their disclosure say they show that the abuse by military personnel was also a result of official policy.

Soldiers tried for the prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq said they were following orders from commanding officers, and one soldier who testified in 2005 said a CIA officer ordered him to “soften up” detainees.

“These photos we’re told show mistreatment from facilities throughout Afghanistan and Iraq, not just Abu Ghraib, and I think they would once and for all prove that mistreatment at the hands of the military was widespread, not isolated,” said Alex Abdo, an ACLU attorney working on the lawsuit. “If we want to ensure that these abuses never reoccur then having some form of accountability is necessary.”

Mr Obama issued an executive action in 2009 outlawing the interrogation methods, but that can be reversed by a future president if legislation is not passed banning the methods. Mr Brennan, speaking on the senate committee report on Thursday, said that while the interrogation methods ware not being used any longer, “I defer to the policymakers in future times when there is going to be the need to be able to ensure that this country stays safe if we face a similar type of crisis.”

The photos would be even more powerful than the words in the senate report, Mr Abdo said. “They would make clear more than anything could the nature of the misconduct that took place.”

The photos are reported to depict, among other abuses, the rape of a female detainee by a US soldier and the rape of an Iraqi boy by an army translator. In 2009, the US officer who led the investigation into abuse at Abu Ghraib, Major General Antonio Taguba, told Britain’s Telegraph newspaper that the unreleased photos “show torture, abuse, rape and every indecency”.

In 2009, congress passed a law allowing the administration to keep the photos secret if the secretary of defence gave a certification, valid for three years, that their release would harm Americans. The last certification was made by the then defence secretary Leon Panetta in 2012.

But in August, Judge Hellerstein decided that a single justification for withholding all the photos – which he has seen – was insufficient, and that for the photos to remain secret until 2015, the government must prove for each individual photo how its release of would endanger national security. The justification must be grounded in the “snapshot” of 2012, when the last certification was made, but should take into account developments since then, the judge said.

With 1,600 US troops back in Iraq after a complete withdrawal in 2011, the government’s argument that the images could endanger lives might hold more weight. But opponents say the fact that detainees were tortured has been well known and Al Qaeda and ISIL militants are already highly motivated to kill Americans, especially as the US targets them with bombs in Iraq and Syria.

The argument that disclosures would put Americans at risk was questioned after the release of the senate report. “Terrorists might use the report’s re-identification of the practices as an excuse to attack Americans, but they hardly need an excuse for that. That has been their life’s calling for a while now,” Senator John McCain, a torture victim and rare Republican supporter of the report, said on Tuesday.

Critics also argue that a full accounting of the abusive practices would show that the US is serious about its pledge not to use them again, and that keeping them from the public would undermine such claims and allow terrorists to effectively prevent government transparency on its legacy of torture. “The logic that the evidence of misconduct is too powerful to release to the American public has it exactly backwards,” Mr Abdo said.

While the US judiciary has generally sided with Washington on national security issues, by demanding a more detailed justification, Judge Hellerstein — who has been presiding over the lawsuit since 2004 — may prove to be increasingly impatient with the government’s argument. He previously recommended redacted versions of the images that could be released, which the government accepted before blocking them.

National security legal experts say the release of the senate committee’s report summary, which has not yet triggered violent protests or attacks against US troops, could make it more difficult for the government to justify withholding the photos.

“I think they have a harder road to argue that there is a security problem that’s going to be there,” said Benjamin Davis, associate professor of law at the University of Toledo law school.

If the judge does rule to release the photos, the justice department lawyers will immediately appeal, Mr Davis said, and the case could reach the supreme court.

tkhan@thenational.ae

How Alia's experiment will help humans get to Mars

Alia’s winning experiment examined how genes might change under the stresses caused by being in space, such as cosmic radiation and microgravity.

Her samples were placed in a machine on board the International Space Station. called a miniPCR thermal cycler, which can copy DNA multiple times.

After the samples were examined on return to Earth, scientists were able to successfully detect changes caused by being in space in the way DNA transmits instructions through proteins and other molecules in living organisms.

Although Alia’s samples were taken from nematode worms, the results have much bigger long term applications, especially for human space flight and long term missions, such as to Mars.

It also means that the first DNA experiments using human genomes can now be carried out on the ISS.

 

Top 10 most competitive economies

1. Singapore
2. Switzerland
3. Denmark
4. Ireland
5. Hong Kong
6. Sweden
7. UAE
8. Taiwan
9. Netherlands
10. Norway

65

Directors: Scott Beck, Bryan Woods

Stars: Adam Driver, Ariana Greenblatt, Chloe Coleman

Rating: 2/5

Dr Graham's three goals

Short term

Establish logistics and systems needed to globally deploy vaccines


Intermediate term

Build biomedical workforces in low- and middle-income nations


Long term

A prototype pathogen approach for pandemic preparedness  

Living in...

This article is part of a guide on where to live in the UAE. Our reporters will profile some of the country’s most desirable districts, provide an estimate of rental prices and introduce you to some of the residents who call each area home.

ROUTE TO TITLE

Round 1: Beat Leolia Jeanjean 6-1, 6-2
Round 2: Beat Naomi Osaka 7-6, 1-6, 7-5
Round 3: Beat Marie Bouzkova 6-4, 6-2
Round 4: Beat Anastasia Potapova 6-0, 6-0
Quarter-final: Beat Marketa Vondrousova 6-0, 6-2
Semi-final: Beat Coco Gauff 6-2, 6-4
Final: Beat Jasmine Paolini 6-2, 6-2

Thor: Love and Thunder

Director: Taika Waititi 

Stars: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Christian Bale, Russell Crowe, Tessa Thompson, Taika Waititi

Rating: 4/5

How to report a beggar

Abu Dhabi – Call 999 or 8002626 (Aman Service)

Dubai – Call 800243

Sharjah – Call 065632222

Ras Al Khaimah - Call 072053372

Ajman – Call 067401616

Umm Al Quwain – Call 999

Fujairah - Call 092051100 or 092224411

The years Ramadan fell in May

1987

1954

1921

1888

The Specs

Engine: 1.6-litre 4-cylinder petrol
Power: 118hp
Torque: 149Nm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Price: From Dh61,500
On sale: Now

Specs

Price, base: Dhs850,000
Engine: 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8
Transmission: Seven-speed automatic
Power: 591bhp @ 7,500rpm
Torque: 760Nm @ 3,000rpm
Fuel economy, combined: 11.3L / 100km

The specs

Engine: 1.5-litre 4-cylinder
Transmission: CVT
Power: 119bhp
Torque: 145Nm
Price: Dh,89,900 ($24,230)
On sale: now

Dengue fever symptoms
  • High fever
  • Intense pain behind your eyes
  • Severe headache
  • Muscle and joint pains
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Swollen glands
  • Rash

If symptoms occur, they usually last for two-seven days

LIVERPOOL TOP SCORERS

(Premier League only)
Mohamed Salah 129
Robbie Fowler 128
Steven Gerrard 120
Michael Owen 118
Sadio Mane 90

SPEC SHEET: APPLE IPHONE 15 PRO MAX

Display: 6.7" Super Retina XDR OLED, 2796 x 1290, 460ppi, 120Hz, 2000 nits max, HDR, True Tone, P3, always-on

Processor: A17 Pro, 6-core CPU, 6-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine

Memory: 8GB

Capacity: 256/512GB / 1TB

Platform: iOS 17

Main camera: Triple: 48MP main (f/1.78) + 12MP ultra-wide (f/2.2) + 12MP 5x telephoto (f/2.8); 5x optical zoom in, 2x optical zoom out; 10x optical zoom range, digital zoom up to 25x; Photonic Engine, Deep Fusion, Smart HDR 4, Portrait Lighting

Main camera video: 4K @ 24/25/30/60fps, full-HD @ 25/30/60fps, HD @ 30fps, slo-mo @ 120/240fps, ProRes (4K) @ 60fps; night, time lapse, cinematic, action modes; Dolby Vision, 4K HDR

Front camera: 12MP TrueDepth (f/1.9), Photonic Engine, Deep Fusion, Smart HDR 4, Portrait Lighting; Animoji, Memoji

Front camera video: 4K @ 24/25/30/60fps, full-HD @ 25/30/60fps, slo-mo @ 120/240fps, ProRes (4K) @ 30fps; night, time lapse, cinematic, action modes; Dolby Vision, 4K HDR

Battery: 4441mAh, up to 29h video, 25h streaming video, 95h audio; fast charge to 50% in 30min (with at least 20W adaptor); MagSafe, Qi wireless charging

Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.3, NFC (Apple Pay), second-generation Ultra Wideband chip

Biometrics: Face ID

I/O: USB-C

Durability: IP68, water-resistant up to 6m up to 30min; dust/splash-resistant

Cards: Dual eSIM / eSIM + eSIM (US models use eSIMs only)

Colours: Black titanium, blue titanium, natural titanium, white titanium

In the box: iPhone 15 Pro Max, USB-C-to-USB-C woven cable, one Apple sticker

Price: Dh5,099 / Dh5,949 / Dh6,799

Teams

Punjabi Legends Owners: Inzamam-ul-Haq and Intizar-ul-Haq; Key player: Misbah-ul-Haq

Pakhtoons Owners: Habib Khan and Tajuddin Khan; Key player: Shahid Afridi

Maratha Arabians Owners: Sohail Khan, Ali Tumbi, Parvez Khan; Key player: Virender Sehwag

Bangla Tigers Owners: Shirajuddin Alam, Yasin Choudhary, Neelesh Bhatnager, Anis and Rizwan Sajan; Key player: TBC

Colombo Lions Owners: Sri Lanka Cricket; Key player: TBC

Kerala Kings Owners: Hussain Adam Ali and Shafi Ul Mulk; Key player: Eoin Morgan

Venue Sharjah Cricket Stadium

Format 10 overs per side, matches last for 90 minutes

Timeline October 25: Around 120 players to be entered into a draft, to be held in Dubai; December 21: Matches start; December 24: Finals

Specs: 2024 McLaren Artura Spider

Engine: 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 and electric motor
Max power: 700hp at 7,500rpm
Max torque: 720Nm at 2,250rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed dual-clutch auto
0-100km/h: 3.0sec
Top speed: 330kph
Price: From Dh1.14 million ($311,000)
On sale: Now

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: SmartCrowd
Started: 2018
Founder: Siddiq Farid and Musfique Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech / PropTech
Initial investment: $650,000
Current number of staff: 35
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Various institutional investors and notable angel investors (500 MENA, Shurooq, Mada, Seedstar, Tricap)

Ramez Gab Min El Akher

Creator: Ramez Galal

Starring: Ramez Galal

Streaming on: MBC Shahid

Rating: 2.5/5

A Round of Applause

Director: Berkun Oya
Starring: Aslihan Gürbüz, Fatih Artman, Cihat Suvarioglu
Rating: 4/5

If you go...

Fly from Dubai or Abu Dhabi to Chiang Mai in Thailand, via Bangkok, before taking a five-hour bus ride across the Laos border to Huay Xai. The land border crossing at Huay Xai is a well-trodden route, meaning entry is swift, though travellers should be aware of visa requirements for both countries.

Flights from Dubai start at Dh4,000 return with Emirates, while Etihad flights from Abu Dhabi start at Dh2,000. Local buses can be booked in Chiang Mai from around Dh50

The specs

Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cyl turbo

Power: 201hp at 5,200rpm

Torque: 320Nm at 1,750-4,000rpm

Transmission: 6-speed auto

Fuel consumption: 8.7L/100km

Price: Dh133,900

On sale: now

Company Profile

Name: HyveGeo
Started: 2023
Founders: Abdulaziz bin Redha, Dr Samsurin Welch, Eva Morales and Dr Harjit Singh
Based: Cambridge and Dubai
Number of employees: 8
Industry: Sustainability & Environment
Funding: $200,000 plus undisclosed grant
Investors: Venture capital and government

Explainer: Tanween Design Programme

Non-profit arts studio Tashkeel launched this annual initiative with the intention of supporting budding designers in the UAE. This year, three talents were chosen from hundreds of applicants to be a part of the sixth creative development programme. These are architect Abdulla Al Mulla, interior designer Lana El Samman and graphic designer Yara Habib.

The trio have been guided by experts from the industry over the course of nine months, as they developed their own products that merge their unique styles with traditional elements of Emirati design. This includes laboratory sessions, experimental and collaborative practice, investigation of new business models and evaluation.

It is led by British contemporary design project specialist Helen Voce and mentor Kevin Badni, and offers participants access to experts from across the world, including the likes of UK designer Gareth Neal and multidisciplinary designer and entrepreneur, Sheikh Salem Al Qassimi.

The final pieces are being revealed in a worldwide limited-edition release on the first day of Downtown Designs at Dubai Design Week 2019. Tashkeel will be at stand E31 at the exhibition.

Lisa Ball-Lechgar, deputy director of Tashkeel, said: “The diversity and calibre of the applicants this year … is reflective of the dynamic change that the UAE art and design industry is witnessing, with young creators resolute in making their bold design ideas a reality.”

A Prayer Before Dawn

Director: Jean-Stephane Sauvaire

Starring: Joe Cole, Somluck Kamsing, Panya Yimmumphai

Three stars

TECH SPECS: APPLE WATCH SERIES 8

Display: 41mm, 352 x 430; 45mm, 396 x 484; Retina LTPO OLED, up to 1000 nits, always-on; Ion-X glass

Processor: Apple S8, W3 wireless, U1 ultra-wideband

Capacity: 32GB

Memory: 1GB

Platform: watchOS 9

Health metrics: 3rd-gen heart rate sensor, temperature sensing, ECG, blood oxygen, workouts, fall/crash detection; emergency SOS, international emergency calling

Connectivity: GPS/GPS + cellular; Wi-Fi, LTE, Bluetooth 5.3, NFC (Apple Pay)

Durability: IP6X, water resistant up to 50m, dust resistant

Battery: 308mAh Li-ion, up to 18h, wireless charging

Cards: eSIM

Finishes: Aluminium – midnight, Product Red, silver, starlight; stainless steel – gold, graphite, silver

In the box: Watch Series 8, magnetic-to-USB-C charging cable, band/loop

Price: Starts at Dh1,599 (41mm) / Dh1,999 (45mm)

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Xpanceo

Started: 2018

Founders: Roman Axelrod, Valentyn Volkov

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Smart contact lenses, augmented/virtual reality

Funding: $40 million

Investor: Opportunity Venture (Asia)

UAE athletes heading to Paris 2024

Equestrian

Abdullah Humaid Al Muhairi, Abdullah Al Marri, Omar Al Marzooqi, Salem Al Suwaidi, and Ali Al Karbi (four to be selected).

Judo
Men: Narmandakh Bayanmunkh (66kg), Nugzari Tatalashvili (81kg), Aram Grigorian (90kg), Dzhafar Kostoev (100kg), Magomedomar Magomedomarov (+100kg); women's Khorloodoi Bishrelt (52kg).

Cycling
Safia Al Sayegh (women's road race).

Swimming

Men: Yousef Rashid Al Matroushi (100m freestyle); women: Maha Abdullah Al Shehi (200m freestyle).

Athletics

Maryam Mohammed Al Farsi (women's 100 metres).

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Haltia.ai
Started: 2023
Co-founders: Arto Bendiken and Talal Thabet
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: AI
Number of employees: 41
Funding: About $1.7 million
Investors: Self, family and friends

Tips for taking the metro

- set out well ahead of time

- make sure you have at least Dh15 on you Nol card, as there could be big queues for top-up machines

- enter the right cabin. The train may be too busy to move between carriages once you're on

- don't carry too much luggage and tuck it under a seat to make room for fellow passengers

Our family matters legal consultant

Name: Hassan Mohsen Elhais

Position: legal consultant with Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultants.

Our legal consultant

Name: Dr Hassan Mohsen Elhais

Position: legal consultant with Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultants.

Company Profile

Company: Astra Tech
Started: March 2022
Based: Dubai
Founder: Abdallah Abu Sheikh
Industry: technology investment and development
Funding size: $500m

Company Profile

Company name: Hoopla
Date started: March 2023
Founder: Jacqueline Perrottet
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 10
Investment stage: Pre-seed
Investment required: $500,000

Earth under attack: Cosmic impacts throughout history

4.5 billion years ago: Mars-sized object smashes into the newly-formed Earth, creating debris that coalesces to form the Moon

- 66 million years ago: 10km-wide asteroid crashes into the Gulf of Mexico, wiping out over 70 per cent of living species – including the dinosaurs.

50,000 years ago: 50m-wide iron meteor crashes in Arizona with the violence of 10 megatonne hydrogen bomb, creating the famous 1.2km-wide Barringer Crater

1490: Meteor storm over Shansi Province, north-east China when large stones “fell like rain”, reportedly leading to thousands of deaths.  

1908: 100-metre meteor from the Taurid Complex explodes near the Tunguska river in Siberia with the force of 1,000 Hiroshima-type bombs, devastating 2,000 square kilometres of forest.

1998: Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 breaks apart and crashes into Jupiter in series of impacts that would have annihilated life on Earth.

-2013: 10,000-tonne meteor burns up over the southern Urals region of Russia, releasing a pressure blast and flash that left over 1600 people injured.

UNpaid bills:

Countries with largest unpaid bill for UN budget in 2019

USA – $1.055 billion

Brazil – $143 million

Argentina – $52 million

Mexico – $36 million

Iran – $27 million

Israel – $18 million

Venezuela – $17 million

Korea – $10 million

Countries with largest unpaid bill for UN peacekeeping operations in 2019

USA – $2.38 billion

Brazil – $287 million

Spain – $110 million

France – $103 million

Ukraine – $100 million

 


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