Black sites from Guantanamo to Chicago

Published: March 23, 2015
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The writer has a Master’s degree in conflict-resolution from the Monterey Institute of International Studies in California and blogs at http://coffeeshopdiplomat.wordpress.com

The writer has a Master’s degree in conflict-resolution from the Monterey Institute of International Studies in California and blogs at http://coffeeshopdiplomat.wordpress.com

“The real danger in allowing practices like Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib is the fact that they always creep into other aspects,” said Tracy Siska, who works with the Chicago Justice Project, a non-profit organisation that analyses data from criminal justice agencies. Spencer Ackerman, reporter at The Guardian, wrote a series of articles on a secret interrogation facility in Chicago likening it to a black site. While it is common knowledge that following 9/11, the US had black sites in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Egypt and numerous other countries for rendition purposes, it is indeed a surprise for many Americans to hear about a similar facility on home soil. The US rendered suspects abroad for interrogation by the CIA in order to bypass US constitutional law which guarantees certain protections to suspects such as the right to remain silent and access to lawyers. Now it appears that local law enforcement has been empowered to hold suspects in secret facilities of their own while ignoring their right to counsel.

Ackerman wrote about the “Guantanamo-style” tactics used at this facility such as isolation, deprivation of food and no outside contact. Unlike other police precincts in the US, if a suspect is taken to Homan Square, he or she is not booked hence, no searchable data is entered recording the arrest. This, in turn, prevents lawyers or family members from finding the whereabouts of their clients or relatives. Once word got out about Homan Square, lawyers told The Guardian that they were often turned away when they sought to make contact with their clients who were being held there.

Politicians and civil rights groups in the US are in disbelief about the methods used at Homan Square. More people keep coming forward and speaking about their experience of being “held hostage” at this facility. Just last week, three men filed a federal lawsuit against Chicago, claiming to have been unjustly detained in 2009. This is a sensitive issue since the current mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, is up for re-election in a few weeks and he has not been willing to make any statement about the subject. Emanuel was already facing a tough re-election due to debate over police tactics before Homan. The fallout is not just limited to the mayor’s office. Nicolas Roti, the police commander over Homan forces, resigned as this week’s lawsuit was announced.

Most of the US citizenry has been silent on Guantanamo and stories of extraordinary rendition. Those are perceived as other people’s problems and thus nobody has been held properly accountable. Now that Americans are facing similarly unsavoury tactics closer to home, there appears to be a shift developing. Outrage against militarised police abuse is ramping up and is being aided by the ongoing emergence of evidence of unwarranted mass surveillance. These frustrations are likely to have played a part in two policemen being shot during an anti-police demonstration in the state of Missouri on March 11.

Published in The Express Tribune, March  23rd,  2015.

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Reader Comments (8)

  • Sexton Blake
    Mar 23, 2015 - 10:56AM

    At last the truth about US brutality is starting to emerge. What is even worse is the fact that puppet state such as Pakistan, Australia and Canada have acquiesced to something that no government with the slightest amount of morality should have done so. Recommend

  • Rex Minor
    Mar 23, 2015 - 9:45PM

    Most of the US citizenry has been silent on Guantanamo and stories of extraordinary rendition..

    This shOuld not surprise the author since most of American citizenry on average have a low IQ and in terms of knowledge is below that a European citizen. Their prison population is the largest versus that of the European Union and their present and previous administrations systematicaly tortured prison inmates and violated the American as well as the Internatonal laws.

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • woody
    Mar 24, 2015 - 12:19AM

    @Rex Minor:

    This shOuld not surprise the author
    since most of American citizenry on
    average have a low IQ

    My recollection is that the average USA IQ is 98 – that’s 8 points more than the highest Muslim nation – Pakistan’s IQ comes in at 84.
    .
    http://www.photius.com/rankings/nationaliqscorescountryranks.htmlRecommend

  • Mar 24, 2015 - 3:50AM

    @Rex Minor:
    But,..but..you are from FATA. A asylum seeker to boot.
    You are not European.Recommend

  • Rex Minor
    Mar 24, 2015 - 2:44PM

    @woody:
    My recollection is that the average USA IQ is 98 – that’s 8 points more than the highest Muslim nation – Pakistan’s IQ comes in at 84..
    http://www.photius.com/rankings/nationaliqscorescountryranks.html

    These statistics must be read with a pinch of salt advises the author since they are based on faulty information such as under age children in Egypt and inclusion of foreign researchers in the USA study , some of whom were awarded Nobel prize.

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • Rex Minor
    Mar 24, 2015 - 2:51PM

    @Gopeet:
    For your information, the people from FATA have a higher IQ than that of the average American or even average European, though I have not the honour to be one of them!

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • numbersnumbers
    Mar 25, 2015 - 3:20AM

    @Rex Minor:
    You somehow neglected to provide credible reference to support your delusion that “people of FATA have a higher IQ than the average American or even average European”!!
    No doubt you will also tell us that there is more than 100% literacy in FATA, and that it is home to the majority of the world’s Nobel prize winners!Recommend

  • Rex Minor
    Mar 25, 2015 - 3:12PM

    @numbersnumbers:
    You are a man of numbers and should know that education has no relevance with IQ. There are quite a number of youth which is employed by Siemens, the electronic coropration who are providing IT programs without ever leaving their dwellings in the waziristan and Tirah valley, which is constantly under areal bombardment by the Pakistan Royal air force..

    Rex MinorRecommend

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