Shaker Aamer’s 3000th Day in Guantánamo

Andy Worthington reports that Shaker Aamer (who I think remains detained largely because he is a witness to the murder of three detainees, we already know the Whitehouse knows the vast majority are innocent and keeps them shut up to cover its ass) is today spending his 3000th day in Gitmo. An article in the Wandsworth Guardian by Paul Cahalan, summing up the situation so far, part of a series by Cahalan, via Andy Worthington- see this exclusive interview with David Miliband, and also see here, here, here and here.

He claims he has been tortured, and that British Secret Service agents were complicit in that. He is viewed as a key witness in the case of another Brit who claims he was tortured and is also believed to be witness to the deaths of three detainees in June 2006 – which US authorities say were suicides but others claim were murders by US interrogators.

Foreign Secretary David Miliband said the case was being “actively engaged”, and at the Foreign Office meeting Mr Lewis told Mrs Aamer: “It is the Government’s clear objective to get him back to the UK. We don’t shout about it because that won’t help”.

So what will it take for the Government to shout?

How about eight years detention without charge, how about him being held despite being cleared for release by a US detainee board in 2007, or him reportedly being held in isolation for nearly three years?

How about him being tortured, how about him being denied basic human rights and access to his lawyers?

How about the only allegations connecting him to torture coming from informants who have already been discredited in other cases and statements he gave to interrogators after torture?

How about death or the worries over the toll of the years of torture and isolation must have taken on him?

How about a former US colonel, a Chief of Staff to US Secretary of State Colin Powell, saying President Bush kept detainees in Guantanamo despite knowing they were innocent?

How about the notion Mr Mickum, Mr Aamer’s US lawyer saying “If he ends up dying down there, I have to say the British will have blood on their hands”.

A change of government that we will have by this time next week (unless weeks of coalition haggling ensue, hmmm) may open up a new environment to pressure for his reales, not that I think any administration will be less keen on using torture and covering up when Washington & our spooks tell them to, but because they can blame this all on the last lot and gain some political capital… perhaps. However the basic fact he is witness to war crimes makes his silence and incarceration a very attractive option for authoritarians in both governments, whatever their party make up. Also via Andy Worthington’s blog Moazzam Begg tells of a message he has received from Shaker-

When I speak to former detainees they say I have a message from Shaker. I ask how is he, he has gone through all sorts of trauma for standing up for the rights of prisoners.

Recently some prisoners were released to Albania, and Shaker sent a message [often messages are shouted across the camp] saying he appreciates all the campaigning and he wants to come back home.

He is seeing all these people released and he is still being held.

People have been released to Ireland, Portugal – detainees who have no connection to those countries, being accepted as refugees in Europe and elsewhere. For Shaker it is devastating.

His family hasn’t received a letter from him for a very long time. I think about him every day. I was there for three years – he has been there nearly three times that.

I’m not sure about his routine, it changes, but based upon what I know, his routine is, he would wake up in the morning, have morning prayer, have breakfast handed over to him through a beanhole in the door.

I believe he is in the maximum security camp, camp 6, which has all isolated cells. Which would mean he spends most of the time in that cell with no communication with any human being and that they would take him out into the recreation yard at the end of the day where he would see a little bit of light.

There will be [electric] light in his cell 24 hours-a-day. They may dim it a little bit at night. He will be sleeping on a metal bunk. His physical make-up would change. Shaker was a big man but from what I have been told he has lost a great deal of weight. His mental state is up and down but remains strong and that is one of the reasons he continues to got punished.

Despite what he has gone through he still stands up for people’s rights. The prisoners love him as an individual. He is communicable and funny and talk with the Americans on their own terms. He will speak out and that is why there is a fear he won’t return.

I know he knows enough that would embarrass British and Americans, he was involved with high level discussions with the colonels about breaking hunger strikes and he has information about intelligence services that people don’t want heard.

All basic human rights only get given to you as much as you co-operate. You get no doctor no proper communication with your family – you give them to the worst convicted prisoners on the planet, but not those in Guantanamo.”

Somebody has to recognise this is wrong and common sense has to prevail…

Shaker has never been tried, let alone charged. It makes no logic or sense, there is no justice.

The campaign to free Shaker needs to get that out.

Of course there are people who latched onto Gita Sahgal’s political attack on Amnesty who would prefer you did not hear such messages. Join the Facebook Group Save Shaker Aamer Campaign and subscibe to Andy Worthingotn’s blog, where he says-

On Friday, I’ll be writing about how those of us concerned with this ongoing travesty of justice can put pressure on the new government

Indeed whatever the result, we shall abide!

Posted in Human Rights, Torture. Tags: . Comments Off on Shaker Aamer’s 3000th Day in Guantánamo

Metastasising

(Reuters) – Canada’s minority Conservative government is locked in a power struggle with opposition members of Parliament over allegations that Canadian soldiers left Afghan detainees open to abuse, and the confrontation might just trigger an early election. Last December, the House of Commons, where the Conservatives have a minority of members, ordered the government to turn over uncensored files on people detained by the military in Afghanistan. The government refused, citing national security.

What happens next depends on House of Commons speaker Peter Milliken, who is due to rule shortly on who has the right to control the documents. If he backs Parliament and the government refuses to obey, the House could vote nonconfidence in the government, and that would trigger an election. The government could also refer the matter to the Supreme Court of Canada, asking it to judge who has priority, or it could set up a special commission. Opposition legislators insist Parliament is supreme and say the government’s behavior shows too much power is concentrated in the office of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who they portray as being obsessed with secrecy.

“It is one of the fundamental roles of the House of Commons to hold the government to account … it is a basic tenet of our democracy,” said Jack Harris, a member of the left-leaning New Democrats.

Government officials say Canada’s relations with major allies could be seriously harmed if sensitive details leaked out from the documents.

Harper & his neocon cabal have already prorogued parliament which ably demonstrates the neoconservative contempt for…well anything they do not like, democracy, the law, not killing over a million people. This will be remarkable, either torture causes the fall of Harper or it pushes Canada further into an authoritarian ally of the Empire. Going from the UK experience I would not lay bets on the former, none of the Big 3 deviate significantly from war-on-terror dogma & national security fetishism and the continuing cover up of our torture regime has not been a major issue in the General Election. Unless the next Cameron poster calls for water-boarding people on benefits. And you know right there, that such a slight joke can be made shows the reality of 2010, torture is a part of life, people generally expect people our governments claim are very evil indeed will be tortured, protesters & Muslim looking males will on occasion be killed by police and the murder of Afghans is somehow the best method of keeping the streets safe in the homeland.

Posted in Miscellaneous, Torture. Tags: . Comments Off on Metastasising

That ‘No Torture’ Memorandum Scam Again

Those cover-your-ass pieces of worthless paper the UK use to pretend they are not outsourcing torture and in which we are a world leader, this time in Afghanistan-

RAWA:- Britain ‘hands over prisoners in Afghanistan to face torture’. British troops are handing over Taliban suspects to the Afghan security service to face “horrible abuse” and torture, the High Court has been told. By Duncan Gardham

Government denials of such abuse are the result of a “head in the sand” attitude, partly borne out of a close intelligence relationship with the Afghans, the judges were told.

They are the latest allegations of British complicity in torture following investigations into MI5 and MI6.
Human rights lawyers have assembled details of nine cases involving allegations of beatings, sleep deprivation, stress positions, electrocution, and whipping with rubber cables.

They are arguing that Britain has breached the Human Rights Act by handing over prisoners to a country known to participate in torture.

They say the Afghan National Directorate of Security (NDS), the domestic security service, had a reputation for mistreating prisoners and British officers should have known what was happening.

The Ministry of Defence is opposing the application for judicial review and Bob Ainsworth, the Defence Secretary, has said that detention is an important and necessary ability for British forces operating in Afghanistan, and safeguards are in place to prevent mistreatment.

But Michael Fordham QC told the court that the Ministry of Defence and Foreign Office were seeking to protect their detainee transfer policy by adopting the approach “of seeing no evil, hearing no evil and speaking no evil”.

In legal documents put before the court he said there are many reputable reports that torture and ill-treatment is “endemic” in the NDS “even at a very high level”, which has been described as a relic from the days of Soviet occupation.

The NDS was said to have been created in the image of the KGB and allegedly still has a reputation for torturing and killing.

Mr Fordham said the British government had chosen to rely on a “manifestly unsafe” memorandum of understanding with the Afghan authorities that international human rights obligations would be observed by the NDS.

But Britain adopted a “head in the sand” because it did not want to uncover evidence of human rights abuses and therefore refused to investigate thoroughly, he said, adding that the fact the NDS supplied intelligence to the UK was no secret.

The Obama Torture Regime

Hilary Andersson BBC News, Bagram:- Afghan prisoners are being abused in a “secret jail” at Bagram airbase, according to nine witnesses whose stories the BBC has documented. The abuses are all said to have taken place since US President Barack Obama was elected, promising to end torture.

The US military has denied the existence of a secret detention site and promised to look into allegations. Bagram was the site of a controversial jail holding hundreds of inmates, who have now been moved to another complex. The old prison was notorious for allegations of prisoner torture and abuse. But witnesses told the BBC in interviews or written testimony that abuses continue in a hidden facility.

“They call it the Black Hole,” said Sher Agha who spent six days in the facility last autumn. “When they released us they told us we should not tell our stories to outsiders because that will harm us.”

Sher Agha and others we interviewed complained their cells were very cold. “When I wanted to sleep and started shivering with cold I started reciting the holy Koran,” he said. But sleep, according to the prisoners interviewed, is deliberately prevented in this detention site.

“I could not sleep, nobody could sleep because there was a machine that was making noise,” said Mirwais, who said he was held in the secret jail for 24 days. There was a small camera in my cell, and if you were sleeping they’d come in and disturb you,” he added.

The prisoners, who were interviewed separately, all told very similar stories. Most of them said they had been beaten by American soldiers at the point of arrest before being taken to the prison. Mirwais had half a row of teeth missing, which he said was from being struck with the butt of a gun by an American soldier. No-one said they were visited by the International Committee of the Red Cross during their detention at the site, and they all said that their families did not know where they were.

In the small concrete cells, the prisoners said, a light was on all the time. They said they could not tell if it was night or day and described this as very disturbing. Mirwais said he was made to dance to music by American soldiers every time he wanted to use the toilet. The ex-prisoners said they were imprisoned at the secret jail before being taken to the main detention centre at the Bagram airbase, a new complex called The Detention Facility in Parwan.

Bagram’s prisoners were moved to the Parwan complex from the old notorious Bagram prison site on the airbase earlier this year. In 2002, two prisoners were killed in the Bagram prison while in US custody after being suspended from the ceilings of their cells and brutally beaten. The BBC was allowed into the new Bagram prison for an hour. This was one of the first opportunities any outsider has had to set eyes on Bagram’s interned prisoners since a jail was first established at Bagram soon after 9/11. In the new jail, prisoners were being moved around in wheelchairs with goggles and headphones on. The goggles were blacked out, and the purpose of the headphones was to block out all sound. Each prisoner was handcuffed and had their legs shackled.

Prisoners are kept in 56 cells, which the prisoners refer to as “cages”. The front of the cells are made of mesh, the ceiling is clear, and the other three walls are solid. Guards can see down into the cells above. The BBC was told by the military to wear protective eye glasses whilst walking past the mesh cells as prisoners sometimes throw excrement or semen at the guards. Prisoner accounts we logged painted a much better picture of the Parwan Detention Facility.

The US military itself has admitted that about 80% of those at Bagram are probably not hardened terrorists. It is the process of giving every detainee an internal military trial of sorts, called a Detainee Review Board. The prisoners are represented by soldiers who are not lawyers.

“To this date, no prisoner has ever seen a lawyer in Bagram”, said Tina Foster, who represents several of Bagram’s prisoners in cases she has filed in on their behalf in the US. Guantanamo Bay’s prisoners are able to see their lawyers. About 100 prisoners have been released through this process, but due to an increased intake, the number of prisoners at Parwan is now 800, up from about 650 in September 2009.

The BBC put the allegations of ongoing abuses as a secret site on the airbase to the US military at Bagram. The military categorically denied the existence of a secret detention site. “I’ve never heard of it. This is the only detention facility in Afghanistan” said Vice Admiral Robert Harward who is in charge of the Detention Facility in Parwan. The US military promised to investigate any allegations of abuse.

UK Is Worst For Making Fake ‘No Torture’ Deals

The UK has today been singled out for heavy criticism in a new report from Amnesty International on the practice among European countries of striking “no torture” deals with foreign countries as a means to deport people it labels a threat to national security.

In a 36-page report – Dangerous Deals: Europe’s reliance on ‘diplomatic assurances’ against torture – Amnesty documents how European governments are attempting to send foreigners alleged to be security threats to countries where they’re at risk of torture or other ill-treatment in exchange for unreliable, unenforceable “diplomatic assurances” that they will be treated humanely.

Describing the UK as “the most influential and aggressive” promoter of the policy of seeking “diplomatic assurances”, Amnesty is calling on the UK and 11 other European countries to immediately end the practice.

The call comes as the Special Immigration Appeals Commission is set to deliberate on the case of an Ethiopian national threatened with deportation based on a “memorandum of understanding” between the UK and Ethiopia that purportedly promises that the man will not be tortured on return. However, Amnesty has documented serious human rights abuses in Ethiopia and believes that diplomatic deals with Ethiopia are an extremely unreliable guide to future treatment in that country.

MORE

PDF here

Torture Bleeds

As no single source includes the full story I have edited together the following from current reports because all the details are relevant to why this has caught my attention-

Two policemen were jailed for 18 months today for inflicting “deliberate cruelty” on a 19-year-old woman in custody in an incident described by a judge as a “little short of torture”. Pc Jason Hanvey, 37, and Sgt Andrew Kennedy, 51, showed “appalling and inexcusable conduct” at Collyhurst police station in 2008, a jury heard.

The incident began in October 2008 when Miss Keigher and Jamie Lee Hall, also now 19, were arrested -on suspicion of carrying out a racially aggravated assault- following an incident in Piccadilly Gardens in Manchester city centre. Both girls was taken to Collyhurst police station and were being booked in when the ordeal began.

Hanvey taunted her that he earned more money than her and that she was on benefits.

When they arrived Miss Hall complained that officers were being so rough they were in danger of breaking her arm. Kennedy responded by saying: “I think you’ve lost, don’t you? Who gives a —-?”

PC Jason Hanvey, 37, attacked 19-year-old Amy Keigher at a police station and threatened to rip her ‘f*****g skull off’. Hanvey grabbed her by the hair and forced her head down on to a desk -which caused her to complain the police were “pathetic”. He then brought the handcuffs over her head from behind while she sobbed in pain, she is searched and the girl can be heard asking him to let go of her. In CCTV pictures taken in the police station, he is seen to hold her in that position for more than a minute. While Keigher sobbed in pain, Kennedy stood nearby showing “complete indifference” and appeared to condone Hanvey’s actions. When she pleaded that Hanvey was hurting her, the custody sergeant retorted: ‘If you misbehave you will be hurt. It is the technique we are trained to do – hurt.’ Before Hanvey orders the traumatised teenager to beg for mercy by saying: ‘Pretty please’.

Kennedy later failed to inform her of her right to both free independent legal advice and to inform someone that she was being held in a police station. When she asked for a phone call he refused, expressing doubt that anyone would be concerned for her and saying he did not want her to wake anyone up at 2am.

The court heard the two suspects later pleaded guilty in court to an offence of common assault and although Miss Keigher did initially make a complaint about her treatment by police which resulted in the investigation into the officers, she later withdrew it.

Detectives passed the matter to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) which led an investigation before it referred the case to the Crown Prosecution Service.

The police refused to release the CCTV footage of the incident to the media, “to ensure future disciplinary hearings are not compromised”.

The judge told Hanvey: “You could and should have stopped what as happening. That was your job and you allowed Hanvey to act in the way he did. Moreover, you appeared to approve of what he did by going on to deny her er right to a telephone call. That is why I’m giving the same sentence to both of you.” Judge Gee said Hanvey’s actions could be described as “absolute thuggery”. Referring to his conviction in 1998, he went on: “Despite the age of that conviction, I regard it as a relevant fact in your case. Cases of assault by police officers are difficult to detect and are always regarded as serious when they are detected”.

The October 2008 attack at Collyhurst police station came 10 years after Hanvy was convicted for punching a prisoner in the face at the city centre Bootle Street station but was allowed to keep his job. He was convicted of assault by magistrates in Manchester and then faced a disciplinary hearing in February 1999 which was conducted personally by the then chief constable Sir David Wilmot. Sir David concluded the offence was “out of character” and that the suspect had contributed in some part to the incident, Manchester Crown Court heard. The Judge said, “On May 15th 1998 you struck a man, Mark Hewitt, in the face causing injuries. You denied the offence and were convicted for common assault. Somewhat remarkably you were allowed to keep your job.”

In a statement, Greater Manchester Police said: “The offence in question occurred 12 years ago and, following the resulting misconduct hearing before the Chief Constable at the time, he was retained by the force due to his previous good character. Thereafter the officer’s behaviour was monitored for a suitable period of time before, like anyone else, he was deemed suitable for deployment in any operational role.”

Hanvey has now resigned from GMP following his conviction for using unlawful force, while Kennedy, of Atherton, has retired after his conviction for failing to prevent such force.

Judge Gee said to the pair: “During the time we have had together I have detected in neither of you not one hint of remorse or regret for what happened that night. In the witness box you sought to justify what you did in what I regard as an arrogant fashion.”

Members of both officers’ families were in court and one woman gasped “no” as the judge imposed his sentence.

[from:- Manchester Evening News, Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, The Daily Mail, Fleetwood Weekly News, BBC]

I do not believe this was an aberration by the officers, neither reacted to the others abuse with shock or telling them to stop it, especially with Hanvey’s record the Sgt didn’t even warn him off so he didn’t get into trouble again (let alone because it was wrong). Also it says she was searched, so did a WPC do that and thus another officer who failed to stop it or did the male officers search her, while she was held in a stress position (so beloved of torturers) and taunted while she begged for the pain to stop, in which case I find it hard not to think some element of sexual sadism (clearly of the non consensual variety) may be involved. In concert with the power taunting over relative wealth and status. Also please note the current police rigid handcuffs made by Hiatt (who also supply Gitmo) –

Amnesty International has also criticised Hiatt, claiming that implements made by it have been used by despotic regimes around the world in the torture and incarceration of prisoners. Hiatt refused to say how many pairs of handcuffs it makes for police forces in Britain but confirmed it was by far the biggest supplier.

British police prefer rigid handcuffs or speedcuffs, which are hinged in the middle and said in the Hiatt catalogue to offer “greater subject control”. The more traditional chain-linked handcuffs have been supplied by Hiatt to law enforcement agencies in other parts of the world.

They are an innovation that along with the removal of our right to silence signalled the slow drift into a more oppressive security force role of the police. The refusal to allow a phone call and get a brief are predictable in these thuggish abuses of power. As is her later dropping the complaint which suggests to me there might have been intimidation. But for them it was too late, the detectives kept the case going, so good for them and amazingly the IPCC managed to get a prosecution with the video evidence (something they apparently can’t manage with the Met). There is just no way this behaviour came out of nowhere and as the previous conviction shows there is form, Hanvey and Kennedy’s attitude did not magically appear that night, this is an expression of how they relate to people of less power, they taunt and abuse them, there is also a misogynist undercurrent. Certainly it is shocking for the families of the officers, the one woman gasping ‘no’ suggests support for them but I would venture to suggest there will be some quiet sighs of relief among people who have had to live with these men’s behaviour.

Torture is not new or rare in police settings, the development of torture is in part because democracies enact state violence on its citizens but the cultural and political climate demands this is done in such ways as to leave little evidence or permanent -physical- damage. However the war-on-terror era has normalised torture, has damaged work towards better human rights, in this case it creates more room for people like these officers to operate in, it is more permissive of pain compliance (hello Taser Inc!), more unquestioning of authoritarian memes. It is intriguing the Judge saw fit to say ‘Cases of assault by police officers are difficult to detect‘. However there is hope in the actions of the detectives, who did not cover up for their colleagues, who were rightly disgusted with these thugs and kept the case moving forward, of course we should not expect anything less, the attack and torture was on CCTV and for once the camera did not mysteriously *malfunction that night* or some other scam. Maybe it was just they were took stupid & overconfident and ran out of friends in the force. Despotic regimes will staff their security forces with bullies and sociopaths, they are both useful for controlling the populace and in failing to be good enough at police work to catch the serious criminals who make up the regime and it’s cronies. Ridding the police of bullies like this is a small step to avoid that future, even if our elections suggest otherwise.

PS. I would add treatment like this goes on in our migrant detention camps and the govt with a nod and a wink approves it.

Posted in Authoritarianism, Human Rights, Torture, War On Terror Era. Tags: , . Comments Off on Torture Bleeds

UK Taser Use More Than Doubles

…new statistics record the use of the devices for the third quarter of 2009 and show they were used 402 times by specially trained units from July to September, up from 169 in the previous quarter. Officers discharged them 67 times over the period, compared to 36 for the preceding period. Units have now used Tasers 1,669 times since the trial began in September 2007 and discharged them 293 times.

According to the press release

The rise in the use of Tasers this quarter is largely down to updated figures of around 200 deployments by the Metropolitan Police going back over previous quarters. This also accounts for the rise in Taser discharges.

But please note-

We cannot be certain that historically all forces have recorded Taser usage in the same way, although this has been mitigated by ACPO issuing clear instructions to forces on reporting procedures

I think it is always worth remembering ACPO is a private company run by the country’s senior police chiefs and as such beyond the normal remit of freedom of information laws, it means our police forces are part privatised already. They share intelligence with other corporations and government and consider environmental, human rights & left wing activists as worthy of  spying upon as NeoNazis, which tells us something about their ideological -corporate- centre of gravity.

PDF showing quarterly statistics up to 30 September 2009 for Taser use –

  • in England and Wales
  • by authorised firearms officers outside of a firearms authority
  • by specially trained units.

Also the terms of Taser use-

  • Taser ‘use’ includes any time a Taser is drawn, aimed, red-dotted, arced, drive-stunned, or discharged.
  • Drawn: Officer draws Taser which a person could perceive as a ‘use of force’ whether or not accompanied by a verbal warning.
  • Aimed: The Taser is aimed at a person but the safety is not removed (i.e. the red dot laser sight is not activated).
  • Red dot: The safety is removed and the red dot laser sight is activated and placed on a subject, but the Taser is not fired.
  • Arced: The Taser is sparked without a cartridge being fired.
  • Drive Stun: The Taser is pressed against a person and cycled — this imparts a shock without firing the probes/barbs.
  • Discharge: The Taser is fired and the probes/barbs are discharged towards the subject.

Meanwhile even specially trained officers kill their own colleagues, albeit with a shotgun –taken off the safety catch on his gun, acted “instinctively” and pulled the trigger – given the known lethality of the ‘nonlethal‘ Taser this is not reassuring especially as Tasers are now routinely issued to non expert officers. Yes, better to be instinctively shot with a Taser than a firearm but in truth neither are in practice non-lethal. The evidence of use shows what Tasers do is not replace firearms, but create whole new categories of use where previously no weapon would have been used and they mainstream into everyday civil policing the concept of pain compliance. It becomes a shoot first ask questions later paradigm because the ‘shoot’ is perceived and promoted as a harmless use of stun technology. There is a good article- The soft-kill solution: New frontiers in pain compliance By Ando Arike, unfortunately behind Harper’s pay wall about the normalisation of pain compliance to deal with the social breakdown incurred due to Neoliberal ‘consensus’ politics, some excerpts via Digby

As communications advances in the years since have increasingly exposed such violence, governments have realized that the public’s perception of injury and bloodshed must be carefully managed. “Even the lawful application of force can be misrepresented to or misunderstood by the public,” warns a 1997 joint report from the Pentagon and the Justice Department.

“More than ever, the police and the military must be highly discreet when applying force.” It is a need for discretion rooted in one of the oldest fears of the ruling class—the volatility of the mob—and speaks to rising anxieties about crowd control at a time when global capitalism begins to run up against long-predicted limits to growth. Each year, some 76 million people join our current 6.7 billion in a world of looming resource scarcities, ecological collapse, and glaring inequalities of wealth; and elites are preparing to defend their power and profits. In this new era of triage, as democratic institutions and social safety nets are increasingly considered dispensable luxuries, the task of governance will be to lower the political and economic expectations of the masses without inciting fullfledged revolt. Non-lethal weapons promise to enhance what military theorists call “the political utility of force,” allowing dissent to be suppressed inconspicuously.

The next hurdle for non-lethality, as Colonel Hymes’s comments suggest,will be the introduction of socalled second-generation non-lethal weapons into everyday policing and crowd control. Although “first-generation” weapons like rubber bullets and pepper spray have gained a certain acceptance, despite their many drawbacks, exotic technologies like the Active Denial System invariably cause public alarm. Nevertheless, the trend is now away from chemical and “kinetic” weapons that rely on physical trauma and toward post-kinetic weapons that, as researchers put it, “induce behavioral modification” more discreetly. One indication that the public may come to accept these new weapons has been the successful introduction of the Taser—apparently, even the taboo on electroshock can be overcome given the proper political climate…

Originally sold as an alternative to firearms, the Taser today has become an all-purpose tool for what police call “pain compliance.” Mounting evidence shows that the weapon is routinely used on people who pose little threat: those in handcuffs, in jail cells, in wheelchairs and hospital beds; schoolchildren, pregnant women, the mentally disturbed, the elderly; irate shoppers, obnoxious lawyers, argumentative drivers, nonviolent protesters—in fact, YouTube now has an entire category of videos in which people are Tasered for dubious reasons. In late 2007, public outrage flared briefly over the two most famous such videos—those of college student Andrew Meyer “drivestunned” at a John Kerry speech, and of a distraught Polish immigrant, Robert Dziekanski, dying after repeated Taser jolts at Vancouver airport—but police and weapon were found blameless in both incidents. Strangely, YouTube’s videos may be promoting wider acceptance of the Taser; it appears that many viewers watch them for entertainment.

The technology now exists for drone launched multiple Taser cartridges, protest is already ‘kettled’ or restricted to ‘free speech zones’ police assaults and murders even when caught on tape do not result in a change of policy by government, sooner or later these ‘nonlethal’ techs will be applied to demonstrations and protests. They have already been tested in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, note what that indicates about the attitude of the government to the governed, domestic extremists, insurgents & enemy combatants the lot of us.