Decades after torture allegations were first leveled against former Chicago police commander Jon Burge, a federal jury has found him guilty of lying about torturing prisoners into making confessions. Burge has long been accused of overseeing the systematic torture of more than 100 African American men. Two years ago federal prosecutors finally brought charges against Burge—not for torture, but for lying about it. On Monday afternoon, after a five-week trial, Jon Burge was found guilty on all counts of perjury and obstruction of justice for lying about the abuse. He could face up to forty-five years in prison.
Never mind what has happened in Abu Ghraib and Gitmo, as of Tuesday a Torture is headed for Jail in America and a 20 Year Campaign vicious of violence against innocent men.
This quote from one of the torture victims, where he nearly broke down with emotion was frankly hard to watch...
MARK CLEMENTS: These people stole my [bleep] life! I hate to tell you the truth. I sat in a prison cell, and I prayed for this day! Today is a victory for every poor person. I was sixteen years old! This is America! Sixteen years old! What are we going to do about other people who are sitting in those prisons? And I’m sorry if I’m offending anyone, but it’s out!
AMY GOODMAN: This was Mark Clements’s response when reporters asked him how he felt.
MARK CLEMENTS: Relieved that finally at least one of these people are now going to finally feel the pain. My daughter is twenty-nine years old. I missed all those years with my daughter, sitting in them prison cells for a crime I did not commit. I do not feel sorry for Jon Burge. That’s all I have to say.
Yes, what are we going to do about all the other people sitting in our prisons based on falsified evidence and falsified coerced confessions?
According to the Innocence Project at least 25% of the people who've been exonerated from U.S. Prisons as a result of DNA evidence had provided false confessions.
Regardless of the age, capacity or state of the confessor, what they often have in common is a decision – at some point during the interrogation process – that confessing will be more beneficial to them than continuing to maintain their innocence.
From threats to torture
Sometimes law enforcement use harsh interrogation tactics with uncooperative suspects. But some police officers, convinced of a suspect’s guilt, occasionally use tactics so persuasive that an innocent person feels compelled to confess. Some suspects have confessed to avoid physical harm or discomfort. Others are told they will be convicted with or without a confession, and that their sentence will be more lenient if they confess. Some are told a confession is the only way to avoid the death penalty.
Oh, and by the way, most of the people - as many as 72% - who we've been holding in Abu Ghraib, Gitmo and Bagram AFB are largely innocent too.
Salon - The Miami Herald’s Carol Rosenberg reports that, this week, yet another federal judge has ordered the Obama administration to release yet another Guantanamo detainee on the ground that there is no persuasive evidence to justify his detention. The latest detainee to win his habeas hearing, Mohammed Hassen, is a 27-year old Yemeni imprisoned by the U.S. without charges for 8 years, since he was 19 years old. He has “long claimed he was captured in Pakistan studying the Quran and had no ties to al Qaida,” and that “he had been unjustly rounded up in a March 2002 dragnet by Pakistani security forces in the city of Faisalabad that targeted Arabs.” Hassen is now the third consecutive detainee ordered freed who was rounded up in that same raid. The Obama DOJ opposed his petition even though the Bush administration had cleared him for release in 2007. He has now spent roughly 30% of his life in a cage at Guantanamo.
Will it take another 20 years for people such as Mohammed Hassen to finally have the justice that Mark Clements just received?