By Janet Phelan
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer, has issued a report which gives official acknowledgement—possibly for the first time—to aspects of a torture program that has been launched covertly in the US and elsewhere.
But you wouldn’t know it if you read mainstream media. There has been not a word concerning Melzer’s report in the Associated Press, Reuters, the NY Times, the Washington Post, ad nauseum.
The report, entitled “Torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment,” deals primarily with delineating the differences and commonalities between physical and psychological torture. In so doing, the report devotes a section to what Melzer is calling “cyber torture.” Melzer writes:
State, corporate actors and organized criminals not only have the capacity to conduct cyber operations inflicting severe suffering on countless individuals, but may well decide to do so for any of the purposes of torture.
In a nod to the multiplicity of reports that the SR recently received claiming gang stalking and electronic torture, the report goes on to state that “cybertechnologies can also be used …through intimidation, harassment, surveillance, public shaming and defamation.” The report also expresses concern that cybertechnology may be employed to torture through ….” medical implants, and, conceivably nano- or neurotechnological devices.”
However, this reporter could locate only two established news outlets which even covered the SR’s report, The Guardian and Al Jazeera. At the time of this writing, the large human rights NGOs, which generally include addressing torture as part of their mandate — Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Human Rights First, Physicians for Human Rights, Center for Victims of Torture — have not given any acknowledgment to the SR’s report on their websites or in press releases. Nor did they respond to requests for comment on the report.
The use of electronic and internet-based devices for the purposes of harassment and worse of ordinary citizens has exploded in the last decade or so. While a few local TV networks have ventured into new territory by running some segments on this phenomenon, this has largely been seen as the dominion of “tin foil hats.” A couple examples of rare TV coverage follow:
When the NY Times covered this issue, they were savage, however.
The fact that Melzer’s report seems to have fallen into some sort of black hole raises some questions as to the alliances made by media and NGOs. For example, it is known that the US State Department contributes heavily to some human rights organizations, as do other allied governments. One wonders if their silence has been bought or if there are more complicated political scenarios at play.
As the report delineates, States, corporate actors and organized criminals are listed as those who have the capacity to use cybertechnology to torture. In other words, powerful interests have aligned themselves with the development of these weapons, including the US military.
There is a close relationship between torture and human experimentation. When the Church Committee uncovered details implicating the CIA in using citizens as unwitting guinea pigs in pursuit of creating the “perfect spy,” the agency destroyed their files and the programs continued on, quietly. A recent lawsuit, Edgewood Test Vets, reveals a US government disinterested in the welfare of those soldiers put into these chemical and biological human experimentation programs. After decades of neglect, the Army finally agreed to provide medical care for the test subjects in 2017.
More recently, allegations have surfaced that UCLA Neuropsychiatric Hospital was running a human experimentation program in an inpatient unit, A-South. The program, which was certainly active in the late nineties, appeared to focus on studies of brain electricity and is alleged to have nonconsensually shocked mental patients, as well as giving providing “pharmaceuticals” which resulted in seizure activity. UCLA has brazenly violated the California Public Records Act in failing to respond to requests for routine information about the unit, such as a list of residents who worked there and building plans for the unit, which was reportedly demolished circa 2006.
In her change.org petition, Dr. Millicent Black elucidates the connection between human experimentation and electronic weapons. Black met with Juan Mendez, the former SR on Torture concerning this issue and writes that
Patents for military technology have been identified as the cause of many claims of psychological, physical and emotional harassment. Thousands of people in the United States of America are reporting to be targets of the military training missions and government research and contractors for remote neural monitoring, neural warfare and behavior influence technology via the use of Directed Energy Weapons and electronic harassment.
Dr. Black is a pastor and was also part of Techno Crime Fighters, a weekly broadcast which aired on YouTube for the targeted community.
In 2007, an ACLU attorney in Oregon told me that the “climate wasn’t right” to address police abuse issues. The attorney stated this after documents were leaked to me indicating that the Medford Police Department was taking no action on citizen Internal Affairs complaints, while stating to the complainants that the officers in question had been disciplined. If one expands the definition of police abuse to include systematic abuse of citizens with covert weaponry by government and corporate actors, one may conclude that by tackling these concerns in his report, Dr. Melzer has done a brave and remarkable thing.
At this juncture, surveillance abuse (which is certainly part and parcel of cyber torture) is getting headlines, as the US Senate readies itself to vote on reauthorizing sections of the PATRIOT Act which allow rampant spying on US citizens. Also making headlines is a lawsuit by CAIR, a Muslim Civil Rights organization, questioning the constitutionality of the “Terrorist Watchlist,” a list which clearly now includes non-Muslim journalists and activists and may have connections to a cyber torture program. Parenthetically, the court sided with CAIR. The Department of Justice is appealing the decision.
A confluence of attention is now emerging to highlight the perils of the surveillance state. One might only hope that Big Media and Big Human Rights could drop their defensive guard and help to shine a light on this issue, in the hopes of reinstating a culture where both privacy and freedom might again take root and thrive.
Janet Phelan is an investigative journalist and author of the groundbreaking exposé, EXILE. Her articles previously appeared in such mainstream venues as the Los Angeles Times, Orange Coast Magazine, Long Beach Press Telegram, etc. In 2004, Janet “jumped ship” and now exclusively writes for independent media. She is also the author of two collections of poetry—The Hitler Poems and Held Captive. She resides abroad. You are invited to support her work on Buy Me A Coffee here: https://www.buymeacoffee.com/JanetPhelan
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