Torture, Cover-up and the American Civil Liberties Union – A Desi Connection

Jameel Jaffer and Amrit Singh may not mean anything to most readers. Jameel Jaffer is a London, Ont. born litigator for the American Civil Liberties Union and Director of the ACLU’s National Security Project. Amrit Singh is Manmohan Singh’s daughter and is a Staff Attorney at the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project.

credit Ruby Washingon, NYT and wikipedia

Jameel Jaffer, was “instrumental in filing and fighting an unlikely Freedom of Information Act request that eventually unearthed thousands of pages of secret documents which illustrated damning evidence of U.S. government complicity in violations of international humanitarian law.” link. and link

The Baghdad Correctional Facility may also not mean anything but mention Abu Ghraib and it conjures disturbing images of physical and sexual abuse, psychological and mental torture, rape, sodomy and homicide.

The FIA request was filed by Jameel Jaffer and Amrit Singh in October 2003. Six years later, they have received more than 130,000 pages of previously classified documents.

Jaffer, who was the editor of Harvard Law Review, like the incumbent President Obama, says: “In general, I think our position is that national security is increasingly used as a pretext to suppress information that would embarrass government officials and information related to criminal activity,” Jaffer told the Star. “And we think that the abuse of national security for those ends is something that, in the end, jeopardizes not just security but democracy as well, and that’s really what motivates a lot of these cases.” link

With his colleague Amrit Singh (from Yale Law) they have written Administration of Torture. It documents the most comprehensive account to date of what took place in American controlled detention centers and why.

In his New Yorker article The General’s Report – How Antonio Taguba, who investigated the Abu Ghraib scandal, became one of its casualties, Seymour M. Hersh quotes Taguba:

“From the moment a soldier enlists, we inculcate loyalty, duty, honor, integrity, and selfless service,” Taguba said. “And yet when we get to the senior-officer level we forget those values. I know that my peers in the Army will be mad at me for speaking out, but the fact is that we violated the laws of land warfare in Abu Ghraib. We violated the tenets of the Geneva Convention. We violated our own principles and we violated the core of our military values. The stress of combat is not an excuse, and I believe, even today, that those civilian and military leaders responsible should be held accountable.”

Reporters like Dana Priest, Bart Cellman at the Washngton Post and Carlotta Gall of the NYT who broke the original stories on torture and Abu Ghraib are few on one side and then there are other reporters who do not talk to ACLU. Speaking of them, and in reply to this question posed by Clint Hedler of the Columbia Review of Journalism:

Were there other reporters who wanted to keep advocacy organizations like the ACLU at arm’s length, who were more hesitant to speak to you?

Jameel Jaffer said,

“There were certainly reporters who were hesitant to share information. I don’t think it was because we are an advocacy organization—I think they would have been even more hesitant to share with another news organization—but as you know, for a reporter information is everything, and people are, for understandable reasons, sometimes reluctant to share what they may be able to use themselves in the next day’s story. It’s just a fact about the way the media world works.”

It will take a concerted effort of organisations like ACLU, and journalists and investigative reporters and activists to bring out the truth of who ordered the abuses and who carried them out. This should include the abuses, rape, sodomy and torture directly under US administration as well as those ‘rendered’ to third parties including third countries. To be followed by charges in US and international courts, if applicable.

War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity should not go unpunished.


4 responses to “Torture, Cover-up and the American Civil Liberties Union – A Desi Connection”

  1. Salman Asghar Avatar

    the world history is full of war crimes …

    1st of all war itself is not at all good thing, and war crime is next worst thing that can happen!!

  2. ondelette Avatar

    Thank you for highlighting the hard work done by these two ACLU lawyers, and many others, in trying doggedly to bring the truth about the U.S. and torture over the past several years to light. Two small corrections: it's Bart Gellman (small typo), and he has also exposed the darkness that surrounds former vice president Dick Cheney. And Carlotta Gall reports on Afghanistan, and to some extent Pakistan. The team for the New York Times, Carlotta Gall, Salman Masood, Jane Perlez, Pir Zubair Shah, Dexter Filkins, and others won the Pulitzer Prize last year for keeping Americans informed about Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    Other American organizations that have done heavy lifting on getting documents and representing prisoners include the Center for Constitutional Rights, Physicians for Human Rights, International Justice Network. That's to add to all the international organizations, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Reprieve, etc.

    On our side, we have tried to make more Americans aware of organizations and people like Asma Jahangir and the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, and Aitzaz Ahsan and Iftikar Chaudry and the Lawyer's Movement people.

    And we tell everyone who will listen to look at Teeth Maestro's blog.

  3. Aamir Mughal Avatar

    Torture, Cover-up

    Barack Obama & US CIA's Torture Techniques KUBARK Manual

  4. Six Billion Rupees C Avatar
    Six Billion Rupees C

    Six Billion Rupees, Three Bureaucrats, One Government Department (AEDB) and No Electricity” // Aug 26, 2009 at 12:30 pm // Aug 26, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    Posted by pakreport on July 12, 2009

    written by Xavia (c) 2009

    Energy is the politics of today. What happens tomorrow is dictated by energy demand of today. Energy is the real blood pumping through the hearts of today’s economies. Just as a stoppage in the flow of blood would be fatal, a blockage in the flow of energy would devastate any economy.

    Movers and shakers of the world have realized that energy demands must be meant to keep the status-quo in status-quo. As a result associations and networks have established, over the last few decades, which not only keep the status-quo as status-quo but have learnt of devious ways to maximize their personal profits. These networks operate at all levels, international, national and regional. Here we are going to disclose the workings of such a network, which operated for a relatively short period – only four years – but left a terrible impact on the economy of Pakistan.

    The Alternative Energy Development Board

    Alternative Energy Development Board (AEDB) was established in May 2003 with the main objective to facilitate, promote and encourage development of Renewable Energy in Pakistan with a mission to introduce Alternative/Renewable Energy at an accelerated rate to achieve 10% share of renewable energy in the energy mix of the country. Since its creation the Board has carried out following projects:

    Year – Project Funding (Rs. Million) – Project Title

    (2004) – ~10.00 – Research and Development of Bio-diesel Applications in Pakistan

    (2004) – ~5.0 – Fuel Cell Research Project

    (2004) – ~4.0 – Pilot Project for Development and Installation of 02 Micro Hydro Kaplan Turbines

    (2005) – 3.90 – Solar electrification at Narian Khorian

    (2005) – 100.00 – 100 Solar Homes projects in each province

    (2006) – 21.43 – Pilot Project of Production Plant of Bio Diesel

    (2006) – 39.80 – Solar Thermal Power Plants Technologies

    (2006) – 33.04 – Solar Water Pumping & Desalination Unit

    (2006) – ~3.0 – Development of an Electrical Vehicle

    (2006) – (cost unknown) – Socio-economic and technical feasibility for designing water supply schemes in villages of Balochistan and Sindh

    (2006) – (cost unknown) – Socio-economic survey of remote villages & their energy demands and water requirements

    (2006) – 4.03 – Research on Development of 1 KW Fuel Cell Vehicle

    (2006) – 3.00 – Development of supply chain mechanism for pedal generator, hand generator and LED lanterns

    (2006) – 200.00 – Block allocation for i) Electrification of villages through installation of indigenously developed micro wind turbines ii) Research on development of 1 KW fuel cell rikshaw. iii) Erection and operation of pilot production plant for biodiesel with 500 liters per day capacity. iv) Assessment of wind/solar power potential and development of GIS for AEDB.

    (2006) – (cost unknown) – Feasibility Study for Development of a Master Plan for Establishment of an Institute for Renewable Energy Technology

    (2006) – (between 20 and 200) – Feasibility for waste energy plants in ten (10) cities of Pakistan

    (2006) – 50.35 – Solar Homes Program

    (2006) – 887.71 – Electrify 300 villages

    (2006) – (cost unknown) – Solar Home System for Province of Sindh, Solar Home System for Northern Balochistan, Solar Home System for Central Balochistan, Solar Home System for Southern Balochistan

    (2006) (cost unknown) – Supply of solar PV lantern system

    (2007) (cost unknown) – Baseline Capacity Assessment of PMD, AEDB, NEPRA

    (2007) – (cost unknown) – Study of grid integration with wind farms in Pakistan

    (2007) – (cost unknown) – Environmental Impact Assessment Study of the Gharo Corridor in Pakistan

    Total costs till the end of 2007: Rs. 1.5 billion

    According to the documents of Ministry of Finance and Planning Commission, Government of Pakistan provided over 1.5 billion rupees in funds to the AEDB for carrying out a number of projects.

    Other than receiving funds from the Government of Pakistan, the AEDB has been funded numerous times by international donor agencies as well. For example the Asian Development Bank (ADB) offered a Technical Assistance (TA) project in 2004 for the development of Renewable Energy in Pakistan. The objective of the proposed Project Preparatory Technical Assistance (PPTA) was to assist the Government in designing a loan for financing investment in Renewable Energy. U.S. $ 550,000 were made available for the PPTA with U.S. $ 137,500 to be provided to each of the four provinces, while another U.S. $ 150,000 were made available for the Small Scale Technical Assistance (SSTA) for capacity building for carrying out Renewable Energy projects of all the four provinces involved with the TA. Some other mention-worthy projects funded by the international donor agencies till 2007 included:

    Year – Cost (US $ million) – Agency – Project Title

    (2004) – 0.55 – ADB – Renewable Energy Development

    (2005) – 510 – ADB – Renewable Energy Development Sector Investment Program

    (2007) – 0.8 – ADB – Pakistan: Renewable Energy Policy Formulation and Capacity Development of the Alternate Energy Development Board

    (2006/7) – 3.10 (GEF) + 0.72 (GoP) – Exploitation of Untapped Potential of Wind Energy

    Of the 510 million dollars, ADB had provided nearly 150 million dollars by 2007.

    Thus, by the end of 2007, AEDB had been handed up to six billion rupees from Government of Pakistan and international donor agencies. As a result of all this funding, Pakistan produced a total of 0 megawatts of power through renewable resources at the end of 2007.

    Narian Khorian Project

    To understand what happened to the six billion rupees in four rupees, the most publicized project of the AEDB, the Narian Khorian solar electrification is looked at. On 19 June 2005 Prime Minister of Pakistan Shoukat Aziz inaugurated the ceremony of electrification of the entire Narian Khorian village through solar panels. The village is nearly 40 kilometers from Islamabad.

    The project funding included solar panels. Also, each household was given an electric fan and bulb to be powered by the battery charged by solar panel. The village also got a free water desalination plant. The project of solar electrification and desalination plant was Rs. 3.9 million. As there is no paved road leading to the village, a new road was constructed from the motorway to the village. This project is considered a triumph of AEDB and has been mentioned numerous times by local and international media. To this day the local media beats the drums of this successful project and an illuminating example of effective leadership of Air Marshal Raja Shahid Hamid the chairman of AEDB.

    The Inside Story

    According to Akhtar Solar company located in Islamabad, they donated the solar panels installed at the Narian Khorian village, worth Rs. 3 million, for which they got the tax rebate. Other than the 3.9 million rupees specific to the project, an unknown sum was taken from the # (2006) – 33.04 —- “Solar Water Pumping & Desalination Unit” project (cost 33.04 million) to help buy the water desalination plant at the Narian Khorian village. The road which was constructed from motorway to Narian Khorian village, which in books is a paved road costing millions does not exist today.

    Where the Money Went

    Which company got the 3.9 million rupees contract to purchase the solar panels and install them at the village is difficult to find. Whichever company that was, the money surely wasn’t used to purchase the solar panels as they were donated by Akhtar Solar. There was also a part of the project money which was to be used for the desalination plant. However, money from another project was also used to purchase the same plant – in essence two projects funded the purchase of same equipment. The road was built by the Government of Punjab. Its cost was a few million rupees.

    The Village Story

    The person to greet any new arrival in the village is a young teenager, who is considered the spokesperson of the village regarding the solar project. Also, this boy was an employee of Government of Pakistan for a period of two years. He was hired at Rs. 2000/month with the job to oversee and monitor the project and make necessary repairs if needed. He was paid Rs. 500 in advance by a person named by him as “Irfan”, a mid height bearded fellow who used to come in a white corolla with green number plate. (The DG of AEDB is Irfan Afzal Mirza with same physical appearance and has been provided a government Toyota Corolla). According to the teenager, he never saw the fellow ever again nor did he see a single rupee more. He has no idea what happened to rest of his salary.

    The next notability is the missing solar panels from rooftops. Then, one is also brought to the desalination plant, where amazingly there is no desalination plant. Of the installed panels, only 30% are in working condition at the moment.

    Where the Equipment Went

    A year after the triumphant inauguration of the solar village, an official from AEDB in official AEDB truck arrived at the village and started loading solar panels in the truck. He also had a couple of mechanics who quickly unscrewed the desalination plant and loaded it into the Shehzor truck. When the local teenager tried to protest, he was quickly handed over to the local police station. The locals had to pay a small amount of money to get the boy out a couple of days later. Next time when the Shehzor came no one said a word. At the end, more than a million rupees worth of equipment was transferred by the AEDB officials using AEDB’s Government of Pakistan vehicles.

    The AEDB Story

    Air Marshal Raja Shahid Hamid was a well recognized face inside Pakistan’s elite circles. After all he managed to stay at the same post in the Pakistan Air Force for nearly two decades, defying every air force rule and regulation. He had turned Air Weapon’s Complex, under his leadership, into his personal enterprise. Other than girls and alcohol, he was famous for getting millions of dollars of funds from the government to build top secret equipment and weapons and then purchase a Chinese version for peanuts and inaugurate it as being developed at AWC after years of hard work and at the cost of millions of dollars. As all of the tenders, bids and projects were done in closed doors and without transparency, thus there was no one to raise any objection.

    Not to forget here, his incompetency was also quite famous. It was during his watch that AWC lost the famous “bomb”. Not Atom Bomb, as AWC does not deal with those. But it was a big bomb which was later found in FATA, after it had accidentally exploded during transport. He had to loyal sub-ordinates working at AWC. Brig. Nasim Akhtar Khan and a civilian engineer Irfan Afzal Mirza.

    When Air Chief Marshal Mushaf Ali Mir took over the command, he started a thorough investigation of Air Marshal Raja Shahid Hamid, his trusted team and AWC. According to the report of Military Intelligence, Raja Shahid Hamid had amassed at least US$ 20 million in foreign bank accounts and had shares in at least one hotel in Dubai. At the end of the investigation, Air Marshal Raja Shahid Hamid was given the choice of quietly resigning or… He chose to resign. Brig. Nasim Akhtar Khan was sent back to his unit in the Pakistan Army while Irfan Afzal Mirza was also kicked out. This happened in 2001.

    Although Shahid Hamid was out, but he still had contacts, and somehow managed to meet Shaukat Aziz. He somehow convinced Shaukat Aziz that using renewable energy, Pakistan would be able to meet its upcoming energy shortages and under his leadership, it can be achieved in less than five years. As a result in 2003 Alternative Energy Development Board was established with Air Marshal Raja Shahid Hamid as its Chairman, Brig. Nasim Akhtar Khan as its Secretary and Irfan Afzal Mirza as its Director General. It is also worthwhile to note here that Irfan Afzal was given an MP-II grade at the tender age of 30/31, breaking all the rules of Government of Pakistan. Irfan Mirza was not actually 30/31. He had changed his birth certificate to reduce his age by 4 to 5 years. However, in the official documents he was shown 31 at the time of employment.

    Shahid Hamid got a pay package of MP-I, nearly 5 lakh rupees per month and Irfan Mirza got nearly 2.5 lakh rupees package per month. A sweet deal to begin with.

    Some Other Projects

    If the stated scenario is of one of the most propagated projects of AEDB, one doesn’t need a lot of imagination to understand what happened to rest of the 6 billion rupees projects. Some of this money which could be traced is listed below:

    Research and Development of Biodiesel Applications in Pakistan: The 1 crore rupees project was given to a local company Clean Power, owned by Air Marshal Raja Shahid Hamid’s wife and Irfan Afzal Mirza’s brother. At the end of the project a hundred page report was prepared which no one outside Clean Power and AEDB has seen.

    Fuel Cell Research Project: This was Rs. 50 lakh project which had to be given to a private company as AEDB wanted to purchase a fuel cell from a foreign company and under some regulations couldn’t do it directly. So the project was given to Clean Power, which used Rs. 4 lakh to purchase a fuel cell and give it to AEDB. Thus, AEDB spent 50 lakh rupees to buy a 4 lakh rupees machinery.

    100 Solar Homes projects in each province: The villages were electrified, but no one has ever seen the villages.

    Pilot Project of Production Plant of Biodiesel: The 2.14 caror rupees project was given to a company of a close “associate” of Brig. Nasim Akhtar Khan. The other companies were rejected because of “undisclosed” reasons, as explained by Brig. Nasim Akhtar in his official letter to one of the companies. He also explained that the elimination procedure was very high standard. However, he did not mention that all of the companies who were rejected in the first round had submitted Financial Feasibilities of less than one caror, while the company which won the bid had submitted a financial feasibility of rupees two caror. The project intended to provide electricity to a village using loacally grown biodiesel. However, at the end of the year the villagers were powering their village using diesel purchased from local petrol pump, and it was found out that during the inauguration, the biodiesel seeds were purchased from an international supplier just for the ceremony. Thus, on ground the only worthwhile expenditure was a Rs. 5 lakh generator from a Rs. 2 caror project.

    Solar Thermal Power Plants Technologies: This Rs. 4 caror project was carried out directly by the Brig. Nasim Akhtar Khan. Nobody knows who was given the contract to. However, the money was given to somebody.

    Solar Water Pumping & Desalination Unit: Of the 3.3 carors, only one desalination plant was purchased which was then stolen by an AEDB official.

    Development of an Electrical Vehicle: The project was meant to indigenously develop an electric vehicle. However, of the Rs. 3 million, half a million were spent to purchase an electric vehicle from oversees, and then it was repainted (literally) to make it look like “Made in Pakistan”. The vehicle can still be seen standing inside the Prime Minister House of Pakistan.

    Research on Development of 1 KW Fuel Cell Vehicle: The project was intended to develop indigenously the capabilities. However, the fuel cell purchased in the previous project was put in the electric vehicle purchased in another project. Thus, the 40 lakh rupees of this project went straight into the pocket of the bidder – may God Bless the Bidder who achieved the aim without spending a single paisa – truly a miracle which can only happen in Pakistan. What a country?

    Development of supply chain mechanism for pedal generator, hand generator and led lanterns: The project went to Clean Power, who bought a couple of cycles, connected them with fans and gave it to the AEDB. Thus, the government purchased two bicycles, as the cost of Rs. 15 lakh each.

    10. Feasibility for waste energy plants in ten (10) cities of Pakistan: No one alive is said to have seen the feasibility reports. That was enough incentive to stop our investigation for this project.

    The list just keeps on going, however, it is hoped this small overview would give a good look at what went on inside AEDB in its first four years.

    AEDB Today

    After the current government takeover, Air Marshal Raja Shahid Hamid was one of the first persons to go. His number two had been called back to his army unit a few months back, after General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani had taken command as COAS. The tenacious Irfan Afzal Mirza is still at AEDB working as Director General in the MP-II equivalent grade. After all, if you would give 60% of whatever you earn to your boss with no questions asked, of course your boss would fight tooth and nail to keep you working under him as well.

    Electricity Story

    The dreaded load-shedding continues.

    A report by Xavia


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    This entry was posted on July 12, 2009 at 6:59 pm and is filed under Corruption in Pakistan, History, Politics & Current Issues. Tagged: AEDB, air marshal, AWC, Corruption, electricity, load shedding, Loadshedding, Pervez Musharraf, renewable energy. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.