(21st Century Wire) – This is truly one of the worst pieces of news in living memory, but to anyone who has been paying attention – it should not come as a big shock (which in itself is a very sad thing). This is only one single aspect of the new American Stasi…
This week, thanks to The Guardian newspaper in Great Britain, the world discovered a building known simply as ‘Homan Square’ – an off-the-books urban prison where unspeakable things happen on a routine basis. Located just off of West Fillmore Avenue, it’s been described as Chicago’s answer to Abu Ghraib, where police employ “Gestapo tactics”, holding detainees in secrecy – and without access to lawyers or due process. Detainees are regularly subject to brutal treatment, including shackling, physical and mental abuse that has included, among other things, attacks to their face and genitals.
This is happening in President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder’s home town of Chicago, and you’d expect they would be rushing to correct this gross injustice and fatal breach in public confidence. So far, it’s been pretty slow to the punch, perhaps because of who is meant to be in charge over there in the windy city…
In 2010, Rahm Emanuel (photo, left) resigned from his post as President Barack Obama’s chief of staff and ran for Mayor of Chicago in 2011. He won the election and became mayor. Chicago’s crime and murder rates increased under Emanuel, and it’s hard to believe that the Mayor would not have known about such a large ‘black site’ under his nose. Did he turn a blind eye because he thought that maintaining this illegal facility in the heart of the Midwest’s largest city would show that he’s “tough on crime”?
“The US Department of Justice and embattled mayor Rahm Emanuel are under mounting pressure to investigate allegations of what one politician called “CIA or Gestapo tactics” at a secretive Chicago police facility exposed by the Guardian.”
He should resign, not least of all because of the shame such a pogrom bring his city and country. But as anyone who knows Emanuel will tell you, he will not go quietly.
“A third person, Kory Wright, came forward to the Intercept in a story published Thursday. He described spending six hours at Homan Square without being booked or having access to a lawyer, as well as being zip-tied to a bench “like a cross”.”
Other connections between Chicago and back sites like Gitmo are almost uncanny. According the Free Thought Project, “It was also revealed that former Guantánamo Bay interrogator Richard Zuley was already torturing people as a Chicago detective before he was ever stationed at the military prison. In fact, it was reported that he was one of the most brutal officers in the city during his 25 years with the police department.”
Much has been made of Chicago’s ludicrous crime and homicide rate – leading now only the US in violence, but also at times competing with the likes of Guatemala City in global murder league tables. Ironically (or not), Chicago is meant to be one of America’s ‘gun-free’ zones, however, that policy doesn’t appear to be working all that well.
It’s difficult to comprehend, after the global outrage from America’s exploits in Iraq and at Bagram Airbase in Kabul, Afghanistan, that a facility like this would be allowed to exist.
It’s Emanuel’s shame, and Chicago’s shame. It’s also America’s shame.
But is this the only one in the US? Probably not…
(Image: Democracy Now!)
The disappeared: Chicago police detain Americans at abuse-laden ‘black site’
The Chicago police department operates an off-the-books interrogation compound, rendering Americans unable to be found by family or attorneys while locked inside what lawyers say is the domestic equivalent of a CIA black site.
The facility, a nondescript warehouse on Chicago’s west side known as Homan Square, has long been the scene of secretive work by special police units. Interviews with local attorneys and one protester who spent the better part of a day shackled in Homan Square describe operations that deny access to basic constitutional rights.
- Keeping arrestees out of official booking databases.
- Beating by police, resulting in head wounds.
- Shackling for prolonged periods.
- Denying attorneys access to the “secure” facility.
- Holding people without legal counsel for between 12 and 24 hours, including people as young as 15.
At least one man was found unresponsive in a Homan Square “interview room” and later pronounced dead.
Brian Jacob Church, a protester known as one of the “Nato Three”, was held and questioned at Homan Square in 2012 following a police raid. Officers restrained Church for the better part of a day, denying him access to an attorney, before sending him to a nearby police station to be booked and charged.
“Homan Square is definitely an unusual place,” Church told the Guardian on Friday. “It brings to mind the interrogation facilities they use in the Middle East. The CIA calls them black sites. It’s a domestic black site. When you go in, no one knows what’s happened to you.”
The secretive warehouse is the latest example of Chicago police practices that echo the much-criticized detention abuses of the US war on terrorism…