Monday, October 27, 2008

Domestic Torturer Indicted

Information and Back ground from Steve Rhodes of the Chicago Tribune

Former Chicago police Cmdr. Jon Burge is out on bail but the story of his prosecution is just starting -- a quarter century after rumors first surfaced about torture in a South Side police station. While a new round of recriminations revs up, there are some details to be gleaned deep in the coverage that are worth pondering.


* "A handful of principled men and women did stand up," the Sun-Times says in its editorial today. "Among them were five aldermen who wrote a letter last year to U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald urging him to prosecute Burge for obstruction of justice -- exactly what he now has done. Those aldermen are Bob Fioretti (2nd), Pat Dowell (3rd), Billy Ocasio (26th), Ed Smith (28th) and Helen Shiller (46th)."
That means that 45 aldermen did not sign on to the letter. Nor did the mayor.

The torture first came to light in an article in the Chicago Reader. Which for a long time was the only media bringing the issue to light. Here is their archive.

Even given the dubious history of parts of the Chicago Police Department Cmdr. Burge and his accomplices used a level of torture that was unique and uncommon. But they arrested criminals and who were convicted. The current mayor of Chicago Richard M. Dailey was the Cook County States Attorney at the time and quite willing to use the evidence even though it is believed he had reasons to suspect it’s legality. No one really doubts that the victims were professional criminals and quite likely guilty of the crimes they were tortured into confessing, but torture is always wrong and lowers the police to the level of the criminals. There has been a virtually solid stone wall for those who are trying to investigate what happened. It is a federal indictment because them Chicago political machine stood against an active investigation. It took so long that the statute of limitations is passed and the perpetrators are being tried for perjury in denying under oath that the tortured prisoners.


This is of larger interest, because some of the War on Terror interrigations were conducted using torture. One of the candidates for President represented, as a state Senator approximately the same area as the Police Area Two where the torture occurred. Burge had been fired before Senator Obama took office but those falsely convicted were still in jail.

As best I can find in Google there is no record of Senator Obama speaking up for his constituents who were unjustly jailed. He voted for the law that required interrogations to be video taped (a good idea) which was proposed as the solution, but so did most every one else. This was seven years before the first victim was released from jail. And pro forma press releases recently. But a complete absense of the type of activiism that he know Senator Obama can accomplish when he wants to.

But this is no real surprise, Senator Obama was run by the machine for state Senator four times without primary or general election opposition, the same machine that is headed by Mayor (and former States Attorney) Richard M Dailey.

My prediections. Gitmo will be closed with much fanfare. A few Bush Admistration flunkies will be sent to jail. Torture as a means of policy will continue unabated. When Patrick Fitzgerald is replaced with a Dailey vetted Federal District Attorney the Burge case will fall through the cracks.

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