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article imageHoman Square, CIA-style 'black site,' uncovered in Chicago

By JohnThomas Didymus     Feb 25, 2015 in World
Chicago - A report published by the UK's Guardian uncovers a secret facility called Homan Square, run by the Chicago Police Department. At the facility, police employ methods that reflect the abuses at the overseas detention facilities of the war on terror.
According to the Guardian, the facility has been run since the late 1990s as the domestic equivalent of the infamous CIA "black sites".
Analysts are concerned that the operation of the facility is disturbingly reminiscent of the U.S. detention facilities in the post-9/11 era, such as the Guantanamo Bay facility in Cuba and the Abu Ghraib detention facility in Iraq. The only difference being that Homan Square is a domestic facility and many of the people held there were not held in connection with terrorism. Detainees included people police wanted to interrogate on matters relating to gang activity and drugs.
The facility is being effectively operated as a place where police authorities could make citizens literally "disappear" by ensuring that no official booking records of their arrest and detention are available. Absence of formal records allows detainees to be interrogated outside the checks and balances of the normal chain of command put in place to guarantee citizens' constitutional rights.
Local attorneys and former inmates at the facility who spoke with the Guardian said the Homan Square warehouse is being used by the Chicago police to deny U.S. citizens of their constitutional rights, specifically their Fifth Amendment right to due process and their Sixth Amendment right to an attorney.
The Guardian writes that people taken there "do not appear to have a public, searchable record entered into a database indicating where they are, as happens when someone is booked at a precinct." Thus, it is usually very difficult for the relatives and attorneys of people arrested to determine their whereabouts. And in most cases where lawyers are able to trace their clients to the Homan Square facility, officials deny them access. Attorneys are tuned away after being told that the facility is a "secure facility."
Anthony Hill, a criminal defense attorney, who claimed he is one of the few lawyers who have been inside the facility, told Business Insider, "Suspected criminals are just picked up and thrown into the back of unmarked cars by police officers wielding assault rifles and wearing bulletproof vests. Describing the process as highly militarized would be fair. It's a black hole."
He told the Guardian that people arrested "just disappear until they show up at a district for charging or are just released back out on the street."
People that the Chicago police choose to make disappear" are often held at the facility for long periods of time with no contact with the outside world. According to The Guardian, the detainees at the site are "most often poor, black and brown."
A Chicago lawyer, Julia Bartmes, said, "It’s sort of open secret among attorneys that regularly make police station visits, this place – if you can’t find a client in the system, odds are they’re there."
Inmates are tortured during interrogation, shackled for hours and held in cage-like cells. They are not read their Miranda rights and are denied access to their attorneys. But after interrogation, detainees may be taken to a police station where booking records and a formal charge are made for the first time.
A man died at the facility under mysterious circumstances, another was released with a head injury while a 15-year-old was released after being held for several hours.
Forty-four-year-old John Hubbard, who was found unresponsive during interrogation, was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead. The Chicago Tribune reported in February, 2013 that police officials refused to explain why Hubbard was arrested and detained in the first place. The Cook County medical examiner did not make available a report on the cause of Hubbard's death. But after the Guardian published its story, the medical examiner claimed he had died of "heroin intoxication."
Some lawyers and former inmates declined to talk to the Guardian about the facility out of fear of being victimized. But one man, Brian Jacob Church, who was held at the facility in 2012, spoke with the Guardian.
He was arrested during a raid on his group as they planned a protest against the NATAO summit. According to Church, he was handcuffed to a bench with ankle restraints for about 17 hours and was not read his Miranda rights.
He said, "Essentially, I wasn't allowed to make any contact with anybody."
When at last, after several rounds of interrogation, he was allowed to see his lawyer, he spoke with him through a wire cage. Church was finally taken to a nearby police station where he was charged with terrorism-related offences, including inciting "mob violence."
His lawyer Sarah Gelsomino, told The Guardian that when Church was arrested, no booking records were made. Thus, she was unable to locate him even after 12 hours of searching.
Church told the Guardian, "Homan Square is definitely an unusual place. 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."
There are allegations that some of the torture techniques used by interrogators at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility were adapted from methods used by Chicago police interrogators at Homan Square. The reader may recall that it was recently alleged that veteran Chicago police officer Richard Zuley, assisted interrogators at Guantanamo Bay in 2002, using torture methods that included beating, death threats, and threats to family members.
Of course, the Chicago police has a long and well-established record of brutality and human rights abuses, going back to the 1960s.
The Guardian reported that the Chicago Police Department has issued a statement in response to its report:
"CPD [Chicago police department] abides by all laws, rules and guidelines pertaining to any interviews of suspects or witnesses, at Homan Square or any other CPD facility. If lawyers have a client detained at Homan Square, just like any other facility, they are allowed to speak to and visit them.
"There are always records of anyone who is arrested by CPD, and this is not any different at Homan Square."
More about Chicago police, black site, Chicago, Guantanamo bay, Abu Ghraib
 
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