McDonald’s: No workers comp for employee shot protecting patron
By Muriel Kane
Fast food giant McDonald’s has denied workers compensation benefits to a minimum wage employee who was shot when he ejected a customer who had been beating a woman inside the restaurant.
A representative of the administrator for McDonald’s workers compensation plan explained that “we have denied this claim in its entirety as it is our opinion that Mr. Haskett’s injuries did not arise out of or within the course and scope of his employment.”
Nigel Haskett, then aged 21, was working at a McDonald’s in Little Rock, Arkansas last summer when he saw a patron, later identified as Perry Kennon, smacking a woman in the face. A surveillance video of the incident, which had been posted to YouTube, was taken down after McDonald’s charged copyright infringement, but according to written descriptions of the video, Haskett tackled Kennon, threw him out, and then stood by the door to prevent him from reentering.
(Update: The video is now available in a news report from KARK4 in Little Rock, which is not subject to copyright claims and which can be seen above.)
Kennon went to his car, returned with a gun, and shot Haskett multiple times. Haskett staggered back into the restaurant and collapsed.
Kennon, who has a long criminal record, was arrested a few days later and charged with first-degree battery. The judge at his arraignment praised Haskett as a hero.
Haskett has since undergone three abdominal surgeries and has incurred over $300,000 in medical bills. McDonald’s has declined to comment on their reasons for refusing his claim, because the case is still pending before the Workers Compensation Commission, but according to Haskett’s lawyer, Philip M. Wilson:
“McDonald’s position now is that during thirty-minute orientation Mr. Haskett and the other individuals going through the orientation were supposedly told that in the event of a robbery or anything like a robbery . . . not to be a hero and simply call 911. Mr. Haskett denies that anything like that was even mentioned during orientation or at any time during his employment with McDonald’s.”
McDonald’s may be on shaky legal ground in their attempt to deny benefits. As explained by the blog “Joe’s Union Review,” courts have repeatedly ruled that injuries incurred in the course of “good samaritan” acts while on the job are entitled to compensation, especially if they result in good will towards the employer.
“McDonald’s is really living up to it’s reputation as an evil empire,” another blog comments. “They’re no longer merely all about moving in on the little guy, or clogging your arteries with fry grease, or making kids big chunkers, but are also now turning on their employees.”
We have received the following press release from Physicians for Human Rights-Israel announcing the initiation of investigations of Israeli doctors for complicity with torture and other detainee abuse. If only US medical and psychological associations would similarly investigate complicity by US medical personnel (doctors, nurses, etc.) and psychologists in US torture. It looks like it will take considerablygreater pressurebefore US organizations like the American Psychological Association act:
18 February 2009
Following pressure from British and international groups:
Israel Medical Association to investigate possible doctor complicity with torture of prisoners
The Ethics Board of the Israel Medical Association (IMA) has agreed to investigate cases of possible complicity with torture of prisoners following international pressure and a letter listing specific cases sent by Physicians for Human Rights – Israel (PHR-Israel) and Public Committee Against Torture Israel (PCATI). In the letter, the groups called on the IMA to investigate 6 cases where there is strong suspicion of failure on behalf of prison doctors to document and report tell-tale signs of torture on inmates’ bodies and in their testimonies.
The cases described deal with inmates allegedly tortured during interrogations and doctors’ subsequent physical examinations of them. These incidents raise serious questions about the prison doctors’ documentation and reporting of signs of violence and torture they discovered on inmates’ bodies, which were corroborated by testimonies from the inmates themselves.
In the letter PHR urged the IMA to investigate all cases to determine the identities of the doctors in question, and a full picture of all actions taken after examining the inmates. In one instance, a prison doctor failed to follow up on his written recommendation to transfer an inmate to a hospital and instead agreed to postpone the recommendation after speaking with investigators. PHR-Israel and PCATI demand that incidents such as this be investigated.
“The cases described indicate a lack of awareness among physicians in hospitals and particularly in prison clinics, of the rules of medical ethics, especially in regards to the documentation of signs of violence and/or torture on inmates’ bodies and the complaints they express,” says the letter. “The cases described indicate that doctors do not report on the violence/torture and sometimes are susceptible to ‘pressure’ exerted on them by representatives of the security establishment that require them to act against the rules of medical ethics.”
Anat Litvin, Director of Prisoners and Detainees Department at PHR-Israel: “The Israeli medical Association has an obligation to investigate cases when doctors comply with torture, and pressure the Ministry of Health to take steps against them. We believe that doctors are used by torturers as a safety net – take them out of the system and torture will be much more difficult to enact.”
For more information: Libby Friedlander 054-245-7682
The Observer describes an upcoming Human rights Watch report claiming that British agents often interrogated detainees after the Pakistani intelligence services tortured them. It seems the British government employed the Pakistanis as their torturers:
UK agents ‘colluded with torture in Pakistan’
By Mark Townsend
A shocking new report alleges widespread complicity between British security agents and their Pakistani counterparts who have routinely engaged in the torture of suspects.
In the study, which will be published next month by the civil liberties group Human Rights Watch, at least 10 Britons are identified who have been allegedly tortured in Pakistan and subsequently questioned by UK intelligence officials. It warns that more British cases may surface and that the issue of Pakistani terrorism suspects interrogated by British agents is likely to “run much deeper”.
The report will further embarrass the foreign secretary, David Miliband, who has repeatedly said the UK does not condone torture. He has been under fire for refusing to disclose US documents relating to the treatment of Guantánamo detainee and former British resident Binyam Mohamed. The documents are believed to contain evidence about the torture of Mohamed and British complicity in his maltreatment. Mohamed will return to Britain this week. Doctors who examined him in Guantánamo found evidence of prolonged physical and mental mistreatment.
Ali Dayan Hasan, who led the Pakistan-based inquiry, said sources within the country’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI), the Intelligence Bureau and the military security services had provided “confirmation and information” relating to British collusion in the interrogation of terrorism suspects.
Hasan said the Human Rights Watch (HRW) evidence collated from Pakistan intelligence officials indicated a “systemic” modus operandi among British security services, involving a significant number of UK agents from MI5 rather than maverick elements. Different agents were deployed to interview different suspects, many of whom alleged that prior to interrogation by British officials they were tortured by Pakistani agents.
Among the 10 identified cases of British citizens and residents mentioned in the report is Rangzieb Ahmed, 33, from Rochdale, who claims he was tortured by Pakistani intelligence agents before being questioned by two MI5 officers. Ahmed was convicted of being a member of al-Qaida at Manchester crown court, yet the jury was not told that three of the fingernails of his left hand had been removed. The response from MI5 to the allegations that it had colluded in Ahmed’s torture were heard in camera, however, after the press and the public were excluded from the proceedings. Ahmed’s description of the cell in which he claims he was tortured closely matches that where Salahuddin Amin, 33, from Luton, says he was tortured by ISI officers between interviews with MI5 officers.
Zeeshan Siddiqui, 25, from London, who was detained in Pakistan in 2005, also claims he was interviewed by British intelligence agents during a period in which he was tortured.
Other cases include that of a London medical student who was detained in Karachi and tortured after the July 2005 attacks in London. Another case involving Britons allegedly tortured in Pakistan and questioned by UK agents involves a British Hizb ut-Tahrir supporter.
Rashid Rauf, from Birmingham, was detained in Pakistan and questioned over suspected terrorist activity in 2006. He was reportedly killed after a US drone attack in Pakistan’s tribal regions, though his body has never been found.
Hasan said: “What the research suggests is that these are not incidents involving one particular rogue officer or two, but rather an array of individuals involved over a period of several years.
“The issue is not just British complicity in the torture of British citizens, it is the issue of British complicity in the torture period. We know of at least 10 cases, but the complicity probably runs much deeper because it involves a series of terrorism suspects who are Pakistani. This is the heart of the matter.
“They are not the same individuals [MI5 officers] all the time. I know that the people who have gone to see Siddiqui in Peshawar are not the same people who have seen Ahmed in Rawalpindi.”
Last night the government faced calls to clarify precisely its relationship with Pakistan’s intelligence agencies, which are known to routinely use torture.
A Foreign Office spokesman said that an investigation by the British security services had revealed “there is nothing to suggest they have engaged in torture in Pakistan”. He added: “Our policy is not to participate in, solicit, encourage or condone the use of torture, or inhumane or degrading treatment, for any purpose.”
But former shadow home secretary David Davis said the claims from Pakistan served to “reinforce” allegations that UK authorities, at the very least, ignored Pakistani torture techniques.
“The British agencies can no longer pretend that ‘Hear no evil, see no evil’ is applicable in the modern world,” he added.
Last week HRW submitted evidence to parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights. The committee is to question Miliband and Jacqui Smith, the home secretary, over a legal loophole which appears to offer British intelligence officers immunity in the UK for any crimes committed overseas.
It has also emerged that New York-based HRW detailed its concerns in a letter to the UK government last October but has yet to receive a response.
The letter arrived at the same time that the Attorney General was tasked with deciding if Scotland Yard should begin a criminal investigation into British security agents’ treatment of Binyam Mohamed. Crown prosecutors are currently weighing up the evidence.
Hasan said that evidence indicated a considerable number of UK officers were involved in interviewing terrorism suspects after they were allegedly tortured. He told the Observer: “We don’t know who the individuals [British intelligence officers] were, but when you have different personnel coming in and behaving in a similar fashion it implies some level of systemic approach to the situation, rather than one eager beaver deciding it is absolutely fine for someone to be beaten or hung upside down.”
He accused British intelligence officers of turning a blind eye as UK citizens endured torture at the hands of Pakistan’s intelligence agencies.
“They [the British] have met the suspect … and have conspicuously failed to notice that someone is in a state of high physical distress, showing signs of injury. If you are a secret service agent and fail to notice that their fingernails are missing, you ought to be fired.”
Britain’s former chief legal adviser, Lord Goldsmith, said that the Foreign Office would want to examine any British involvement in torture allegations very carefully and, if necessary, bring individuals “to book” to ensure such behaviour was “eradicated”.
Valtin has done us all a favor by transcribing one of the most important and disturbing of the torture documents, the minute of the October 2, 2002 planning meeting for developing SERE-based techniques for use at Guantanamo.
If you wish to repost this essay you can download a .txt file of the html here (right click and save). Permission granted.
What follows below was transcribed from a PDF of the original document (or a copy of same), posted on the website of Senator Carl Levin, Chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee. It, along with a wealth of other documentation, was used in preparing the SASC’s highly critical report late last year on interrogations and detainee treatment, which concluded that high officials bore responsibility for the mistreatment and torture of prisoners under U.S. control.
The document below constitutes the minutes from a meeting held at Guantanamo in early autumn, 2002. It is presented with minimal editorial comment, as I believe it speaks for itself. So far as I know, no other transcription of this document, minus certain excerpts, has ever been published or posted before. It is done so here as a public service, to promote the position that prosecution of the government’s torture crimes is of paramount importance.
Cast of characters:
Lt. Col. Diane Beaver, the Staff Judge Advocate at Guantanamo; Lt. Col. Jerald Phifer, who sent a memo to Maj. Gen. Michael E. Dunlavey, Commander of Joint Task Force (JTF) 170, requesting approval for more severe interrogation techniques” (Dunleavy told a superior that Phifer was his “point of contact” on interrogation matters); Major John Leso, a military psychologist, who was present at the torture interrogation of Mohammed al-Khatani (Leso, like Major Burney in the minutes, were members of the Behavioral Science Consultation Team (BSCT) — Burney is reportedly a psychiatrist — last month, the Convening Authority of Military Commissions at Guantanamo dropped the charges against al-Khatani, concluding his treatment amounted to torture); Dave Becker, representing the Defense Intelligence Agency; and John Fredman, then chief counsel to the CIA’s counter-terrorism center.
I’d like to make only two observations that I think are relevant at this point. One, it is clear that coercive interrogations amounting to torture had already begun at Guantanamo prior to this October 2002 meeting. In the document itself, the participants have a general discussion recalling how prisoner “063″, Mohammed al-Khatani, “has responded to certain types of deprivation and psychological stressors,” indicating, perhaps, that al-Khatani was some kind of experimental test case. (H/T to Trudy Bond, who noted this fact in an article published at Counterpunch earlier this year.)
Secondly, it struck me when transcribing these minutes the degree to which John Fredman, the CIA legal counsel and rep to this meeting, dominated the discussion. All the participants seem to bow to his authority, especially on legal issues, with Lt. Col. Beaver chiming in as well. While the BSCT members — who are the medical professionals present — appear to criticize “fear-based” interrogations techniques at the beginning of the meeting, in favor of rapport-building, as well as abusive environmental “approaches,” as the discussion veers more and more to propositions regarding blatant torture, like the “wet towel” (waterboarding) technique, nary a protest is heard from these individuals, who have by their actions disavowed the ethics of their medical and/or psychological professions.
One final note: the acronym SERE, which appears throughout, refers to the Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape program found in the various military branches. Meant to inoculate U.S. servicemen against the rigors of enemy capture and torture, Sen. Levin’s investigation documented the various ways in which SERE methods were reverse-engineered to provide torture techniques for use by the military and CIA on prisoners held by under U.S. control. So far as we know, the first approach by the Defense Department (specifically, by DoD Chief Counsel William J. Haynes, II) to the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency, parent department for SERE, regarding information on SERE techniques, was in December 2001, well before any legal memo by Bush’s Office of Legal Counsel allowing (illegally) for abusive treatment of detainees. There can be no alibi that DoD was following legal advice or protected by presidential order at that point in time.
Re transcription: I have tried to follow as much as possible the layout, spelling, punctuation, and font emphasis of the original. Bullets have been changed to asterisks, arrows to long dashes. All brackets and parentheses are as in original, unless otherwise indicated.
Counter Resistance Strategy Meeting Minutes
Persons in Attendance:
COL Cummings, LTC Phifer, CDR Bridges, LTC Beaver, MAJ Burney, MAJ Leso, Dave Becker, John Fredman, 1LT Seek, SPC Pimentel
The following notes were taken during the aforementioned meeting at 1340 on October 2, 2002. All questions and comments have been paraphrased:
BSCT Description of SERE Psych Training (MAJ Burney and MAJ Leso)
* Identify trained resisters
* Al Qaeda Training
* Methods to overcome resistance
* Rapport building (approach proven to yield positive results)
* Friendly approach (approach proven to yield positive results)
* Fear Based Approaches are unreliable, ineffective in almost all cases
* What’s more effective than fear based strategies are camp-wide environmental stratetgies designed to disrupt cohesion and communication among detainees
* Environment should foster dependence and compliance
LTC Phifer: Harsh techniques used on our service members have worked and will work on some, what about those?
MAJ Leso: Force is risky, and may be ineffective due to the detainees’ frame of reference. They are used to seeing much more barbaric treatment.
– At this point a discussion about ISN 63 [Mohammed al-Qahtani] ensued, recalling how he has responded to certain types of deprivation and psychological stressors. After short discussion the BSCT continued to address the overall manipulation of the detainees’ environment.
* Psychological stressors are extremely effective (ie, sleep deprivation, withholding food, isolation, loss of time)
COL Cummings: We can’t do sleep deprivation
LTC Beaver: Yes, we can — with approval.
* Disrupting the normal camp operations is vital. We need to create an environment of “controlled chaos”
LTC Beaver: We may need to curb the harsher operations while ICRC [International Committee of the Red Cross] is around. It is better not to expose them to any controversial techniques. We must have the support of the DOD.
Becker: We have had many reports from Bagram about sleep deprivation being used.
LTC Beaver: True, but officially it is not happening. It is not being reported officially. The ICRC is a serious concern. They will be in and out, scrutinizing our operations, unless they are displeased and decide to protest and leave. This would draw a lot of negative attention.
COL Cummings: The new PSYOP plan has been passed up the chain
LTC Beaver: It’s at J3 at SOUTHCOM.
Fredman: The DOJ has provided much guidance on this issue. The CIA is not held to the same rules as the military. In the past when the ICRC has made a big deal about certain detainees, the DOD has “moved” them away from the attention of the ICRC. Upon questioning from the ICRC about their whereabouts, the DOD’s response has repeatedly been that the detainee merited no status under the Geneva Convention. The CIA has employed aggressive techniques on less than a handful of suspects since 9/11.
Under the Torture Convention, torture has been prohibited by international law, but the language of the statutes is written vaguely. Severe mental and physical pain is prohibited. The mental part is explained as poorly as the physical. Severe physical pain described as anything causing permanent damage to major organs or body parts. Mental torture described as anything leading to permanent, profound damage to the senses or personality. It is basically subject to perception. If the detainee dies you’re doing it wrong. So far, the techniques we have addressed have not proven to produce these types of results, which in a way challenges what the BSCT paper says about not being able to prove whether these techniques will lead to permanent damage. Everything on the BSCT white paper is legal from a civilian standpoint. [Any questions of severe weather or temperature conditions should be deferred to medical staff.] Any of the techniques that lie on the harshest end of the spectrum must be performed by a highly trained individual. Medical personnel should be present to treat any possible accidents. The CIA operates without military intervention. When the CIA has wanted to use more aggressive techniques in the past, the FBI has pulled their personnel from theatre. In those rare instances, aggressive techniques have proven very helpful.
LTC Beaver: We will need documentation to protect us
Fredman: Yes, if someone dies while aggressive techniques are being used, regardless of cause of death, the backlash of attention would be extremely detrimental. Everything must be approved and documented.
Becker: LEA personnel will not participate in harsh techniques
LTC Beaver: There is no legal reason why LEA personnel cannot participate in these operations
– At this point a discussion about whether or not to video tape the aggressive sessions, or interrogations at all ensued.
Becker: Videotapes are subject to too much scrutiny in court. We don’t want the LEA people in aggressive sessions anyway.
LTC Beaver: LEA choice not to participate in these types of interrogations is more ethical and moral as opposed to legal.
Fredman: The videotaping of even totally legal techniques will look “ugly”.
Fredman: The Torture Convention prohibits torture and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment. The US did not sign up on the second part, because of the 8th amendment (cruel and unusual punishment), but we did sign the part about torture. This gives us more license to use more controversial techniques.
LTC Beaver: Does SERE employ the “wet towel” technique?
Fredman: If a well-trained individual is used to perform [sic] this technique it can feel like you’re drowning. The lymphatic system will react as if you’re suffocating, but your body will not cease to function. It is very effective to identify phobias and use them (ie, insects, snakes, claustrophobia). The level of resistance is directly related to person’s experience.
MAJ Burney: Whether or not significant stress occurs lies in the eye of the beholder. The burden of proof is the big issue. It is very difficult to disprove someone else’s PTSD.
Fredman: These techniques need involvement from interrogators, psych, medical, legal, etc.
Becker: Would we blanket approval or would it be case by case?
Fredman: The CIA makes the call internally on most of the types of techniques found in the BSCT paper, and this discussion. Significantly harsh techniques are approved through the DOJ.
LTC Phifer: Who approves ours? The CG? SOUTHCOM CG?
Fredman: Does the Geneva Convention apply? The CIA rallied for it not to.
LTC Phifer: Can we get DOJ opinion about these topics on paper?
LTC Beaver: Will it go from DOJ to DOD?
LTC Phifer: Can we get to see a CIA request to use advanced aggressive techniques?
Fredman: Yes, but we can’t provide you with a copy. You will probably be able to look at it.
An example of a different perspective on torture is Turkey. In Turkey they say that interrogation at all, or anything you do to that results in the subject betraying his comrades is torture.
LTC Beaver: In the BSCT paper it says something about “imminent threat of death”,…
Fredman The threat of death is also subject to scrutiny, and should be handled on a case by case basis. Mock executions don’t work as well as friendly approaches, like letting someone write a letter home, or providing them with an extra book.
Becker: I like the part about ambient noise.
– At this point a discussion about the ways to manipulate the environment ensued, and the following ideas were offered:
* Medical visits should be scheduled randomly, rather than on a set system
* Let detainee rest just long enough to fall asleep and wake him up about every thirty minutes and tell him it’s time to pray again
* More meals per day induce loss of time
* Truth serum; even though it may not actually work, it does have a placebo effect.
Meeting ended at 1450.
*********** The Immediate Aftermath
It is worth noting some of the administrative responses to this meeting. On October 11, a week after the Counter Resistance Strategy Meeting, LTC Jerald Phifer wrote a request to Major General Michael B. Dunleavy, Commander at Guantanamo, requesting use of Counter-Resistance Strategy techniques. He divided them into three categories of intensity.
Category I included direct approach and rapport building techniques, but also false identification of national identity of the interrogator, yelling at the detainee, and “techniques of deception.” Category II techniques included use of stress position, isolation up to 30 days, light/auditory deprivation, 20 hour interrogations, nudity, hooding, and use of phobias “to induce stress.” Category III techniques included the “wet towel” (waterboarding) treatment, threats of death to the prisoner or his family, and exposure to cold.
On the same day, the Staff Judge Advocate at Guantanamo, LTC Diane E. Beaver, wrote a legal brief that concluded “the proposed strategies do not violate federal law.” She did suggest, though, that Category II and III techniques undergo further legal review “prior to their commencement.” Still on the same day, Maj. Gen. Dunleavy wrote a memo to the Commander of U.S. Southern Command asking for approval of the techniques. He concluded, without exception, that “these techniques do not violate U.S. or international laws.
On October 25, 2002, General James T. Hill, Commander at SOUTHCOM, forwarded the request to use the techniques to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. While he worried about the legality of some of th Category III techniques, particularly the death threats, he urged them to consider that he wanted “to have as many options as possible at my disposal.”
A few days after that, on October 28, 2002, Mark Fallon, Deputy Commander at Criminal Investigation Task Force (CITF) sent a memo to a colleague. He was uneasy about what he had read in the Counter Resistance Strategy Meeting Minutes. He told his colleague the comments of Beaver and others “looks like the kinds of stuff Congressional hearings are made of.” The techniques “seem to stretch beyond the bounds of legal propriety.”
Quotes from LTC Beaver regarding things that are not being reported give the appearance of impropriety…. Talk of “wet towel treatments” which results in the lymphatic gland reacting as if you are suffocating, would in my opinion; shock the conscience of any legal body looking at using the results of the interrogations or possibly even the interrogators. Someone needs to be considering how history will look back at this.