Have “black sites” come to Sweet Home Chicago?

The Guardian and The Atlantic have now both reported that Chicago police maintain a site at which they interrogate suspects without booking them or letting them talk to their lawyers.  On the Huffington Post, this is what I have to say about that.

As it turns out, this news doesn’t come too late to have an impact on the race for mayor in Chicago.  Perhaps we can use the six weeks before the runoff election to ask Rahm what he knows about these sites, and when he knew it.

Author: Kelly Kleiman

Kelly Kleiman is a freelance writer on the arts, feminism, travel and social justice. Her reportage and essays have appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and Christian Science Monitor, among other dailies; in magazines, including In These Times and Dance; in the alternative press; on the BBC; and on Chicago Public Radio, where she’s one of the “Dueling Critics” and a contributor to the Onstage Backstage theater blog. She is also a consultant to charities and editor and publisher of The Nonprofiteer, a blog about charity, philanthropy and nonprofit management. She holds undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Chicago.

8 thoughts on “Have “black sites” come to Sweet Home Chicago?”

  1. In old China, when the bureaucracy was functioning properly, a district magistrate could (according to orientalist Robert van Gulik's notes to his Judge Dee novels) do more or less anything short of execution to suspects and witnesses brought before his tribunal. That included torture. There were just two safeguards: the proceedings had to be public, exposing the magistrate to community censure; and he was fully liable personally if he he was later found to have acted unjustly. So every act of judicial torture risked equal retribution.

    1. The best ones IMHO are the early ones, "The Chinese Nail/Bell/Maze Murders", where van Gulik stuck rigorously to the Chinese tradition of three simultaneous cases – truer to real criminal investigation than the English country-house model. Dee isn't a creation, but a historical Tang dynasty statesman who became the hero of later stories by different hands.

  2. I am intrigued as to how the major Chicago media, particularly the daily newspapers, will handle this; they have been challenged almost as much as has the CPD. If they believe the story is wrong or fundamentally misleading, it is their obligation both as journalists and Chicagoans to demonstrate that. If it is correct even is substantial part, they should be ashamed of themselves for letting an outsider break the story and should be fighting to get out front. From what I see on line, not much seems to be happening in either direction so far. It would be interesting to know what discussions are going on in those newsrooms. Chicago correspondent, please feel free to follow up.

    1. The story's been covered on Chicago Public Radio; that's how I heard about it initially. But to my knowledge nothing was said about it in the local papers til yesterday, when the Chicago Tribune published http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-homan-squar… whose headline suggests lawyers don't believe the claims but whose body makes clear they think this sort of stuff happens every day throughout Chicago. Meanwhile the Sun-Times published on-line a copy of the same Tribune story. And even the Chicago Reader, whose coverage of the Jon Burge torture scandal was the only thing keeping the story alive for years, has written nothing about it. Ah, for the days of The Front Page when there were enough newspapers to keep one another on their toes!

  3. "… to ask Rahm what he knows about these sites, and when he knew it" or, if he did not know, then why not, if he claims to be supervising the police force. But I have to ask, what have prosecutors and defense lawyers known about this practice, where and when have they spoken up about it, and why has no one been listening?

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