LAKE ARROWHEAD, CA. 12 December 2016
A ground breaking report just released to the U.N., Special Rapporteur on Torture by the activist organization ITHACA, reveals the existence of a massive secret imprisonment and torture system that targets tens of thousands of Americans each year. (Some have estimated it yields annual profits upwards of $40-billion annually to the perpetrators.1)
The report contains affidavits of some 90 individuals documenting violations of the 1984 United Nations Convention Against Torture, including isolation, contraindicated forced drugging, starvation, medical neglect, intimidation, coercion, unnecessary/ inappropriate medical procedures, and physical and mental abuse. The victims are not charged or convicted of any crime and are often denied legal representation.
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“Our report, Adult Guardianships as a Form of Torture in the United States, uncovers something far worse–owing to its scope and extent– than the secret network of CIA prisons revealed last year by the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee,” comments ITHACA spokeswoman Janet Phelan. “These victims are not terror suspects. They are ordinary US citizens who fell into a system which is geared towards fleecing their assets, with no regard for their well being.”
Unlike the overseas “black sites,” the ITHACA report points out, the domestic torture system barely reaches the public consciousness because it is protected by a fearsome network of judges, attorneys and other court officers, court-appointed guardians, law enforcement, APS social workers, psychologists and medical personnel.
Some of the so-called care facilities are little more than prisons that isolate vulnerable seniors from their loved ones—often from all outside contact. Then the victims are “treated” while their finances are drained in a variety of ways, sometimes through documents they are coerced through a variety of “ways” to sign. Once their finances are sufficiently depleted, death often follows swiftly. And the evidence is frequently quickly destroyed by cremation before loved ones have a chance to see the body or get an autopsy.
Those fighting to defend their loved ones (and some times lawyers or others who make the mistake of trying to help) also face retaliation, detailed in the ITHACA report. This can include disbarment for attorneys and loss of licenses for medical and other professionals. In some cases, families are ruined by legal costs trying to save a loved one trapped in the system. (One account details an impoverished woman with a disabled husband threatened with $9000 in legal fees for objecting to a court-appointed guardian who was issued letters of guardianship, in violation of state law, listing false credentials. This threat was used to force her to drop the objection. )
Others grow sick from the hopeless struggle and die of heart attacks or other illness—some times under suspicious circumstances. Still others face legal harassment and are forced to leave the country. As detailed in the report, some have faced jail or prison.
The ITHACA report points out a major loophole for potential torturers. There is little hope from the higher courts, despite the fact that many victims and their loved ones should be protected by the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA.)
States the report:
The US Supreme Court has taken a position concerning guardianship and probate matters. Known as “the probate exception,” this essentially removes the Supreme Court from any necessity on issuing decisions in matters arising in state probate courts. The difficulty in finding remedies to exhaust is enhanced by the tendencies of probate courts to issue gag orders and restraining orders against litigants, which may bar them from exercising their legal rights to make further reports or otherwise engage justice agencies.That’s right. The ITHACA report reveals to the U.N. Special Rapporteur that the U.S. legal system is complicit in this alleged wholesale looting and torture of seniors.
The local courts have the power—and use the power—to seal records containing damning evidence, have photographs proving potential torture destroyed, issue gag orders to relatives and witnesses, and issue various restraining orders that prevent exposure of violations of the U.N. Convention on Torture.