Wednesday, May 17, 2006

David Orr's Letter in today's Defender on Burge, torture, and 35 years

Orr's letter in today's Defender. Not sure if it's published anywhere else (it should be!). The Foie Gras story may have gotton more coverage. Hopefully the full report will be released this Friday.

Dear Editor,

Back in 2002, a Cook County judge appointed special prosecutors to investigate the allegations of torture against former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge.

Now, four years and $5.5 million later, the prosecutors want to release their findings. Not surprisingly, attorneys for Burge and other former officers, accused of using electric shock and suffocation techniques on suspects, don’t want the report to be made public.

For those keeping track, it’s been 13 years since Burge was fired for torturing Andrew Wilson while Wilson was in police custody more than 25 years ago. The allegations of torture surfaced some 35 years ago. Beginning to see a pattern?

These allegations and attempts to cover them up smelled back then just as they do today. After decades of being denied the complete truth about Burge’s alleged atrocities, the public has a right to finally hear it - now.

I applaud the city’s African American aldermen for providing leadership on this issue - one that impacts all of us.

David Orr

Cook County Clerk
cross posted at Bill Baar's West Side


bored now,  4:20 PM  

thanks for bringing this to our attention...

Skeeter 5:02 PM  

Running for something, Mr. Orr?

He is right, of course, but it is interesting that he would get involved in that issue.

Anonymous,  5:09 PM  

This is a distraction from the poor job David Orr did on the election.

Anonymous,  5:11 PM  

Seriously, the first thing we hear from Orr in years (other than the botched election), and he chimes in on torture?!

Pat Hickey 5:20 PM  

If my arithmetic is not too flawed:
Lt. Burge would have been inflicting pain upon prisoners in 1987, but he was not fired until 1993.

Let's see:

1981 -Burge tortures Wilson and Jane Byrne is Mayor.

1983 - 1987 - Lt. Burge is still on the job and Harold washington is Mayor.

1987- Lt. Burge is still on the job and David Orr is Mayor

I hope we get some answers.

Anonymous,  8:12 PM  

Interesting observation Pat.

Anonymous,  11:26 AM  

David Orr was Acting Mayor from November 25, 1987 to December 2, 1987. Orr was succeeded by Sawyer. Orr became acting Mayor after the sudden death of Washington. Given turmoil that followed Washington's death it is not surprising that Orr didn't drop everything and go after Burge.

Pat Hickey 11:38 AM  

I was struck by the immediacy of his concern and genuine wish to get to the bottom of things - so long as something bad sticks to someone else - someone not nearly as progressive as Old Dave himseld that is. Orr's a beaut.

Pat Hickey 11:52 AM  

These allegations and attempts to cover them up smelled back then just as they do today. D.Orr 2006

Didn't mind the smell too bad evidently. Two years or two months what did Mayor Orr know and when did he know it? Come on, Mayor Emeritus, no excuses; let's get to the bottom of this - FOR ALL OUR SAKES.

Anonymous,  12:18 PM  

Acting Mayor Orr was in office for 8 days. That includes all of the day he ascended to office, the two weekend days and Thanksgiving.

If David Orr was responsible for finding out and knowing about all wrongdoing in the City of Chicago during his eight day tenure, then Mayor Daley is surely responsible for the corruption that occurred on his watch for over a decade.

Pat Hickey 12:29 PM  

He smelled it; he dealt it? The man stated that he smelled a foul odor wafting from some where in cop-land even then. Did move away from the smell? Did he move closer to the smell?

Progessives are olfactory hypersensitive and almost as honest.

Did Lt. Burge torture people - I sure as hell don't know. I have been in Area 2 and I would defy anyone to find a steam heater - one where people are said to have been hand-cuffed.

One group of lawyers with names like Flint Taylor and Locke Bowman want Burge's pelt - for starters. Another group of lawyers do not want sealed grand jury testimony made public. I tend to believe that 'sealed testimony' should stay sealed; otherwise whu seal it in the first place.

Flint-Locke that would make some lawfirm.

Bill Baar 12:54 PM  

From Human Rights Watch.

I'll google around for this report... I don't know if its included with the material under seal or not.

A report by the police investigatory agency, the Office of Professional Standards (OPS), found that physical abuse "did occur and that it was systematic....[T]he type of abuse described was not limited to the usual beating, but went into such esoteric areas as psychological techniques and planned torture. The evidence presented by some individuals convinced juries and appellate courts that personnel assigned to Area 2 engaged in methodical abuse.

The public deserves to know what's going on.

Pat Hickey 1:12 PM  


You are absolutely correct. If 'systematic torture' and 'methodical abuse' were in common practice at Area 2 the public should know from whom those practices were mandated and if Lt. Burge operated in a vacuum form 1981 until 1993, who were his immediate superiors from whom did they get their marching orders.

My feelings are that political opportunists, race baiters, race hustlers, radical activists, and egomaniacs in the news media want to try Burge into a heart attack and then declare victory 'for all the people' or try Burge in the media over long period of time.

Like I said, I don't know if Burge tortured anyone, but I do knwo that he was fired from the cops.

Officer Fahey, murdered by Wilson, was a nice man. I did not know Officer Boyle, but let's not forget him.

Quite frankly, if the people who murder other people get a tune-up in the interrogation process, I do not lose a great deal of sleep over that fact. I do know that I have attended way too many funerals of nice young men here in Gresham (6th District) who merely got in the way men like Wilson.

Most of those victims never have their murderers caught. That is a shame.

Pat Hickey 1:48 PM  


Mea Maxima Culpa: It was Officer Rich O'Brien who was killed with Officer William Fahey. I apologize for that slight to his memory.

47th Ward,  9:15 PM  

Hickey, lay off David Orr and ask yourself, who was using Burge's evidence to convict these suspects?

The question isn't "who was mayor" when this was going on in earnest, but who was the Cook County State's Attorney.

Pat Hickey 10:00 PM  

Ward, since we're using last names, the use of imperative sentences warms me, no end, to whatever point of view you suggest - I don't really mean that.

Skeeter 11:57 AM  

Out of curiosity, Pat, I assume you have no real problem with Saddam, other than the fact that he was anti-American?

Torture is not an issue for you, as long as it makes people talk.

Is that your view, as an American?

It is a serious question, Pat. Is torture morally acceptable? Do you believe that we should abolish the Constitutional prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment?

Pat Hickey 12:44 PM  

You assume a plenty. Take your assumptions and go mobilize the like minded.

If you care to read a snetnce from Sasha Abramsky's polemic about Burge: here goes - It has become a point of doctrine, recently spewed by Bernadine Dorhn at a Medill forum:
Jon Burge grew up in the working class Irish communities of southern Chicago. A red-head with a pugilist's frame, he served as a military policeman during the Vietnam War. That's likely where he first came into contact with tools of the trade such as the electric shock-producing "Tucker Telephone," as well as psychological torture methods such as meticulously staged mock executions.

'That's likely where . . .' Now, its 'Burge learned torture techniques in Vietnam. Yep Sketter you assume.' Kind of a quantum leap. I knew William Fahey, I have many friends on the Police Department who have helped kids at Leo and can not think of one instance where FLINT-LOCKE company have been of service to anyone.

Get out there and mobilize your assumptions.

Skeeter 1:28 PM  


You don't really answer my question.

That being said, if you are up for answering the question: Is torture acceptable or not? Your words about tune-ups sure seem to indicate that it is acceptable. Here is your chance to tell me that I'm reading something into your statement that is not there.

Is torture acceptable? Are you claiming that it is acceptable for cops to torture, or are you just claiming that Burge never did it.

And also, don't lecture me about the CPD. I have done something about the abuse they take. I have represented them before OPS and helped save their jobs. I've been there for them, fighting OPS when OPS wants to hang these guys for making arrests.

The anti-abuse people did help the department. It helped save the reputation of every hard working PO on the street. There is a fundamental difference between "He said mean things to him after I MF'd him" or "my handcuffs were too tight" or "he tackled me on the concrete rather than on the nice soft dirt" as opposed to "When I was in the interrogation room, he beat me bloody and it was only reported when the lock-up refused to take me so they sent me to St. Anthony where they put 20 stitches in my head."

Getting rid of the people who beat people bloody in the interrogation room HELPS all Chicago POs, and makes it a heck of a lot easier to get real convictions.

Finally, I note that Bill Baar has not commented on Hickey's words. I find that interesting. Baar claims that the liberals don't care about torture in America, but unless Hickey corrects me, it sure looks like Hickey [a non-liberal] supports torture. Under Baar's logic, that will lead inevitably to the collapse of the conservative movement, just like the words of one Rockford minister will lead to the collapse of all things liberal.

Pat Hickey 1:39 PM  


Your question is foolish. Let's leave it at that.

What in wide world of sports does it matter what I think beyond what I choose to post? Read disagree and move on. I disagree with many of my friends on ILLNOIZE and enjoy a nice give and take with them. As Rich Miller says have some fun, or find another hobby.

Put your talents to work.

Skeeter 3:11 PM  

Classic, Pat.

When I was a child, I learned that there were no dumb questions, just dumb answers. That sure looks to be the case here.

When you talk about "foolish" just remember that you were the one who made the "tune-up" comment and then refused to flesh out just what you meant.

I don't necessarily disagree with you, Pat. I just don't know what the heck you are talking about. Did you have a point with the tune-up comment?

Think through the issue Pat. Then maybe you can write something once and then not have to face questions.

You should get a hobby too. Maybe you could take a writing class so that you can learn to put coherent thoughts on paper. Just an idea.

The real issue here is that we both know what you meant. You meant what you said. You don't have a problem with a bad guy getting beaten up, particularily if you really believe that the guy was actually a bad guy.

The problem that you have is that in hindsight, you are having a tough time distinguishing torture in a Chicago jail from torture in some country in the Middle East. Don't bother with that distinction Pat. It can't be done.

Of course, you could always just state that torture is always bad, but you really don't believe that, do you Pat?

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