Wednesday, March 25, 2009

U.S. Torture

“We are finding terrorists and bringing them to justice. We are gathering information about where the terrorists may be hiding. We are trying to disrupt their plots and plans. Anything we do ... to that end in this effort, any activity we conduct, is within the law. We do not torture,” Bush said.

I woke up, naked, strapped to a bed, in a very white room. The room measured approximately 4m x 4m [13 feet by 13 feet]. The room had three solid walls, with the fourth wall consisting of metal bars separating it from a larger room. I am not sure how long I remained in the bed....

The truth is out. The guy who told the truth was Abu Zubaydah, one of the planners of the 2001 terrorist attacks. The guy who lied was the President of the United States.

What we hear about is waterboarding, but that isn't half of it. It isn't even the beginning. Throw out all the allegations of waterboarding, and what U.S. forces did was still torture under any definition, or at least any definition worthy of respect from a civilized people. In other words, any definition except that promulgated by torture apologist John Yoo. The findings come from a report by the International Committee of the Red Cross, and they are damning. You should read the entire article in the New York Review of Books to get a full understanding of what happened, but even what little I have room for here is shocking.

The report details other techniques, used in combination, including constant cold temperatures, loud noises, forced standing (one prisoner was forced to stand by being handcuffed to the ceiling of his cell for an entire month), repeated beatings, sleep deprivation (water was sprayed in their faces whenever they dozed off), prolonged exposure to light or dark, prisoners being repeatedly slammed against the walls of their cells, prisoners being handcuffed to chairs or hospital beds, naked, for weeks on end. It seems endless.

Remember what Bush said. "We do not torture." He lied.

Remember a few other things. Remember the "ticking time bomb" scenario. We have constantly heard that the euphemistically named enhanced interrogation techniques have protected us against further terrorist attacks. This is almost certainly a lie.

Or, on another tack, remember the gloating tone with which the American sources reported that Abu Zubaydah folded immediately after being waterboarded, with the unstated message that he clearly wasn't man enough to take it. Now see the report from John Kiriakou, the CIA officer who is in a position to know:

He resisted. He was able to withstand the water boarding for quite some time. And by that I mean probably 30, 35 seconds.... And a short time afterwards, in the next day or so, he told his interrogator that Allah had visited him in his cell during the night and told him to cooperate because his cooperation would make it easier on the other brothers who had been captured. And from that day on he answered every question just like I'm sitting here speaking to you....

We hear claims about bringing the criminals to justice. When those claims are made, they generally refer to Osama bin Laden and his accomplices. Criminals they are, no question about it. Justice, though? When will we see Rice, Ashcroft, Cheney, Kiriakou, and Bush prosecuted?

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Anonymous Tom McC said...

The NYRB article does not state that Kiriakou actually tortured any of those guys, and I would like to believe that he personally did not. In an interview he was asked if he had ever seen anybody waterboarded, and rather than saying yes, he said that he and his colleagues had done it to each other. Unless you saw something that said he actually did any of the torture, I don't think it's fair to say he did. It also seems that some of the information Kiriakou described was not from being there but from reading communiques.

March 26, 2009 11:33 PM  
Anonymous Tom McC said...

This is from a Dec 2007 NPR report: "Kiriakou questioned Zubaydah and learned the waterboarding technique had been used on him. (Though Kiriakou did not witness it.) At the time, Kiriakou believed the practice was acceptable, but he has recently stated publicly that he believes waterboarding is wrong."

So it looks like he was not involved, right. I'm sorry to say that a Guardian article makes it look different:
"[Kiriakou] now apparently regrets ordering the waterboarding although he maintains that it provided a vital break that probably helped the CIA deter attacks. Crucially, he now says waterboarding is torture, and "Americans are better than that."

March 26, 2009 11:44 PM  
Blogger Jack McCullough said...

Thanks, Tom. I reread the article and corrected that point.

March 27, 2009 6:56 PM  

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