December 9, 2014

Torture update


[In 2003],
Colin Powell made the case for invading Iraq before the United Nations Security Council. Many aspects of his case were clearly dubious at the time, but one notorious aspect desperately needs to be truly understood: Some of Powell’s argument for an Iraq link to al-Qaeda came from Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi who was tortured into giving such “evidence” — that is, he told the torturers what they wanted to hear so that the torture would stop.

Washington Post - In 2009, the Pew Research Center found that 49 percent of the public said that "the use of torture against suspected terrorists in order to gain important information" can "often" or "sometimes" be justified. This belief was held by 64 percent of Republicans, 54 percent of Independents and 36 percent of Democrats. Including the number who say that torture can rarely be justified, 71 percent of Americans accept torture under some circumstances.

The Nazis' use of "enhanced interrogation"

Psychologists played a crucial role in helping CIA torture, then profited from $81 million in contracts  

From the Senate report:  Much of the information the CIA provided to the media on the operation of the CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program and the effectiveness of its enhanced interrogation techniques was inaccurate and was similar to the inaccurate information provided by the CIA to the Congress, the Department of Justice, and the White House...

Beginning with the CIA's first detainee, Abu Zubaydah, and continuing with numerous others, the CIA applied its enhanced interrogation techniques with significant repetition for days or weeks at a time. Interrogation techniques such as slaps and "wallings" (slamming detainees against a wall) were used in combination, frequently concurrent with sleep deprivation and nudity....

The waterboarding technique was physically harmful, inducing convulsions and vomiting. Abu Zubaydah, for example, became "completely unresponsive, with bubbles rising through his open, full mouth."Internal CIA records describe the waterboarding of Khalid Shaykh Mohammad as evolving into a "series of near drownings."

Sleep deprivation involved keeping detainees awake for up to 180 hours, usually standing or in stress positions, at times with their hands shackled above their heads. At least five detainees experienced disturbing hallucinations during prolonged sleep deprivation and, in at least two of those cases, the CIA nonetheless continued the sleep deprivation.

At least five CIA detainees were subjected to "rectal rehydration" or rectal feeding without documented medical necessity. The CIA placed detainees in ice water "baths." The CIA led several detainees to believe they would never be allowed to leave CIA custody alive, suggesting to one detainee that he would only leave in a coffin-shaped box. One interrogator told another detainee that he would never go to court, because "we can never let the world know what I have done to you." CIA officers also threatened at least three detainees with harm to their families to include threats to harm the children of a detainee, threats to sexually abuse the mother of a detainee, and a threat to "cut [a detainee's] mother's throat."

At times, the detainees at COBALT were walked around naked or were shackled with their hands above their heads for extended periods of time. Other times, the detainees at COBALT were subjected to what was described as a "rough takedown," in which approximately five CIA officers would scream at a detainee, drag him outside of his cell, cut his clothes off, and secure him with Mylar tape. The detainee would then be hooded and dragged up and down a long corridor while being slapped and punched.

Al Jazeera America -  Defenders of the program and the memos that authorized them argue that U.S. criminal laws do not apply outside of U.S. territory — and the CIA interrogations in question occurred at secret "black sites" overseas. But the Fourth Circuit court in 2006 rejected the "extraterritoriality" argument in United States v. Pessaro, the first and only case in which a person connected with the CIA was convicted in connection to the "war on terror" that began after the September 11 attacks.

The Geneva Conventions, enacted shortly after World War II and ratified by nearly every country in the world, are a set of legal protections that safeguard civilians, soldiers, and prisoners during wartime. The provision known as Common Article 3 prohibits torture, cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment of prisoners of war. In addition, article 17 bars physical or mental torture that is inflicted to secure information or a confession from prisoners. Countries that violate the Geneva Conventions can be prosecuted for war crimes, according to Pitter.

The U.N. Convention Against Torture is an international human rights treaty meant to prevent torture and cruel, inhuman degrading treatment. The treaty, which the U.S. helped to draft, requires countries to pass legislation to prevent torture within their borders, said Pitter. It also prohibits countries from transporting people to any country where there is reason to believe they will be tortured. More on the law


Anonymous said...

It could have been worse. They might have been offered VA benefits.

Anonymous said...

One ought be careful in not buying into the Republican/Libertarian narrative. Prior to being undermined and underfunded by the the current crop of neo-Liberal f#@ks of all political persuasion, the VA provided remarkably efficient service and care. Attacking the VA has become necessary due to the sudden realization that the system stood as proof positive that a single payer/government administered health system can actual work. This is not at all unlike the attacks upon what was once the considered one of the finest institutions of education in the world, the California public schools, and in particular the UC university system that culminated the process.