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Thursday, December 11, 2014

The torture post

Igor Volsky has chosen what he considers the five most damning revelations from the torture report. Here's an ultra-brief summary:

1. No terror attacks were prevented.

2. The CIA claimed that torture obtained useful intel. The CIA lied.

3. Some CIA personnel questioned the use of torture. (I should hope so.)

4. It was way more brutal than most Americans thought.

5. Waterboarding did much more damage than the Bush administration admitted.

Matt Taibbi has a "top ten" list of his own. The first eight involve torture techniques...

1. "Rectal feeding" and "rectal hydration." Forced enemas. Shoving food up a man's butt.

2. Walling. Slamming someone against a wall. It seems that there was a whole art to this.

3. Sleep Deprivation. 180 hours in the case of Khaled Sheikh Muhammed.

4. Diapers. Forcing guys people to live in their own shit for days.

5. Mock executions. Nice to see that the lads at Langley have read their Dostoyevsky.

6. Confined in a very small box with insects. For days.

7. The rough takedown. Very much like running the gauntlet.

8. The cordless drill. According to Taibbi, this was more of a threat than anything else.

Taibbi, like Volsky, notes that the torture produced no actionable intelligence. He ends with the most important point of all: If there are no consequences, the whole thing will probably happen again.
Even if the Obama administration hasn't continued these policies (and who knows for sure about that), they sure didn't punish them, leaving the likes of Feinstein to simply write up what happened for the sake of posterity. That total lack of real consequence for the policymakers makes it almost certain that we will resort to the same behaviors the next time a 9/11 happens. And since the stuff we got away with (are getting away with?) this time was this weird – insects in coffin-boxes and drills and hangings and pasta-up-the-wazz weird – just imagine what the next round of innovations will bring. God help us.
Taibbi isn't the only one who considers the current administration to be complicit. Senator Mark Udall has said on the Senate floor that the CIA is still lying about what really happened.
"The refusal to provide the full Panetta Review and the refusal to acknowledge facts detailed in both the committee study and the Panetta Review lead to one disturbing finding: Director Brennan and the CIA today are continuing to willfully provide inaccurate information and misrepresent the efficacy of torture," Udall said. "In other words: The CIA is lying."
Udall, a Democrat, has already lost his seat, which explains why he is going after Obama-era officials with such gusto. What is there to lose?

Motive. For a long time, people have been asking: If torture does not produce useful intel, why do it? As near as I can tell, the only reason to employ torture is to force prisoners to "confess" to things that are not true. Taibbi on "rectal hydration":
In the case of KSM, they used the technique as a means to "clear a person's head," and believed it was helpful in getting him to talk. The report explains that KSM fabricated information during this period, leading to the capture and CIA detention of "two innocent individuals."
It seems that when a man's head is clear, he will indict the innocent.

Big Dick. The right-wingers on Fox News are throwing a tizzy fit because this report reminds the citizenry of one of the big reasons why everyone came to dislike Dubya. That's not the kind of reminder the partisans of Jeb would prefer.

I thus find it very intriguing to see Dick Cheney make things even worse for Bush. See, the report wants us to believe that the President did not know about the torture techniques until 2006, and Cheney considers that claim to be a "flat out lie."
"I think he knew certainly the techniques, we did discuss the techniques, there was no effort on our part to keep him from that," Cheney said on Fox News.

"That the president wasn’t being told is just a flat out lie."

Bush wrote in his memoir, Decision Points, that he did know about the interrogation practices.

"Read his book," Cheney said. "He was fully informed."
Can you imagine Jeb's reaction as he read this passage? 'Thanks a lot, Dick...!'

Will Dick and Dubya pay? As noted above, Senator Udall is incensed by the lack of consequence. At emptywheel's site, Jim White draws our attention to a bombshell statement from UN official Ben Epperson. You don't really have to read between the lines to see that Epperson wants to see Bush and Cheney and some high-ranking CIA personnel stand trial.
It is now time to take action. The individuals responsible for the criminal conspiracy revealed in today’s report must be brought to justice, and must face criminal penalties commensurate with the gravity of their crimes.

The fact that the policies revealed in this report were authorised at a high level within the US Government provides no excuse whatsoever. Indeed, it reinforces the need for criminal accountability.
International law prohibits the granting of immunities to public officials who have engaged in acts of torture. This applies not only to the actual perpetrators but also to those senior officials within the US Government who devised, planned and authorised these crimes.

As a matter of international law, the US is legally obliged to bring those responsible to justice. The UN Convention Against Torture and the UN Convention on Enforced Disappearances require States to prosecute acts of torture and enforced disappearance where there is sufficient evidence to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction. States are not free to maintain or permit impunity for these grave crimes.
The United States will do nothing, of course. But could we see a situation in which Bush is subjected to arrest if leaves this country? Lovely thought, that.

Will the psychologists pay? Here's another damning revelation: Shrinks took $81 million in recompense for their participation.
This is a matter of outrage for everyone, but as psychologists, we have a particular obligation to speak out. Many of the approaches the CIA used were developed by our discipline, and by individuals who will have known about the codes of conduct by which US psychologists are bound – which include beneficence and non-maleficence, and respect for rights, dignity and integrity.
Of course, anyone who has read anything about MKULTRA knows that psychiatrists are easily cajoled into betraying the high ideals that should prevail within their profession. The obvious remedy: Guilty psychologists should be stripped of their ability to practice. In fact, the American Psychological Association's stated policy is crystal clear...
The American Psychological Association's (APA) position on torture is clear and unequivocal: Any direct or indirect participation in any act of torture or other forms of cruel, degrading or inhuman treatment or punishment by psychologists is strictly prohibited. There are no exceptions. Such acts as waterboarding, sexual humiliation, stress positions and exploitation of phobias are clear violations of APA's no torture/no abuse policy.
Their response to the Senate's report is of interest...
The new details provided by the report regarding the extent and barbarity of torture techniques used by the CIA are sickening and morally reprehensible.

Two psychologists mentioned prominently in the report under pseudonyms, but identified in media reports as James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, are not members of the American Psychological Association. Jessen was never a member; Mitchell resigned in 2006. Therefore, they are outside the reach of the association’s ethics adjudication process. Regardless of their membership status with APA, if the descriptions of their actions are accurate, they should be held fully accountable for violations of human rights and U.S. and international law.

Last month, the APA announced an independent review of the allegation by New York Times reporter and author James Risen that the association colluded with the Bush administration to support enhanced interrogation techniques that constituted torture. The review is being conducted by attorney David Hoffman of the law office Sidley Austin...
Mitchell and Jensen are referenced in this report.
Udall, a Democrat, has already lost his seat, which explains why he is going after Obama-era officials with such gusto. What is there to lose?

I do hope he reads the whole report but he better not drive on any 2 lane roads or fly in a small plane. Then again the cia doesn't really care how many die as long as the target does.
"In fact, the American Psychological Association's stated policy is crystal clear..."

Oh boy. Ten years later their policy may be clear. Google "APA and torture" and look for the older articles, not the white-washing of more recent reports. You'll see APA was 100% complicit when it mattered. Absolutely despicable organization.

Don't Let Psychologists Get Away with Torture
"Shocking evidence of the American Psychological Association’s (APA) role in the Bush-era torture program has recently come to light. Their actions are a clear violation of medical ethics and international law."

Why Torture Made Me Leave the APA
"Jeffrey Kaye left the APA over its complicity in torture by the U.S. government. This is his letter of resignation."

Of course, the US is not a signatory to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICCPED).
One gets the impression that the Bush administration wanted false confessions:
"The 9/11 Commission Report was largely based on a third-hand account of what tortured detainees said, with two of the three parties in the communication being government employees. And the government went to great lengths to obstruct justice and hide unflattering facts from the Commission."

Also, I'm not sure why CIA hired Jessen and Mitchell. Didn't CIA have any old copies of the KUBARK manual lying around?
77The reports on torture itself is depraved and disgusting but then so are the torture apologists--full of crap Cheney, doing the will of the American people Hayden, the lying Brennan, the little bit of water in the nose and mouth Peter King, the 'awesome' crew on Fox et al. There's no debate on the torture question; we concluded decades, if not centuries ago, that torture was wrong, immoral and ineffective. These moral midgets won't even use the word torture or speak to the techniques themselves. According to the wise Cheney, there's nothing between 'enhanced interrogation' and kissing the enemy on the cheek.

What sort of twisted mind comes up with rectal rehydration? To 'clear the mind' was the reason/excuse. And sorry, the Dems don't get off the hook on this one--those who looked the other way, Pelosi who took impeachment off the table and Obama with his 'don't look back' attitude.

What a bleak, sad, wretched performance!

It is hilarious to watch the war criminals try to shift blame to each other now that the heat is finally on. I'm waiting for the ultimate defense: "I was only following orders." That didn't work so well in 1946. When the hangings begin, let the psychologists go first.
The World Socialist Web Site was appropriately outraged:

Responding to the UN's Emmerson, here is the article's list of senior officials who not only should, but by law are required to face trial: GW Bush, Cheney, George Tenet, Brennan, John Yoo, Jay Bybee, Jessen and Mitchell, Condoleeza Rice, Jose Rodriguez. Plus Obama, Holder, and others from the current administration as accessories.
"Udall is going after Obama-era officials with such gusto."
But how can you write that when he is going out of his way to make sure these people aren't prosecuted? See this video, isn't it clear he is helping those who perpetrated these crimes to get away with it by not calling for what is required (PROSECUTION)?
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