Friday, December 12, 2014

CIA torture report: An indictment of the US

By Mohammad Abu Laiba

إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُعَذِّبُ الَّذِينَ يُعَذِّبُونَ النَّاسَ فِى الدُّنْيَا

Allah tortures those who torture the people in this life (Muslim)
“Do as I say and not as I do” if ever there was a mantra for the US and its allies in the ‘War on Terror’ then surely this would be it. After over a decade of pursuing “the terrorists” as George W Bush coined them, the CIA, the American administration and any moral authority the Western world claimed to have had, has been destroyed by the latest Senate report into interrogation techniques used by the CIA.
The some 500 pages of several thousand that were released show a systematic, deliberate and prolonged torture of prisoners by the CIA held in secret locations across the world. This was no ordinary maltreatment of prisoners in order to gain confessions or extract information. What the CIA’s ‘Enhanced Interrogation Techniques’ (EIT) did was truly medieval and barbaric. Developed in a post 9/11 world when the US administration and its agencies felt they had carte blanche to do whatever they wanted with the Muslim world and Muslim suspects, EIT was used as a frontline tool against those abducted and rendered around the world for torture. The Senate report highlights shocking cases of repeated waterboarding, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded some 182 times, he was made to sleep in a coffin and often confined to a box too small for his body size It was also reported that more than one detainee almost drowned from repeated waterboarding. Other prisoners were subjected to severe sleep deprivation not being allowed to sleep for days on end. Of the most shocking techniques was the forced rectal feeding and hydration of prisoners for no apparent reason but the enjoyment of the perpetrators.
Some of the other techniques included: being stripped naked and dragged through filthy corridors, sexual threats to prisoners and their families, beatings, slapping, psychological torture and being kept in stress positions for hours. There is one case in which a prisoner was chained to a cold concrete fall overnight and died of possible hypothermia. All this is taken from what has been revealed in the report, the mind finds it difficult to comprehend what has been hidden from public consumption!
Torture a historical precedence
Many commentators have suggested that this is the “never again” moment for the CIA and the American administration. They have commended the bravery of those who had the moral courage to come out and reveal these findings. However we have been here before and this is not the first time the CIA has been implicated in the torture and killing of people to facilitate the political interests of the government in power.
The CIA has been developing the kind of torture techniques described in the Senate report for many decades. The kind of extreme sensory deprivation that is seen at Guantanamo Bay and other more secret prisons around the world is based upon the work of Ewen Cameron’s CIA sponsored MKULTRA mind control program in the 1950’s. A technique based upon depriving the subject of any kind of sensory input so severe that the subjects would in theory be more susceptible to their integrators. These techniques were included in the CIA’s KUBARK interrogation manual, a manual used widely by dictatorial regimes throughout Latin America in the 1960’s to torture and silence their political opponents.  A manual which many decades later surfaced at both Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib.
The idea that the CIA acted in a post 9/11, post apocalyptic setting in which maybe lines were crossed inadvertently does not stand up to scrutiny. The CIA has both history and form in the kind of torture perpetrated during the “War on Terror”.
Veiled transparency
What is unique about the Senate report is that on the surface it seems that the CIA have been exposed as having made mistakes. The supposed reaction of the world is meant to be one of gratitude for such transparency. After all there are not many other Intelligence agencies in the world would come clean about its torture techniques, so the theory goes.
However this act of transparency is nothing more than a game of smokes and mirrors a way to hide the real truth about the extent, global complicity and barbarity of the abuse carried out on Muslims kidnapped and then sent around the world for torture. This is no different to the Abu Ghraib scandal where only a fraction of the actual material depicting the barbaric treatment of inmates was released, all further efforts to release more material have been repeatedly blocked.
The Senate report describes how at points the torture was so bad it brought hardened CIA operatives to tears. Yet these operatives still continued to follow orders and none of them blew the whistle on the torture tactics. The excuses being made for those involved in torture sound very much like those made by the SS and Gestapo that they were simply following orders.
Coalition of the willing
The US did not only torture its enemies, it garnered the support of its global partners in the “War on Terror” to lend it a hand. With over 50 countries implicated in the report the US had a coalition of the willing, ready at its beck and call to torture suspects. Some of these are amongst the most repressive regimes in the world, the likes of Syria, Uzbekistan and Egypt. Countries and dictators who the America would want to distance itself from publicly were doing their bidding in private. This gave America legal cover and immunity from prosecution as the torture was carried out by a third party, even though CIA operatives were involved in the actual torture.
One of the countries known to have applied pressure to have its name removed from the report is the UK. Known for its rendition tactics the UK has previously admitted sending the likes of Abdelhakim Belhadj to Libya to be tortured by their then friend Muammar Gaddafi.
Just like the the US, the UK has a history of being implicated in the torture of its geo-political opponents. The recent Brazilian truth commission report which looked into the systematic torture by the military regime which ruled between 1964 to 1985 found that both the US and UK trained Brazilians in the dark arts of torture.
‘The rules of the game are changing’
Tony Blair after the 7/7 attacks declared, “Let no one be in any doubt that the rules of the game are changing.”His statement echoed an earlier statement by Senior British diplomat Robert Cooper who in 2002 stated, “Among ourselves, we keep the law but when we are operating in the jungle, we must also use the laws of the jungle.”Rendition, enhanced interrogation techniques, black sites, assassination programmes were not simply the product of a intelligence agency gone rogue. It was argued that the “normal rules” no longer applied, those things that were perhaps unthinkable were now the acceptable norm when it came to the Muslims and the Muslim world.
These heinous crimes were perpetrated under supervision of Western Governments.  The CIA in defence of their operations have stated George W Bush was fully aware of the use of torture being employed. Similarly the British Government had given approval for the UK to be used as transit routes for the extraordinary rendition programme.
Therefore it is clear that there are no limits for the US and its allies in the pursuit of their ideological and political interests. When it comes to the Muslim world, ideas such as Human rights, right to a fair trial and innocent until proven guilty mean nothing. The very values they espouse to be the cornerstones of their foreign policy are nothing more than political spin for domestic consumption.
Behind closed doors those holding out an olive branch of peace and justice become the very monsters they claim to be fighting against. It seems to be something inherent in the values of the Western powers that their attitude towards anyone who opposes their political hegemony is that of master and slave. They believe they have the  unalienable, god given right to torture, maim and kill anyone who dares get in their way.
Despite calls for the prosecution of those involved in the use of EIT it is unlikely these will ever come to fruition. America’s guilt doesn’t seem to go beyond simply holding it hands up and admitting there may have been some wrongdoings by a few individuals.
This attitude was summed up in the words of former Vice President Dick Cheney when he was asked about the Senate report he replied “The report’s full of crap”.

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