Hideous business, but not new
By Michael Kramer
A front-page article in the Dec. 26 Washington Post has
focused attention on the CIA's decades-long policy that permits
and encourages the use of torture on anyone in its custody.
According to the Post, the CIA currently maintains
interrogation facilities at the Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan,
the British island colony of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean,
the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and "other
overseas interrogation facilities [that] are off-limits to
outsiders, and often even to other government agencies."
Detainees "are sometimes kept standing or kneeling for
hours, in black hoods or spray-painted goggles... . At times
they are held in awkward, painful positions and deprived of
sleep with a 24-hour bombardment of lights--subject to what are
known as 'stress and duress' techniques."
Also, "captives are often 'softened up' by MPs [military
police] and U.S. Army Special Forces troops who beat them up
and confine them in tiny rooms. The alleged terrorists are
commonly blindfolded and thrown into walls, bound in painful
positions, subjected to loud noises and deprived of sleep."
These techniques were also used extensively against military
personnel and civilians during the Korean and Vietnam wars.
While the torturers maimed and killed many, they failed to
break the steadfast resistance of the people of these countries
to U.S. imperialism.
However, the torture did result in the psychological and
emotional scarring of thousands of U.S. military veterans who
were compelled to carry out the brutality. Today they continue
to fill the drug and alcohol abuse outpatient clinics and
hospital wards of the Veterans Administration.
The Washington Post quoted from speeches and congressional
testimony of current CIA Director George Tenet and of Cofer
Black, former head of the CIA's Counterterrorist Center. Most
other sources are identified only as "intelligence specialists
familiar with CIA interrogation methods," "national security
officials," "one official who has supervised the capture and
transfer of accused terrorists," "U.S. government officials,
speaking on condition of anonymity," "Americans with direct
knowledge and others who have witnessed the treatment" and
"Bush administration appointees."
These sources do not want their names revealed because they
know very well that public support for the Bush
administration's so-called war on terrorism could collapse. If
that leads to a falling-out within the ruling class, it might
result in criminal charges being filed against them.
They must also fear Pinochet-type secret indictments in
foreign courts for violating international law. They don't want
this possibility hanging over their heads for the rest of their
lives whenever they travel overseas on official business or
Former U.S. Secretary of State and war criminal Henry
Kissinger, who is now wanted for trial in several countries, as
well as various government officials and active-duty and
retired military officers in Israel, are forced to limit their
travels because of this potential scenario.
One of the most skilled torturers the CIA ever employed was
Dan Mitrione, a former high-ranking Indiana police officer
described in the book "Killing Hope/U.S. Military and CIA
Intervention since World War II," by William Blum.
Mitrione was stationed in Brazil and Uruguay during the
1960s. He was an instructor in the art of torture.
He "had built a soundproofed room in the cellar of his house
in Montevideo. In this room he assembled selected Uruguayan
police officers to observe a demonstration of torture
On July 31, 1970, the Tupamaros--a radical anti-imperialist
Uruguayan group whose members had been regularly tortured by
graduates of Mitrione's course--kidnapped him. A few days later
he was executed. The Greek director Constantin Costa-Gavros
popularized the incident in his excellent film "State of
Siege." He also directed "Missing," about the U.S. role in the
1973 Pinochet coup in Chile.
CIA torture will not make the United States a more secure
place to live. It will not provide a relaxed environment for
U.S. citizens traveling overseas. It will have just the
opposite effect. Further more, it can lead to disaster for
those who fail to distance themselves from the gangster
mentality and mindset in the CIA.
Reprinted from the Jan. 16, 2003, issue of
Workers World newspaper
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