Sunday, November 20, 2005

CIA torture tactics revealed

From AFP:
"CIA agents have revealed details of six interrogation tactics approved by top brass for use at secret CIA jails in Asia and Eastern Europe, ABC News reported.

The techniques have lead to questionable confessions and the death of one man since March 2002, the network said, after interviewing current and former CIA officials.
CIA sources speaking on condition of anonymity described six techniques: "Attention Grab, Attention Slap, Belly Slap, Long Time Standing, Cold Cell, Water Boarding."

The last three techniques are the ones that are the most controversial. "Long Time Standing" amounts to forcing an inmate to stand in place, shackled for 40+ hours. It is a technique eerily similar to a KGB tactic (also allegedly used by the CIA) in which the prisoner is made to sit in a "stress position" without moving for hours on end. A monk I met at ND tells me this tactic was used by the Soviets against Christian priests and monks.

"Cold cell" involves sitting a naked detainee in a 50 degree cell and regularly dousing them with cold water. "Waterboarding," the most egregious of them all, is when the victim is convinced that they are drowning by pouring water into their nasal passage, and is alleged to be equivalent to a "mock execution." The article mentions that mock executions are a violation of international law.

This little tidbit follows the descriptions of the techniques:
"Earlier this month, CIA inspector general John Helgerson said techniques used by the agency appeared to violate the international Convention Against Torture, according to current and former officials who described the report to The New York Times."

Remember how news came out recently that the CIA has been using old Soviet prisons to torture detainees outside the bounds of international law? Those prisons were being used quite early in the War on Terrorism, as was the "extraordinary rendition," the shipping of detainees to countries that are known to use torture so that we can get information out of them.

Some are now trying to defend the use of torture against "enemy combatants." With regard to such despicable arguments, what Chuy said. As a corollary to Chuy's arguments, I refer you to the case of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi. Al-Libi was the Administration's source for the allegation that Saddam was training Al Qaeda in the use of chemical weapons. Not only was his information bogus, but it appears that it was probably obtained through the techniques listed above. The use of torture, as the now-notorious Al-Libi story proves, has already burned us once, and it burned us in a big way.

If all this is true, then pulling back to look at them all at once creates a sickening picture. At the beginning of the War on Terrorism, we allowed ourselves to become what we've always hated. We starting using the tactics, the ideology, even the very places of those we villify, like the Soviets and Fascists, and in the process we are divided at home and loathed abroad, problems which could well be costing us victory in the WOT. Torture is an example of something that has been biting us in the ass from the moment we embraced it.

In giving up our principles, we only undermine ourselves.

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