Torture to Enforce a World of Horrors
EDITORS NOTE: Alan Goodman digs into the contention over the report at the highest levels of the government and military, challenging the legitimacy of a government that would authorize such practices, and not prosecute, but protect, those responsible.
On December 9, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence issued a “Study of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Detention and Interrogation Program.” This is a report on the orgy of officially approved torture carried out by the CIA in the aftermath of the attacks launched by Islamic fundamentalists on the U.S. on September 11, 2001, and of CIA moves to lie about the scope, nature, and results of this torture.
The Senate report is highly censored. It is a product of years of infighting within different government agencies and factions over how much (or little) torture to reveal, how to package that torture, and who to blame. It covers up or glosses over the fact that—even if all the details were not known—top leaders of both parties knew the basic picture of this torture and signed off on it.
Most essentially, from beginning to end, the Senate report frames the torture carried out by the CIA in terms of whether or not that torture “saved American lives,” produced “useful intelligence” about Al Qaeda, and whether, in the end, this torture was in the “national interest of the United States.”
That’s an IMMORAL framework. The interests of rulers of the United States are the interests of a global empire of exploitation and oppression. American lives are not more important than other people’s lives. And nothing justifies torture.
In 2009, in the midst of earlier revelations of the torture that took place under the Bush regime, I wrote at revcom.us: “Let’s make it plain: torture is, literally and in essence, a crime against humanity. Like rape, it is a systematic attempt to violently degrade people and rob them of their very humanity.”
The scale of torture, the randomness with which victims were grabbed up, and the official endorsement of all this points to the real and essential motivation behind it: to instill terror across a wide swathe of the Middle East and Central Asia, and to send a mob-style message that nobody fucks with the U.S. empire… or else.
The Most Depraved Crimes
The report describes extensive waterboarding—previously portrayed as a less sadistic and deadly form of torture—as a “series of near drownings.” One detainee, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, was subjected to this horrific torture 183 times. In addition, he was deprived of sleep for seven and a half days, mostly forced into a standing position.
The CIA torturers took sadistic and ghoulish delight in inflicting sexually degrading torture on captives. Detainees were frequently stripped naked and forced to urinate and defecate on themselves. The report describes “rectal feeding”—forcing material up the rectums of detainees, a form of rape.
Detainees were subjected to constant and viciously realistic death threats. They were placed in tubs of ice for extended times. One detainee was chained partially nude to a concrete floor and died of hypothermia. Prisoners were subjected to sleep deprivation for up to a week, driven to “hallucinations, paranoia, insomnia, and attempts at self-harm and self-mutilation.”
Continue reading the entire article at revcom.us.