Posts Tagged ‘Torture’

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Nothing annoys me more than a chicken-hawk war fighter. You know, the people that have never served a day of their lives in the military, and yet, they believe that they have the clout to say which country we should invade.

What was it? Last week the Obama administration hammered home a deal with Iran to ensure that Iran would never seek nuclear weapons, and Republicans decried it as Israel’s doom? Or, at the very least, anti-Israel. Our entire foreign policy in the Middle East is anti-Israel.

But then you have the idiot Donald Trump. After questioning whether or not John McCain was a war hero, he had this to say to ABC News:

People that fought hard and weren’t captured and went through a lot, they get no credit. Nobody even talks about them. They’re like forgotten. And I think that’s a shame, if you want to know the truth.

He went on to say:

People that were not captured that went in and fought, nobody talks about them. Those are heroes also.

Nobody says anything about them? What was the Vietnam wall built for? Or the Wounded Warriors Project? Granted, I think a lot of veterans have succumbed to the belief that they can’t rely on the government to aid them properly and in a timely manner, but have you seen Congress in the last eight years? Its a do-nothing government.

President Obama can’t even sneeze without generating a scathing remark from the opposite side.

But if we want to be honest about something, Bill Clinton didn’t help veterans affairs. George W. Bush didn’t. And neither has Barack Obama. And at any rate, is John McCain even running for President? And if he isn’t, why in the hell is Trump picking on him? Oh, that’s right. Bad publicity is better than none.

I liken Donald Trump to Sean Hannity. Poured from the same mold, these men sit back snipe of issues they know nothing about. Like Hannity, Trump has never served a single day in the service of his country. He’s never dodged a bullet or worried about whether or not he’s gonna make it home. He’s never seen his home life erode underneath his feet. He’s never been served divorce papers when he’s on the other side of the planet because his wife can’t take the strain. Neither one has felt the clutches of PTSD.

Back in March of 2010, Sean Hannity said that if we catch an enemy combatant in the field, he had no problem with taking their heads, sticking them underwater and scaring the living daylights out of them. He punctuated this with: “and I’m a Christian!”

Meghan McCain was on his show when he said this. This was her response:

I think it’s what separates us from the terrorists. My father could never left me up as a child because he can’t move his arm. He can’t ride a bike because he can’t bend his knee because he was tortured. I think he knows better.

In a segment with Charles Grodin, Hannity was asked whether or not he’d ever been water boarded (because, you know, Hannity had no problem with it), and he said he hadn’t. “But Oli North has and I’ve talked to him about it,” he commented rather weakly. Grodin offered to water board him, which Keith Olbermann seized upon, putting up a thousand dollars to charity for every second Hannity lasted. To my knowledge, Hannity has never put his money where his mouth is.

But that’s the major crux of the matter, isn’t it? For Hannity-a man who has never served in the military-and Trump-who received four deferments between 1964 and 1968, have no bragging rights. When it comes to military service, there are no second-hand experiences.

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If Donald Trump wanted to bring the issue of veterans affairs to the forefront of the political spectrum, by all means. But outline a plan instead of sniping at man who spent five years in a POW camp, while Trump, himself, was safe and secure in a freedom service men have died for.

But hopefully, Trump is a fading star, headed for oblivion.

Washington’s Blog

Virtually all of the top interrogation experts – both conservatives and liberals (except for those trying to escape war crimes prosecution) – say that torture doesn’t work:

  • Army Field Manual 34-52 Chapter 1 says:

    “Experience indicates that the use of force is not necessary to gain the cooperation of sources for interrogation. Therefore, the use of force is a poor technique, as it yields unreliable results, may damage subsequent collection efforts, and can induce the source to say whatever he thinks the interrogator wants to hear.”

  • The C.I.A.’s 1963 interrogation manual stated:

Intense pain is quite likely to produce false confessions, concocted as a means of escaping from distress. A time-consuming delay results, while investigation is conducted and the admissions are proven untrue. During this respite the interrogatee can pull himself together. He may even use the time to think up new, more complex ‘admissions’ that take still longer to disprove.

  • According to the Washington Post, the CIA’s top spy – Michael Sulick, head of the CIA’s National Clandestine Service – said that the spy agency has seen no fall-off in intelligence since waterboarding was banned by the Obama administration. “I don’t think we’ve suffered at all from an intelligence standpoint.”
  • A 30-year veteran of CIA’s operations directorate who rose to the most senior managerial ranks (Milton Bearden) says (as quoted by senior CIA agent and Presidential briefer Ray McGovern):

    It is irresponsible for any administration not to tell a credible story that would convince critics at home and abroad that this torture has served some useful purpose.

    This is not just because the old hands overwhelmingly believe that torture doesn’t work — it doesn’t — but also because they know that torture creates more terrorists and fosters more acts of terror than it could possibly neutralize.

  • A former high-level CIA officer (Philip Giraldi) states:

Many governments that have routinely tortured to obtain information have abandoned the practice when they discovered that other approaches actually worked better for extracting information. Israel prohibited torturing Palestinian terrorist suspects in 1999. Even the German Gestapo stopped torturing French resistance captives when it determined that treating prisoners well actually produced more and better intelligence.

  • Another former high-level CIA official (Bob Baer) says:

    And torture — I just don’t think it really works … you don’t get the truth. What happens when you torture people is, they figure out what you want to hear and they tell you.

  • Michael Scheuer, formerly a senior CIA official in the Counter-Terrorism Center, says:

    “I personally think that any information gotten through extreme methods of torture would probably be pretty useless because it would be someone telling you what you wanted to hear.”

  • A retired C.I.A. officer who oversaw the interrogation of a high-level detainee in 2002 (Glenn L. Carle) says:

    [Coercive techniques] didn’t provide useful, meaningful, trustworthy information…Everyone was deeply concerned and most felt it was un-American and did not work.”

  • A former top Air Force interrogator who led the team that tracked down Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who has conducted hundreds of interrogations of high ranking Al Qaida members and supervising more than one thousand, and wrote a book called How to Break a Terrorist writes:

As the senior interrogator in Iraq for a task force charged with hunting down Abu Musab Al Zarqawi, the former Al Qaida leader and mass murderer, I listened time and time again to captured foreign fighters cite the torture and abuse at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo as their main reason for coming to Iraq to fight. Consider that 90 percent of the suicide bombers in Iraq are these foreign fighters and you can easily conclude that we have lost hundreds, if not thousands, of American lives because of our policy of torture and abuse. But that’s only the past.
Somewhere in the world there are other young Muslims who have joined Al Qaida because we tortured and abused prisoners. These men will certainly carry out future attacks against Americans, either in Iraq, Afghanistan, or possibly even here. And that’s not to mention numerous other Muslims who support Al Qaida, either financially or in other ways, because they are outraged that the United States tortured and abused Muslim prisoners.

In addition, torture and abuse has made us less safe because detainees are less likely to cooperate during interrogations if they don’t trust us. I know from having conducted hundreds of interrogations of high ranking Al Qaida members and supervising more than one thousand, that when a captured Al Qaida member sees us live up to our stated principles they are more willing to negotiate and cooperate with us. When we torture or abuse them, it hardens their resolve and reaffirms why they picked up arms.

He also says:

[Torture is] extremely ineffective, and it’s counter-productive to what we’re trying to accomplish.

When we torture somebody, it hardens their resolve … The information that you get is unreliable. … And even if you do get reliable information, you’re able to stop a terrorist attack, al Qaeda’s then going to use the fact that we torture people to recruit new members.

And he repeats:

I learned in Iraq that the No. 1 reason foreign fighters flocked there to fight were the abuses carried out at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo.

He said last week:

They don’t want to talk about the long term consequences that cost the lives of Americans…. The way the U.S. treated its prisoners “was al-Qaeda’s number-one recruiting tool and brought in thousands of foreign fighters who killed American soldiers.

  • The FBI interrogators who actually interviewed some of the 9/11 suspects say torture didn’t work
  • Another FBI interrogator of 9/11 suspects said:

I was in the middle of this, and it’s not true that these [aggressive] techniques were effective

  • The FBI warned military interrogators in 2003 that enhanced interrogation techniques are “of questionable effectiveness” and cited a “lack of evidence of [enhanced techniques’] success.
  • The Senate Armed Services Committee unanimously found that torture doesn’t work, stating:

    The administration’s policies concerning [torture] and the resulting controversies damaged our ability to collect accurate intelligence that could save lives, strengthened the hand of our enemies, and compromised our moral authority.

  • General Petraeus says that torture is unnecessary, hurts our national security and violates our American values
  • Retired 4-star General Barry McCaffrey – who Schwarzkopf called he hero of Desert Storm – agrees
  • Former Navy Judge Advocate General Admiral John Hutson says:

    Fundamentally, those kinds of techniques are ineffective. If the goal is to gain actionable intelligence, and it is, and if that’s important, and it is, then we have to use the techniques that are most effective. Torture is the technique of choice of the lazy, stupid and pseudo-tough.

    He also says:

    Another objection is that torture doesn’t work. All the literature and experts say that if we really want usable information, we should go exactly the opposite way and try to gain the trust and confidence of the prisoners.

  • Army Colonel Stuart Herrington – a military intelligence specialist who interrogated generals under the command of Saddam Hussein and evaluated US detention operations at Guantánamo – notes that the process of obtaining information is hampered, not helped, by practices such as “slapping someone in the face and stripping them naked”.Herrington and other former US military interrogators say:

    We know from experience that it is very difficult to elicit information from a detainee who has been abused. The abuse often only strengthens their resolve and makes it that much harder for an interrogator to find a way to elicit useful information.

  • Major General Thomas Romig, former Army JAG, said:

    If you torture somebody, they’ll tell you anything. I don’t know anybody that is good at interrogation, has done it a lot, that will say that that’s an effective means of getting information. … So I don’t think it’s effective.

  • The head of all U.S. intelligence said:

    The bottom line is these techniques have hurt our image around the world … The damage they have done to our interests far outweighed whatever benefit they gave us and they are not essential to our national security.

  • Former counter-terrorism czar Richard A. Clarke says that America’s indefinite detention without trial and abuse of prisoners is a leading Al Qaeda recruiting tool.
  • The first head of the Department of Homeland Security – Tom Ridge – says we were wrong to torture.The former British intelligence chairman says that waterboarding didn’t stop terror plots.
  • A spokesman for the National Security Council (Tommy Vietor) says:

    The bottom line is this: If we had some kind of smoking-gun intelligence from waterboarding in 2003, we would have taken out Osama bin Laden in 2003.

In researching this article, I spoke to numerous counterterrorist officials from agencies on both sides of the Atlantic. Their conclusion is unanimous: not only have coercive methods failed to generate significant and actionable intelligence, they have also caused the squandering of resources on a massive scale through false leads, chimerical plots, and unnecessary safety alerts…Here, they say, far from exposing a deadly plot, all torture did was lead to more torture of his supposed accomplices while also providing some misleading “information” that boosted the administration’s argument for invading Iraq.

  • Neuroscientists have found that torture physically and chemically interferes with the prisoner’s ability to tell the truth
  • An Army psychologist – Major Paul Burney, Army’s Behavior Science Consulting Team psychologist – said (page 78 & 83):

It was stressed to me time and time again that psychological investigations have proven that harsh interrogations do not work. At best it will get you information that a prisoner thinks you want to hear to make the interrogation stop, but that information is strongly likely to be false.

***

Interrogation techniques that rely on physical or adverse consequences are likely to garner inaccurate information and create an increased level of resistance…There is no evidence that the level of fear or discomfort evoked by a given technique has any consistent correlation to the volume or quality of information obtained.

  • An expert on resisting torture – Terrence Russell, JPRA’s manager for research and development and a SERE specialist – said (page 209):

History has shown us that physical pressures are not effective for compelling an individual to give information or to do something’ and are not effective for gaining accurate, actionable intelligence.

 

And – according to the experts – torture is unnecessary even to prevent “ticking time bombs” from exploding (see this, this and this). Indeed, a top expert says that torture would fail in a real ‘ticking time-bomb’ situation

Indeed, it has been known for hundreds of years that torture doesn’t work:

  • As a former CIA analyst notes:

During the Inquisition there were many confessed witches, and many others were named by those tortured as other witches. Unsurprisingly, when these new claimed witches were tortured, they also confessed. Confirmation of some statement made under torture, when that confirmation is extracted by another case of torture, is invalid information and cannot be trusted.

  • The head of Britain’s wartime interrogation center in London said:

“Violence is taboo. Not only does it produce answers to please, but it lowers the standard of information.”

  • The national security adviser to Vice President George H.W. Bush (Donald P. Gregg) wrote:

During wartime service with the CIA in Vietnam from 1970 to 1972, I was in charge of intelligence operations in the 10 provinces surrounding Saigon. One of my tasks was to prevent rocket attacks on Saigon’s port.Keeping Saigon safe required human intelligence, most often from captured prisoners. I had a running debate about how North Vietnamese prisoners should be treated with the South Vietnamese colonel who conducted interrogations. This colonel routinely tortured prisoners, producing a flood of information, much of it totally false. I argued for better treatment and pressed for key prisoners to be turned over to the CIA, where humane interrogation methods were the rule – and more accurate intelligence was the result.

The colonel finally relented and turned over a battered prisoner to me, saying, “This man knows a lot, but he will not talk to me.”

We treated the prisoner’s wounds, reunited him with his family, and allowed him to make his first visit to Saigon. Surprised by the city’s affluence, he said he would tell us anything we asked. The result was a flood of actionable intelligence that allowed us to disrupt planned operations, including rocket attacks against Saigon.

Admittedly, it would be hard to make a story from nearly 40 years ago into a definitive case study. But there is a useful reminder here. The key to successful interrogation is for the interrogator – even as he controls the situation – to recognize a prisoner’s humanity, to understand his culture, background and language. Torture makes this impossible.

There’s a sad twist here. Cheney forgets that the Bush administration followed this approach with some success. A high-value prisoner subjected to patient interrogation by an Arabic-speaking FBI agent yielded highly useful information, including the final word on Iraq’s weapons programs.

His name was Saddam Hussein.

  • Top interrogators got information from a high-level Al Qaeda suspects through building rapport, even if they hated the person they were interrogating by treating them as human

Postscript: Even if – despite the above – you still believe that torture produces helpful information, you should note that the U.S. government used Communist torture techniques specifically designed to produce FALSE Confessions.

By Sheldon Richman

As time goes by, the record of the Bush administration gets worse and worse. It could turn out that the most egregious offense of the Bush-esque Obama administration will be that its Justice Department let Bush-Cheney & Co. off scot-free.

It’s not enough that the last gang to occupy the Executive Branch got us into two illegal wars, accumulated autocratic powers, violated our civil liberties, and tortured suspects. Now it appears that it kicked things up a notch.

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) says it has unearthed “evidence that indicates the Bush administration apparently conducted illegal and unethical human experimentation and research on detainees in CIA custody.”

Why would the U.S. government do this?

“The apparent experimentation and research appear to have been performed to provide legal cover for torture, as well as to help justify and shape future procedures and policies governing the use of the ‘enhanced’ interrogation techniques.”

PHR says its report is “the first to provide evidence that CIA medical personnel engaged in the crime of illegal experimentation after 9/11, in addition to the previously disclosed crime of torture.”

The organization demands that the Justice Department investigate the charges. It is also particularly concerned that health professionals participated to “calibrate and study the infliction of harm.” That, PHR says, “disgraces the health profession and makes a mockery of the practice of medicine.” The program violated “the Geneva Conventions, The Common Rule, the Nuremberg Code and other international and domestic prohibitions against illegal human subject research and experimentation,” the PHR news release states.

PHR says that declassified documents show, first, that “Research and medical experimentation on detainees was used to measure the effects of large-volume waterboarding and adjust the procedure according to the results.” As a result, saline was added “to prevent putting detainees in a coma or killing them through over-ingestion of large amounts of plain water.”

Second, “Health professionals monitored sleep deprivation on more than a dozen detainees in 48-, 96- and 180-hour increments. This research was apparently used to monitor and assess the effects of varying levels of sleep deprivation to support legal definitions of torture and to plan future sleep deprivation techniques.”

Third, “Health professionals appear to have analyzed data, based on their observations of 25 detainees who were subjected to individual and combined applications of ‘enhanced’ interrogation techniques, to determine whether one type of application over another would increase the subject’s ‘susceptibility to severe pain.’ The alleged research appears to have been undertaken only to assess the legality of the ‘enhanced’ interrogation tactics and to guide future application of the techniques.”

PHR called on Congress to amend the War Crimes Act (WCA) “to remove changes made to the WCA in 2006 by the Bush Administration that allow a more permissive definition of the crime of illegal experimentation on detainees in US custody. The more lenient 2006 language of the WCA was made retroactive to all acts committed by US personnel since 1997.” Legal authorities say that other U.S. statutes besides the WCA make such experimentation illegal.

After the 9/11 attacks the Bush administration ignored proven nontorture techniques for obtaining information from detainees in favor of techniques long regarded as torture. Cognizant of the illegality, administration legal personnel strained to justify “enhanced interrogation techniques” as something other than torture. Hence the famous “torture memos” from the Office of Legal Counsel. The monitoring of techniques by physicians was apparently to determine which were and were not susceptible to charges of torture. This is indistinguishable from medical research on nonconsenting persons. Of course it is not the first time in history that supposed healers have lent their skills to government torturers.

The Obama administration could do something constructive for a change by investigating PHR’s charges and, if they are borne out, bringing the offenders to justice — no matter how high up the chain of command. Let’s not forget that George W. Bush boasts of having approved water-boarding for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

If for no other reason, the Bush administration’s legerdemain over torture put a stain on America that will not soon be erased. At least we can make a start.

A network of secret CIA camps appears to be spanning the Middle East, Africa, and Europe.  Outrage amoung the local people is rising as investigations begin.

When we think of the word torture, what comes to mind?  Inhumane acts?  Cruel and unusual punishment?  If you were the interrogator, would you enjoy it?  I ask this because torture is cruel and inhumane.  How has America reacted in the past when our men were tortured?  We were angry, right?  So how does someone think that the same actions by us won’t spark the same kind of blowback?

Fox News commentator and political pundit Sean Hannity (who by the way makes millions of dollars)  has no problem with it.  In fact, he goes on to say this:

“My attitude is that if we capture an enemy combatant in the battlefield — or we can use Osama bin Laden — who may have information about a pending attack. You know what, I don’t have any problem taking his head sticking it underwater and scaring the living daylights out of him and making him think we’re drowning him and I’m a Christian,” declared Hannity.

There’s just one problem with this scenario: Sean Hannity has never been in the military.  He, as far as we know, has never had a gun fired at him.  He’s had snowballs chucked at, but that’s a little different.  Meghan McCain (daughter of John McCain) was on the show when he said this, and when asked she had this to say:

“I think it’s what separates us from the terrorists . My father could never lift me up as a child because he can’t move his arm. He can’t ride a bike because he can’t bend his knee because he was tortured. I think he knows better,” she said.

On an episode of Fox News last year, Sean Hannity and Charles Grodin had a discussion about torture.

When Mr. Grodin asked “have you ever been waterboarded?”, Hannity replied, “No, but Oli North has, and I’ve talked to him about it.”  You know, Hannity’s response reminds me when I was about ten and kids at school would lie whether or not we had, in fact, seen a naked woman.

“Have you seen a naked woman in real life?”

“No, but I looked at a Playboy once.” 

Since the name Oliver North came up, lets talk about him.  Now why would a conservative talk show host like Sean Hannity be conversing with a convicted felon for crimes against the United States for his part in the Iran-Contra scandal (crimes that were reversed on a technicality).  This is the same man whom before Congress called the Iran-Contra scandal a “neat idea”.  Undermining Constitutional authority and conducting back-alley deals, yeah, neat idea.  North was also one of the founders of REX-84 (Readiness Excercise of 1984).  According to Wikipedia this is the basis of the program:

Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North and the Federal Emergency Management Agency … had drafted a contingency plan providing for the suspension of the Constitution, the imposition of martial law, and the appointment of military commanders to head state and local governments and to detain dissidents and Central American refugees in the event of a national crisis.[1]
The Rex-84 Alpha Explan (Readiness Exercise 1984, Exercise Plan; otherwise known as a continuity of government plan), indicates that FEMA in association with 34 other federal civil departments and agencies, along with other NATO nations, conducted a civil readiness exercise during April 5-13, 1984. It was conducted in coordination and simultaneously with a Joint Chiefs exercise, Night Train 84, a worldwide military command post exercise (including Continental U.S. Forces or CONUS) based on multi-emergency scenarios operating both abroad and at home. In the combined exercise, Rex-84 Bravo, FEMA and DOD led the other federal agencies and departments, including the Central Intelligence Agency, the Secret Service, the Treasury, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Veterans Administration through a gaming exercise to test military assistance in civil defense.
The exercise anticipated civil disturbances, major demonstrations and strikes that would affect continuity of government and/or resource mobilization. To fight subversive activities, there was authorization for the military to implement government ordered movements of civilian populations at state and regional levels, the arrest of certain unidentified segments of the population, and the imposition of martial law. [2]

Now that we have him out-of-the-way, he is not the patriotic American that he likes to portray himself to be.  With all of this aside, Keith Olberman offered Sean Hannity $1,000.00 for every second he could stand water boarding.  To this day to my knowledge Hannity has not put his money where his mouth is.

As in the above video Lawrence O’Donnell points out that a very small percentage of Americans are warriors.  A very small percentage has ever seen combat and there are servicemen who have never seen combat and never will.  For those of you, like Sean Hannity, who support torture I challenge you this: for all the torture policies the Bush and Obama administration’s endorse, just for fun, have someone subject yourself to it.

Sean Hannity who can live in the nice apartments, wear the expensive suits, and make millions, sits at home on his couch far from the wars that he advocates. 

My hat goes off to those who have the courage to enlist into the military, and my heart goes out to those who have lost loved ones.  As a last thought, here is a video where an enhanced interrogation specialist states that torture is not credible.

For your casual perusal, here are some sources proving that even though we are more than a year past the Bush administration, torture techniques are still being used.

 http://www.infowars.com/obama-and-the-patriot-act-yes-we-can-kill-the-bill-of-rights/

http://www.infowars.com/obama-continues-torture-and-torture-related-murder-in-the-bogus-war-on-terror/

http://blogs.abcnews.com/george/2009/04/obama-adminis-1.html

http://www.csmonitor.com/World/terrorism-security/2009/0419/p90s01-duts.html