The Justification For Torture That No One Wants to Confront


For those who have followed our reign of torture closely, in 2005, videotapes of torture sessions were destroyed. Most people assume this was done because the tapes were so horrifying, no one wanted them released. In light of last weekend’s Torturers on Parade that blanketed the Pious Sabbath Gasbag TV shows–and how unrepentant those monsters were–we might want to rethink the motivation for destroying the tapes (boldface mine):

The truth is that torture did work, but not the way its defenders claim. It worked to produce justifications for policies the establishment wanted, like the Iraq war. This is actually tacitly acknowledged in the report — or one should say, it’s buried in it. Footnote 857 of the report is about Ibn Shaykh al-Libi, who was captured in Afghanistan shortly after the U.S. invasion and was interrogated by the FBI. He told them all he knew, but then the CIA rendered him to the brutal Mubarak regime in Egypt, in effect outsourcing their torture. From the footnote:

“Ibn Shaykh al-Libi reported while in [censored: ‘Egyptian’] custody that Iraq was supporting al-Qa’ida and providing assistance with chemical and biological weapons. Some of this information was cited by Secretary Powell in his speech at the United Nations, and was used as a justification for the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Ibn Shaykh al-Libi recanted the claim after he was rendered to CIA custody on February [censored], 2003, claiming that he had been tortured by the [censored, likely ‘Egyptians’], and only told them what he assessed they wanted to hear. For more more details, see Volume III.” Of course, Volume III has not been made public.

So, while CIA head John Brennan now says it’s “unknowable” if torture lead to information that actually saved lives, it’s provable that torture lead to information that helped lead to war and destroyed lives.

Nor was al-Libi the only one tortured to try to make the case for war. Many have reported that CIA interrogators waterboarded two alleged top al Qaeda detainees repeatedly — Abu Zubaydah at least 83 times and Khalid Sheik Muhammed 183 times — but few give the exact timing and context: The were so tortured in August 2002 and March 2003 respectively — the beginning and end of the Bush administrations push for the invasion of Iraq.

This was somewhat acknowledged in the other Senate report on torture, released by the Armed Services Committee in 2008. It quoted Maj. Paul Burney, who worked as a psychiatrist at Guantanamo Bay prison: “A large part of the time we were focused on trying to establish a link between al-Qaeda and Iraq and we were not successful. The more frustrated people got in not being able to establish that link … there was more and more pressure to resort to measures that might produce more immediate results.” The GTMO Interrogation Control Element Chief, David Becker told the Armed Services Committee he was urged to use more aggressive techniques, being told at one point “the office of Deputy Secretary of Defense [Paul] Wolfowitz had called to express concerns about the insufficient intelligence production at GTMO.

The use of torture is awful enough, but to do in order to manufacture lies that lead to the deaths of over 100,000 is monstrous.

In a civilized society, these people would be in jail, never mind going on television to spout their bile.

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6 Responses to The Justification For Torture That No One Wants to Confront

  1. realthog says:

    In a civilized society, these people would be in jail, never mind going on television to spout their bile.

    Hear, hear. Yet I’ve just been looking at figures that say over half of the US population actually *support* the use of torture. What a fucking country.

    Incidentally, there’s one big group of dissenters from that view: the “non-religious”. Keenest of all on torture are the evangelical Xtians. Y’know, “Who Would Jesus Torture”?

    • Min says:

      Himself, of course. These people are just treating others (“the least of these, my brethren”) as they would treat Jesus.

  2. I’ve had a lot of faith in justice destroyed in the past few years. Why people like Dick Cheney aren’t being prosecuted for war crimes is beyond my understanding. Except that the rich and powerful are above the law and getting more-so all the time.

  3. philebersole says:

    Reblogged this on Phil Ebersole's Blog and commented:
    Torture did work. It provided support for the lies about Al Qaeda links to Iraq, and a war that claimed more than 100,000 lies.

  4. rijkswaanvijand says:

    Unless the whole notion of civilised society, is simply a tool to scrutenise and convict attempts to gain power by aggression when commited by have-nots, and to have all this power concentrated in a state serving a status quo of rentiers and capitalists. In that case we might expect people like this exactly in the positions they’re in. But that couldn’t be the case now, could it?

  5. Pingback: ‘Twas the Link Love before Christmas… | Grumpy Rumblings (of the formerly untenured)

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