Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Torturing the Country to its Demise

Just a quick recap on what the government has already admitted doing to other human beings:

The CIA sources described a list of six "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques" instituted in mid-March 2002 and used, they said, on a dozen top al Qaeda targets incarcerated in isolation at secret locations on military bases in regions from Asia to Eastern Europe. According to the sources, only a handful of CIA interrogators are trained and authorized to use the techniques:

1. The Attention Grab: The interrogator forcefully grabs the shirt front of the prisoner and shakes him.

2. Attention Slap: An open-handed slap aimed at causing pain and triggering fear.

3. The Belly Slap: A hard open-handed slap to the stomach. The aim is to cause pain, but not internal injury. Doctors consulted advised against using a punch, which could cause lasting internal damage.

4. Long Time Standing: This technique is described as among the most effective. Prisoners are forced to stand, handcuffed and with their feet shackled to an eye bolt in the floor for more than 40 hours. Exhaustion and sleep deprivation are effective in yielding confessions.

5. The Cold Cell: The prisoner is left to stand naked in a cell kept near 50 degrees. Throughout the time in the cell the prisoner is doused with cold water.

6. Water Boarding: The prisoner is bound to an inclined board, feet raised and head slightly below the feet. Cellophane is wrapped over the prisoner's face and water is poured over him. Unavoidably, the gag reflex kicks in and a terrifying fear of drowning leads to almost instant pleas to bring the treatment to a halt.

According to the sources, CIA officers who subjected themselves to the water boarding technique lasted an average of 14 seconds before caving in. They said al Qaeda's toughest prisoner, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, won the admiration of interrogators when he was able to last between two and two-and-a-half minutes before begging to confess.

I can't imagine what else happens after they make sure there are no cameras around. Porter Goss, while director of the CIA, had this to say:
"This agency does not do torture. Torture does not work. We use lawful capabilities to collect vital information, and we do it in a variety of unique and innovative ways, all of which are legal and none of which are torture."

The problem with that false statement is that at least one of the techniques administered by CIA interrogators was used as evidence for war crimes trials in the aftermath of World War II. cookie jill, over at skippy the bush kangaroo, shares some of the intel:

interestingly, the united states has long since answered that question. following the end of the second world war we prosecuted a number of japanese military and civilian officials for war crimes. including the torture of captured allied personnel. at one of those trials, united states v. sawada, here’s how captain chase nielsen, a crew member in the 1942 doolittle raid on japan, described his treatment, when he was captured, (and later tried for alleged war crimes by a japanese military commission):

q: what other physical treatment was administered to you at that time?
a: well, i was given what they call the water cure.
q: explain to the commission what that was.
a: wthey poured water on this towel until i was almost unconscious from strangulation, then they would let me up until I'd get my breath, then they'd start over again.
q: when you regained consciousness would they keep asking you questions?
a: yes sir they did.
q: how long did this treatment continue?
a: bout twenty minutes.
q: what was your sensation when they were pouring water on the towel, what did you physically feel?
a: well, i felt more or less like i was drowning, just gasping between life and death.
Since both of my lockstep Republican Senators have capitulated on the TORTURE issue, I'm once again having to rely on Democrats from other states to make my objections heard regarding any compromises with the Abu Ghraib White House.

So far it's been nothing but crickets and sideline kettle corn eating by the Dems while the GOP hashes out the details. It would be nice for a human rights coalition to start leading instead of reacting. Thanks to Chris over at Booman Tribune, I find I'm not alone in my disillusionment:


Makes a tear come to the eye, doesn't it, the way men like McCain and Lieberman keep evoking Lincoln and the Bible as they work to institutionalize torture and continue a bloody, useless war that kills thousands and thousands of people? It's all very inspirational.
I'm with the snarky Digby. Inspirational Torture - God Bless America.

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