The American Way Of Torture

by Andrew


Greg Sargent notes another document secured by the ACLU. (Yes, Greenwald is right that it's bizarre the media in this country are second to the ACLU in demanding information from the government.) This document gives a detailed account of the torture techniques used by the Bush-Cheney administration in the elite CIA program. This is the most professional version of the widespread torture authorized by Bush and conducted in every theater of combat, by every branch of the armed forces, directed that all prisoners could be potential terrorists and therefore outside civilizational norms of humane treatment.

The document reads, like so much else from the Cheney years, like a document from a South American  dictatorship in the 1970s or 1980s. If someone had told me a few years ago that it had popped up in the John_Walker_Lindh_Custody Soviet archives, I would have believed him. Read the whole thing if you can. It is a distressing document. Here's what the "CIA pros" did to prisoners (the non-CIA pros improvised the president's directive to torture and abuse prisoners in very similar ways): stress positions, nudity, hooding, sensory deprivation, sleep deprivation, long time standing, beatings, hypothermia, and walling. They key thing, according to the CIA, is to enhance "the potential dread a high-value detainee might have of US custody". Notice the shift from the standards of the past. In the past, the US was known for being a country whose soldiers would never mistreat prisoners; now, the US wants the world to know that US custody is something to be dreaded. That's what Cheney did to America. He's proud of it. If you are ever captured by a US soldier, and suspected of terrorism, you know that torture will be coming soon. The values of Washington and Eisenhower and Reagan are inverted. The reputation of the US as a defender of human rights is reversed. The point is that America must be feared for its willingness to abandon all human rights.

This is what the neocon right believe in, even as they prattle on about extending human rights as an American value. They say they believe in democracy. What they also believe in is what we saw done to innocent human beings at Abu Ghraib:

Nudity. The HVD's clothes are taken from him and he remains nude until the interrogators provide clothes to him.

Sleep deprivation. The HVD is placed in the vertical shackling position to begin sleep deprivation. Other shackling procedures may be used during interrogations. The detainee is diapered for sanitary purposes, although the diaper is not used at all times.

The diapers are necessary because when you shackle someone in the same position for hours and hours on end and feed him Ensure, he will shit himself. All torturing regimes deal with shitting torture victims. The US followed other regimes in both diapering prisoners or, better still, forcing them to lie in their own excrement, as was discovered by horrified FBI agents at Gitmo. Other torture regimes capture piss and shit in bowls beneath the torture victims. Various forms of nude shackling, sleep deprivation and dietary manipulation (all barred under Geneva and the UN Convention) are then supplemented by constant bombardment with light, loud noise, water-dousing and walling. These techniques can be used in combination. Some more details:

An HVD may be walled one time to make a point or twenty to thirty times when an  interrogator requires a more significant response to a question. In an interrogation designed  to be intense, an HVD may be walled multiple times in one session...

Current OMS guidance on cramped confinement limits confinement in the large box to 8 hours at a time for no more than 18 hours a day and confinement in the small box to two hours...

Interrogators will often use one technique to support another. As an example, interrogators would tell an HVD in a stress position that he [HVD] is going back to the walling wall for walling if he fails to hold the stress position until told otherwise by the HVD. This places additional stress on the HVD who will typically try to hold the stress position for as long as possible to avoid the walling wall.

John McCain will remember these techniques and variants of them from his time in the Hanoi Hilton. If this is not torture, then torture does not exist. And if this is America, and there is no accountability for these war crimes, then core American values have ceased to exist as well.