December 12, 2014
Business as Usual

A reality check from Nafeez Ahmed on our national hand-wringing over government torture. Like the poor, official torture is always with us. Read it all and weep, if you have tears left.

Media coverage of the Senate report has largely whitewashed the extent to which torture has always been an integral and systematic intelligence practice since the second World War, continuing even today under the careful recalibration of Obama and his senior military intelligence officials. The key function of torture, largely overlooked by the pundits, is its role in manufacturing nebulous threats that legitimize the existence and expansion of the national security apparatus…

Yet Obama did not ban torture in 2009, and has not rescinded it now. He instead rehabilitated torture with a carefully crafted Executive Order that has received little scrutiny. He demanded, for instance, that interrogation techniques be made to fit the US Army Field Manual, which complies with the Geneva Convention and has prohibited torture since 1956.

But in 2006, revisions were made to the Army Field Manual, in particular through ‘Appendix M’, which contained interrogation techniques that went far beyond the original Geneva-inspired restrictions of the original version of the manual. This includes 19 methods of interrogation and the practice of extraordinary rendition. As pointed out by US psychologist Jeff Kaye who has worked extensively with torture victims, a new UN Committee Against Torture (UNCAT) review of the manual shows that a wide-range of torture techniques continue to be deployed by the US government, including isolation, sensory deprivation, stress positions, chemically-induced psychosis, adjustments of environmental and dietary rules, among others.


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Posted by Jerome Doolittle at December 12, 2014 01:39 PM
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Good torture - bad torture?

Interesting and thoughtful paper:

http://www.oxfordjournals.org/our_journals/jicjus/bad%20torture.pdf

Posted by: Peter on December 13, 2014 7:49 AM

What really bothers me about this report is the open acknowledgement of the fact that the CIA is not subject to oversight by the Congress and is not subject to supervision by the President. They simply lie to both. Given that the CIA has always had its own independent sources of cash, this means we have a completely rogue agency with almost unlimited funding that is not subject to any democratic control or oversight whatsoever. It is hard to imagine anything more dangerous to the republic than that.

Posted by: Charles D on December 13, 2014 4:38 PM
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