Torture Report

Footnote 32

Article by Loz Kaye on The Lanchester about the CIA Torture Report.

If the history of this century has been about anything so far, then it is the bargain of national security. A constant state of war carried out on a need-to-know basis.

Our governments of various political hues, the NSA, CIA, GCHQ, have constantly asked for, even demanded, our trust. We're keeping you safer, trust us. We're acting within the law, trust us. We need the powers we ask for (and many more you don't know about), trust us.

The shocking report to the Senate Intelligence Committee on CIA torture activities has revealed one tiny corner of the truth, one tiny corner of the misery the US - and by collusion its allies - has unleashed on the world.

News outlets have shied away from describing the atrocities contained in it for what they actually are. I can't. It's rape, kidnap, mental cruelty, thuggery, torture and murder.

Once and for all, this report shows how flawed that bargain of national security has become. The trust we have been asked to have in the war on terror and the rush to mass surveillance has been dangerously misplaced.

The report is full of instances where the public and their elected representatives have been lied to.

The CIA claimed that these “enhanced techniques” led to useful information, preventing terrorist attacks. The committee found that in no case examined was this true. Not one.

CIA Deputy Director of Operations James Pavitt told the Senate Intelligence committee in 2001 they would be informed of each individual who entered CIA custody. Didn't happen.

Pavitt denied torture, and in 2002 denied existence of a detention facility. Lies.

The CIA lied about the number of people detained. They lied about videotaping of interrogations. They lied about using starvation. They lied about using sleep deprivation to medically damaging extent.

The idea that we should take the security services' word at face value after this is not just laughable, it's obscene.

In lots of places, coverage of the report has been rather warped by the CIA's point of view.

It was presented that the failure had mainly been that the torture was ineffective. In other words, that if it had been effective, then it might have been worth persevering with the anal rehydration and simulated drownings.

To my mind that is obviously monstrous.

What this has done, though, has been to dispel the Jack Bauer, 24 fantasy that for our spooks the ends justify the means and can be made to do so within a very strict timeframe with space for adverts.

The constant claim has been that lives have been saved, and therefore complaining about collateral damage was naive or dangerous.

We now know that those claims have been made falsely in the past and there is no need to take them as true without question in the future.

Equally, the notion that this was done by a few “bad apples” has also been stripped away.

Far from being a few rogue agents, this torture programme was devised by contractor psychologists James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen.

They formed a company worth $180m, and received $81m in payouts over seven years. This shows that abuse was planned, systemic and well-funded.

In all the detail of the report, as journalist Trevor Timm pointed out, there is one case that seems to sum up that whole miserable saga.

Gul Rahman was tortured at the CIA black site known as the Salt Pit, he was chained to the floor and froze to death.

Footnote 32 explains curtly, “Gul Rahman, another case of mistaken identity.” A human life, someone who lived, loved and was loved, ended up as a footnote by mistake.

The favourite go to phrase for the mass surveillance lobby is that if you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to fear.

Clearly, Gul Ruhman had everything to fear, freezing to death as a footnote in history. In the globalised war on terror, we can all fear becoming another fatal footnote.

Of course, some of us more than others. Currently, Muslims and people of Middle Eastern origin.

But until the government and mainstream parties truly face up to what they have done, until we have a proper inquiry in the UK, and until the release of the Chilcot Report, then the powers that be deserve our fear, not our trust.

Sunday, 14 December, 2014 - 12:00

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