Remarkably, torture is still being debated in the US

Fox News panel says torture while Gina Haspel was in the CIA was no big deal

‘Fox & Friends’ Host Brian Kilmeade Says Gina Haspel Should Be ‘Proud’ Of Torture Record

″Thirty-two-year career … and I think she should double-down and say, ‘I’m proud of what I accomplished ― whether it was black sites’ enhanced interrogation ― and I dare anyone to sit in my shoes and accomplish as much as I’ve done,’” co-host Brian Kilmeade said.

“Just keep in mind, whatever she did when she was in power at that point, she was doing it as a directive and it was all within the law,” co-host Steve Doocy added.

John McCain should know as well as anyone about the use of torture.


ECCHR’s legal intervention filed with the German Federal Public Prosecutor (Generalbundesanwalt – GBA) is aimed at securing an arrest warrant for CIA Deputy Director Gina Haspel.

The information submitted to the GBA by ECCHR on 6 June 2017 documents Haspel’s role in the torture of detainees in 2002 at a secret CIA prison in Thailand. In the dossier, ECCHR argues that Haspel oversaw the torture of detainees at the black site in 2002 and failed to do anything to stop it.



Trump says CIA pick Haspel ‘under fire because she was too tough on terror’

On Friday, as White House officials prepared Haspel for a confirmation hearing on Wednesday, aides sought additional details about her involvement in the CIA’s now-defunct program of detaining and brutally interrogating terror suspects after 9/11, a program that involved techniques widely condemned as torture.

Donald Trump has expressed support for his nominee to lead the CIA, who offered to withdraw amid concerns that a debate over the past use of interrogation techniques now classified as torture would tarnish her reputation and that of the agency.

Raj Shah, a White House spokesman, on Sunday called Haspel a highly qualified nominee. “Her nomination will not be derailed by partisan critics who side with the ACLU over the CIA on how to keep the American people safe,” he said.


Donald Trump defends his pick to run the CIA, Gina Haspel, after she offers to withdraw over ‘torture’ role

Mr Trump has previously indicated his support for waterboarding terror suspects, a practice which was introduced by President George W Bush and ceased over a decade ago.

Mr Bush authorised the Rendition, Detention and Interrogation Programme after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Mr Trump’s longstanding support for the deputy director has led to speculation that he may be considering a reintroduction of waterboarding.

January 2017: Donald Trump says he believes waterboarding works

US President Donald Trump has said he believes waterboarding works, stating “we have to fight fire with fire”.

“When they’re shooting, when they’re chopping off the heads of our people and other people, when they’re chopping off the heads of people because they happen to be a Christian in the Middle East, when Isis (IS) is doing things that nobody has ever heard of since Medieval times, would I feel strongly about waterboarding?”

“I have spoken with people at the highest level of intelligence and I asked them the question ‘Does it work? Does torture work?’ and the answer was ‘Yes, absolutely’.

In his election campaign, Mr Trump had said he might order troops to carry out waterboarding “and tougher” methods on terrorism suspects, although the next day he said he would not order the military to break international law.

But Mr Trump also said he would consult Defence Secretary James Mattis and CIA director Mike Pompeo and “if they don’t want to do it that’s fine”.

They have both indicated opposition to reintroducing the interrogation method, widely considered a form of torture.

US House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, questioned on the waterboarding remarks at a news conference on Thursday, reiterated that torture was illegal.

And as usual Trump has been having his say:

However yesterday Haspel: Torture doesn’t work

President Donald Trump’s CIA nominee said Wednesday at her confirmation hearing that she doesn’t believe torture works as an interrogation technique and that her “strong moral compass” would prevent her from carrying out any presidential order she found objectionable.

Under questioning by members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, acting CIA Director Gina Haspel said she would not permit the spy agency to restart the kind of harsh detention and interrogation program it ran at black sites after Sept. 11. It was one of the darkest chapters of the CIA’s history and tainted America’s image worldwide.

Senators asked how she would respond if Trump — who has said he supports harsh interrogation techniques like waterboarding and “a hell of a lot worse” — ordered her to do something she found morally objectionable.

“I would not allow CIA to undertake activity that I thought was immoral, even if it was technically legal,” said Haspel, a 33-year veteran of the agency. “I would absolutely not permit it.”

When asked if she agrees with the president’s assertion that torture works, Haspel said: “I don’t believe that torture works.”

Could she stand up to Trump?


Trump on torture

Donald Trump has reiterated his support of torture and his belief that it works: In an ABC interview he said “Do I feel it works? Absolutely, I feel it work.” But he also said he would defer to his Defense Secretary and CIA Director.

Trump says he’ll defer to Mattis and Pompeo on waterboarding

“Do I feel it works? Absolutely, I feel it works,” Trump told ABC News’ David Muir in an excerpt of an interview that will broadcast Wednesday evening.

Trump said he has asked the “people at the highest level of intelligence” within the past 24 hours if waterboarding and other forms of torture work. “And the answer was yes, absolutely,” Trump recalled.

He took a firm stance on defending the country from terrorism during the interview, insisting that he wants to keep America safe and when the Islamic State is chopping off the heads of Christians in the Middle East, the U.S. has to “fight fire with fire.”

But he also said he would defer to Defense Secretary James Mattis and CIA Director Mike Pompeo. “I’m going with General Mattis. I’m going with my secretary,” he told Muir. “Because I think Pompeo’s gonna be phenomenal. I’m gonna go with that they say.”

New York Times: Trump Poised to Lift Ban on C.I.A. ‘Black Site’ Prisons

The Trump administration is preparing a sweeping executive order that would clear the way for the C.I.A. to reopen overseas “black site” prisons, like those where it detained and tortured terrorism suspects before former President Barack Obama shut them down.

President Trump’s three-page draft order, titled “Detention and Interrogation of Enemy Combatants” and obtained by The New York Times, would also undo many of the other restrictions on handling detainees that Mr. Obama put in place in response to policies of the George W. Bush administration.

If Mr. Trump signs the draft order, he would also revoke Mr. Obama’s directive to give the International Committee of the Red Cross access to all detainees in American custody. That would be another step toward reopening secret prisons outside of the normal wartime rules established by the Geneva Conventions, although statutory obstacles would remain.

The draft order does not direct any immediate reopening of C.I.A. prisons or revival of torture tactics, which are now banned by statute. But it sets up high-level policy reviews to make further recommendations in both areas to Mr. Trump, who vowed during the campaign to bring back waterboarding and a “hell of a lot worse” — not only because “torture works,” but because even “if it doesn’t work, they deserve it anyway.”

As well as being abhorrent torture is widely regarded as immoral and largely ineffective.

Politico reports Mattis, Pompeo stunned by CIA ‘black sites’ report

The two officials in charge of Trump’s terrorism detainee policies were ‘blindsided’ by a draft calling for the CIA to revisit techniques critics call torture.

Two of the officials who will be in charge of carrying out President Donald Trump’s terrorism detainee policies, Defense Secretary James Mattis and CIA Director Mike Pompeo, were “blindsided” by reports of a draft executive order that would require the CIA to reconsider using interrogation techniques that some consider torture, according to sources with knowledge of their thinking.

Lawmakers in both parties denounced the draft order on Wednesday even as White House press secretary Sean Spicer said he had “no idea where it came from” and that it is “not a White House document.”

Interview transcript:

DAVID MUIR: Let me ask you about a new report that you were poised to lift a ban on so-called CIA black sites of prisons around the world that have been used in the past. Is that true?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, I’ll be talking about that in about two hours. So, you’ll be there and you’ll be able to see it for yourself.

DAVID MUIR: Are you gonna lift the ban?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: You’re gonna see in about two hours.

DAVID MUIR: The last president, President Obama, said the U.S. does not torture. Will you say that?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, I have a general who I have great respect for, General Mattis, who said — I was a little surprised — who said he’s not a believer in torture. As you know, Mr. Pompeo was just approved, affirmed by the Senate. He’s a fantastic guy, he’s gonna be the head of the CIA.

And you have somebody fabulous as opposed to the character that just got out who didn’t — was not fabulous at all. And he will I think do a great job. And he is — you know, I haven’t gone into great detail. But I will tell you I have spoken to others in intelligence. And they are big believers in, as an example, waterboarding.

DAVID MUIR: You did tell me …


PRESIDENT TRUMP: Because they say it does work. It does work.

DAVID MUIR: Mr. President, you …


DAVID MUIR: Mr. President, you told me during one of the debates that you would bring back waterboarding and a hell of a lot worse.



PRESIDENT TRUMP: I would do — I wanna keep our country safe. I wanna keep our country safe.

DAVID MUIR: What does that mean?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: When they’re shooting — when they’re chopping off the heads of our people and other people, when they’re chopping off the heads of people because they happen to be a Christian in the Middle East, when ISIS is doing things that nobody has ever heard of since Medieval times, would I feel strongly about waterboarding?

As far as I’m concerned we have to fight fire with fire. Now, with that being said I’m going with General Mattis. I’m going with my secretary because I think Pompeo’s gonna be phenomenal. I’m gonna go with what they say. But I have spoken as recently as 24 hours ago with people at the highest level of intelligence. And I asked them the question, “Does it work? Does torture work?” And the answer was, “Yes, absolutely.”

DAVID MUIR: You’re now the president. Do you want waterboarding?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: I don’t want people to chop off the citizens or anybody’s heads in the Middle East. Okay? Because they’re Christian or Muslim or anything else. I don’t want — look, you are old enough to have seen a time that was much different. You never saw heads chopped off until a few years ago.

Now they chop ’em off and they put ’em on camera and they send ’em all over the world. So we have that and we’re not allowed to do anything. We’re not playing on an even field. I will say this, I will rely on Pompeo and Mattis and my group. And if they don’t wanna do, that’s fine. If they do wanna do, then I will work for that end.

I wanna do everything within the bounds of what you’re allowed to do legally. But do I feel it works? Absolutely I feel it works. Have I spoken to people at the top levels and people that have seen it work? I haven’t seen it work. But I think it works. Have I spoken to people that feel strongly about it? Absolutely.

DAVID MUIR: So, you’d be okay with it as …

PRESIDENT TRUMP: I wanna keep …

DAVID MUIR: … president?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: … no, I wanna — I will rely on General Mattis. And I’m gonna rely on those two people and others. And if they don’t wanna do it, it’s 100 percent okay with me. Do I think it works? Absolutely.


Sessions versus Trump

US Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions has indicated a number of differences with policies as stated by Donald Trump when appearing at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.


Trump: pledged to bring back waterboarding, “and a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding”


“Congress has taken an action now that makes it absolutely improper and illegal to use waterboarding or any other form of torture.”

“So many people truly believe, think that the military conducted waterboarding. They never conducted any waterboarding. That was by intelligence agencies. Their rules were maintained. I used to teach the Geneva Conventions and the rules of warfare as an Army Reservist to my personnel, and the military did not do that.”

Muslim ban

Trump called for call for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”


“I have no belief and do not support the idea that Muslims as a religious group should be denied admission to the United States,” Sessions said at the hearing. “We have great Muslim citizens who have contributed in so many different ways.”

Asked by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) if he would support a law barring Muslims from entering the United States, Sessions responded: “No.”

Russian election hacking

“These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction,” the Trump team has said. Trump called news of the Russian hacking “a political witch hunt.” he called on the country to “move on” from discussion of the hacking.

Sessions of the FBI conclusions: “I am sure it was honorably reached.”

He called the hacking “significant event.”

Asked if he believed the conclusion of the intelligence agencies:

“I have no reason to doubt that and have no evidence that would indicate otherwise.”

Source: Politico Where Sessions broke with Trump

Who calls the shots on things like this, the Attorney General or the President? I presume to Attorney General has to abide by the laws as determined by the politicians.

CIA “Queen of Torture” revealed

NZ Herald reports that CIA’s Queen of Torture outed. Like other media outlets they don’t name her but make it very simple to find out her identity.

As with other reporters, Mayer acceded to the requests of the CIA not to name the officer, although she has been identified in other contexts.

However, in response to Mayer’s article and the investigation by television’s NBC news channel that triggered it, the investigative website The Intercept decided to “out her”.

So it’s a quick and easy task to find this. It’s odd when media act responsible and compliant with non-disclosure requests but effectively reveal anyway. The Herald says The Intercept…

was doing so over “CIA objections because of her key role in misleading Congress about the agency’s use of torture, and her active participation in the torture programme (including playing a direct part in the torture of at least one innocent detainee).”

Many of the incidents involving the 49-year-old career CIA officer have been described before. However, because of redactions in official reports of CIA activities, few were aware the operative featuring in them repeatedly was the same woman.

She was criticised after 9/11 for potentially failing to prevent the attacks.

She was harshly criticised after 9/11, when it was revealed that a subordinate had discovered beforehand that two al-Qaeda suspects who later joined the hijack team had entered the country, but failed to notify the FBI.

She went on to become a “key architect” of the “Enhanced Interrogation Techniques” (aka torture).

That was the key CIA claim for the torture programme which the Senate’s latest report dismissed as “wrong”.

“She wrote the template on which future justifications for the CIA programme and the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques were based,” the report concluded.

And she made more major mistakes, including feeding falsen information and extracting false information from Khaled Sheikh Mohammed.

She attended the waterboarding at a so-called “black site” in Poland of Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, the al-Qaeda No3 who masterminded the 9/11 attacks, even though she had no reason, as an analyst, to be there.

She wrote enthusiastically that Mohammed was “going to be hatin’ life on this one”, but accidentally fed the wrong information to his interrogators, who used it to extract a false confirmation.

The information – that there was an al-Qaeda cell of African-Americans operating in the US – led to a manhunt for black Muslims in Montana.

And she was instrumental in an innocent German being abducted and tortured.

She also demanded the rendition of a German citizen named Khalid al-Masri, who was arrested in Macedonia and flown to Afghanistan for interrogation, though the man of the same name the CIA was hunting did not have a German passport.

He was released as a victim of mistaken identity five months later and compensated.

She was promoted and…

… in 2007 gave evidence to Congress on the use of “enhanced interrogation” in which she insisted: “There’s no question, in my mind, that having that detainee information has saved hundreds, conservatively speaking, of American lives.”

That has been claimed to be false testimony to Congress.

She would appear to represent many of the major mistakes made with the torture programme.

The CIA’s arguments for suppression of her name are vague and unpersuasive, alluding generally to the possibility that she could be the target of retaliation.

That’s ironic given that she was significant player in developing and executing a torture programme that appears to be more about oppressive retaliation than legal interrogation.

The Intercept justifies outing her:

The person described by both NBC and The New Yorker is senior CIA officer Alfreda Frances Bikowsky. Multiple news outlets have reported that as the result of a long string of significant errors and malfeasance, her competence and integrity are doubted — even by some within the agency.

The Intercept is naming Bikowsky over CIA objections because of her key role in misleading Congress about the agency’s use of torture, and her active participation in the torture program (including playing a direct part in the torture of at least one innocent detainee). Moreover, Bikowsky has already been publicly identified by news organizations as the CIA officer responsible for many of these acts.

Naming Bikowsky allows people to piece together these puzzles and hold American officials accountable. The CIA’s arguments for suppression of her name are vague and unpersuasive, alluding generally to the possibility that she could be the target of retaliation.

The CIA’s arguments focus on an undefined threat to her safety. “We would strongly object to attaching anyone’s name given the current environment,” a CIA spokesperson, Ryan Trapani, told The Intercept in an email. In a follow-up voicemail he added: “There are crazy people in this world and we are trying to mitigate those threats.”

However, beyond Bikowsky, a number of CIA officials who oversaw and implemented the program have already been publicly identified—indeed, many of the key architects of the program, such as Jose Rodriguez, are frequent guests on news programs.

Trapani also argued that the Senate report is “based only upon one side’s perspective on this story” and that an article about Bikowsky “doesn’t require naming a person who’s never had a chance to rebut what’s been said about them.” When The Intercept asked for the CIA’s rebuttal—or Bikowsky’s—to the critical portrayal of her in the Senate report, Trapani declined to offer one. He noted that CIA Director John Brennan had disputed the report’s contention that the agency had misrepresented the value of the interrogation program.

Innocent people were abducted and tortured. US and International laws and morals were stomped all over. In part this was able to happen because the CIA acts in secret and tries to maintatin secrets to hide from responsibility.

The world deserves much better from the world’s greatest power. Power corrupted is dangerous and despicable and should be openly examined to reduce the chances of it happening again.

If there’s a bit of colateral damage in torturers being ostracised and becoming potential targets of retaliation then tough. It’s not like they are being tortured.

Response to ‘felix’, on torture

Fairly predictably I was mobbed attacked after posting at The Standard yesterday. One of the more devious and bitter regulars,felix, posted a comment that I seem to be unable to respond to, my attempts to reply disappear (normally you’re notified if “In moderation”).

So in the meantime this is my response to felix’s “quick factcheck on what Pete posts elsewhere” trivialisation of torture.

felix’s “quick factcheck” is misrepresentation. Take:

“One is a repost of a video from Fox News about CIA torture, no obvious stance is taken by Pete except to say that the interview is “illuminating” and “sobering”.”

Highlighting an interview on “CIA torture” should give a wee indication of my stance. I gave a brief summary of points including “very distressing”, “waterboarding didn’t work”, “told to do what was necessary”.

I added this quote:
The committee’s report showed that CIA and private medical professionals were centrally involved in the program, and that they “violated numerous international treaties, laws and ethical codes,” said the Physicians for Human Rights analysis.

Leading roles were played by two private psychologists, James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, who developed and administered the harsh techniques and formed a private company <strong>to which the CIA paid US$81 million (NZ$104m)</strong>
James Mitchell was the person who tried to defend his torture in the interview.

To which I said “Torturers are paid well in the US.” and “Remember Abu Ghraib?” with a picture of a bound prisoner being attacked by a dog.

felix chooses to trivialise torture by the US but I saw the interview as important enough to share so people could see a torturer making excuses for himself and the CIA, who Mitchell thinks should be trusted to do what is necessary and politicians should mind their own business.

I haven’t seen a post on this torture here. Make up your own mind what you think of the interview with a torturer trying to defend the CIA interrogation program he played a significant role in establishing and executing and along with his partner was paid  US$81 million for his efforts.

The title of the post should be an obvious indication of my stance – A US torturer interviewed.

But this is trivial to felix, it seems more important for him to use tortured facts, favouring ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ at The Standard.

A US torturer interviewed

Dr James Mitchell is a psychologist who was used by the CIA to devise their ‘Enhanced Interrogation” program and was involved in administering ‘Enhanced Interrogations” which he described as very distressing for those administering them, and unsuccessful.

He was recently interviewed on Fox News.

He acknowledges that as well as waterboarding other physical coercions were used including slapping, sleep deprivation and hanging prisoners in positions that severely restricted their movement.

He said that waterboarding didn’t work so they moved on to other methods, and was told to do what was necessary.

A very illuminating and sobering interview.

UPDATE (thanks Alan):

The committee’s report showed that CIA and private medical professionals were centrally involved in the program, and that they “violated numerous international treaties, laws and ethical codes,” said the Physicians for Human Rights analysis.

Leading roles were played by two private psychologists, James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, who developed and administered the harsh techniques and formed a private company to which the CIA paid US$81 million (NZ$104m)

From Right group: CIA torture violated Nuremberg ban on human experimentation

Torturers are paid well in the US.

Remember Abu Ghraib?

Alternate view on torture at Whale Oil

It looks like some alternate views are still allowed at Whale Oil. In a post where Cameron Slater supported torture in situations very unlikely to happen several comments question the pro-torture proponents.

A comment by ‘luke’ supports the post:

There is no justification of torture. Really? As I said before imagine, someone you love has been kidnapped and is in danger of being
killed. You have one of the kidnappers and he smugly tells you he won’t reveal where your loved one is. Are you seriously saying you wouldn’t take a pair of pliers to his testicles to force him to divulge the information you need to save your family member? No justification, are you certain?

caochladh makes a similar point:

So, we have the terrorist who has planted a “dirty” nuclear device which will kill hundreds of thousands of innocent people. Now, we are expected to sit around holding hands with him until the device detonates? Not me pal.

None of the situations where the CIA tortured were anything like that, I don’t know if it has ever happened like that with non-nuclear devices and never with nuclear devices.

And it’s worth remembering that suicide bombing is a common tactic, the bombers are likely to blow themselves up rather than be captured and make themselves available for torture.

‘Nebman’ responds:

I would challenge that on the basis that the chance of it ever happening to anyone ever are so slim, you’ve a better chance of winning Lotto. Ignore the Hollywood nonsense as it’s sensationalism without reality.

No-one will argue with your premise if it was their kids (I wouldn’t) but in my eyes, it still does not justify or excuse it.


This is the issue, people responding on an intellectual level. Hollywood nonsense? Sadly many have to confront this issue in reality. Nebman I would support you if you in ‘reality’ your loved ones were at risk.

And Nebman challenges that:

I’m not some liberal pretending there’s no bad people out there doing bad things and all we need to do is hug them and talk to them and everything will be ok – far from it – I’d be the first to break out the hot wire and pliers etc etc.

But where do you stop/start and who gets to say what is ok and how far can you go? If you can quantify that and guarantee the process is free from political interference, I’d possibly see it differently but it never stays that way unfortunately.

And I challenge the “many” in your statement. It gets thrown around somewhat casually I’ve noticed without any real substance or facts behind it.

I see that too, unlikely claims being made as if factual but never anything to support them.

I’m happy to wear the intellectual tag if it means the argument explores all the ramifications. It’s why I’m opposed to binding referendum and online voting. I want people who are deciding serious issues to actually think it through rather than let the popular decision be seen as the “best” response – or worse the only one.

Another comment from Nebman:

The issue I have with both this topic and the death penalty is that the commissioning of it is both arbitrary and not consistent.

If the argument is that you must torture to save lives, then you must also torture to find out what they know, then you must also torture to see what they know just in case. The logical extension is that the information gained that might identify further subjects to torture in which case picking up other people to torture is justified.

And where do you stop? What if it is outside the traditional theatre of war? What about domestic situations? I get the “what if it were to save one of your kids” argument but that’s rhetorical hyperbole at best. Everyone would agree in that situation but that does not make it right or acceptable.

Who gets to do it? The army, the spooks, the police? Who gets to sign off on it? The Politicians? The Judiciary? Government Departments?

My rather long winded point is best summarised by a man called Albert Pierrepoint. He carried out more judicial sentences of death than any other modern executioner and at the end of his “career” he was totally opposed to the death penalty and even gave evidence at a inquiry when the Brits were looking at turfing it in the 60’s.

Because the carrying out of the sentence was and always remained at the whim of some politician, it could never amount to any kind of effective tool to achieve the ends it was designed to.

The use of torture would always be the same.

And ‘fecnde’:

There is no justification of torture. All nations supporting it should be held in contempt and all people engaged in it – from the top down to the individuals performing it – should be held criminally accountable.

Some snippets from the “Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or degrading Treatment or Punishment”:…

A2.2: No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political in stability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.

A2.3 An order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture.

A3.1 No State Party shall expel, return (“refouler”) or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.

A4.1 Each State Party shall ensure that all acts of torture are offences under its criminal law. The same shall apply to an attempt to commit torture and to an act by any person which constitutes complicity or participation in torture.
A4.2. Each State Party shall make these offences punishable by appropriate
penalties which take into account their grave nature.

No one proposing torture as a valid method for forcing a confession about an imminent bombing has said how it would work.

You would have to capture someone you were sure could reveal information that would prevent the terrorist act and have people on hand who were proficient in the use of torture that can produce instant results.

How often does torture work instantly? It produces more false and diversionary information than useful information when carried out over days and weeks. Has it ever saved people from a ticking time bomb?

I guess if we were to use time bomb torture in New Zealand we would have the ultimate interrogation device.

“Tell us where the bomb is or we”ll get Whale Oil to attack you in a post”.

We can safely joke about it, there’s no way any New Zealand government is ever likely to approve of torture.

Slater supports torture

Cameron Slater has posted in support of torture ate Whatle Oil – Former SAS man: Torturing terror suspects is a “moral responsibility”

People get waaaay too precious about torture.  There is a time and a place where the need simply makes it the only answer.

Timeliness of intel to prevent some major loss of life would always be justification in my book.

For squeamish people to live in their cocooned little lives where they are allowed the luxury of not having to look a cow in the eye and kill it just so they can have some steak, it is better that they leave the professional to the job of keeping them safe.

There is nothing more irritating than bleeding heart liberals declaring there should be no torture, ever.   They do so from the luxury of ignorance.  If it was their family held up in a bus that’s about to be blown up, I suspect very few would be as principled.

How many people (in the world) have family held up in a bus and the person proven to be the bomber is in custody and available to be tortured quickly enough to extract reliable information that would save the family members?

How many people would be saved in similar situations? And at what cost on the off chance you might occasionally save someone?

Real life isn’t like Hollywood. If you start to make excuses for torture based on ludicrous examples like this then you’re on a very slippery slope.

Torture is morally abhorrent. It’s far simpler and safer  to totally rule it out.

Dick contradicts himself trying to defend torture programme

Former Vice President Dick Cheney is described by The Atlantic as “the de-facto leader of the national-security team” during the period that the CIA illegally detained people and tortured them.

Cheney had an interview on Fox News trying to defend what happened but Fox News Catches Dick Cheney Lying About Torture.

Early on, interviewer Bret Baier says, “The Feinstein report suggests that President Bush was not fully briefed on the program and deliberately kept in the dark by the CIA.”

Dick Cheney denies this.

“Not true,” he says. “Read his book. He talks about it extensively in his memoirs. He was, in fact, an integral part of he program. He had to approve it before we went forward …. We did discuss the techniques. There was no effort on our part to keep him from that.” Cheney goes on to declare that “the men and women of the CIA did exactly what we wanted to have them do in terms of taking on this program.”

According to Cheney Bush was an integral part of the program, had to approve it, discussed the techniques, and the CIA “did exactly what we wanted them to do”.

Later in the interview, Baier asks:

“At one point, this report describes interrogators pureeing food of one detainee and then serving it in his anus,” he says, “something the agency called ‘rectal rehydration.’ I mean, is that torture?”

Cheney replied.

“I can’t speak to that. I guess the question is, what are you prepared to do to get the truth about future attacks against the United States. Now, that was not one of the authorized or approved techniques. There were 12 of them, as I recall. They were all techniques we used in training on our own people.”

What is Cheney prepared to do to avoid the truth and to make excuses?

He claims they were fully briefed, the CIA did exactly what they wanted them to do. But that technique wasn’t authorized or approved.

Either way, he story doesn’t hold together. He can’t have it both ways. Either the CIA hid depraved, unapproved tactics, or Cheney was perfectly okay with subjecting prisoners to anal rape.

A harsh assessment but makes a valid point.

Bret Baier: Did the ends justify the means?

Dick Cheney: Absolutely.

Cheney is defending it. Still.

Cheney is told about a prisoner, Gul Rahman, who died after unimaginable brutality—beaten, kept awake for 48 hours, kept in total darkness for days, thrown into the Gestapo-pioneered cold bath treatment, and then chained to a wall and left to die of hypothermia. The factors in his death included “dehydration, lack of food, and immobility due to ‘short chaining.”

Defending this sort of treatment.

This is Cheney’s response: “3,000 Americans died on 9/11 because of what these guys did, and I have no sympathy for them. I don’t know the specific details … I haven’t read the report … I keep coming back to the basic, fundamental proposition: how nice do you want to be to the murderers of 3000 Americans?”

A defiant defence of abhorrent treatment. And it gets worse.

But Gul Rahman had nothing whatsoever to do with the 9/11 plot.

He had engaged in no plots to kill Americans. He was a guard to the Afghan warlord, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, part of an organization that began by fighting the Soviets in occupied Afghanistan. It had alliances with al Qaeda at the time, but subsequently engaged in peace negotiations with the Karzai government.

His brother claims Rahman was even involved in rescuing Hamid Kharzai in 1994.

To equate him with individuals who committed mass murder of Americans or who were actively plotting against Americans is preposterous.

He was emphatically not a threat to the US. Yet we tortured him to death. And the man running the torture camp was promoted thereafter.

And the man in charge of the torture programme is unrepentant.

Did the ends justify the means? Absolutely not.

CIA interrogation techniques “abhorrent and rightly should be repudiated by all”

Director John Brennan has defended the CIA. NBC News reports in CIA Chief John Brennan Defends Agency But Questions Some Tactics:

“The overwhelming majority of officers involved in the program at CIA carried out their responsibilities faithfully and in accordance with the legal and policy guidance they were provided. They did what they were asked to do in the service of our nation.”

But he has conceded:

“In a limited number of cases, agency officers used interrogation techniques that had not been authorized, were abhorrent and rightly should be repudiated by all,” Brennan said.

Any number of abhorrent cases of torture are too many. The US carried out a significant number of detentions and torture at various locations around the world.

Brennan sidestepped a question about whether the interrogation tactics — which included simulated drowning, beatings and confinement in coffin-sized boxes — amounted to torture. President Barack Obama, and United Nations officials have said that some of the tactics did.

He avoided using the word ‘torture’ but didn’t (and couldn’t credibly) deny that’s what they did.

The CIA leader also said that it was “unknowable” whether extreme interrogation tactics directly led to the extraction of useful intelligence.

What is knowable is that torture typically ‘extracts’ unreliable information as it did for the US torture program. It led to the detention and torture of innocent people.

That is abhorrent.

In a Statement from Director Brennan on the SSCI Study on the Former Detention and Interrogation Program Brennan says

As noted in CIA’s response to the study, we acknowledge that the detention and interrogation program had shortcomings and that the Agency made mistakes.

Serious mistakes that have seriously damaged the reputation of the US. They would seriously condemn any other country doing what they have done.

The most serious problems occurred early on and stemmed from the fact that the Agency was unprepared and lacked the core competencies required to carry out an unprecedented, worldwide program of detaining and interrogating suspected al-Qa’ida and affiliated terrorists.

In carrying out that program, we did not always live up to the high standards that we set for ourselves and that the American people expect of us. As an Agency, we have learned from these mistakes, which is why my predecessors and I have implemented various remedial measures over the years to address institutional deficiencies.

He has admitted it was a program, not just isolated unauthorised incidents.

At least now they have admitted mistakes and “implemented various remedial measures”.  What the US needs to do is give an absolute assurance it won’t resort to illegal detention or anything resembling torture. Even then a major stain remains.