Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
December 11, 2007

CIA Torture Responsibility

Picking up from Hannah K. O'Luthon:

None of the following links are "nice", but overall they seem to indicate that the question of CIA torture (who ordered it, who did it, and what it wrought on both its victims and its perpetrators) is about to be reconsidered under a more intense light than previously.

In particular the ABC interview with John Kiriakou (transcripts here and here) will merit analysis beyond that of the 230 comments at the ABC site or the discussion at Larry Johnson's No Quarter blog or the TPM Muckraker site

We seem (in my un-informed view) to be once again in the presence of a little fish being tossed into the mediatic maw while those really responsible remain in the shadows.

The interview with Kirakou seems to be well prepared and the man is very careful in what he does say and does not say. It certainly pushes the spotlight on those who ordered the "Verschärfte Vernehmungen" (enhanced interrogations), i.e. torture.

I am not sure why this is put out now, but together with the recent hit-piece on Pelosi, it smells like part of a CIA warning campaign to the torture enablers in the White House and Congress. "If you go after us, we know how to pay back ..."

There is, by the way, a direct connection between systematic nazi-torture in German concentration camps and the torture methods used by the CIA. This was laid out and backed by documents in recent German TV documentations.

A main figure in the connection is Henry K. Beecher, an anesthetist at Harvard Medical School. He reviewed medical journals of experiments in Dachau for the U.S. Army and he 'debriefed' Dr. Walter Schreiber, who assigned and directed medical 'research' in German concentration camps like Dachau.

Beecher also experimented with drugs, especially mescaline, to get the 'truth' out of prisoners. At least one of the persons he ordered to be drugged was killed by it. Beecher took part in the CIA's Project ARTICHOKE which, in the early 1950s, researched interrogation methods by 'experiments' on humans in Germany.

The results of the project were summed up in the CIA document "KUBARK Counterintelligence Interrogation" which describes interrogation techniques, including "coercive counterintelligence interrogation of resistant sources". The document was the base of the "Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual" used by the infamous School of the Americas. The trail continues through Death Squads, Disappearances, and Torture -- from Latin America to Iraq.

All methods used in Dachau, long standing, cold rooms, dogs, nakedness, drugs, were also used on CIA prisoners after 9/11. That is not a coincidence.

There is a direct track from Dachau to Abu Ghraib and it passes through Langley, Virginia. That track would not exist without the tacit approval and funding by Washington.

The recent CIA revelations are, in my view, designed to remind the co-conspirators in DC of their complicity in these crimes. This just a day before the Congressional hearings about the 'destroyed' CIA videotapes of waterboarding and other torture.

Posted by b on December 11, 2007 at 01:30 PM | Permalink


From the Larry Johnson link:

[What we know for certain is that the CIA was keeping the President and his National Security team fully briefed on the methods and results of interrogating Abu Zubaydah. In fact, it is highly likely that George Tenet showed part of the videotape of the interrogation to the President.]

Or maybe all the tapes, delivered daily for a year in a brown paper package by a brown shoed square.

Posted by: anna missed | Dec 11, 2007 3:06:00 PM | 1

There is a direct track from Dachau to Abu Ghraib and it passes through Langley, Virginia.

Don't forget, it passes through Latin America as well.

Posted by: D. Mathews | Dec 11, 2007 6:00:03 PM | 2

Don't forget that exactly the same techniques (sleep deprivation, stress positions, cold rooms, etc.) were used by the NKVD/KGB. I don't know that either the KGB or the Gestapo ever used sexual humiliation, however; that seems to be something uniquely American, a bizarre offshoot of our Puritan past, perhaps.

By the way, and this is something you see all the time, including in major US newspapers -- there is no such place as Langley, Virginia. The CIA is in McLean, VA. Langley is just an area within McLean; there is no post office address for "Langley." Both my sons go to Langley High School, and I don't want them subject to any opprobrium beyond what they already deserve for, well, being my sons.

Posted by: Aigin | Dec 11, 2007 6:29:53 PM | 3

There is a direct track from Dachau to Abu Ghraib and it passes through Langley, Virginia.

today, that would seem self evident but it so appallingl the reality - that i think even the most critical amongst us are confronted practically by this immmutable connection between the jurisprudence of Verschärfte Vernehmungen & those of the patriot acts

it is perhaps a coincidence that i was reading about Verschärfte Vernehmungen in a new book called 'stalin's wars' & how it was applied by the gestapo & the sd in their occupied territories

i couldn't give a fuck for godwin's law for the reality is there is so much today that mirrors the nazis & sometimes even surpasses their transgression against humanity

& nowhere is the resemblance so close as it is in war & in jurisprudence & evidently in their jurisprudence of war. the famous premptive attacks on the czechs & the poles & then against the soviet union are mirrored today with iraq, afghanistan & iran

it is why i have sd that military defeat which in essence is also a political defeat is the only way that the good germans of modern america might be able to recuperate what is clearly stated in their constitution - a constitution that ho chi mihn called a document fondateur with which the vietnamese wrote their own

it is clear that the people of iraq are quite capable of delivering this military & political defeat & what is happening today - is really only a forestalling of what is in real terms, inevitable

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Dec 11, 2007 6:36:53 PM | 4

'3 months' '3 months''3 months'in the life of Sibel Edmonds

I have some advice for those of you awaiting the results of 'investigations' into the CIA/torture/911 videos: a) don't hold your breath b) dont expect anything significant.

also see, Torture in Germany after World War II

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Dec 11, 2007 7:17:45 PM | 5

If you want to crack the CIA torture nut, you need to start with the translators.
Under both Federal and Geneva law, any rights of entry to the US would be forfeit
to those Iraqi corroborators who acted as translators in Abu Ghraib torture rooms.
Their surnames were thoroughly vetted, and available to Congress, if they wished.
Being not of the CIA, and desperate to remain anonymously in the US, they'd talk.

Ergo, red army, blue army, alla time same-same, Congress is a Soviet Politburo.

"We're always bemused by folks' need to deny that we could have changed the Iraqi
regime with impunity, but recognize that for them to admit this, they'd have to
reckon with the fact that because (it) could only endure on our sufferance, we bear
moral responsibility for its crimes, and the awful wastage of the Gulf Wars. The
fact that shock and awe was sane and sanctions were crazy is just too terrible to
be psychically borne by East Coast liberal establishment. They need victims."
(adapted from Red Moon Rising by Matthew Brzezinski)

Interesting fact pointed out to me today by a Wall Street associate: Today is the
third month after the seven-year statute of limitations expiration on the crimes
behind the events of 9/11, and the dot-con neutron bomb perpetrated on Americans.
One, of course, wiped out the evidence of the other, the SEC and IRS indictments
of brokers and bankers who swindled Americans of $10T, were lost in WTC's collapse.

But I'm sure that had nothing to do with 19 Arab kooks taking jet flight lessons,
just as the creation of Department of Homeland Defense had nothing to do with the
wholesale disappearance of the Y2K backup records of those IRS and SEC documents.

I think it's time MoA created a global network of encrypted, fire-walled WAN's
that we can access with throw-away PDA's. It's only a matter of time before the
internet will become your self-indictment, certainly if you blog from your home.

Hold on, comrade, there's a knock at my door...

Posted by: Bertold Brecht | Dec 11, 2007 9:45:21 PM | 6

Before reading this post, I thought of Henry Beecher as the patron saint of human experimentation. He published a paper in the late 60's that had enormous influence and led to the requirement that every US medical school have a committee to review the ethics of any proposed experiments on humans. The paper simply took a series of peer-reviewed papers appearing in prestigious medical journals and analyzed them in terms of informed consent, balance of risk and benefit, etc. One of the egregious examples was a study of acne medication in a pediatrics journal. Patients in the control group weren't given standard treatment even though some of them would have permanent scarring. And it only marginally increased the strength of the result.

I audited a law school course in human experimentation and the Beecher paper was part of the basic reading set, along with extensive selections from the Nuremberg trial documents. The result of the attention to the problem was that institutional review committees were required for medical schools and other organizations receiving federal grant money, which is effectively all of human experimentation.

Mescaline in any dose likely to be used in humans isn't lethal. There were a few more details on Wikipedia, and it looked like the problem might have been that the patient was left unattended and could have died from causes unrelated to the direct action of the drug.

I have no problem with the idea that Beecher some questionable things. Pehaps having tasted evil he woke up to the implications of some of his work and published the seminal paper that led to the correction of the abuses.

Posted by: Roger Bigod | Dec 11, 2007 9:50:28 PM | 7

Got this from over at thinkprogress, they have a very short audio clip of a former CIA agent who says it is highly likely Bush and crew not only viewed the tapes of the 2002 interrogations that were later destroyed but that it seems routine, Former CIA agent: ‘highly likely’ Bush saw torture tapes.

Paul Krugman on Why Bush Wants to Torture

The central drive of the Bush administration — more fundamental than any particular policy — has been the effort to eliminate all limits on the president’s power. Torture, I believe, appeals to the president and the vice president precisely because it’s a violation of both law and tradition. By making an illegal and immoral practice a key element of U.S. policy, they’re asserting their right to do whatever they claim is necessary.

Also, I agree with Bertold Brecht above, that everything we write on the web will be used against us, that became clear to me in about 03, but by then I had posted so much against these criminals of freedom that it was to late to stop by then. I thought to myself, fuck it, they've most likely gotten enough by then to do what they wish, so why not continue. I have no fear. They hate

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Dec 11, 2007 10:46:08 PM | 8

In the link to the wikipedia article on ARTICHOKE in b's text, the project is described as being "offensive":

Artichoke was an offensive program of mind control...the scope of the project was outlined in a memo dated January 1952 that stated, "Can we get control of an individual to the point where he will do our bidding against his will and even against fundamental laws of nature, such as self preservation?"

Indeed, quite "offensive"

Posted by: Chuck Cliff | Dec 12, 2007 1:11:10 AM | 9

Might be worth a thought:
Daily Kos: STFU with the "waterboarding is torture" b.s.!

Do you really think this is about waterboarding?

You've taken the bait.

Do you really think they would destroy tapes that showed mere waterboarding?

They WANT you to hysterically scream "waterboarding is torture!" over and over again.  That's exactly what they want!

What they're really doing is genital mutilation and rape and torturing children in front of their parents.  And God-Only-Knows what other sadistic and medievel bullshit.  

Quit falling for their shit!  I've written two dairies in two nights about this, and still all anybody wants to hear about is the "waterboarding" lie.  


Posted by: Fran | Dec 12, 2007 2:17:39 AM | 10

Larry Johnson has more on the history of waterboarding by U.S. forces. This is really a "heart of darkness" issue: there were many Americans who after the perceived atrocity of 9/11 were quite willing to use "any means necessary" to achieve revenge and security. Many, alas, still feel that way. It is interesting (or infuriating) that the most resolute opposition seems to be coming from precisely those "security professionals" who are most closely involved in collecting (reliable) information and acting on it. By contrast, the politicians have, for the most part, been too pusillanimous to take a stand in favor of "a decent respect for the opinions of mankind" and against "cruel and unusual punishment", as though the very language of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were too controversial to mouth during an electoral campaign. Indeed, it seems that the situation is even worse than that, if in fact (some of) the congressional democrats charged with "supervision" of the intelligence community were suggesting the need for more extreme "techniques" of interrogation. The emerging picture is a desolating portrait of complicity by ELECTED officials of both parties in tolerating (or worse, encouraging) torture . It seems that America's elective representatives have swallowed the "approved version" of the Al Qaeda "legend", hook, line, and sinker, with none of that analytical skepticism so readily apparent outside of officially sanctioned venues. It is not necessary to accept a "revisionist version" (aka "conspiracy theory") view of 9/11 to conclude beyond any doubt that the Bush administration consciously exploited that tragedy for its own nefarious ends, and that it has stimulated maximal media exposure for every trace of "useful terrorism". Nevertheless, merely to adduce evidence for such obvious manipulation of the "terrorism issue" is sufficient to place a politician "beyond the pale" of "serious discourse" as defined by the corporate media. This mediatic fog is unlikely to be dispelled in the absence of an (unlikely) electoral cyclone; rather, many of the best informed citizens will probably lose faith in the present form of American institutions.

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Dec 12, 2007 3:28:22 AM | 11

Thanx for the post B, nobody puts it quite like you. And you are spot on, sometimes one gets the impression Josef and Maria would feel so at home in the CIA. But then again, the C does stand for Christian, right?

Posted by: Juan Moment | Dec 12, 2007 5:27:01 AM | 12

Newsweek: Paper Trail - Who authorized the CIA to destroy interrogation videos?

A detailed written transcript of the tapes' contents—apparently including references to interrogation techniques—was subsequently made by the CIA. But the tapes themselves were never brought onto U.S. territory; they were kept, and later destroyed, at a secret location overseas. At one point portions of the tapes were electronically transmitted to CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., so a small number of officials there could review them. A counterterrorism source, who also asked for anonymity when discussing this subject, said that there was no reason to believe that any recordings of such an electronic feed still exist.
The reason CIA officials involved the White House and Justice Department in discussions about the disposition of the tapes was that CIA officials viewed the CIA's terrorist interrogation and detention program—including the use of "enhanced" interrogation techniques—as having been imposed on the agency by the White House. "It was a political issue," said the former official, and therefore CIA officials believed that the decision as to what to do with the tapes should be made at a political level, by Miers—a former personal lawyer to President Bush and later White House staff secretary and counsel—or someone else directly representing the president.

Posted by: b | Dec 12, 2007 5:41:20 AM | 13

By way of this link to Greg Grandin's article with an embedded quote from a WSJ article by Siboahn Gorman

In any case, Rodriguez, according to his colleagues, turns out to be for the little guy -- or the little torturer, anyway. He supposedly destroyed those videos so that "lower-level officers would[n't] take the fall" for the high-level ones who dished out the orders. But there's a slight catch in the text. What if some higher-level ones might have been in danger of taking the fall as well?

Here's Gorman's money passage, just dropped into the middle of the piece without further explanation or discussion: "One former official said interrogators' faces were visible on at least one video, as were those of more senior officers who happened to be visiting." Happened? Visiting? Keep in mind that we're talking about CIA officials in a torture chamber, not tourists at a local landmark.

Unfortunately the links provided by Gandin provide much more documentation for the long and sordid links between American intelligence agencies and (at the least, knowledge of) death squads in Latin America and Vietnam than one would really like to know. As particular examples, Documents 4 and 5 of this Web page from George Washington University's National Security Archive will be quite sufficient to turn one's stomach. I believe the CIA's motto is "The Truth shall make you free", and if Americans ever want to be free of the plague of government by and for torturers slogging through such archival swamps is a necessary penance.

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Dec 12, 2007 6:09:04 AM | 14

What they're really doing is genital mutilation and rape and torturing children in front of their parents. And God-Only-Knows what other sadistic and medievel (sic) bullshit.

Waterboarding as a 14th century pastime

Waterboarding as a modern spiritual cleanser

Waterboarding only sounds benign to Jack Bauer wannabes and those that are simply ignorant of its charms

Posted by: jcairo | Dec 12, 2007 8:29:24 AM | 15

"The chinese water torture" as discussed by prurient schoolboys in corners of the playground during the years after WW2, especially in those countries of the South Pacific where the closeness of the call, being invaded by Asians, was still fresh in everyone's mind.

"Why is it called the Chinese water torture if it was done by Japs?"
I can remember exclaiming when first inducted into the secret society of shock horror. That garnered the usual "jeez where did you get him from?" glances towards my guarantor, a kid from down the road who had been at the school nearly 6 months longer than I.

There was no time to waste on such inanities - chinks, japs what's the difference, the real issue was, how did they do it?

One kid claimed that water was pumped back into you with a converted bicycle pump, connected to your dick (of course bringing a hint of sex into any discussion was always worth extra points) until your bladder blew up like a ballown and burst.

While that was a popular choice it was eventually discarded as being too messy and surely not even the japs would play around with another bloke's dick.

The eventual 'winner' was the drip theory, that was the victim was tied to a post under a bucket of water. The bucket had a hole in it which could be opened and closed remotely, this meant that the victim was subjected to the continual drip, drip of water onto his head. A careful torturer would slowly increase or decrease the interval between drips, the object being to send the subject mad waiting for the next drip.

I dunno who came up with that elaborate and psychologically compelling fabrication but we were convinced that was what the "Chinese Water Torture" was.

If anyone had told us the truth that it was really a simple rag across the mouth used to convince someone they were drowning we would have laughed them out of the club. "Why would anyone fall for that? The person knows they aren't really going to drown them so they would just wait it out." would have been the likely reaction.

The same reaction which many amerikans who haven't experienced the horror and helplessness of suffocation or drowning, and who wish to rationalise away this issue to prove amerika can do no wrong, will be convincing themselves of right now.

Kirakou's story is being reported in that strawman way much loved by a media eager to gloss over the horror required by not compromising our lifestyle.

This is the old "it works" "see, it prevented deaths".

Although Kirakou claims not to support torture he claims it succeeded where all else had failed.

What we don't get in mainstream coverage, are any concrete examples of what was 'prevented', any report of Abu Zubaida's claim that he just made up what his interrogators wanted to hear, or any examination of the truthfulness of what it was he is alleged to have confessed.

While everyone is arguing over 'how far up' the administration ladder responsibility for this obscenity goes, or whether BushCo or the intelligence services have the most points in their bi-annual ping pong, one of the most pernicious, brutal and ultimately useless (some victims will just lie, other victims will just die) methods of torture is being normalised in the minds of the average consumption addicted 'westerner'.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Dec 12, 2007 4:20:25 PM | 16

Ray McGovern on Americans and torture . He notes the deafening silence on this moral issue from most of America's religious communities.

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Dec 13, 2007 3:30:10 AM | 17

Justice Dept. Seeks Delay on C.I.A. Inquiry

The Justice Department asked the House Intelligence Committee on Friday to postpone its investigation into the destruction of videotapes by the Central Intelligence Agency in 2005, saying the Congressional inquiry presented “significant risks” to its own preliminary investigation into the matter.

The department is taking an even harder line with other Congressional committees looking into the matter, and is refusing to provide information about any role it might have played in the destruction of the videotapes. The recordings covered hundreds of hours of interrogations of two operatives of Al Qaeda.

The Justice Department and the C.I.A.’s inspector general have begun a preliminary inquiry into the destruction of the tapes, and Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey said the department would not comply with Congressional requests for information now because of “our interest in avoiding any perception that our law enforcement decisions are subject to political influence.”

Political influence ....

Posted by: b | Dec 15, 2007 1:39:17 AM | 18

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