Friday, May 14, 2004

Deeper into the pit

It's not just the US Army using torture in the "war on terror"; it's also the CIA. And they're worse:

The CIA has used coercive interrogation methods against a select group of high-level leaders and operatives of al-Qaida that have produced growing concerns inside the agency about abuses, according to current and former counterterrorism officials.

At least one agency employee has been disciplined for threatening a detainee with a gun during questioning, they said.

In the case of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, a high-level detainee who is believed to have helped plan the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, CIA interrogators used graduated levels of force, including a technique known as "water boarding," in which a prisoner is strapped down, forcibly pushed underwater and made to believe he might drown.

Where "made to believe he might drown" means "held underwater for long periods of time until drowning, repeatedly, until they talk". This technique is also known as "the submarine" and is popular among torturers because it doesn't leave any marks.

There can be no quibbling about torture vs "torture-lite" here. This is the real thing. And there can also be no question about "bad apples" or "isolated individuals", because this has been authorised at the highest levels of the Bush administration. The moral degeneration of the US is complete - it has now wholeheartedly joined the ranks of states that practice torture. The beacon of freedom has been extinguished; the light has gone out.

Still, I guess it'll give them something to talk about with Sudan and Cuba at the next meeting of the UN Human Rights Commission...

The article also alludes to the US practice of extraordinary rendition - transferring people to a foreign jurisdiction with a questionable human rights record (such as Egypt or Jordan) so that they may be tortured. This allows US officials to keep their hands clean and dodge US anti-torture legislation - they only ask the questions (or write them so that their proxies can ask them); they are not the people applying the electrodes or pulling fingernails. But what's the moral difference between torturing someone yourself and having someone do it on your behalf for your benefit? None whatsoever.