Via Workers World News Service
Reprinted from the Jan. 16, 2003
issue of Workers World newspaper
CIA TORTURE: HIDEOUS BUSINESS, BUT NOT NEW
By Michael Kramer
A front-page article in the Dec. 26 Washington Post has focused
attention on the CIA's decades-long policy that permits and encourages
the use of torture on anyone in its custody.
According to the Post, the CIA currently maintains interrogation
facilities at the Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, the British island
colony of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, the U.S. naval base at
Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and "other overseas interrogation facilities
[that] are off-limits to outsiders, and often even to other government
Detainees "are sometimes kept standing or kneeling for hours, in black
hoods or spray-painted goggles... . At times they are held in awkward,
painful positions and deprived of sleep with a 24-hour bombardment of
lights--subject to what are known as 'stress and duress' techniques."
Also, "captives are often 'softened up' by MPs [military police] and
U.S. Army Special Forces troops who beat them up and confine them in
tiny rooms. The alleged terrorists are commonly blindfolded and thrown
into walls, bound in painful positions, subjected to loud noises and
deprived of sleep."
These techniques were also used extensively against military personnel
and civilians during the Korean and Vietnam wars. While the torturers
maimed and killed many, they failed to break the steadfast resistance of
the people of these countries to U.S. imperialism.
However, the torture did result in the psychological and emotional
scarring of thousands of U.S. military veterans who were compelled to
carry out the brutality. Today they continue to fill the drug and
alcohol abuse outpatient clinics and hospital wards of the Veterans
The Washington Post quoted from speeches and congressional testimony of
current CIA Director George Tenet and of Cofer Black, former head of the
CIA's Counterterrorist Center. Most other sources are identified only as
"intelligence specialists familiar with CIA interrogation methods,"
"national security officials," "one official who has supervised the
capture and transfer of accused terrorists," "U.S. government officials,
speaking on condition of anonymity," "Americans with direct knowledge
and others who have witnessed the treatment" and "Bush administration
These sources do not want their names revealed because they know very
well that public support for the Bush administration's so-called war on
terrorism could collapse. If that leads to a falling-out within the
ruling class, it might result in criminal charges being filed against
They must also fear Pinochet-type secret indictments in foreign courts
for violating international law. They don't want this possibility
hanging over their heads for the rest of their lives whenever they
travel overseas on official business or vacation.
Former U.S. Secretary of State and war criminal Henry Kissinger, who is
now wanted for trial in several countries, as well as various government
officials and active-duty and retired military officers in Israel, are
forced to limit their travels because of this potential scenario.
One of the most skilled torturers the CIA ever employed was Dan
Mitrione, a former high-ranking Indiana police officer described in the
book "Killing Hope/U.S. Military and CIA Intervention since World War
II," by William Blum.
Mitrione was stationed in Brazil and Uruguay during the 1960s. He was an
instructor in the art of torture.
He "had built a soundproofed room in the cellar of his house in
Montevideo. In this room he assembled selected Uruguayan police officers
to observe a demonstration of torture techniques."
On July 31, 1970, the Tupamaros--a radical anti-imperialist Uruguayan
group whose members had been regularly tortured by graduates of
Mitrione's course--kidnapped him. A few days later he was executed. The
Greek director Constantin Costa-Gavros popularized the incident in his
excellent film "State of Siege." He also directed "Missing," about the
U.S. role in the 1973 Pinochet coup in Chile.
CIA torture will not make the United States a more secure place to live.
It will not provide a relaxed environment for U.S. citizens traveling
overseas. It will have just the opposite effect. Further more, it can
lead to disaster for those who fail to distance themselves from the
gangster mentality and mindset in the CIA.
- END -
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