Via Workers World News Service
Reprinted from the Jan. 16, 2003
issue of Workers World newspaper


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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