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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-28-07 07:20 PM
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The Fruits of the Bush/Cheney Torture Policies
The use of torture by the Bush administration, which usually refers to torture as coercive interrogation techniques, is much more widespread than is commonly realized. In a recent post, I discuss in detail the abundant evidence for widespread torture condoned by the Bush/Cheney administration, referencing numerous Bush administration memos, the testimony of eyewitnesses, and evidence put forth by human rights organizations and journalists. Charlie Savage sums up the situation in his recent book, Takeover The Return of the Imperial Presidency and the Subversion of American Democracy:

This coercive system of interrogation was put into widespread use following the 9/11 attacks. Eyewitness accounts put it all over at Guantanamo, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in CIA prisons, and in a military brig on U.S. soil. There were clearly hundreds and hundreds of U.S. officials employing these techniques in many contexts simultaneously around the globe and the president had declared that the Geneva Convention did not apply to the war on terrorism.

Given the widespread use of torture by our government, and given that torture is morally shameful, disgraces the United States in the eyes of the world, obliterates fundamental rights provided in the U.S. constitution and the Geneva Conventions, and puts U.S. prisoners at grave risk of being tortured when captured, it is imperative that we carefully consider what our torture policies are and are not accomplishing.


Why torture doesnt provide useful information

Savage discusses in detail in his book why torture doesnt provide useful intelligenc. First he provides some background:

The militarys professional interrogation experts, who after 9/11 were vastly outnumbered by untrained ad hoc interrogators, believed that the coercive interrogation policy unleashed by the Bush-Cheney legal teams theories was incompetent and a terrible mistake. These experts were opposed to harsh interrogations not primarily because they felt such tactics were immoral and illegal Instead, the skeptics were focused on pragmatic results They knew that there is no scientific evidence that coercive techniques produce information that is better than, or even as good as, the information obtained by other approaches, as the governments own Science Board, a panel of experts later concluded.

The CIA spent millions studying (torture) techniques to see whether it could make use of them; it concluded in a 1963 interrogation manual that the coercive approach was not very helpful outside the context of producing false propaganda because under sufficient pressure subjects usually yield but their ability to recall and communicate information accurately is as impaired as the will to resist.

Neither trainers nor their Special Forces trainees understood that the coercive techniques used in the program were designed to make prisoners lose touch with reality so that they will falsely confess to what their captors want to hear, not for extracting accurate and reliable information.

Savage then describes the explanations of the navys top forensic psychologist, Dr. Michael Gelles:

Abuse, Gelles said, inevitably introduces false information into the intelligence system because people will say anything to get relief from suffering and fear. Finally, Gelles said, inflicting pain and humiliation on a prisoner destroys the opportunity to build rapport with him in order to persuade him into saying what he knows, the technique that professional, trained interrogation experts overwhelmingly prefer If the goal is to get reliable and accurate information rapport-building is the best approach Why would you terrify them with a dog? So theyll tell you anything to get the dog out of the room?

And finally, because the large majority of our prisoners have no connection to terrorism whatsoever, the system is overwhelmed by false confessions:

False confessions only exacerbate things, given how many prisoners are unlikely to be able to offer a true confession. For example, a Red Cross report in 2004 estimated that between 70 percent and 90 percent of military detainees in Iraq had been arrested by mistake in the confusion of the insurgency. That same year, the head of interrogations at Guantanamo said that the majority of the detainees there had no useful information

So, if torture provides little or no useful intelligence, then why does the Bush administration use it so much?


Use of a torture confession to help justify the Iraq War

In January of 2002, captured Al Qaeda operative, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, stated while being tortured that Al Qaeda had received chemical weapons training from Iraq. A Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) intelligence summary the following month said that al-Libis statement lacked pertinent details and that it was most likely false and based solely on his desire to stop being tortured. Charlie Savage describes the importance of al-Libbis confession for justifying the war in Iraq:

Libbis statements became a key basis of the Bush-Cheney administrations claim, in Secretary of State Colin Powells prewar United Nations Security Council presentation, that Iraq was working with Al Qaeda: Al Qaida continues to have a deep interest in acquiring weapons of mass destruction, Powell said. I can trace the story of a senior terrorist operative telling how Iraq provided training in these weapons to Al Qaida. Fortunately, this operative is now detained, and he has told his story.


Obtaining confessions of terrorist plots to scare Americans

Bush, Cheney, and their minions like to hype the terrorist threat whenever they get a chance. This was especially important prior to the 2004 election. Thus it was that George Bush pressured CIA Director George Tenet into having Abu Zubaydah tortured. Savage, borrowing from Ron Suskinds The One Percent Solution describes this process:

Zubaydah was described in public by Bush as one of the top operatives plotting and planning death and destruction on the United States. But CIA analysts came to the conclusion that Zubaydah was little more than a travel agent Nonetheless, Zubaydah was water-boarded, beaten, threatened, subjected to mock executions, and Under such duress (Zubaydah) said yes over and over again when asked if Al Qaeda was interested in bombing shopping malls, banks, supermarkets, nuclear plants, apartment buildings, and water systems After each vague affirmation, the information was quickly cabled back to Washington, where it ended up in the presidents daily briefing and in FBI warnings that invariably leaked to the media. Many of the breathless and panicked warnings of Al Qaeda plots that marked the Bush-Cheney administrations first term, with its periodic orange alerts that came to nothing, came from Zubaydahs interrogation.


Stirring up the insurgency in Iraq

It is an established fact of guerilla warfare that support of the local population is critical in determining the probability of success for either side. With that in mind, perhaps the most striking series of polls to graphically illustrate the sinking fortunes of the U.S. military in Iraq are the public opinion polls sponsored by the Coalition Provisional Authority asking Iraqis If Coalition forces left immediately, would you feel more safe or less safe? The results for those answering less safe
November 2003: 11%
January 2004: 28%
April 2004: 55%
May 2004: 55%

That same poll, in May 2004, indicated that 92% of Iraqis saw the Coalition forces as occupiers, versus 2% who saw them as liberators and 3% who saw them as peace keepers. And 86% wanted the Coalition forces to either leave immediately (41%) or as soon as a permanent government is elected (45%).

These statistics obviously raise the question of what caused such a dramatic and abrupt rise in the discomfort that Iraqis felt with the presence of U.S./Coalition forces. One likely answer, it seems to me, is the awareness of how we were treating Iraqi prisoners. The revelations of the torture of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib under the auspices of the U.S. government were first made in April 2004. Though we have no way of knowing precisely when Iraqis first became aware of this, it would seem likely that the revelations in April did not come as a complete surprise to many Iraqis.

How might this have impacted U.S. casualties? I don't know, but for the year beginning April 2003 there were 540 U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq, compared to 929 during the year beginning April 2004 (then remaining at a high level, with 796 in the year beginning April 2005 and 899 in the year beginning April 2006), approximately concurrent with the rather abrupt rise in the percentage of Iraqis who felt less safe with Coalition forces present than absent (though we dont know precisely when the rise occurred or how abrupt it was).

The lesson should be obvious. Though George Bush claimed that one major purpose of his invasion of Iraq was to liberate it and bring it freedom and democracy, instead we torture Iraqis by the hundreds (or thousands?), and our invasion and occupation of their country has killed over a million Iraqis and produced over four million refugees. Why should it be surprising that a World Opinion poll of September 2006 showed 91% of Iraqis want us out of their country, 78% think were provoking more conflict than were preventing, and 61% approve of violent attacks on U.S. forces?


Intimidating the American public

Naomi Wolf, in The End of America, notes that the Bush administration has made no effort to punish those responsible for torture even when the scandal at Abu Ghraib became public. She writes:

So in our secret prison system now, torturers are unlikely to be punished even when they murder people. In other words, as in the prison camps of the Gestapo and of Stalin, people simply died, and that was the end of it as far as blame was concerned.

This institutional calm in the face of reports of torture, even death, suggests that the goal of establishing torture in a place beyond the rule of law may have been tactical. Americans now know a lot about how terrible the fate of a Guantanamo prisoner is

It would take one high profile arrest, or a mere handful of them, to chill dissent quickly in America.


Conclusion The Bush/Cheney torture policies do what they were designed to do

So, the Bush/Cheney torture policies have helped to supply an excuse for war, provided information used to make the American people believe that the next terrorist attack was just around the corner, fueled the Iraq insurgency, and probably intimidated many thousands of Americans (including myself).

None of this is by accident. George Bush knew full well that the information obtained from al-Libi and Zubaydah was likely to be grossly inaccurate. He was told so by his own intelligence agencies. But obtaining accurate information clearly is not the purpose of the Bush/Cheney torture policies. Savage describes what happens when Bush is warned that information obtained under torture is worse than useless:

Gelles, Kleinman, and other interrogation experts tried to raise alarms internally about the dangers and ineffectiveness of the coercive techniques, but they were ignored and threatened. And they (the Bush administration) dismissed the complaints as nothing more than another example of the misguided worries of a law-enforcement mind-set too focused on gathering evidence that could be used in a civilian courtroom to understand that different rules apply in wartime.

Congress has tried to put an end to it. As bad as the Military Commissions Act is, at least Congress added a provision that prohibited torture. But George Bush simply added a signing statement when he signed the law, which indicated that he wasnt bound by the anti-torture provision.

In doing that, George Bush once again made clear his contempt for the checks and balances provided in our Constitution, as well as our Eight Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. There is only one appropriate way for Congress to respond to that, and that is impeachment and removal from office. There is no excuse for their failure to do that.
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Fridays Child Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-28-07 07:35 PM
Response to Original message
1. k/r
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Octafish Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-28-07 09:25 PM
Response to Original message
2. Torture is un-American. CIA got it from the NAZIs they hired after WW II...
...and the CIA gave America Bush, the crazy monkey.



What kind of a man condones torture?

NAZI.
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Orwellian_Ghost Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-28-07 09:29 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. Torture in America
long precedes the CIA.

The documentation is exhaustive.
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Octafish Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-28-07 10:07 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. Oh yeah. That's true, too.
The NAZIs used IBM, though, applied torture to certain peoples and groups.

The CIA learned from them how to apply torture and gangsterism and warmongering to the world.

And through the media and information environment, manipulated a largely unaware America.

That's something Hitler, or Stalin, never accomplished.

BTW: Welcome to DU, Orwellian_Ghost!
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mmonk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-28-07 10:44 PM
Response to Reply #3
6. But this is the first time it is policy and has new legal standing
untested by the Supreme Court. Torture by virtue of us being signatories to the Geneva convention is also against the constitution by virtue of treaty being law.
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-29-07 01:00 AM
Response to Reply #2
7. Naomi Klein's "Shock Therapy -- The Rise of Disaster Capitalism"
is a real eye opener on this subject.

Recently I've developed a better understanding of how intimately involved in these sordid affairs our country has been. I already knew about our regime changes in Iran and Guatemala in the 50s, our School of the Americas, and our support of the right wing death squads in Central America in the 80s.

But the fuller picture is dark indeed. Klein talks about how our support of brutal regimes in South America in the 70s resulted in the overthrow of several pretty decent governments, including Chile, Argemtina, Uroguay, and Brazil, and how we trained them in and supported widespread torture regimes in all those countries, resulting in probably over 100,000 individuals suffering long standing torture of several years' duration, usually ending in death. South America probably would have had a much better history if not for us. And this was all done to prop up the rich at the expense of the poor and the middle class.

It's hard to imagine. I can believe Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and the Bushes being involved in these sorts of things, and condoning them. But I really have to wonder what Carter knew about it all. I just can't imagine him condoning these things if he knew. And yet, how could he not have known? I really would like to understand better how this was allowed to happen.



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mmonk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-29-07 07:28 AM
Response to Reply #7
10. Yes.
And with the buildup of a whole new structure in the security industry with all the graft and favors that implies with even more mney passing hands, disaster capitalism is here to stay along with more of what you mention.
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Octafish Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-29-07 09:45 AM
Response to Reply #7
12. Los Amigos de Bush
JFK wanted to make friends by helping the under-developed nations improve the lives of their citizens. The presidents since then, perhaps with the exception of Carter, have pretty much followed the national security state approach of making them fear us first.

Here's a bit of background on the subject:

Know your BFEE: Los Amigos de Bush

Know your BFEE: At every turn, JFK was opposed by War Party

They are evil. They kill innocent people. They don't care what we think. They only care if they are held to account. And that is why spreading the Truth about them is so important.
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-29-07 01:32 PM
Response to Reply #12
17. Great compilations!
That goes a long way towards explaining why JFK was murdered IMO. Yet there is so much more that needs to be explained.

Perhaps it also partially explains why U.S. supported atrocities also went on during the Carter administration: He was powerless to stop them.

And maybe they help to explain why Congress isn't moving to impeach: If their investigations get too close to the truth, perhaps they're afraid they'll end up like JFK.
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juno jones Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-29-07 10:23 AM
Response to Reply #7
13. I think Carter was traeted like a mushroom
Fed shit and kept in the dark. I wouldn't be surprised to find out that his seeming 'ineffectiveness' was due to a lack of support by the political system and media which quickly threw it's lot in with Reagan and the big money republicans in the next cycle. The result is apparent.
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IndyDurham Donating Member (41 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-29-07 02:56 PM
Response to Reply #13
19. Carter was the last honorable President this nation ever had
.
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-29-07 04:03 PM
Response to Reply #13
20. I think you're right
We still hear today complaints from the CIA about how Carter emasculated the CIA, by pushing through with plans to limit its powers. They called him "weak" on national defense. Well, he was one of very few presidents that had the courage to try to limit them in some way. We see what happened to JFK for his efforts against the war hawks. Carter may have faced similar risks, but because of the Iran hostage crisis and inflation, there was little need for him to meet the same fate as JFK.
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mmonk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-28-07 10:35 PM
Response to Original message
5. And the longer it stays, the more it will be "normalized"
Edited on Wed Nov-28-07 10:36 PM by mmonk
and accepted. We are at a critical time in our country. Those that call for the full weight of the constitution are called extreme and partisan by the press and republicans and "liberal" by some in our party. We must assert ourselves and become more visible. I plan to attend the Amnesty International meeting in DC in April. I can't sit on my ass and contact politicians that turn a deaf ear anymore. I need to help work on solutions and critical mass.
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-29-07 06:48 AM
Response to Reply #5
8. Isn't that ironic
We're called "extreme" and "partisan" because we insist on the rule of law and tha our Constitution not be violated. Such a ridiculous notiont could only be sustained with the help of a corporate news media interested mainly in expanding their own wealth.
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mmonk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-29-07 07:19 AM
Response to Reply #8
9. Yep.
It's like we're beckoning back to days of when Hearst had so much influence.
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Senator Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-29-07 09:05 AM
Response to Original message
11. And Impeachment For Torture Already "Has The Votes"
Senate Supports Interrogation Limits
90-9 Vote on the Treatment of Detainees Is a Bipartisan Rebuff of the White House

By Charles Babington and Shailagh Murray
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, October 6, 2005; Page A01

The Senate defied the White House yesterday and voted to set new limits on interrogating detainees in Iraq and elsewhere, underscoring Congress's growing concerns about reports of abuse of suspected terrorists and others in military custody.


These "limits" were in no way "new." And the war criminals ignored this vote anyway and continue with their crimes. But this vote didn't even touch on the secret "rendering for torture" crimes now known about.

In fact, no investigation or trial is really necessary as the regime "defends" these acts as lawful and unimpeachable under their monarchical, "Unitary" delusion of arrogated power.

All that is left is to say "No. This is Anti-American. These are crimes against humanity. We will not be a War Criminal Nation."

Failure to impeach is complicity -- approval -- exoneration for the regime.

Consequence for failure will be devastating -- to our party, to our place in the world, to the very fabric of our society.

--
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-29-07 11:47 AM
Response to Reply #11
15. Very well said Senator
Bush goes around the country saying "We do not torture", while at the same time demanding that the CIA be exempted from the torture ban proposed by Congress. In other words, demanding that his CIA retains the right to commit war crimes. What more evidence is needed -- aside from all the eyewitness evidence of torture committed by the Bush/Cheney government throughout the world?
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Senator Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-29-07 04:08 PM
Response to Reply #15
21. Yes, the "evidence of torture" is irrelevant to Impeachment
It is the fact that they claim exemption from these laws -- whether or not they "do it," "did it," "condoned it," etc.

That is the impeachable offense that cannot be tolerated.

It is the same claim they apply to illegal spying, illegal detention, illegal funding, illegal pardons, or literally anything else.

There is nothing more impeachable. And without impeachment, there is nothing more of Our Constitution.

---
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ninkasi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-29-07 10:38 AM
Response to Original message
14. Bush and Cheney
and the people they surround themselves with are sociopaths, who are completely unmoved by reason, or sanity. They simply like causing suffering, and knowing that they can do it. They have absolutely no morals at all, nor do they possess any decency. Debating them will not work, only getting them out of office, and restoring our Constitution will allow us to begin the long, difficult road back to some semblance of what our country is supposed to stand for.

The whole government is now so heavily infested with these lunatics, that it's going to take a lot of work, and a lot of determination, to get them out of holding any public office.
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-29-07 06:40 PM
Response to Reply #14
24. "absolutely no morals at all'
That pretty well sums up the reality of the situation
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donkeyotay Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-29-07 12:03 PM
Response to Original message
16. Everything was a lie and a fraud, right down to the "keeping us safe" meme
of preventing attacks on America. How many of those color-coded terra alerts were based on someone being tortured in a Bush-approved dungeon? All of them?

Zubaydah was water-boarded, beaten, threatened, subjected to mock executions, and… Under such duress… (Zubaydah) said yes over and over again when asked if Al Qaeda was interested in bombing shopping malls, banks, supermarkets, nuclear plants, apartment buildings, and water systems… After each vague affirmation, the “information” was quickly cabled back to Washington, where it ended up in the president’s daily briefing and in FBI warnings that invariably leaked to the media. Many of the breathless and panicked warnings of Al Qaeda plots that marked the Bush-Cheney administration’s first term, with its periodic orange alerts that came to nothing, came from Zubaydah’s interrogation.

K'd, R'd and bookmarked.



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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-29-07 05:04 PM
Response to Reply #16
22. Yeah, it's really sicking isn't it
I've said to people that without the corporate media covering for him, and attacking his opponents, Bush would have been lucky to pull over 10% of the votes in either election. They think I'm crazy for saying that, but this is someone for whom there was absolutely no reason to vote for him. Every last one of his policies are meant to favor the few at the expense of the good majority of the American people. And as other posters in this thread have noted, he's a sociopath. Without the corporate media to cover for him he would have been exposed for who he is, for everyone to see.
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Sam Ervin jret Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-29-07 02:14 PM
Response to Original message
18. They ALL KNOW TORTURE DOES NOT GIVE" ACTIONABLE INFO" . They don't use it for that . Did the Romans
crucify to get "actionable information"
No
Republics torture to intimidate the people - their own and the enemy. The ones they try to intimidate the most are those among their own who they feel are their "enemies"

Republics torture to show the world they have the power to do so if they want to. To "thumb their noses" at conventional morals and to show their "superiority" in a time or place. Usually just before their fall. Let's hope this is just referring to the fall of the Republican Republic.

Republics torture because in this world of mostly good people, there are still some sick fucks who like to hurt other people. We all are capable of doing bad things in bad instances. But torture in the name of DEMOCRACY? Torture or lose your job? This is not a great moral dilemma
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-29-07 06:02 PM
Response to Original message
23. Wesley Clark on torture
Former Supreme NATO Commander Wesley Clark (whom Im guessing knows a lot more about these matters than George Bush or any other Bush administration architects of the Iraq War, none of whom have had any military experience except for Colin Powell) explains in this video why torture does not work, assuming by "work" we mean provide accurate information. General Clark explains that the United States has never treated its prisoners as the current Bush administration treats its prisoners. During World War II, for example, we treated our German prisoners as human beings. Consequently, they felt safe with us, and they sang like canaries.

http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.ph...
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