Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Bath, Maine, United States

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Not the 'Exceptional Nation' After All



The just released CIA torture report drives the final deadly stake through the dark heart of American exceptionalism.  The US is a corrupt, brutal, depraved, mob-run, bankrupt, greedy, warlike corporate entity.  Any claims that "USA is #1" or "We are the greatest country in the history of the planet" have now been forever put to rest.  It just ain't so.

The report indicates that these were just some of the 'techniques' used to interrogate prisoners:

  • Rectal feeding and rehydration - a ‘lunch tray’ consisting of hummus, pasta with sauce, nuts and raisins was ‘pureed and rectally infused’ into a prisoner
  • Confinement in a box - The use of insects inside the box was also approved
  • The use of cold water -  One prisoner died of hypothermia inside a CIA black site north of Kabul known as the Salt Pit.  He had been left in a cold cell, stripped from the waist down and had been doused in water
  • Waterboarding - One prisoner underwent the process 83 times, while another of the CIA’s highest-value detainees was subjected to waterboarding 183 times
  • Beatings and threats - Even threatened harm to prisoner's families...including their children
  • Stress positions
  • Sleep deprivation - Including forced standing for 66 hours
  • Forced nudity and restricted diets
  • Life in solitary - One prisoner threatened with being incommunicado for the rest of his life 
  • CIA tortured innocent people - Of the 119 known detainees that were in CIA custody during the life of the program, at least 26 were wrongfully held. Detainees often remained in custody for months after the CIA determined they should not have been detained
  • Contract pscyhologists devised the techniques - The report shows that contract psychologists devised the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques and played a central role in the operation, assessments, and management of the detention and interrogation program. In 2006, the value of the CIA’s base contract with the company formed by the psychologists with all options exercised was in excess of $180 million; the contractors received $81 million prior to the contract’s termination in 2009.
  • Lies to justify torture - Bush Justice Department official Jay Bybee, who is now a federal judge, told Congress the torture of Al Qaeda detainees led to the US capture of Jose Padilla. That wasn't true
  • CIA lies to rest of government - The secretary of state wasn't informed when the CIA made secret deals to open detention facilities abroad
The fundamental question now is what will Congress do to reign in the enormous power of the CIA to make foreign policy and war on its own without any real oversight?  The answer is virtually nothing.  In fact this public disclosure is only 7% of the documents the Senate received -  93% has not been disclosed to the media or the public. What else was in there?  The public has a right to see all of it.  After all we are paying for it whether we like it or not.

In an article that largely justifies continued CIA freedom to operate as it wishes the Washington Post reports:

Indeed, the CIA is in many ways at a position of unmatched power. Its budgets have been swollen by billions of dollars in counterterrorism expenditures. Its workforce has surged. Its overseas presence has expanded. And its arsenal now includes systems, including a fleet of armed drones, that would have made prior generations of CIA leaders gasp.

Many of these CIA or US military intelligence agents who carried out these torture programs end up going into domestic 'law enforcement' when they return to the civilian world.  I remember Orange County, Florida Sheriff Lawson Lamar (the guy who ordered surveillance of our peace work in Orlando back in the early 1980's) used to brag that he was a prisoner interrogator in Vietnam.  I once heard a first-hand report that he had been drunk at a party in the Orlando-area and was describing to fellow partiers that he used to string up Vietnamese prisoners on a wall and peel their skin off with knives in order to get them to talk.  These guys get arrogant as hell working in military 'intelligence' and then think they can do anything when they return home. So these unrestrained CIA operations do indeed bleed into our increasingly militarized society.

This report, as little as we are shown anyway, is further glaring evidence that the US has turned into a fascist state where the CIA and the Pentagon are storm-trooper agents of the corporations that run this government.  The days of "by the people and for the people" are sadly nostalgia and long gone.

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