US – the worst torturer and violator of human rights
US imperialism is forever accusing governments that it does not like of violating human rights. The truth, however, is that US imperialism has for a very long time been the worst torturer, predatory aggressor and violator of human rights. The latest proof of its fascistic behaviour comes from no less an authority than the US’s Intelligence Committee, released on 9 December 2014. Although much redacted (only 500 of the 6,000 pages have actually been published), this report gives some measure of the methods of torture adopted by the US’s intelligence agencies. The victims were variously waterboarded, wedged into coffin-shaped confinement boxes, forcefed through their rectums, subjected to sexual assaults, beaten with rubber flex, had urine poured over their heads, suspended upside down and dunked in water, sometimes thrown on top of naked bodies piled on top of each other and thus left in the cell for two or three days, had cigarette ash sprinkled on their food. One of the victims died of hypothermia after being forced to sit on a bare concrete floor without trousers; another spent most of two days chained by his wrists to an overhead bar in a nappy.
The CIA flew their victims to secret prisons in several countries including Poland, or outsourced them to other countries for torture.
The British authorities fully collaborated with this programme run by the intelligence services of the US. After the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee report, Craig Murray, former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan, who was sacked for blowing the whistle on British illegal activities, has called for Blair and Jack Straw (Foreign Secretary at the time) to be put on trial. Murray says that hundreds of British members of the security services, diplomats and civil servants co-operated with the CIA torture programme.
After releasing this report dealing with CIA torture, euphemistically referred to as ‘enhanced interrogation techniques, Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, tried to put the best gloss on the revolting activities of the intelligence services of US imperialism by saying: ” History will judge us by our commitment to a just society governed by law and the willingness to face an ugly truth and say ‘never again’.”
The truth of the matter is, none of the perpetrators will be held accountable. And it is as brazen as a murderer openly admitting to having committed murder and saying ‘Let’s move on, it’s all in the past. By my admission I have shown my commitment to the observance of the law’.
All the time it was committing these atrocities, US imperialism brazenly accused others of abusing human rights. No one will believe a word about the US’s alleged commitment to a “just society governed by law and the willingness to face … ugly truth” unless it: (a) apologises to the whole world for what it has been doing, (b) publishes the report in its entirety without redactions, (c) holds accountable all those responsible for these tortures, from the CIA to the White House, and (d) promises never to repeat them.
When the Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman, Senator Dianne Feinstein, released the report on CIA torture (or the very small portion of it that the public are allowed to see) the Republicans accused her of playing Party politics and trying to heap as much of the blame as possible at the door of the previous Bush regime.
This, of course, was true, as was the fact that the report is also an attempt at damage limitation following disclosures of torture from Wikileaks. Torture and murder of those who oppose US imperialism has always been a fact and will continue to be so for as long as imperialism lasts. The arguments re partisan scores being settled by the supposed opposing political tools are being hyped up by the US mass media as the most important and newsworthy thing about this report in an obvious slight of hand directed at the American public. One of the Fox News reporters, Andrea Tantaros, had this intellectually stunted comment to make: ” The United States of America is awesome, we are awesome. We’ve closed the book on it, and we’ve stopped doing it. And the reason they want to have this discussion is not to show how awesome we are. This administration wants to have this discussion to show us how we’re not awesome. ”
On a slightly higher plane, the ‘quality’ US papers and news channels are indulging in a debate about whether torture is ‘productive’ or not. Obama has played his part in the media farce taking the role of an ‘honest’ man just trying to keep his people together and moving on. With an eye to the monstrous crimes committed on his watch (drones, more invasions, black ops, funding terrorism world-wide etc) being made public at some time in the future, he has ignored the calls to prosecute the huge and inhuman criminality of his predecessor and his minions with such weasel words as ” One of the things that sets us apart from other countries is that when we make mistakes, we admit them.” The fact that so much of the report is still hidden tends to contradict this statement and surely, if you are honest, when you are found out to be doing on a massive scale the very thing that you accuse others of doing while threatening them with war and trying to organise uprisings in their country it might be an idea to apologise to them and stop your undercover schemes but honesty is not a part of the US imperialists mindset.
While this report was being written with the full knowledge of Obama, the US was arm-twisting in the UN to get a resolution condemning the DPRK carried. Obama also stated, Solely in relation to America, of course, that “no nation is perfect” while again stressing that ” one of the strengths that makes America exceptional is our willingness to openly confront our past, face our imperfections, make changes and do better .” Anything but punish those guilty of mass-murder and torture is the knee-jerk reaction to this PR statement but that would ignore the fact, as we stated earlier, these policies and practices will continue unabated. The only genuine commitment that Obama or any other President can make is that the US will try harder to make sure that their crimes against humanity remain as secret as possible.
So what is in the report that can no longer be denied or hidden?
The report clearly lists the following activities at a special camp called Detention Site Cobalt which is widely believed to be in Afghanistan,
1. Water-boarding; the strapping of someone to a flat board which is tilted so that the victim’s head is nearer to the floor than their feet. A cloth is placed over the face and water poured continuously on it so that the tortured person cannot breathe.
2. Rectal rehydration and rectal feeding; this is as perverted as it is painful, a tube is inserted into the victim’s rectum and either water or liquidised foodstuffs are forced inside. It has been claimed that this was to keep victims alive if they refused food or liquids, however, rectal feeding is of limited application in actually keeping a person alive or administering nutrients, since the colon and rectum cannot absorb much besides salt, glucose and a few minerals and vitamins. The CIA tortured Khalid Sheikh Mohammed by rectal feeding “without a determination of medical need” and justified ” rectal fluid resuscitation” of Abu Zubaydah because he “partially refus[ed] liquids“. Another victim, Al-Nashiri, was given an enema after a brief hunger strike which totally destroys any claim to be trying to feed him rather than just another method of torture.
The report also tells us that detainee Majid Khan was forcibly given by his ” lunch tray’ consisting of hummus, pasta with sauce, nuts and raisins” after being pureed, by enema. The email of a CIA officer was quoted in the report as saying “we used the largest tube we had“.
The risks of ‘rectal feeding and rehydration’ include damage to the rectum and colon, food rotting inside the recipient’s digestive tract leading to infections, and an inflamed or prolapsed rectum from ‘carless’ insertion of the feeding tube. The report tells us that the CIA leadership was notified by operatives that rectal exams have been conducted with “Excessive force“.
The CIA’s chief of interrogations candidly explains the real reason for these pseudo-medical invasions, again quoted in the report, describing rectal rehydration as a method of “total control” over detainees!
3. Ice water baths, which is a self explanatory method of torture. No length of time for the immersions is given.
4. Walling; this is literally slamming someone against a wall. Strangely, it seems that the CIA replaced the concrete wall initially used in this practice with a wooden one following excessive injuries of victims.
5. Sleep deprivation; this torture involves keeping the victim awake for an excessively long time often with the aid of loud ‘music’, keeping him in stress positions and violence. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, according to the report, from 18 March was forced to go without sleep, mostly in a standing position, for 180 hours or 7½ days! One victim who died from his torture, was Gul Rahman who endured ” 48 hours of sleep deprivation, auditory overload, total darkness, isolation, a cold shower, and ‘rough treatment” according to the report while 70 odd hours without sleep seems almost standard.
6. Diapers; this practice again seems perverse, but it was claimed to be “for sanitation and hygiene purposes,” however, a central ‘purpose’ of diapers was obviously to ’cause both humiliation’ of the victim and “induce a sense of helplessness.”
Diapers were kept on for up to72 hours when prisoners were transported, they were not allowed to use a lavatory, and placed in diapers during the flight – often “laid horizontally and strapped to the floor of the plane horizontally like cargo.”
7. Mock executions; the report (or that small portion we can see) twice mentions this without giving any specific details.
8. Boxing; the victim is placed in a box for a length of time. Abu Zubaydah spent a total of 266 hours (11 days, 2 hours) in a large (coffin size) confinement box and 29 hours in a small confinement box, which had a width of 21 inches, a depth of 2.5 feet, and a height of 2.5 feet. The report makes a couple of references to insects and it is believed that insects were put in the box with the victims.
9. The rough takedown; this was a strange procedure, extremely violent but also containing the element of sexual perversity like some others. Many of the victims at Cobalt were walked around naked or were shackled with their hands above their heads for extended periods of time stretching into weeks. At various times the prisoner would be subjected to the “rough takedown,” in which four or five CIA officers would scream at a detainee, drag him outside of his cell, cut all his clothes off, and secure him with Mylar tape. The detainee would then be hooded and dragged up and down a long corridor while being slapped and punched.
10. Threats of harm; the very real weird and violent treatment given the victims of this CIA camp were backed up by threats. These might be threatening that the victim would not leave alive, threats which turned out to be true for at least one victim, or threats to harm/kill family members including the victim’s children, with one victim was threatened with the rape of his mother. One victim was placed in a standing stress position with his hands “affixed over his head” for approximately 2 ½ days following which he had a gun placed at his temple and a cordless drill moved close enough to various parts of his body for him to feel the wind from it.
11. Stress positions; although the stress positions have been mentioned above already as administered in tandem with other tortures, it was a torture in its own right. Basically the victim has to stand in a very uncomfortable position for a very long time without moving. There were examples in the report of at least two people with broken bones in their feet that were tortured by this method as well as walling. It was also used on a one-legged man.
Along with these tortures the CIA operatives would generally use kicks, slaps, punches choke-holds etc on their helpless victims. And at least one of their victims died of hypothermia as a result of the inhuman treatment received from the CIA torturers.
Much of the torture used at Cobalt has been used before at various times throughout history but it was turned almost into a science by two psychologists who named their methods “enhanced interrogation techniques” and netted $80 million from the CIA as payment for their ‘development’ of torture techniques. The two are not named in the part of the report that has been released but they are generally being named in the US as Bruce Jessen and James Mitchell who apparently have no experience of ‘interrogation’ although we feel sure that there would be many ex Cobalt prisoners who would be willing to give them some first hand experience. The CIA lied about having successfully foiled a series of UK terror plots and terrorists through its ” enhanced interrogation techniques” yet these were the justification for security alerts over here and helped to build some support for British invasions of other countries and the funding of terrorist groups to undermine and attempt to overthrow others. Four of the eight cases most cited by the intelligence agency for the justification of its “brutal” torture programme had links to the UK and it must be supposed by any reasonable person that Britain was not only aware of the dubious techniques being used by the CIA against its victims but that Britain would also have had its secret torture camps in places under its military occupation.
Our rulers will stoop to any inhumanity to keep their power, the various governments and ‘intelligence’/military/legal services of imperialism are the vehicles by which we are controlled and kept in check. Learn the truth of the world around you! Learn the ideology of Marxism-Leninism the only known method that can destroy and replace imperialism and help us teach both these things to as many others as you can, now!