Nature Editorial ‘Responsible Interrogation’ Is A Torture Apologia

…and so the cancer spread.

Revered scientific journal Nature has an unsigned editorial that calls for psychologists to keep working with the interrogation torture regime of the US even after American Psychological Association members voted overwhelming (after fighting the elite leadership) to ban psychologists’ involvement in torture. The editorial pulls the old trick of making some good sounding statements on the wrongness of the Bush torture polices it then mumbles ‘there are no easy answers‘ before putting across its real point- supporting the elite and military psychologist’s view that they should be involved in interrogations, ostensibly (so they claim) to prevent abuse. As events have shown that is the fig leaf explanation for being very valuable members of medical teams who facilitate prolonged torture (care for a biscuit?). The pro-involvement position also looks to maintain a very lucrative relationship with the Pentagon, for those status loving psychologists with ethical deficiencies and a debilitating bout of egocentric nationalism (and perhaps a racist animus towards Muslims). So it is no surprise the pro-involvement leadership were involved in drafting the editorial.

Like a lot of the current emergence of potential war crimes defendants this feels a little like the establishing of a defence through the media to sway public opinion, to head off trouble for those involved. With fellow elites sharing -base tribal- interests in avoiding consequences for action, perpetuating the polite collegiate myth of professional ‘good faith’. Either that or the editorial board of Nature is pig shit stupid and hasn’t read a newspaper for the last 8 years, which do you think is the more likely explanation? An excellent analysis by Jeff Kaye @ Invictus is required reading (an excerpt)

What galls so many APA critics is to see ignorance and platitudes, not to mention cover-up of recent historical evidence on the role of psychologists and APA over the interrogations/torture scandal, paraded as anti-torture propaganda in the pages of a prestigious scientific journal. There is an abundance of evidence, most recently in a 200-plus page report by the Senate Armed Services Committee, that rather than protect prisoners, psychologists working for the CIA and the Department of Defense, and psychologists contracted for such purposes, such as former JPRA/SERE psychologists James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, were instrumental in creating the conditions for torture and abuse.

…and then please feel free to write to Nature.


But in our country, there’s been a disheartening development: In 1975, U.S. officials still felt they had to deny condoning torture. Now many of them seem to be defending torture, even boasting about it.

A.J. Langguth author of “Hidden Terrors: The Truth About U.S. Police Operations in Latin America.”

A.J. Langguth, LA Times:- Brazil’s political prisoners never doubted that Americans were involved in the torture that proliferated in their country. On their release, they reported that they frequently had heard English-speaking men around them, foreigners who left the room while the actual torture took place. As the years passed, those torture victims say, the men with American accents became less careful and sometimes stayed on during interrogations.

One student dissident, Angela Camargo Seixas, described to me how she was beaten and had electric wires inserted into her vagina after her arrest. During her interrogations, she found that her hatred was directed less toward her countrymen than toward the North Americans. She vowed never to forgive the United States for training and equipping the Brazilian police.

Flavio Tavares Freitas, a journalist and Christian nationalist, shared that sense of outrage. When he had wires jammed in his ears, between his teeth and into his anus, he saw that the small gray generator producing the shocks had on its side the red, white and blue shield of the USAID.

Victims often said that their one moment of hope came when a medical doctor appeared in their cell. Now surely the torment would end. Then they found that he was only there to guarantee that they could survive another round of shocks.

Posted in Human Rights, Imperialism, Neoliberalism. Tags: . Comments Off on Times…Change

Obama Protects The Empire’s Torturers

Might makes right. Funereal disappointment at what I had hoped would not happen (though reasoned it probably would) render me finding typing rather pointless right now. Invictus has the goods.

Honestly what is there to say? The lowest form of human behaviour excused, protected and (in parts) praised. No Change, No Hope, nothing I can see to Believe In.

It’s the Imperialism stupid.

This means the UK now has a precedent, pressure and encouragement to cover up its torture, the Atlanticist & Anglosphere numpties –call any moral rejection of pre-emptive war and torture ‘anti-Americanism’– will keep the faith.

ACLU has the OLC torture memos.

Also see Glenn Greenwald.

PS. and Chris Floyd.

‘A doctor was usually also present’

Uncle Sam is way kinky…and rapey-

I was taken to another room where I was made to stand on tiptoes for about two hours during questioning. Approximately thirteen persons were in the room. These included the head interrogator (a man) and two female interrogators, plus about ten muscle guys wearing masks. I think they were all Americans. From time to time one of the muscle guys would punch me in the chest and stomach. Here cold water from buckets was thrown onto me for about forty minutes. Not constantly as it took time to refill the buckets. After which I would be taken back to the interrogation room.

On one occasion during the interrogation I was offered water to drink, when I refused I was again taken to another room where I was made to lie [on] the floor with three persons holding me down. A tube was inserted into my anus and water poured inside. Afterwards I wanted to go to the toilet as I had a feeling as if I had diarrhoea. No toilet access was provided until four hours later when I was given a bucket to use. Whenever I was returned to my cell I was always kept in the standing position with my hands cuffed and chained to a bar above my head.

New York Review of Books- US Torture: Voices from the Black Sites
By Mark Danner
ICRC Report on the Treatment of Fourteen “High Value Detainees” in CIA Custody by the International Committee of the Red Cross

Also see Invictus.

Torturer’s Conspiracy

“It is basically subject to perception. If the detainee dies you’re doing it wrong.”

John Fredman, then chief counsel to the CIA’s counter-terrorism center.

The Pentagon has exonerated itself over Gitmo, but try some minutes from 2002 to see the real deal @Invictus, excerpts-

LTC Beaver: We may need to curb the harsher operations while ICRC [International Committee of the Red Cross] is around. It is better not to expose them to any controversial techniques. We must have the support of the DOD.


Fredman: Yes, if someone dies while aggressive techniques are being used, regardless of cause of death, the backlash of attention would be extremely detrimental. Everything must be approved and documented.


Becker: We have had many reports from Bagram about sleep deprivation being used.

LTC Beaver: True, but officially it is not happening. It is not being reported officially. The ICRC is a serious concern. They will be in and out, scrutinizing our operations, unless they are displeased and decide to protest and leave. This would draw a lot of negative attention.


Becker: Videotapes are subject to too much scrutiny in court. We don’t want the LEA people in aggressive sessions anyway.


Fredman: If a well-trained individual is used to perform [sic] this technique it can feel like you’re drowning. The lymphatic system will react as if you’re suffocating, but your body will not cease to function. It is very effective to identify phobias and use them (ie, insects, snakes, claustrophobia). The level of resistance is directly related to person’s experience.

Posted in War Criminals. Tags: . Comments Off on Torturer’s Conspiracy

If He’d Called Them Terrorists First

CIA Station Chief accused of multiple rapes

He’d get a medal & Obama would be equivocating over whether it was a crime or not. Oops, I think I just described his lawyer’s defence strategy.


Echoing what Glenn Greenwald wrote- Binding U.S. law requires prosecutions for those who authorize torture–  there is no room for equivocation. Via Counterpunch

Harper’s Scott Horton:- In an interview on Tuesday evening with the German television program “Frontal 21,” on channel ZDF Professor Manfred Nowak, the United Nations Rapporteur responsible for torture, stated that with George W. Bush’s head of state immunity now terminated, the new government of Barack Obama was obligated by international law to commence a criminal investigation into Bush’s torture practices.

“The evidence is sitting on the table,” he stated. “There is no avoiding the fact that this was torture.” He pointed to the U.S. undertakings under the Convention Against Torture in which the country committed that it would criminally prosecute anyone who tortured, or extradite the person to a state that would prosecute him. “The government of the United States is required to take all necessary steps to bring George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld before a court,” Nowak said.

Manfred Nowak, an internationally renowned law professor at the University of Vienna, currently serves as an independent expert for the United Nations looking at allegations of torture affecting member states. In 2006, he undertook a special investigation of conditions at the U.S. detention facilities at Guantánamo in which he concluded that practices approved by the Bush Administration violated human rights norms, including the prohibition against torture.

The ZDF piece also includes an interview with attorney Wolfgang Kaleck, who brought charges against Rumsfeld before German prosecutors. He states that the Obama administration is “off to a good beginning” with its explicit renunciation of torture, but it still has not shown how it will hold Bush, Rumsfeld, and others to account for their crimes, nor has it demonstrated its legally obligated duty to provide compensation to torture victims.

Law professor Dietmar Herz clarifies that under U.S. and international law, George W. Bush bears personal responsibility for the introduction of torture. From the point of his departure from office, head of state immunity terminates, and under clear principles of international law, the United States is obligated to commence a criminal investigation and then a prosecution.

(ht2 Mike in comments)