So U.S. Sen. McCain, himself a victim of torture during the Vietnam "War" -- and U.S. Sec. of Defense Donald Rumsfeld -- know torture doesn't work. And, we would hope, so do political leaders, Israelis and Americans and most other folks all over the world -- including Republicans and Democrats. And Mr. Bush says we'd never do it - - -
So why did the U.S. Government endorse it by passing the so-called "Military Commissions Act of 2006" which, despite the rhetoric, continues the Bush policy of allowing torture? And why did Mr. Bush sign it into law? BUT, of course, black is white, up is down, and "torture" isn't torture anymore - - -
So, according to the current American Government, it isn't "torture" unless "someone's at the risk of immediate full organ failure or death." Not partial organ failure, mind you, but full organ failure. If, for example, they cut out half your liver, that wouldn't be torture -- unless they botched the job.
How Torture is Done
There are two modes the United States Government deploys to have someone tortured:
1. Do-it-yourself "home-grown" torture and
2. "extraordinary renditions," that is, outsourcing torture to governments in other countries.
Torture American Style
So home-grown torture includes the use of dogs, stress positions, sleep deprivation, hypothermia, breaking bones and burning folks.
But suppose for some reason this level of 'interrogation' isn't deemed severe enough by higher-ups in the chain of command. Or suppose Abu Ghraib's amature 'interrogators' -- like Charles Graner and Lynndie England -- or for that matter those at Gitmo, can't keep up with the work load. What then?
Well, someone orders the job out-sourced. As a government official told David Cole, one victim's lawyer, "We don't kick the (expletive) out of them, we send them to other countries so they can kick the (expletive) out of them." Let's see what out-sourced torture -- officially if clandestinely called "extraordinary renditions" is like - - -
So, after taking an unwanted CIA plane ride to foreign countries, you may be sliced and diced for as long as 18 months, with particular monthly attention paid to your "private parts."
And another example -- if you really need one: See what happened to German citizen Khaled El-Masri here.
Torture Doesn't Work, Part II
We already know from the first clips in this article that folks like SecDef Donald Rumsfeld and Senator John S. McCain know torture doesn't work. Could they be wrong?
Anticev, Cloonan, and Coleman -- three men who have spent countless hours debriefing Al Qaeda operatives -- all take issue with the kinds of rough interrogations that have characterized the Bush Administration's approach since September 11th. Anticev says, "Just building a relationship with a person, and knowing your subject matter, is what works." JUNIOR, The clandestine life of America's top Al Qaeda source, JANE MAYER, The New Yorker: Fact, Issue of 2006-09-11, Posted 2006-09-04
..former intelligence officers criticised the new [interrogation] tactics last week. Milton Bearden, who ended a 30-year career with the CIA in 1994, said that coercion did not work.
Guantanamo Interrogator Erik Saar : First of all, all your training is under the umbrella of the Geneva Convention, and you are told that you never violate the Geneva Conventions as an interrogator, because -- for two reasons: Number one, it's illegal; and number two, they're taught that it's ineffective. And if you need to use tactics outside of the scope of the Geneva Conventions, you are going to get bad intelligence anyway. Democracy NOW! May 4, 2005
It seems, then, there are very practical reasons for the Geneva Convention rules -- and for the United States NOT to use torture. And, it seems, everyone with any knowledge or experience with torture agrees.
It would seem, then, that "gratuitous torture" is an appropriate description of any torture. You know, "gratuitous" as in "gratutious sex" or "gratuitous violence."
Who is Being Tortured?
So 98% of Mr. Lagouranis' subjects "hadn't done anything," were "farmers who were totally innocent," -- and one poor guy who was unlucky enough to have both a shovel and a cell phone in his car at the same time.
He [Mehdi Ghezali] said he was visiting a friend in the Afghan town of Jalalabad near the Pakistani border when the U.S. invasion started. He decided to return to Pakistan when he heard that villagers were selling foreigners to U.S. forces.
FT. BRAGG, N.C. - Senior Army criminal investigators testified Tuesday that the inmates who were abused and sexually humiliated last year at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq were of little or no intelligence value to the United States.
Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo.: Did we have terrorists in the population at this prison [Abu Ghraib]?In fact, all four of the torture victims named in this piece, Binyam Mohamed, Kahled El-Masri, Mehdi Ghezali (above), and Maher Arar were innocent of any crime. They were all kidnapped and tortured by mistake. 
Ticking Time Bombs
One mostly mythical reason -- a very popular one -- given as THE excuse for torture is the ticking time bomb scenario. The idea is that a terrorist has knowledge of a bomb with the timer set and it's about to go off and kill hundreds if not thousands of people -- and the terrorist won't talk. You don't have time to be nice - - -
So the clock is ticking. A good time for extraordinary renditions and a little slicing and dicing? Well let's see - - -
According to the [Washington] Post, members of the [CIA's Rendition] group follow a simple but standard procedure: "Dressed head to toe in black, including masks, they blindfold and cut the clothes off their new captives, then administer an enema and sleeping drugs. They outfit detainees in a diaper and jumpsuit for what can be a day-long trip. Their destinations: either a detention facility operated by cooperative countries in the Middle East and Central Asia, including Afghanistan, or one of the CIA's own covert prisons..." -Democracy NOW!, December 5, 2005
So, especially in the case of renditions, that time bomb better have a really, really, really long fuse on it wouldn't you say?
But maybe it's Iraq! So you grab the guy, hood him, take him to the Mosul prison, put him in a cold shipping container overnight -- depriving him of sleep with stress positions, loud music and flashing lights -- and in the morning, you blindfold him and let a growling dog jump all over him - - -
Or you send him to the Navy Seals, they shove a thermometer up his nether regions and dump him in ice water for a few hours. Or you call Force Recon and they come and break a few bones, smash a few feet with axes, etc.
In all these cases, the timer on that bomb had better be set for a very long time indeed. "But what about Force Recon when they're in the field?" you may be thinking.
Clearly if there's a time bomb ticking, the field operative has to make a quick personal decision as to whether torture methods will help find that bomb. He doesn't have time to transport the person in question to the Mosul facility, let alone wait for a renditions team to give him an enema and spirit him away to Afghanistan, etc.
And, as we know from the record of extensive torture, there must be A LOT of time bombs ticking out there. In fact, one for every torture victim - - -
In my case I know what I would do if I were the terrorist. I'd send them on a wild goose chase, making them waste time -- and the bomb will blow. On the other hand, given the record, the odds are somewhere north of 80% that I'm not a terrorist in the first place and can't tell them where the bomb is, I'll make something up to stop the torture, and send them on a wild goose chase --and the bomb will blow.
The question is, given the record of "success" in kidnapping people who are actually just innocent farmers, foreigners -- or unpopular neighbors -- turned in for the bounty, or hapless Iraqis who happen to have both a shovel and a cell phone, how often is there a ticking time bomb? Any bomb at all?
And yet they just keep on torturing and torturing and torturing. And the U.S. Congress -- both Democrats and Republicans -- despite the anti-torture rhetoric and overwhelming logic, endorse it by passing the so-called "Military Commissions Act of 2006." And Bush signs it into law.
And I hear discussions by my countrymen defending the practice -- clearly gratuitous torture. Especially on talk radio.
The Big Picture
But how about the rare cases where you end up with someone really important in custody, shouldn't you torture them?
He [Coleman] says that if the F.B.I. had beaten a confession out of Fadl with what he calls "all that alpha-male shit," it would never be able to talk to him now. ...in the longer fight against terrorism such an approach is "completely insufficient," he says. "You need to talk to people for weeks. Years."
MICHAEL ISIKOFF: ...Ibn Sheikh al-Libi, who was the first major al-Qaeda commander who was captured in Afghanistan, was originally interrogated by the FBI. ...they were treating him with a measure of respect and not stepping over the line. The CIA gets control of Ibn Sheikh al-Libi, takes him away from the FBI, and then sends him to Egypt, where he is rather brutally interrogated.So, once again, why is the United States Government so hell-bent on torture? Perhaps because they once again didn't do their homework -- as they failed to do for Vietnam , the current Iraq "War," etc. Perhaps they didn't know that waterboarding, now a prominent torture method discussed by the U.S. Government and its minions, particularly perfected by the monstrous Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, was perfected for extracting confessions to use as an excuse for incarceration or execution -- not for obtaining useful and "actionable" information.
Let's see. On the plus side, in addition to using torture to get highly dubious confessions, you might try torture to punish people you fantasize need punishing, in general to scare and intimidate people out of or into some sort of behavior -- out of writing critical articles or into tacit support for example -- or, perhaps, to keep your sadists happy.
On the minus side, you shouldn't torture because you often torture innocent people, you discourage those who might help you, and you get bad information -- which ultimately will send you off on the wrong track -- and may be instrumental in sending you to war for no good reason.
The fact you are torturing people also horrifies most normal folks all around the world, and helps radicalize some of them into attacking you in various ways because you're so despicable. Remember how you felt about the Nazis in those old WWII films?
Are those strong enough reasons for the U.S. Government to change it's policies back to the way they were when "we" were the good guys?
The 'Nuremberg Defense' and Why Mr. Bush Wants One
"What's the 'Nuremberg Defense'?" you may be wondering. Well, when the U.S. decided to try the Nazis for war crimes after WWII, they realized many Germans would plead innocent because "they were just following orders" -- just doing their job -- and that excused them for any atrocities they may have committed. This was an argument often used in similar cases. But the claim was so wide spread in these Nazi trials that the "I was just following orders" defense was subsequently named for the city where the trials were held. Nuremberg, Germany. And the "Nuremberg Defense" itself was outlawed.
So, why is Mr. Bush calling for a modern, retroactive "Nuremberg Defense?" And why, in the "Military Commissions Act of 2006" did he sign one into law?
Well, first, it's pretty obvious that even most of the home-grown "interrogation" techniques described in this article clearly go far beyond "outrages upon personal dignity" -- not to mention "humiliating and degrading treatment." Think of just the temperature measurement part of the Navy Seals' hypothermia torture for example. We don't even need to invoke "renditions."
But does Mr. Bush have other reasons?
So, according to interrogator Lagouranis, since the "Interrogation Rules of Engagement" came from the top of the chain of command, that is through the Pentagon -- AND they are not in accordance with the Army Field Manual or the Geneva Conventions, punishment should not be limited to the grunts at the bottom of the chain. And who's at the top of the chain of command? The Commander-in-Chief -- the President of the United States -- Mr. George W. Bush.
There is quite a bit of other evidence that "The Who's Who of Gratuitous Torture" indeed begins at the top.
What You Can Do
1.Join well over 700,000 other folks and sign the petition to impeach G.W. Bush.
2. Realize that you -- and your family -- are at risk. Canadian Justice Dennis R. O'Connor was in charge of the Arar Commission which looked into how Canadian Citizen Maher Arar was illegaly and inaccurately rendered by the U.S. Government to Syria for torture. He focused in on the description somehow given of Arar and his wife, Dr. Monia Mazigh, by Canadian and U.S. authorities. That description was that the couple -- and their children -- were "a group of Islamic extremist individuals suspected of being linked to the al-Qaeda terrorist movement." Other "information" was added to that original description, particularly the "confession" Maher Arar signed under torture. The judge concluded by saying of that description that it "was inaccurate, without any basis, and potentially extremely inflammatory."
See how easy it is for you to get tortured, disappeared, etc.? All it takes is an official report from somewhere that is "inaccurate, without any basis, and potentially extremely inflammatory" and you're off to Club Gitmo. Just fifteen inaccurate "official" words got Arar tortured for a year. That's why we need "habeas corpus" -- which was scrapped by the "Military Commissions Act of 2006" - - -
3. Before it's too late, learn about habeas corpus and why it's important. What's being done to the torture victims above is but a legal precedent or two away from being done to you and your children once they're grown. You might begin your reading with In Case I Disappear by New York Times and international best selling author William Rivers Pitt.
 DemocracyNOW: We speak with former army sergeant, Erik Saar who served as an Arabic translator at Guantanamo Bay for six months. Among the abuses he says he witnessed was sexual abuse, mock interrogations, the use of dogs and a female interrogator smearing what looked like menstrual blood on a Muslim prisoner. He also says children were imprisoned at Guantanamo and that the military ordered them not to speak to the Red Cross. return
 You can see Binyam Mohamed's story here. Khaled El-Masri was turned loose on a barren mountain road in Albania -- five months after his kidnapping -- when the CIA finally realized they had made a mistake. After a two-year-plus investigaton, Canadian Maher Arar was completely exonerated of any terrorist connections at all. Including his wife and two kids, 5 and 8, who had also been listed as terrorists. In fact, the Canadian Prime Minister called on Mr. Bush to "come clean" on how the U.S. had made the mistake of having Arar tortured in Syria in the first place. return
L. Reichard White lives several houses up from the site of the old Black Horse Tavern, a birth place of the Whiskey Rebellion -- which explains a lot. He supported his writing habit for over 30 years by beating casinos at their own games. Visit his website at NEXIALIST NEWS See a key chapter from his latest project, "The Hi-jacking of Civilization" -- which has almost nothing at all to do with 9-11.