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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Melville House to publish torture report

Today's Wellington newspaper is full of the news of the release of a small portion of the Senate Intelligence Committee Report on Torture, along with a self-serving justification written by an ex-director of the CIA, Michael Hayden.  The CIA, it should be added, has been fighting for three years for suppression of the document.

Although just a fraction of the report has been released, condemnation appears to be universal (pending comments from Mugabe et al).  Says the editor of the Dominion-Post, "The United States' embrace of torture in the years after 9/11 has leaked out in patchy stories over several years.

"But yesterday's report by a powerful Senate committee into the CIA's use of 'enhanced interrogation techniques' spells out the programme in new and damning detail.
"It is sickening to read - prisoners force-fed food through their rectums, kept awake for up to a week, placed in coffin-sized boxes for hundreds of hours, threatened with the deaths of their children, and all but drowned by "waterboarding" over and over again.
"One prisoner died of hypothermia in custody, after being left in a stress position on cold concrete for hours.
"Of the 119 detainees covered in the report, at least 26, by the CIA's own admission, were "wrongfully held". They included an "intellectually challenged" man whose detention was used as leverage against a relation.
"Torture, the committee concludes, "was not an effective means of acquiring intelligence or gaining cooperation from detainees". Its report dismantles the CIA suggestion that torture led to the raid on Osama bin Laden, as recently portrayed in the film Zero Dark Thirty, as well as a catalogue of other similar claims.
"The committee is merciless with the CIA; it says leaders of the spy agency repeatedly misled politicians about the programme, carrying out far more brutal procedures than promised and inflating their success.
"All of this is appalling, and all of it matters. Torture is a moral abomination - a red line laid down by societies that have learned its ugly lessons before. It is the stuff of totalitarian dystopias, the profound physical breaking of a person, better for extracting mock confessions than useful leads. Even if torture did "work", which it does not appear to, it would still be morally outrageous.
"It is true that the torture programme emerged out of the rawness and anger that followed the September 11 attacks of 2001. Many felt those enormous crimes against innocents demanded an extraordinary response.
"But turning that anger into a programme of brutal physical torment was never justified. It was its own kind of terror. It also ignored the fact that people in other times, much more war-torn and desperate than our own, have managed to refrain from it.
"Alarmingly, what has been publicly released is only a fraction of the full Senate report - and even the winnowed version is black with redactions. What's more, President Barack Obama's White House refused to supply the committee with more than 9000 documents it requested. The real truth about torture is likely to have been much worse than what we know.But it must go further than that. It must outlaw the practices it still cannot bring itself to call torture. It must guard against using them again, even after another attack. And it must more thoroughly call to account those who allowed torture to become a tool of the government in the land of the free.There is only one small source of relief here: that the report was written at all. It shows the US is capable of examining itself critically."

Says the editor of the London Times, "The CIA depicted here is the rogue agency of Hollywood fiction, writing its own rules, hoodwinking its paymaster and betraying the values for which American purports to stand ....

"Five days after 9/11, the vice-president Dick Cheney told the press that to bring al Quaeda's leaders to justice the US would have to work through 'the dark side, if you will.'"

And that, it seems, is exactly what happened.  Interestingly, George W. Bush, the president, specifically asked to be kept ignorant of the true situation, "for fear," according to a Washington report, "he would blurt out details."

Most of those details are still veiled -- but, according to GalleyCat on, that situation is about to end.  How Melville House got hold of the complete document is an unknown, but lo, they have it, and they are going to publish it.

A release date for both the paperback and eBook editions has been scheduled for December 30th.
Here’s more from the press release: “Five years in the making, the report was officially declassified in April, but its release was delayed until yesterday, when a heavily redacted version of the report was made public. Called by theNew York Times ‘a portrait of depravity that is hard to comprehend and even harder to stomach,’ the report proved to be a harsh and broad indictment of the C.I.A.’s response to the September 11 terror attacks. In addition to detailing the scope and severity of interrogation techniques employed by the C.I.A, the report also found that the agency had repeatedly misled both the public and the White House.”

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