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View Diary: Outsourcing Torture: Secret History (FBI v. CIA) (42 comments)

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  •  Another excellent if disturbing ... (4.00), SusanHu. I use "disturbing" because I've used up all the words usually triggered when my outrage meter registers in the deep crimson.

    One teensy niggle about this (and most of the torture stuff I've read so far).

    It's true that the U.S. hasn't justified torture by memorandum in the past; rather it's taken the moral high ground approach. But while the public face of policy was firmly opposed to torture, in the field, matters were quite different. In Central America in the 1980s -  Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua - thugs in uniform widely used torture they had learned from their CIA and U.S. military instructors.

    The agency trained the Shah of Iran's secret police - Savak - in torture techniques, which it used and often videotaped. Kopassas, an Indonesian government operation, and similar units in Taiwan and the Philippines received CIA torture training. The U.S. used torture in Vietnam, as well, and the infamous KUBARK training manual was just the prototype for others.

    Ironically, the notorious School of the Americas at Ft. Benning, Georgia, took references to torture out of its training manuals as a result of actions by someone whose other actions we know so well:

    WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Manuals used by the U.S. Army's School of the Americas between 1982 and 1991 appeared to condone executions, beatings and other human rights abuses, the Pentagon said in a disclosure that prompted renewed calls for the school's closure.

    The Pentagon on Friday disclosed English translations of portions of seven training manuals it said were pulled from use in 1991 by then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney. He determined that the language violated U.S. policy. At the time, the Pentagon conducted a review of the training materials and reported the findings to Congress in closed briefings.

    "The review found that about two dozen isolated phrases, sentences or short passages, out of 1,100 pages in six of the manuals, were objectionable or dubious," a Pentagon statement said, "(and) appeared to condone practices violating U.S. policy."

    The phrases, including references to "eliminating potential rivals" to "obtaining information involuntarily" to the "neutralization" of people, were taken out of context, the statement said.

    But the manuals were not made public until later, and they weren't quite so "innocent":

    The Pentagon admitted on September 20 [1996] that the U.S. Southern Command in Panama and the School of the Americas used instruction manuals that recommend extortion, torture and execution as methods for obtaining information.

    The seven Spanish-language manuals were distributed by Southern Command training teams from 1987 to 1989 to militaries in Guatemala, El Salvador, Colombia, Peru, and other leading human rights violators in the hemisphere. Students were advised to "involuntarily" obtain information from their sources -- in other words, torture them; to arrest their parents and other relatives; to use "motivation by fear"; to pay bounties for enemy dead; to execute civilian opponents; to use blackmail and even "truth serum" to obtain information. The manual on "Terrorism and Urban Guerrillas" explains how to build mail bombs.

    The manuals also show a disturbing distrust in democracy, frequently implying that democracy gives too many advantages to subversive groups. One guide says that rebels may "resort to subverting the government by electoral means." Another describes Tom Hayden -- anti-Vietnam War activist and current state senator in California -- as "one of the masters of terrorist planning."

    Nearly a thousand of the manuals were distributed to Latin American militaries, which were "discovered" by the Pentagon in 1991, but only made public this year after public pressure prompted an investigation into the role of the CIA in Guatemala. The investigation's report mentioned the manuals and requests to fully declassify them followed. The Pentagon said it had tried to retrieve the manuals, but "retrieval of all copies is doubtful." No one was sanctioned for producing such materials instructing contempt for human rights and civilian rule.

    "When interviewed by investigators, the manuals' authors stated that they believe intelligence oversight regulations applied only to U.S. personnel and not to the training of foreign personnel," writes Lisa Haugaard of the Latin America Working Group. "In other words, that U.S. instructors could teach abusive techniques to foreign militaries that they could not legally perform themselves."

    Outsourcing torture, as The New Yorker headline calls it, is no new thing. Given how privatization is all the rage in the civilian and military sector, as we know from the torture planes, Americans who don't read The New Yorker or Daily Kos and the handful of other media doggedly following this issue should expect to not see a lot more of this.


    •  n/t (none)

      Yesterday, you had steam coming out of your ears.  Today, you're red with anger.  

      Seriously:  Let's explore this a bit.  My diary, although I guess I didn't confine it in so many words, was meant to refer to this supposed new breed of "rights-free," nationless, castaway, throw-away detainees.  Are you also inferring that that isn't a new breed at all?  

      ... As for your last comments, this is something that Gareth Pierce says in that interview I quoted above ... I excised that portion to make it shorter.  She says there isn't sufficient outrage -- let alone public awareness --  and so this will ALL continue.  And, if The New Yorker article is right, it'll just metastisize.

      Susan in Port Angeles (my cat)

      by SusanHu on Tue Feb 08, 2005 at 12:23:52 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  People who are tortured ... (none)
        ...are always viewed as subhuman, but over the centuries the groups that can be legitimately tortured have been narrowed through domestic and international law (as well as moral outrage) to exclude heretics, political foes, criminals, enemy soldiers and indigenous peoples. All the old rationales for such torture were broken down step by step.

        So, yes, in a "legal" sense, the current group of allegedly stateless detainees is a new breed, but there is a continuum of amoral justification here that goes way, way back. Always, that has included an explicit or implicit view that the torture target is without inalienable rights, therefore, subhuman.

    •  Privatization (none)
      "Privatized Military Firms" may be outside the law.  War, Profits, and the Vacuum of Law: Privatized Military Firms and International Law.  Columbia Journal of Transnational Law, Peter Singer.  Came up awhile back in articles about mercs working for spooks @ Abu Grahib being immune from prosecution. [article is Spring '04]

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