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I started to write a comment to OPOL's excellent, impassioned diary, Darkness Falls. But the comment grew and grew until I knew I had to post it as a diary.

I've taken the present tense of OPOL's work and put it in its proper past tense, because the U.S. association with and operation of torture goes back decades. OPOL asks why the American people have not moved to stop their government from torturing. The question can be asked retrospectively. The problem remains a timid and bought-off press, and two political parties uninterested, at best, in tackling the issue, or complicit, at worst, in war crimes and their cover-up.

Both his diary and mine grow out of the latest New York Times revelations that Mukasey's Justice Department has a working set of rulings that allow U.S. agents to "legally use interrogation methods that might otherwise be prohibited under international law." Indeed, the government's letters are worth reading, going on for paragraph after sick paragraph about what could possibly be meant by the Geneva Protocol's use of the term "humane treatment."

OPOL asks why the U.S. populace doesn't rise up and stop the torture. If you wish the answer to this question, then you must be prepared to learn the entire history, and to teach the entire history.

Why? Why? Why? The earnest question is asked. The answer is that torture has been conducted under both Democratic and Republican administrations. Until (and if ever) the progressives decide to clean out their party of anyone associated with the program and practice of torture, including those who assisted in the legal shenanigans that allowed torture to go unprosecuted (including the Clinton White House legal team that allowed the evisceration of the UN Convention Against Torture with the legal "Reservations" attached to the treaty -- the same "Reservations" that Ashcroft was screaming about the other day, as reported in Elisona's diary), then U.S. torture will continue, overtly or covertly.

(The Reservations to UNCAN made the treaty "non-executable" without laws passed by the Congress. Such laws weakened the language of the treaty, and the use of these "reservations", concocted by Reagan Administration attorneys, but used by the Clinton team, has helped legally cover torture and the use of cruel, inhumane and degrading detainee treatment, from the Military Commissions Act of 2006 to the American Psychological Associations's interrogations resolutions of the past few years. -- See David Luban's coverage of the issue. Luban is a professor at Georgetown University Law Center.)

"Darkness Falls" is a good, impassioned diary, which I recommend, but it has one crucial factual error. It asserts that Bush has constructed "the first official torture program in American history".

This is hardly the case, nor is it the largest such program (although it is the largest rendition program).

The Phoenix Program in Vietnam (and its precursors there), which killed tens of thousands (according to the Church Committee in the 1970s), and tortured hundreds of thousands of men, women and children, probably deserves the distinction of the largest such program. But it, too, wasn't the first.

Then there was the CIAs Ed Lansdale. His work may deserve that distinction for his use of torture and terror in the Philippines against the so-called Huk rebellion in the early 1950s. Lansdale later helped set up counterinsurgency programs in Vietnam.

There was also the multi-million dollar MKULTRA program, which researched brainwashing and mind control through use of isolation, sensory deprivation and drugs. This program began in the late 1940s, and saw its heyday from 1953-1968.

Consider, too, this:

The CIA also bears responsibility for the creation of SAVAK, the Shah of Iran's ruthless secret police force. SAVAK killed 20,000 Iraqi "dissidents" during the Shah's reign. In the Philippines, CIA instruction resulted in 3,257 murders and 35,000 victims of torture by the Ferdinand Marcos regime.

After its defeat in Vietnam, the United States government infiltrated Latin America with a vengeance (to stop the spread of the "Communist threat"). Project X, represented another CIA endeavor to impart their wisdom in the arts of torture to ruthless US allies. Not satisfied with their 1963 torture manual called Kubark, the CIA wrote a sequel in Spanish entitled Handling of Sources, Interrogation, Combat Intelligence, and Terrorism and the Urban Guerilla.

Once located in Panama, an odious US Army institution known as the School of Americas (sometimes called the School of Assassins) bestowed the CIA's torture wisdom upon hundreds of Latin American military officers. The School of Americas fell under the auspices of Project X and provided the "hands on" training to accompany the CIA torture manuals. Interestingly, by 1983 the CIA had begun to re-emphasize the use of psychological over physical torture when it wrote its [Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual]. A laundry list of CIA-trained Latin American military personnel and dictators murdered and tortured hundreds of thousands thanks to the tutelage of Project X. Link

The best book on Phoenix is Douglas Valentine's The Phoenix Program. Library Journal wrote:

Designed to destroy the Vietcong infrastructure and ostensibly run by the South Vietnamese government, the Phoenix Program--in fact directed by the United States--developed a variety of counterinsurgency activities including, at its worst, torture and assassination. For Valentine... the program epitomizes all that was wrong with the Vietnam War; its evils are still present wherever there are "ideologues obsessed with security, who seek to impose their way of thinking on everyone else." Exhaustive detail and extensive use of interviews with and writings by Phoenix participants make up the book's principal strengths...

OPOL well described in his diary the psychological response of denial to this kind of information. But we must move past this if we are ever to stop this cancer of terror and torture that has eaten so corrosively away at the foundations of the nation, and threaten to destroy what ever is left of this democracy and the promise of freedom began back in the days of the Enlightenment.

I like OPOL, and consider the contributions of this diarist to be top notch. I hope and trust that the criticisms I engage in here are seen as constructive and in the best interest of moving the dialogue forward.

Originally posted to Valtin on Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 11:38 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (119+ / 0-)

    When a comment just won't do.

    Also, I highly recommend a new National Geographic progam, "CIA Secret Experiments", which looks at secret torture and biological warfare experiments done by the U.S. government during the Cold War. It includes much on the CIA murder of one of its own top researchers in the 1950s, Frank Olson, because he threatened to go public with the illegality and immorality of the program, which had begun conducting "terminal experiments."

    War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight, The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade Invictus

    by Valtin on Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 11:45:01 PM PDT

  •  No one has a right to be shocked. (24+ / 0-)

    Not after all these years, decades now, of approval of secret budgets.

    You probably won't get far here in fantasyland - where all things bad are GOP, all things good are Dem - but you are right.

    What's so hard about Peace, Love, and Truth and Progress?

    by melvin on Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 11:50:34 PM PDT

  •  Yet another Valtin diary (30+ / 0-)

    that should be on the rec list, though I fear it may not get there.

    A question, since you know the history on this better than I do: isn't it the case that while the US has a long history of engaging in torture, the current administration's more or less unashamed justification of it is something new under the sun?

    The past few years have been a frightful mix of official denials paired with thinly veiled insinuations from Cheney and others that torture is necessary, effective and good; and now recently Bush has just come out and said that he knew what was happening, with 'high level detainees' if not at Abu Ghraib. And it seems like that's what's new - not the fact of it, but the attempt to numb the public into accepting it, the construction of a 'debate on torture' as if there's anything to debate. Or am I wrong in thinking this is unprecedented?

    Help Russ Feingold help progressive candidates - support the Progressive Patriots Fund.

    by scardanelli on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 12:02:48 AM PDT

    •  It made the list. (17+ / 0-)

      It's late enough, and the diary picked up the recs fast enough to make it.  I added the tag, and got a screen cap, just to be sure.

      I hope it stays up there through the morning.

      We are all, in some way or another, going to Reseda, someday, to die.

      by Marcus Tullius on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 12:04:34 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  And then it dropped off... (10+ / 0-)

        because someone has been (gasp!) making up stories about Obama. Which is interesting and all, but, well.

        Help Russ Feingold help progressive candidates - support the Progressive Patriots Fund.

        by scardanelli on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 12:09:16 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •   (7+ / 0-)

          Photobucket

          We are all, in some way or another, going to Reseda, someday, to die.

          by Marcus Tullius on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 12:16:32 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  I missed it entirely (23+ / 0-)

          but never really thought it'd go there anyway...

          To answer your question above, you are right that something seems different about the Bush regime's approach. I don't know if it's just that more information has gotten out via the Internet, or the digital photos on CD from Abu Ghraib, or if it is that Bush has brazenly, openly tried to rewrite this country's relation to Geneva.

          Bush and the rest still insist the U.S. does not torture (though sometimes with a wink and a nod), and they are still interested in legalistic gyrations that prove they don't torture. Supposedly this is to prevent prosecutions, but I can find almost no history of prosecutions anyway.

          From TPMMuckraker last February:

          Of the 24 cases of detainee abuse that the CIA's inspector general and Department of Defense have referred to the Justice Department for criminal prosecution in the last several years, the Department has declined to prosecute in 22 of them, according to a letter from a Justice Department official in response to Sen. Dick Durbin's (D-IL) question about "accountability for illegal conduct by civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan."

          A prosecution team was formed in June, 2004 to handle the cases in the U.S. attorney's office for Virginia's Eastern District, and then-Attorney General John Ashcroft announced he'd be referring all pending cases there. While the Defense Department has prosecuted a number of soldiers for abuse, this team was formed to concentrate on abuses by civilian government employees.

          And how have they done? Well, there have been no indictments. The DoJ official, Brian Benczkowski, disclosed that two of the cases remained pending -- it's unknown what those cases are. Benczkowski said that there had only been four referrals by the CIA's inspector general in the last year, and all four had been declined....

          In his letter, Benczkowski cites a number of reasons for why the prosecutions never got off the ground, "insufficient evidence" chief among them. He adds that there had been cases of "misdemeanor assaults" in some of the cases referred by the Defense Department, but that the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act prevented them from prosecuting such offenses.

          Durbin had also asked (and you can read his letter below) whether any cases involving waterboarding were among the cases that had been referred. Benczkowski only responded," we are not in a position to respond."

          There has been one successful prosecution of a civilian employee for detainee abuse -- that of contractor David Passaro for beating the detainee Abdul Wali with a metal flashlight and his fists. Wali later died. But that prosecution was brought by another U.S. attorney's office -- the Eastern North Carolina District. All other cases have gone to the Eastern Virginia team. Passaro was convicted, sentenced to 8 years in prison, and is appealing.

          So, I tend to discount their fear of prosecutions.

          Also, thinking back to earlier revelations on torture, there was the early 1960s film "The Manchurian Candidate," and the mid-60s "Iprcress File". The Vietnam era saw a lot of revelations about torture, including the infamous use of the Tiger Cages in Vietnam.

          So, I'm not sure how different it is. The destruction of evidence by the CIA recently reminds me of the CIA destruction of MKULTRA and MKNAOMI (the assassination program) files in 1972.

          This whole side of the issue deserves a comprehensive study and review, and I don't think I can do it justice in a comment (or a diary).

          War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight, The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade Invictus

          by Valtin on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 12:23:38 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I guess it's the high-level involvement (9+ / 0-)

            that seems unprecedented. Well, not the involvement but the revelation of it. Seems a fairly good bet that a sitting president has never said anything like this:

            President Bush says he knew his top national security advisers discussed and approved specific details about how high-value al Qaeda suspects would be interrogated by the Central Intelligence Agency, according to an exclusive interview with ABC News Friday.

            "Well, we started to connect the dots in order to protect the American people." Bush told ABC News White House correspondent Martha Raddatz. "And yes, I'm aware our national security team met on this issue. And I approved."

            But every time torture makes the news, it seems to be followed by a collective yawn. It does deserve a comprehensive study, and then some.

            Help Russ Feingold help progressive candidates - support the Progressive Patriots Fund.

            by scardanelli on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 12:32:45 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Maybe that's it (7+ / 0-)

              The revelation of high-level involvement. The collective yawn is not too incomprehensible to me, even if it is infuriating.

              Psychologically, a kind of psychic numbing takes place when there is a massive social trauma, and this certainly is a trauma of that sort. The same kind of phenomena was noted by psychiatrist-historian Robert Jay Lifton around the bombing of Hiroshima. See his book with Greg Mitchell, Hiroshima in America: A Half Century of Denial.

              War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight, The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade Invictus

              by Valtin on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 12:45:07 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Have you noticed (I'm sure you have) (11+ / 0-)

                The war is hardly even mentioned on the news anymore?

                Torture got its moment with the ABC story, then it was hardly mentioned anywhere else...at all.

                I wonder what it's like for a soldier coming home from Iraq and watching the news, finding out that the war doesn't even exist in this nation while his comrades are getting killed and facing the danger of getting killed 24 hours a day back in Iraq.   I can't imagine.

                Iraq and the Wars don't exist in our tv media anymore.  Hardly at all.

                I think your comment about the "numbing" is very applicable to that because most people ARE numb to it all and so they don't think about it so they don't even notice that the war reporting doesn't even exist anymore.

                "I'm so proud of this company and everything it represents. It makes me feel real good about what we've been able to do." - Hillary for Wal-Mart

                by Lauren S on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 01:01:40 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  In fact (7+ / 0-)

                  I think most people are probably glad that it's not being reported.

                  Not consciously maybe, but they're fine with it.   Why make them feel what they've already come to terms with by burying it...forgetting about it...or ...being numbed by the media over it.  

                  I think that's what I was trying to say.  

                  "I'm so proud of this company and everything it represents. It makes me feel real good about what we've been able to do." - Hillary for Wal-Mart

                  by Lauren S on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 01:13:57 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Torture & detention for 'terrorists' is ok for (5+ / 0-)

                    many Americans. Most Americans assume that those who are tortured and/or detained are horrible terrorists out to get them, subhuman suicide bombing Osama chauferring bloody axe weilding insane murderous maniacs who get what they deserve, sadly.

                    Never mind that the vast majority of our torture global gulags' detainees have had nothing to do with terrorism. Never mind that U.S. detainees on U.S. soil are just rounded up illegal immigrants, U.S. citizens mistaken for immigrants, legal immigrants with papers lost or unprocessed by the govt., or children of the above. Never mind.

                    And I think it's all connected. Once it's ok, as McCain claims, to torture foreigners but not Americans, somehow that makes it ok to violate rights all over the place because they aren't really rights. And then it's possible to rationalize and ignore the ugly truth.

                    Children in the U.S... detained [against] intl. & domestic standards." --Amnesty Internati

                    by doinaheckuvanutjob on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 03:07:12 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  I really don't think, though (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      doinaheckuvanutjob, dewley notid

                      that if you watch torture, most people will "get off" on it. I don't believe most Americans are sadists. I agree that torture can speak to a dark part of human nature. But a part does not make the whole. Cannibalism, too, and enslavement, speak to parts of the human psyche, and were once typical parts of human culture.

                      The better part of us rose up and threw them out.

                      War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight, The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade Invictus

                      by Valtin on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 07:22:42 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                •  I've certainly noticed the invisibility of the it (12+ / 0-)

                  Or rather, its wraith-like existence hovering at the edges of all discourse.

                  Gas prices? The war.
                  Torture? The war.
                  Terrorism fears? The war.
                  Nuclear proliferation? The war.
                  Middle East instability? The war.
                  Hunger abroad? The war.

                  Obviously, all the above cannot be laid at the feet of the Iraq invasion and occupation, but as the biggest, boldest, most criminal action by the current U.S. regime, it captures the sense of a world destabilized by reckless, imperialistic leaders, bent on enriching themselves and feeding the bottomless pit that is power and glory.

                  Meanwhile, how many deaths from the war, either U.S. or Iraqi are seen? How many images of the millions of refugees? Most Americans probably know the name of the last American Idol winner than the fact there even are Iraqi refugees.

                  Iraqi vets who return home seem to be turning against this war. I hope this is more than my impression. The cognitive dissonance between here and there must be immense, but then I think some of that is built into military training and indoctrination, to prepare soldiers for the very different, regimented world of military life.

                  War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight, The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade Invictus

                  by Valtin on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 01:16:08 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Interesting (7+ / 0-)

                    I agree on your first part there.   The issues all somehow intersect, or fall flat in the middle of, the war in Iraq or our foreign policy.  

                    When's the last time there's been a blast on the news about our sinking economy being tied into the hundreds of billions sunk in Iraq?  Eh, never.  No problem there.

                    Obviously, all the above cannot be laid at the feet of the Iraq invasion and occupation, but as the biggest, boldest, most criminal action by the current U.S. regime, it captures the sense of a world destabilized by reckless, imperialistic leaders, bent on enriching themselves and feeding the bottomless pit that is power and glory.

                    It doesn't simply capture the sense as you've outlined there though, it most certainly DOES, to a great degree, lie at the feet of the Iraq invasion when we look at the money spent and the energy cost results.   But you're on point completely there, of course.

                    How many deaths, indeed?   Even the DNC ad against McCain lists 4000 and rising, I don't think Americans are even capable of grasping in their hearts' the deaths of the Iraqis or the millions who have fled their own nations.  So even from the DNC we get a complete ignoral of the 90% of deaths that have occured there.

                    How many Americans even think of Iraqi deaths as a loss, rather than the enemy taking a hit?  How many realize that 99% of Iraqi deaths have nothing to do with terrorism?  How many Americans even realize that there are millions who have fled the nation, amongst them doctors, scientists, and others who could have been leaders in rebuilding the nation we destroyed?

                    How many Americans? Probably close to none because even the Democratic Party will only speak of the 4000+ Americans who have died, not the 4-5 million Iraqis who have become refugees or been killed,one of the two.

                    The Democratic Party might be the only vessel for change, and I believe that it is electorally.   But it's got a long way to go in joining the fight for human rights in not allowing anything like this to happen ever again.

                    "I'm so proud of this company and everything it represents. It makes me feel real good about what we've been able to do." - Hillary for Wal-Mart

                    by Lauren S on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 01:33:25 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

              •  Denial is keeping a great number of American's (6+ / 0-)

                ...getting out of bed in the morning.

                The trauma of 9/11 was used quite skillfully by the administration. But they went too far, and now too many of us can see the truth of the way we have been used.

                Past generations have just been more subtle about it.

                I believe OPOL's diary is a beautiful call to action. It is needed to help us heal, see what the truth really is, and to do something about was is happening now.

                It is also a good idea to realize the truth of what you have written, as we have inherited the denial of our elders. We cannot, however, change the past. Hopefully, we will use the truth of what you have written to find a way to stop reliving the horrors of our history.

                Thank you for your diary.

                Peace.

                If it doesn't lead to your happiness, don't do it.

                by magicsister on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 05:10:41 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

      •  Why every diary he writes is not at the top (15+ / 0-)

        is beyond me.

        Before I joined, Valtin was the reason I kept wanting to comment.  He is a valuable contributor who diaries the stuff that trumps every candidate diary that has ever been posted imo.

        Torture and kidnapping people is not an issue to ignore.  Most people here need to start awakening to that.

        "I'm so proud of this company and everything it represents. It makes me feel real good about what we've been able to do." - Hillary for Wal-Mart

        by Lauren S on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 12:32:45 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I knew someone who was in the Phoenix program (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Valtin, distraught

      His job was to go out alone and at night in Vietnam and assassinate people.  Not surprisingly, he developed a bad morphine habit over there.  Torture and assassination are not easy on the torturers and assassins either.  There are American victims of these programs as well.

      With all his noble qualities...man still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin--Darwin

      by MadScientist on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 07:03:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  While I haven't written about it (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ice Blue, distraught

        I knew someone who was a Navy SEAL during Vietnam. He slept on the wooden floor, had an apartment full of guns, would wake often in a full sweat, and was the biggest alcoholic you'd ever seen. He was also a good musician, and that's how I knew him, tangentially, through my musician roommate.

        At the time (over 30 years ago), I felt bad for the guy, even thought him nuts. But, unfortunately, it never occurred to me to wonder how he got that way. I don't remember him talking about it.

        War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight, The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade Invictus

        by Valtin on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 07:26:38 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Justice Scalia on 60 Minutes last night (25+ / 0-)

    claimed that torture was not protected by the Bill of Rights because it was, in fact, not punishment.

    And now begins the Inquisition!

    We have become what they fear.

    by tecampbell on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 12:05:52 AM PDT

  •  Going back to our founding... (18+ / 0-)

    ...we can find state-sanctioned brutality. Ask the Cherokee Nation.

    World War I and then II were supposed to end this type of brutality, but it stays with us like a chronic illness for which, it would seem, there is no vaccine. Anyone who believes that --all of a sudden-- we're "torturers" because of Bush has probably never cracked a history book of any kind.

    We've been brutalizing and teaching others how to do it for at least 200 years.

    Do I despise my country for this? Not on your life. I love my country deeply. But I do despise those who corrupt the government to their own ends, using perverse methods along the way.

    This is why Congress will never act: They are undeniably complicit in allowing it. They have weakened the media's ability to expose anything more but the broadest strokes of the whole picture. The devils are in the details and they are sheilded.

    I liked OPOL's diary too, but found it lacking in some of the historical context that would have shown us all to be --even if just a little-- complicit ourselves.

    "Wealthy the Spirit which knows its own flight. Stealthy the Hunter who slays his own fright. Blessed is the Traveler who journeys the length of the Light."

    by CanisMaximus on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 12:08:39 AM PDT

  •  My answer: (17+ / 0-)

    My answer to your question comes from history. This is nothing new -- for 200 years, we have practiced it. Both sides practiced torture in the Civil War, for instance, and the "morally right" side, the Union, set up military commissions to try suspected Confederate sympathizers right here in Missouri, which gave rise to Jesse James and which is why he was so popular here. And then, we have the interment of Japanese Americans during WW2, and arrest and roundup of Socialists during WW1, and similar such actions. In that regard, the Bush administration thought that their treatment of Guantanamo detainees was totally normal. The fact that we are now taking it seriously and raising hell against it is what is new, not the fact that we practice it. It's great that we are finally starting to awaken to the reality that it is nothing but cruel and unusual punishment.

    •  Barbarism has a long, long existence (20+ / 0-)

      The intent in my diary was to make institutional links to current state entities and parties. The existence of torture goes back centuries. In American history, its use goes back to the "Indian Wars", to the Revolutionary War, the torture of slaves, etc.

      Interestingly, George Washington specifically prohibited his army using torture. One could say a lot about this, but the fact that he had to make such a prohibition says a lot about the use of torure in his day.

      War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight, The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade Invictus

      by Valtin on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 12:40:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Portuguese slaves & Brazil 1967ish-79ish (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Valtin, boofdah

        i linked to this wikipedia reference in a below comment...:

        The Pau-de-Arara is a physical torture technique designed to cause severe joint and muscle pain, as well as headaches, and psychological trauma. The technique consists of a tube, bar, or pole placed over the victim's biceps and behind the knees while tying both the victim's ankles and wrists together. The entire assembly is suspended between two metal platforms forming what looks like a parrot's perch.

        This technique is believed to originate from Portuguese slave traders, which used the Pau-de-Arara as a form of punishment for disobedient slaves. It more recently used by the agents of the Brazilian military dictatorship against political dissidents in the 1960s and 1970s. The Brazilian military often used this technique as a restraint for a combination of other torture techniques, such as water boarding, nail pulling, branding, electric shocks, and sexual torture.

        -- learn about PEPFAR reauthorization (U.S. global AIDS Bill)

        by distraught on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 08:15:53 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you for the truth (8+ / 0-)

    Thank you.

    "I'm so proud of this company and everything it represents. It makes me feel real good about what we've been able to do." - Hillary for Wal-Mart

    by Lauren S on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 12:34:04 AM PDT

  •  Using anthropologists (13+ / 0-)

    to get inside cultural data on how best to harass and torture Iraqis, diverse guerrilla groups. Just as they did with anthropologists during Vietnam with the Phoenix Program, to learn about the Viet Cong and Vietnamese, to undermine and defeat them.

    Bad anthropologists using science for unethical reasons.

    •  The role of anthropologists hasn't gone unnoticed (9+ / 0-)

      A very interesting article by David Price:

      In San Jose, on Saturday evening, November 18, 2006, the rank and file members of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) attending the Association's business meeting approved resolutions condemning the occupation of Iraq and the use of torture....

      The conference had several organized panels examining ways that anthropology is interacting with the War on Terror. Some sessions examined issues of secrecy, the ethical issues raised by anthropologists working in military and intelligence communities, one session had presentations by anthropologists working for the intelligence community. The Association seems to know it is sitting on the edge (let's hope it is the edge) of something very large and powerful and but there are organizational fears of establishing limits governing what anthropologists do. It remains to be seen how the Association's elected and unelected leadership will respond to the memberships' call for increased democratic control over an Association increasingly slipping under the sway of the Pentagon and the intelligence community as traditional educational funds become scarce, even while covert funding programs like the Pat Roberts Intelligence Scholars Program increases.

      War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight, The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade Invictus

      by Valtin on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 01:19:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Changing the status quo (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Valtin, LaFajita

        Fine diary, Valtin.

        It's virtually impossible for organizations designed to  maintain and enforce the status quo (for instance the AAA and the APA) to allow the status quo to change, let alone be the agents of change.

        Torture and it's derivatives have had a role in enforcing the status quo since the beginning of time.

        In fact, it has to been seen as one of our nation's tap roots. Think about the public squares in New England where town squires put people in stocks to publicly  humiliate them for infractions against the status quo.

        Or the use of torture during the Indian wars and the slave trade.

        No, this will only change if people rise up for change. The leaders of our institutions won't do this for us. That's really not their job.

        "Let us not look back to the past with anger, nor towards the future with fear, but look around with awareness." James Thurber

        by annan on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 05:56:56 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Ooops. Hadn't read all the other comments yet. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          LaFajita

          So I see that you already covered this history in another comment.

          I think one of the things that draws me to Barack Obama is his experience with community organizing where he empowers people to make change from the bottom up.

          Because deep organizational changes rarely come from the people whose continued success as leaders (or future leaders climbing the ladder) is entirely dependent upon the status quo.

          "Let us not look back to the past with anger, nor towards the future with fear, but look around with awareness." James Thurber

          by annan on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 06:01:56 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Kubark manual as well (8+ / 0-)

    Actually, Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine goes through alot of this - from the CIA funding of the McGill university experiments to post-Iraq.  It is one of the best books I've ever read in my life.

    Kubark is mentioned alot in The Shock Doctine.  You can find info on Wikipedia.

    Yes, state sponsored torture goes way back in the US.  I've often wondered why Kennedy didn't get a better handle on the CIA when he was in office.  It literally killed him (mafia had infiltrated the CIA and mingled their assassination plans with the plans against Cuba in order to hide the whole thing).

    •  No Oliver Stone history here, please. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Valtin, LaFajita

      Kennedy used the CIA, just like his predecessors did.  John and Bobby acquiesced in the assassination of the Diems, Kennedy's CIA was complicit in numerous assassination attempts against Castro, and was involved in the assassination of Trujillo in 1961.

      •  The truth may lie between your two positions (0+ / 0-)

        One wonders to what degree the President is a free agent anymore. Kennedy inherited the CIA apparatus and the Bay of Pigs. On the other hand, he felt free to go after other governments and leaders and destabilize them, or assassinate them. See John Prados's latest book on CIA history, with its excellent first chapter on the U.S. history re creating a coup in Guyana during the Kennedy administration.

        Stepping back, you can see that large institutional forces, embodied in individuals embued with the consciousness of belonging to and protecting such institutions, are what's really in control.

        Long ago, Engels looked at this from a historians standpoint in his small essay on Bismarck and the role of force in history. He felt Bismarck embodied a historically necessary role in bringing about German national unification, but that he overstepped himself by seizing French territory at the end of the Franco-Prussian war, laying the basis for a future, larger, Europe-wide war. His prediction, unfortunately, turned out to be true.

        War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight, The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade Invictus

        by Valtin on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 08:27:16 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Sick, but (5+ / 0-)

    it certainly explains why it has been so easy for the administration to construct such elaborate programs and rationales to support them.  On one hand, what has happened shows how truly warped and warping power can be.  On the other hand, it seems we haven't fallen as far as I thought.  Lookks like we've been in this sewer for a long time....

    -7.62, -7.28 "We told the truth. We obeyed the law. We kept the peace." - Walter Mondale

    by luckylizard on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 03:37:35 AM PDT

    •  I should have noted in my quickly written diary (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      peace voter, luckylizard

      an excellent article by Jane Meyer of The New Yorker last August. In The Black Sites, Meyer says she was told that the government used the Phoenix Program as a model for their counterinsurgency efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

      This is nothing new, from my standpoint, but it is confirmation that I am not mining tinfoil territory. (Writing on this subject, I'm always wary that I won't be believed, because the subject matter is so awful. It's very heartening, therefore, to see such a good response to this diary.)

      War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight, The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade Invictus

      by Valtin on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 08:36:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Indeed (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Valtin, luckylizard

        It is heartening to see such a good respose to your diary, Valtin.  

        Thanks as always for continuing to shine a light on this painful and difficult reality.  When it's so much easier to focus on lighter fare.


        ````
        peace

        Basketball Diary - Will Obama Be the First Hoopster in the WhiteHouse?

        by peace voter on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 08:42:02 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I was only able to write this last night (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          peace voter, luckylizard

          because I had gone off and been by myself in nature for hours and hours earlier that day. Such a retreat invigorates and relaxes, and prepares one to address the unadressable.

          I do also want to compliment all the commenters to this diary... not just for reading, but for making such honest and heartfelt and intelligent responses. I always feel that my diaries get the finest contributions. I know that's not totally true, i.e., that many other diaries get wonderful contributions from this vibrant community, but it certainly feels that way.

          War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight, The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade Invictus

          by Valtin on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 09:31:37 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Impeach the bastards (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    peace voter, jcrit, chumley, Valtin, LaFajita

    No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time.

    This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land;

    No person shall be ... deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law

    the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial...and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation;

    Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

    How do you get a secretive, covert, rendition, torturing government out of this Constitution?

  •  Thanks, Valtin, for saying these things (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    srkp23, Valtin, testvet6778, LaFajita

    and saying them so well. I read OPOL's diary and thought, but this didn't just start now! And wished I had the time and ability to put together a diary on that.

    You've done it here. Please keep doing it, please keep speaking the truth, however uncomfortable. We can't learn from our history if we don't know it. I am frequently distressed to find how little even those who consider themselves progressives know about what's going on and has been going on, hiding in plain sight, since well before I was born.

    Politics is the art of preventing people from taking part in affairs which properly concern them. - Paul Valery

    by inclusive on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 04:23:04 AM PDT

  •  SALUTE you know how I feel about MKULTRA (7+ / 0-)

    and the other programs  to many dead and disabled in their wake.....

    •  Hope you're doing well, TV (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      peace voter

      If I've gotten any praise here today, you certainly deserve as much if not more for all the great work you've done. As I'm sure you're all too aware, the typical response for someone who has been through what you have is to withdraw and try very hard to forget. (Those who were completely destroyed don't have any option, of course.)

      Anyway, just wanted to wave and say hi.

      War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight, The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade Invictus

      by Valtin on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 08:38:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  psycho killers (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Valtin, LaFajita

    If they can't win on the merits, they win by killing off the opposition.  The Washington is the enforcer of the Wall Street Mafia.  When has it ever been different, if not overtly, then covertly?

    The only way to change this country is if money follows politics, not the other way around.

    by jcrit on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 04:55:29 AM PDT

  •  And, yet once again...I must say (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    annan, chumley, Valtin, Ice Blue, LaFajita, Inky99

    many people her need a refresher course in the history of Vietnam.

    John McCain is not running to win in Iraq.  John McCain will be running to win the war in Vietnam.

    I am a just a regular person, trying to save my Constitution and my country.

    by David Kroning on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 04:56:39 AM PDT

    •  Yes (0+ / 0-)

      You've given me an idea. We need a good, in depth (not just one diary) series on the history of Vietnam here. But even more, we need to teach it in the schools. First, however, is the battle over hearts and minds as to what Vietnam represented.

      Here's Obama, for instance, as reported in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, just this April 15th (bold emphasis mine).

      "These sons and daughters of America are the best and bravest among us," Obama said during a town hall meeting that focused on veterans' needs.

      "They are a part of an unbroken line of heroes that overthrew a king -- faced down fascism and fought for freedom in Korea and Vietnam, from Kuwait to the Balkans," he said. "Today, they are serving brilliantly in the face of grave danger in Afghanistan, Iraq and around the world."

      Freedom in Vietnam? (I'd make further points about Kuwait and even Korea and the Balkans, but that discussion would be quite nuanced.)

      War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight, The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade Invictus

      by Valtin on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 08:43:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  This hits on the reasons for "denial" (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nicolemm, dewley notid, LaFajita

    both publically and in the blogosphere.

    As Upton Sincliar put it, you cannot make someone understand something when his livelihood depends on his not understanding it.

    If we understood that our leaders do engage, and have engaged, in systematic torture, that they are not held accountable, that they will not be held accountable, and that they laugh (or scream) in our faces while doing so, and that we have no legal recourse whatsoever... we would have two choices:

    1. Run away, whether externally, becoming expatriates, or internally, becoming Good Germans.
    1. Kill them.

    There are no other choices.

    So don't expect these problems to be understood any time soon. Expect ranting, agreement, quibbling, hand-wringing, blogging. Don't expect comprehension and response.

    Because our livelihood depends on anything but that.

    So long as men die, Liberty will never perish. -- Charlie Chaplin, "The Great Dictator"

    by khereva on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 05:06:34 AM PDT

    •  killing not necessary (0+ / 0-)

      but certainly removal from public life, incarceration, immobilization.  Like we do to criminals who engage in such acts outside of the government.  

    •  "Kill them"??? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ice Blue

      I assume your hyperbole is due to your quite justifiable anger on the issue. I don't see this as a decision between becoming a "good German" or becoming a murderer (or revolutionary terrorist, or whatever). In fact, that level of violence would doom humanity as much as the acquiescence to violence by the state does, too.

      Running away (out of the country, or dropping out, or ignoring the situation) is what most do.

      The challenge is to become very politically active. And that means becoming informed, very informed. And that's what I'm trying to help accomplish here. As we become more informed, the majority will demand change, and the forms of that change will be revealed in the process of making new history.

      War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight, The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade Invictus

      by Valtin on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 08:48:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Fine post Valtin... (9+ / 0-)

    I have no problem with your criticism at all.  Well done my friend.

    "The truth shall set you free - but first it'll piss you off." Gloria Steinem

    Iraq Moratorium

    by One Pissed Off Liberal on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 05:16:09 AM PDT

    •  Thank you OPOL (0+ / 0-)

      I knew you would be accepting and interested. It is a tribute to your integrity and your commitment that I even wrote this diary.

      War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight, The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade Invictus

      by Valtin on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 08:50:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Complicity is the norm, no one is innocent (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    annan, Valtin, LaFajita

    Although there has been a long history of the general approval of torture among Democratic and Republican administrations, the last eight years have been an overt crescendo of acceptance that this is just part of American foreign policy.  Correct me if I’m wrong but the blatant acceptance of torture as part of America’s arsenal in the "war on terror" is something new.  Very few are still outraged over Abu ghraib, very few are still outraged that this despot in the Whitehouse can arbitrarily decide who is entitled to protections under international law. The difference is that this no longer needs to be hidden from the American public because impunity is not solely given to a certain number of individuals but to a nation.  No this is something new and we are all complicit and as we read the diary by Darkness Falls we should feel shame and fall to our knees begging for forgiveness.  

    Call me when you ARE truly ready to be Vanguard of the Party

    by HGM MA on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 05:22:38 AM PDT

    •  There does appear to be something new (0+ / 0-)

      in the blatant, overt acceptance of torture. It used to be something that was hidden. But it's not like it wasn't revealed before, e.g., during the scandals that resulted in the Church and Pike Committee investigations, and the Rockefeller Commission.

      Where I will "correct" you (since you asked) is to make the point that torture and terror has been a significant part of the U.S. arsenal of control abroad, and has been since World War II (where we learned to apply it abroad... I'm not speaking of the violence used to create and expand this country, i.e., against Native Americans, African slaves, etc.). The history is out there to read. I've given some pointers.

      One other excellent history on this is Alfred McCoy's A Question of Torture.

      War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight, The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade Invictus

      by Valtin on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 08:56:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Aren't people wonderful? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Valtin, FishBiscuit

    Lately my misanthropy has reared its ugly head to a degree I haven't experienced in about 20 years.  

    Things haven't even begun to get ugly yet.  They're just beginning.  Peak Oil is gonna make the Irish Potato Famine look like a tiny tiny dress rehearsal.  

    People can be quite intelligent as individuals, but once there's a critical mass of them larger than a tribal unit, there's almost no intelligence whatsoever.  

    It's probably THE achilles heel of humanity.  

  •  Exactly. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Valtin, LaFajita

    Why? Why? Why? The earnest question is asked. The answer is that torture has been conducted under both Democratic and Republican administrations. Until (and if ever) the progressives decide to clean out their party of anyone associated with the program and practice of torture, including those who assisted in the legal shenanigans that allowed torture to go unprosecuted (including the Clinton White House legal team that allowed the evisceration of the UN Convention Against Torture with the legal "Reservations" attached to the treaty -- the same "Reservations" that Ashcroft was screaming about the other day, as reported in Elisona's diary), then U.S. torture will continue, overtly or covertly.

  •  Thank you, valtin. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    srkp23, blueness, LaFajita

    Outstanding.

    •  Thanks (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LithiumCola

      You know, LC, as I look over the diary again this morning, I'm surprised this one hit such a nerve. I've written stuff like this before, with little notice. Anyway, as always when a diary like mine or OPOLs or Vyans or yours, covering torture or related issues gets a big response, I'm always heartened. It makes me feel less isolated and alone, and it gives me hope that things can really change.

      War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight, The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade Invictus

      by Valtin on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 08:58:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Well done, V. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Valtin

    As I've said often, however, I think this is the first time the institutionalization of torture has been so public and that they're making a public claim that it's legal. Would you agree with this? It's the mainstreaming of the torture culture that has long existed.

    Seul l'incrédule a droit au miracle. - Elias Canetti Road2DC

    by srkp23 on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 06:31:14 AM PDT

    •  I agree (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Neon Vincent

      that torture has "come out of the closet", it seems. But I'm going to go back and look at media from the 60s when I get a chance, to see how we looked at the issue then. It's not as if these things weren't publicized (My Lai, tiger cages, Ipcress File).

      I think the general public back then didn't really know the extent of the crimes. That's why the Church committee hearings in the mid-70s were so explosive. But since then, the issue went underground, possibly with the belief that new laws and oversight (think FISA in the case of government wiretapping) was taking care of it.

      In many ways, our current situation is due to the naivete in which we (or our fathers/mothers) handled the situation when it was forced into our consciousness over 30 years ago.

      War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight, The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade Invictus

      by Valtin on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 09:02:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  my 'aunt' tortured by SOA grads in Brazil ca '68 (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Valtin, Ice Blue

    my uncle's wife was held here for a few years:

    From the CENIMAR facility, prisoners were shipped across Guanabara Bay by motor launch to a prison on the Isle of Flowers. Inside the low white buildings were interrogators who specialized in torture. The staff there was made up of members of the Department of Political and Social Order (DOPS). The island's commander was Clemente Jose Monteiro Filho, a graduate of the School of the Americas (commonly referred to as the escuela de golpes, the school of coups) at Fort Gulick in the Panama Canal Zone.44 The leader of interrogation and torture was Alfredo Poeck, a navy commander who had taken a three month course at the Special Warfare School at Fort Bragg in 1961.45
    Source: http://www.namebase.org/...

    she had horrible things done to her.  pins under finger nails, hanging on a "pao de arar", electrocution on breasts and genitals.

    my uncle and her were 'married' for a few years, until she died from cancer far before her time. i have a vague memory of her face

    PEACE

    -- learn about PEPFAR reauthorization (U.S. global AIDS Bill)

    by distraught on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 07:31:54 AM PDT

    •  FYI (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Valtin

      her crime was being a communist. Her detention and the detention of others like her is what caused the things that are depicted so well in the film Four Days in September.

      actually, the guy who drove the get away car for the kidnapping of the Swiss Ambassador is now a family friend... in exchange for the release of the ambassador, several victims of torture were allowed to go into exile to Chile.. a couple of those people were apparently distant cousins, according to a brief comment that my grandmother made to me a few years ago... i really need to ask her about who those cousins are, the next time a visit... it's just such a sad thing that it's difficult to talk about

      i got to go, as i'm at work and beginning to cry

      PEACE

      -- learn about PEPFAR reauthorization (U.S. global AIDS Bill)

      by distraught on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 07:38:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  How many Americans (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      distraught, sailmaker

      know how the U.S. contributed to a torture regime run by the Brazilian generals? Later, many of these Brazilian torturers were imported into Chile for the coup and the resulting repression.

      War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight, The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade Invictus

      by Valtin on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 09:03:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Torture gets a pass for one reason (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Valtin

    People buy the argument that it somehow makes them safer, hence a necessary evil.  

    To stop torture, we need to convince the American people of four things.

    1. Torture does not yield valuable information.
    1. Torture is never justified under international law.
    1. Torture is applied to innocent people under the suspicion of guilt.
    1. Torture by us is used as an excuse by other countries or organizations to torture.

    Notice that when the CIA admitted using torture, they keep saying that it yielded valuable information to bolster the false belief of efficacy rather than deal with all the reasons it is against international law.

    Great diary. It is nice to see this issue get more coverage.

    Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. - Martin Luther King, Jr.

    by DWG on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 07:49:14 AM PDT

    •  I'm believe that one way to deter (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Valtin

      torture in the future (they admit that they are still holding 30 captives in the gulag, and probably are still torturing them) would be to do a radical excision: disband the CIA.

      The FBI has changed their mission from domestic only pre 9/11 to gathering info from overseas, so why do we need the CIA? When the National Intelligence Estimate is being formulated there are apparently 16 agencies involved.  Do we really need 16? How about 15 and get rid of the bad actors once and for all?

      We can't have acquittals, we've got to have convictions." Pentagon Chief Counsel Haynes on military tribrunals in Gitmo.

      by sailmaker on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 08:42:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I totally agree (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sailmaker

        The CIA should be disbanded. Radicals used to agitate this long ago. Subsequently, there was a rehabilitation of the CIA, either as heroes (the CIA TV show) or as incompetent boobs (which they are not).

        The existence of a secret government or group within a government is a knife at the heart of democracy. They can't coexist for long. The "war on terror" perpetuates the idea we still need this secrecy because it is a wartime exigency. But as the decades roll by, it is not just an emergency measure anymore, it is the norm. And such government by secrets as eroded the humanity of those who practice it, and is destabilizing the entire global system, for as the U.S. goes, so goes the world.

        War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight, The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade Invictus

        by Valtin on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 09:08:35 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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