Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Manufacturing Confession

So here's digby:
Brainwashing. False confessions. Show Trials. Of course. That's the main purpose of torture. Indeed, it's the only thing it's capable of. That's been the case going all the way back to the Inquisition. So the purpose of torture is to use the power of the authority to force people to make false confessions --- and, more importantly, use those false confessions in kabuki procedings which many people know are show trials but which are powerless to challenge due to their superficial legality. The sheer power of that is awe-inspiring to the victims and the torturers alike.

The Bush administration's simplistic approach to national security was to show that they were the biggest, meanest bastards on the planet. Part of that is to create the impression that there is no rhyme or reason for our violence other than a demonstration that we have the power to do it. The inexplicability of it is the point. And to that end, all those creepy rituals with the prisoners in the orange jumpsuits and the goggles on their knees were designed to show that the United States was engaged in a form of bureaucratic, systematic sadism. Which it clearly was.

Interrogations for the purpose of gaining intelligence were never the point. The point was to create terror. And there's a word for that.
Wondering what that's all about? Simply this:

The point of the CIA torturing people like, say, Mohammed Bunyam was never to extract information. It was to coerce confessions.

Here's Valtin:

The worst part of Mohamed's captivity, by his own account, is the five months he spent at the "dark prison" the CIA ran at an undisclosed location near Kabul, Afghanistan...

...And what was all this torture for? According to Mr. Mohamed, it was during his stay at the Dark Prison that U.S. interrogators went beyond inducing confessions. They wanted him to finger other individuals, and use him to testify in the military commissions trials they were planning. Later, when Mohamed arrived in Guantanamo in September 2004, interrogators got worried Binyam would testify he only "confessed" or gave information because he was tortured, and tried to conduct "clean" interrogations, so they could say the testimony was uncoerced. They demanded he give his confession "freely". After Obama was elected president and announced Guantanamo would close, Mohamed says his treatment became more brutal.
I'll just interject here and say that I imagine this is because the interrogators were terrified that the party was over. Valtin isn't so sure, and believes that Obama will leave all this in place. I hope he's wrong. That would be odious.

The full article on this is at the Daily Mail. It paints a picture of a Central Intelligence Agency run absolutely amok, turned into a full-scale inquisitorial and intimidation machine. Whether it was due to overzealous career men or Cheney's horrific influence is debatable, though for the sake of the institution I hope it's the latter. Either way, this has nothing to do with the CIA's mandate, and needs to end. This isn't HUMINT, it isn't sources and methods, it isn't intelligence. It's horror. And, to the extent that the country ever was one built on a set of ideals, it's profoundly unAmerican.

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