Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Torture of US/UK prisoners in Iraq?

This topic came up in a thread on the WhatReallyHappened forum on MSN
( http://groups.msn.com/whatreallyhappened/general.msnw?action=get_message&mview=0&ID_Message=55688&all_topics=0 ) ... setting off a long chain of reflections... it hit such a nerve that I actually produced a kind of dissertation on this hideous topic.

From: Flyers Sent: 13/01/2004 21:16

Thank you, Parvati. I was sure the use of torture was not limited to non-U.S. countries, and you substantiated thus.

Surely the U.S. tortures some of its prisoners, because they need the facts.

And if any of you were stationed in Iraq, and thought you had the guy to lead you to Saddam, what would you have done?
Better yet, if bin Laden were in your sites, and you had a cat, hip to Osama's ways, what would you do to get the info???

Tickle him?

From: parvati_roma Sent: 14/01/2004 07:01

Surely the U.S. tortures some of its prisoners, because they need the facts.

The kind of "facts" Beria dug for in the Lubyanka's dungeons to bolster the Soviet empire's show-trials (anyone remember the "Jewish Doctors' Conspiracy"??)?
The kind of "facts" the Inquisition obtained from heretics, Jews and philosophers??
The kind of "facts" pressed, squeezed and twisted out of witch-suspects in Salem?

Torture has been abolished in the civilized world "not only" for humanitarian reasons, but also due to the well-known unreliability of information obtained by this method.
It's a crude and vicious instrument more likely to provide hallucination and/or deliberate deception than truth.

Which may well explain - despite America's "best efforts" as interrogators in the Sunni triangle - why they owe Saddam's capture to Kurdish forces, Kurdish info - drawn not from torture but from "human intelligence" culled through their extensive, subtle political webs of contacts and intrigue.


Incidentally, I've personally known two people who endured many interrogation sessions consisting of systematic torture - one was an Italian resistance leader tortured by the Nazis during the occupation of Rome by beating and "live" extraction of his teeth, the other a Czech film director who in his youth had worked for the Allies' partisan network in WWII.. he later spent 10 years in a Stalinist gulag after torture by beatings and application of electric shocks to his genitals.

Neither of these men provided any "useful" information whatsoever - not an empty boast, but due to the fact - as many other reports confirm - that under the duress of extreme pain and brutality, the victim is quite often able to enter into a mental state of "dissociation" allowing detachment from bodily sensation - a cold, floaty state of controlled rage in which moral contempt for the torturers is the dominant emotion.

The Italian renaissance philosopher Tommaso Campanella - who was not only a "heretic" but had also been involved in a political insurgency plot against the Spanish rulers of Southern Italy - successfully played cat-and-mouse with the Inquisition for decades... by feigning madness induced by pain and fear.


From some of my nastier historical/political reading, it appears the most effective interrogation techniques are those based on essentially psychological methods, involving

a) intel-based blackmail - also common as a tough-cop anti-organized-crime police method

b) "turning" the victim's system of beliefs and loyalties by means of various kinds of brainwashing techniques, including long-term sensory deprivation and isolation to induce a craving for the interrogator's approval and understanding.

Both of these techniques require considerable time and effort on the part of the interrogators, but can result in real cooperation and consequently accurate info... but currently appear far beyond the capabilities of the US forces in Iraq, whose ignorance of the subtleties of local language, culture and social structure effectively rule them out. What's happening there, as in the case of most of the French troops in Algeria (though France's ties with Algeria ran far deeper than those of the US in Iraq), seems to consist chiefly of random brutality inspired by a thirst for revenge for fellow US soldiers killed or wounded by the insurgents.

However, attempts to apply the more systematic and effective psychological techniques just may account for a part - a small part - of the reasons why the US is so reluctant to release its illegally-held prisoners in Guantanamo?? ...although they don't seem to have obtained much so far for their pains,as the "Al Quaeda" arrests made so far have almost invariably been based on foreign (Pakistani, Saudi...) intelligence.

The other part being that if released, the detainees would at last be able to talk to the press, to tell their stories... thus revealing both the absurdity of the majority of these haphazard mass arrests and the way these prisoners are being treated in US hands.

Which would be extremely embarrassing, eh?? So at this point, I'll bet the US wishes they could just "disappear" the whole lot of 'em - Argentina-style.

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