As the now-infamous ‘CIA Torture Report’ continues to wedge down the digestive tract, some upshots — one, how effective Sen. Mark Udall’s outrage speech this morning on the floor of the Senate:’““One disturbing finding: [CIA] Director Brennan and the CIA are continuing to willfully provide inaccurate information and misrepresent the efficacy of torture. In other words, the CIA is lying.”‘
Udall wants dickhead Brennan kicked out on his ass, but the White House, thus, responded the CIA honcho ‘…has done an “exemplary job” and that Obama is “pleased to rely on his advice.”‘
Meanwhile, out yonder: ‘Zeid Raad al-Hussein, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, said it’s “crystal clear” under international law that the United States, which ratified the U.N. Convention Against Torture in 1994, now has an obligation to ensure accountability.’
(Illustration: Pablo Picasso’s ‘The Prisoner and the Dove,’ found here).
Ironically, the torture accord noted above celebrates its 30th anniversary today — the US signed the treaty in 1988, ratified it 20 years ago.
And last month on the meanwhile, the Obama administration had stood firm on abiding by the treaty — during a UN panel review of US compliance (via McClatchy):
“The answer to the question whether the U.S. will abide by the universal ban on torture and cruel treatment in armed conflicts, or beyond U.S. borders, including Bagram and Guantanamo, is unequivocally, yes” said Mary McLeod, the acting legal adviser to the U.S. State Department, mentioning specifically detention centers in Afghanistan and Guantanamo, where allegations of mistreatment have been common.
Earlier, McLeod had stated “the prohibition on torture is categorical, there are no gaps.”
Interpretation most-obviously depending on definition of the word, gap.
Another joined-at-the-waterboard story appeared in Vanity Fair this afternoon about the two asshole-psychologists who designed and supposedly helped instigate the well-worn techniques used by the CIA — and made more than $80 million.
Some key points:
It was two C.I.A. contract psychologists with no experience with real-life interrogations.
Instead, as described in the report, they promoted the tactics to the C.I.A., employed them indiscriminately, reaped in money to do so, and lied about their effectiveness.
The agency threw in its lot with Mitchell and Jessen, who are identified in the report by the pseudonyms Swigert and Dunbar.
As the report notes, “Neither psychologist had any experience as an interrogator, nor did either have specialized knowledge of al-Qa’ida, a background in counterterrorism, or any relevant cultural or linguistic expertise.”
Nonetheless, the psychologists played a role in convincing the administration that if they were allowed to reverse engineer the SERE tactics, they could break down detainees, resulting in useful intelligence.
The psychologists were playing so many different roles simultaneously that some C.I.A. and military staff became concerned about the apparent conflict of interest.
One such warning, sent in a draft cable to C.I.A. headquarters, noted, “Another area of concern is the use of the psychologist as an interrogator. The role of the ops psychologist is to be a detached observer and serve as a check on the interrogator to prevent the interrogator from any unintentional excess of pressure which might cause permanent psychological harm to the subject.”
But as the cable continued, “We note that [the proposed plan] contains a psychological interrogation assessment by psychologist [DUNBAR] which is to be carried out by interrogator [DUNBAR]. We have a problem with him conducting both roles simultaneously.”
The psychologists were actually designing the torture, overseeing its implementation, assessing its effectiveness, and getting paid handsomely for it.
Mitchell and Jessen’s consulting business was ultimately awarded $180 million in contracts by the C.I.A., $81 million of which was paid by the time the agreement was terminated in 2009, according to the report.
The report makes clear that the tactics did not work and there was no reliable evidence to indicate they ever would.
And the C.I.A. misled just about everyone—from the White House to the Department of Justice, to Congress and the public—about the tactics’ effectiveness.
Horrible tale — I’d heard some bits of it before, but this is ridiculous.