The Abu Zubaydah Experiment

The NYRB New Yorker has a piece with long excerpts from the leaked Red Cross report on American torture of high value detainees. (h/t scribe; corrected per scribe) Read it. It’s chilling in its systematicity–the constant involvement of doctors, the efforts to hide any marks of torture, the invention of clinical language to describe torture.

I’ll return to the report, but for the moment just one observation.

Amid a slew of details on the treatment of Abu Zubaydah, the article describes Abu Zubaydah learning that he was the guinea pig for these techniques.

We do not know if the plywood [to minimize the damage from slamming him against the wall] appeared in Zubaydah’s white room thanks to orders from his interrogators, from their bosses at Langley, or perhaps from their superiors in the White House. We don’t know the precise parts played by those responsible for "choreographing" the "alternative set of procedures." We do know from several reports that at a White House meeting in July 2002 top administration lawyers gave the CIA "the green light" to move to the "more aggressive techniques" that were applied to him, separately and in combination, during the following days:

After the beating I was then placed in the small box. They placed a cloth or cover over the box to cut out all light and restrict my air supply. As it was not high enough even to sit upright, I had to crouch down. It was very difficult because of my wounds. The stress on my legs held in this position meant my wounds both in the leg and stomach became very painful. I think this occurred about 3 months after my last operation. It was always cold in the room, but when the cover was placed over the box it made it hot and sweaty inside. The wound on my leg began to open and started to bleed. I don’t know how long I remained in the small box, I think I may have slept or maybe fainted.

I was then dragged from the small box, unable to walk properly and put on what looked like a hospital bed, and strapped down very tightly with belts. A black cloth was then placed over my face and the interrogators used a mineral water bottle to pour water on the cloth so that I could not breathe. After a few minutes the cloth was removed and the bed was rotated into an upright position. The pressure of the straps on my wounds was very painful. I vomited. The bed was then again lowered to horizontal position and the same torture carried out again with the black cloth over my face and water poured on from a bottle. On this occasion my head was in a more backward, downwards position and the water was poured on for a longer time. I struggled against the straps, trying to breathe, but it was hopeless. I thought I was going to die. I lost control of my urine. Since then I still lose control of my urine when under stress.

I was then placed again in the tall box. While I was inside the box loud music was played again and somebody kept banging repeatedly on the box from the outside. I tried to sit down on the floor, but because of the small space the bucket with urine tipped over and spilt over me…. I was then taken out and again a towel was wrapped around my neck and I was smashed into the wall with the plywood covering and repeatedly slapped in the face by the same two interrogators as before.

I was then made to sit on the floor with a black hood over my head until the next session of torture began. The room was always kept very cold.

This went on for approximately one week. During this time the whole procedure was repeated five times. On each occasion, apart from one, I was suffocated once or twice and was put in the vertical position on the bed in between. On one occasion the suffocation was repeated three times. I vomited each time I was put in the vertical position between the suffocation.

During that week I was not given any solid food. I was only given Ensure to drink. My head and beard were shaved everyday.

I collapsed and lost consciousness on several occasions. Eventually the torture was stopped by the intervention of the doctor.

I was told during this period that I was one of the first to receive these interrogation techniques, so no rules applied. It felt like they were experimenting and trying out techniques to be used later on other people.


All evidence from the ICRC report suggests that Abu Zubaydah’s informant was telling him the truth: he was the first, and, as such, a guinea pig. Some techniques are discarded. The coffin-like black boxes, for example, barely large enough to contain a man, one six feet tall and the other scarcely more than three feet, which seem to recall the sensory-deprivation tanks used in early CIA-sponsored experiments, do not reappear. Neither does the "long-time sitting"—the weeks shackled to a chair—that Abu Zubaydah endured in his first few months. [my emphasis]

This article makes clear, then, that about two and a half months after he first woke up in US custody–so probably shortly after mid-June 2002–the US was experimenting on Abu Zubaydah, testing out various forms of torture to see which worked best and left the fewest marks.

Understand what this means: the torturers were conducting their experiments on Abu Zubaydah before John Yoo wrote up an OLC memo authorizing torture (hell–Yoo may have excluded those methods they had decided were ineffective and that my be why they told Abu Zubaydah there were no rules). The torturers were conducting their experiments with the intimate involvement of those back at the White House getting briefed and approving of each technique. And the torturers were being videotaped doing so. 

Those tapes–which in this context sound like a tool in their experimentation more than anything else–are the tapes that CIA destroyed in 2005.

Which I guess makes my question from a few weeks ago all the more pressing. Who watched these torture tapes?

40 replies
  1. scribe says:

    I’ll add two points, a correction and two comments to EW’s masterly piece:

    1. How bad must it have been for a copy of the ICRC report to leak to a reporter?

    The ICRC is adamant about keeping its reports confidential and sharing them only with the power-brokers and policy-makers who have the power to change the practices involved. As the article makes clear, in regard to the CIA’s torture operations the person to whom the ICRC report was directed was … at CIA. Therefore, a strong argument can be made that the leaked report would have come either from the ICRC or CIA.

    A leak from the ICRC seems highly unlikely. That is not the way they operate.

    A leak from CIA? They do it all the time but, in this case, one has to ask both ”why?” and ”why now?”. Who benefits from this leak, and why now?

    My immediate reaction is that it may be directed at Judge Hellerstein in NYC, regarding the ACLU’s FOIA suit. Another might be to preclude further planned document/information destruction. There may be other explanations, but those are the ones that come first to mind.

    A leak from elsewhere in the government? This is entirely possible, but we would have to know the distribution list for the ICRC report, i.e., to whom it was circulated after being received at CIA. I think we can safely surmise that the Director of CIA got to read it. Whether he shared it with the DNI, the NSC, Cheney’s office, Bush’s office or anyone else is a good question whose answers we do not know. On the one hand, if it was shared with any of the people on that list, it could have been shared in an effort to have them joined in the culpability for the torture. On the other, it could have been shared to help – as a sort of feedback mechanism – to design further propaganda for their torture program, or for some other purpose even I cannot think of.

    I think we can safely assume – at least for now – that no one in DoJ and no one at FBI was on the distribution list. Cheney’s office was quite adept at working the compartmentalization of information and programs and I can see no good reason for those people letting the police read a report that indicates those people have committed grave crimes.

    2. My reading of the article (look at the subhead) indicates the ICRC report was written and dated in 2007, not earlier. This raises a couple more questions:
    (a) Why did the CIA destroy the tapes in 2005, when the report was not written until 2007? Was it to prevent the ICRC from seeing them?
    (b) What else did CIA destroy prior to the ICRC seeing the prisoners?
    (c) What has the CIA learned from the ICRC report, as to ways they can ”improve” (i.e., make more efficacious) their torture program?
    (d) Anyone want to comment on the timing of Tenet’s/Goss’ departure, Presidential Medal of Freedom award, and ICRC reporting? I’m a little hazy on that timeline and I think it needs to be integrated.

    A correction to EW: The article is in the NY Review of Books, not the New Yorker. (Confusing those two could get one in a real bitch-slappin’ ”intellectual” fight the likes of which haven’t been seen anywhere outside a college faculty lounge for many, many years.)

    Comment: I have heard wise people say ”you become that which you despise”. It takes a lot of self-awareness and discipline to avoid both despising that strongly and falling into that trap. Given the wholesale implementation of practices and procedures developed in the Communist bloc during the Cold War, I think one can safely conclude where the Republicans’ minds have been, and their levels of both self-awareness and discipline.

    It’s also an issue we need to be aware of in ourselves, too.

    Second Comment: When do we get to see the report itself posted on Wikileaks?

    • bmaz says:

      (a) Why did the CIA destroy the tapes in 2005, when the report was not written until 2007? Was it to prevent the ICRC from seeing them?

      What is the basis for believing that this report is the cause of the destruction? This is a horrid report as to what it relates, but by no means the only factor out there applying pressure to the Administration and the CIA.

    • Valtin says:

      This is what I wrote at Daily Kos in a comment to a diary of mine on the leaked report:

      I wonder who leaked it. Not the ICRC itself, certainly, as they are sworn to secrecy and keep to it, because they want to maintain their access to prisoners.

      When I released a transcript of the Guantanamo torturers meeting of October 2, 2002, they were very worried about ICRC reports leaking out. They knew that sooner or later the news from the reports would surface. They never implicated the ICRC. I think they knew it always came from within, from disgruntled members of the military or intelligence services.

      If one reads the Danner article carefully, you can get the idea that the leak of this report came from with the CIA itself. Not as an official leak, but from someone in or close to the agency. Someone who could read what the General Counsel could read. Danner makes it clear the report was very, very secret.

      As far as the experimental aspect of the torture, I’ll note that I wrote this in January 2008

      I have no evidence the U.S. government is involved in any experimentation at Guantanamo, but if one is even barely aware of the deadly history of U.S. involvement in secret experimentation, from MKULTRA to Edgewood Arsenal, from the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment to Willowbrook, then you couldn’t help but wonder, is it possible the U.S. has been conducting medical experiments at Guantanamo?

      Now, Stephen Miles is coming out with his new edition of Oath Betrayed, subtitled America’s Torture Doctors, due out next month from UC Press. This if from the description of the book:

      The news that the United States tortured prisoners in the war on terror has brought shame to the nation, yet little has been written about the doctors and psychologists at these prisons. In Oath Betrayed, medical ethics expert and physician Steven H. Miles tells how doctors, psychologists, and medics cleared prisoners for interrogation, advised and monitored abuse, falsified documents–including death certificates–and were largely silent as the scandal unfolded. This updated and expanded paperback edition gives newly uncovered details about the policies that engage clinicians in torture. It discusses the ongoing furor over psychologists’ participating in interrogations. Most explosively this new edition shows how interrogation psychologists may have moved from information-gathering to coercive experiments, warning all of us about a new direction in U.S. policy and military medicine–a direction that not so long ago was unthinkable.

      Lance the boil, and a whole lot of pus is going to come streaming out. If that metaphor sickens you, then it has done its job of presenting the substance of what awaits us.

      Great job, Marcy! I look to you and bmaz and your many great commenters, and also Greenwald over at Salon, to keep me on my toes, and tell me what’s happening, and also make the essential analysis, when I don’t have time to make my own. To have sources one can trust… helps me sleep at night.

      One of these great commenters, William Ockham, has made some essential comments at #26. One, is that the interrogators most likely go back to the Vietnam era. This corroborates the testimony of the informant that told Jane Mayer in her article on the Dark Prison that the CIA was using Operation Phoenix as an model for their work, and also how quickly (once these “professionals” moved in) the torture turned from mere brutality to scientific “precision”. (In his article, Danner makes the links to KUBARK that many, including myself, have made over the years.)

      WO also notes, as I have elsewhere, that we should be thinking in terms of two government or ruling cliques, and that they are at war with each other. The membership of these groups may shift a bit, and it doesn’t line up as pure GOP v Democratic Party. The pro-torture clique, for lack of a better name, still has the upper hand. Whether they have recruited Obama, or checkmated him, remains to be seen. In any case, they are still in the drivers seat, dictating policy. The ICRC release is an act of guerilla warfare by the other side.

    • BoxTurtle says:

      I think maybe this is GOOD. These tortures occured PRIOR to the asscover opinions being issued. Never mind the ICJ, this is actionable in the United States.

      Boxturtle (Assuming someone in ObamaCo cares enough to act)

      • Valtin says:

        Agreed. There are plenty of cases of administration-directed torture, prior to getting legal cover (not that that legal cover is really actionable anyway, IMHO). It starts with at least the initial invasion of Afghanistan, the torture of John Walker Lindh (and finding the American, they had to go to the White House for approval), to the Dec. 2001 plotting by DoD to reverse-engineer SERE torture training, to the murders of a number of prisoners (for which there never could be any legal cover).

        I think we all know that there’s a multitude of evidence out there with which to indict and later convict.

        It’s tiring arguing it should happen, waiting to see if it will happen, and just trying to stay a sane, moral person in a crazy insane world.

  2. behindthefall says:

    No mention made of interrogation accompanying these, well, what do we call them without either screeching or slipping into euphemisms?

    Was this torture for the sake of torture? (Isn’t that called sadism?)

    This doesn’t even have the justification that one might allow to the Inquisition, that it was done out of sincere belief. This recalls pulling the gold-filled teeth out of a living person’s mouth before sending him or her to the gas chamber.

    These people don’t know that there are Black Boxes on The Other Side, do they, places where a soul is confined for eternity, able to observe the outside but not to interact — ever again. Eternity is a long, long time, whoever you are. Was it worth it?

  3. earlofhuntingdon says:

    If the Red Cross report came out in 2007, its findings were available much sooner, meaning they were available to a wider audience than just those who committed these crimes. Its reports, like financial auditors’, go through multiple drafts – revised via negotiations as well as more analysis and the discovery of additional facts – and are meant as much to persuade errant regimes to mend their ways as to document their misdeeds for future lawful punishment.

    Mr. Obama’s continued inaction in the face of mounting publicly available evidence of the felonies committed by top officials in the prior administration would not seem to be covered by notions of prosecutorial discretion. It would make him an accessory after the fact.

    The story behind this leak, where it came from and why, will be almost as interesting as the tale itself. The Red Cross goes to considerable lengths to keep such things private, lest it lose its already modest leverage. The chore for DFH’s, like Sisyphus‘, is to keep pushing up hill.

  4. phred says:

    This is revolting. For a long time I have been focussed on holding the decision makers responsible. The Mr. disagrees, he wants the thugs who performed these atrocities in the dock pronto. I hope we get every last one of these inhumane monsters. top to bottom. America cannot and must not tolerate such horrific abuse of anyone. “Just following orders”, eh? Well ok then, that must make it right. I wonder where they would draw the line… as Mary often points out, not even children are safe… There is no excuse for this. None. at. all.

  5. acquarius74 says:

    They got no reliable information from Abu Zubaydah, his mind was fragmented by all this prolonged, ‘choreographed’ combination of methods of torture, and probably injected with mind control drugs while in the hospital area. These torture methods were/are beastial and the products of sick, twisted, perverted minds. They dreamed-up new wordology to hide from normal people the ugly truth of what they were ordering to be done to human beings, i.e., ‘choreographed’ as if it were some musical score!

    In the House Judiciary Committee hearings on torture, Ms. Marjorie Koch stated in her witness testimony that Kahlid Shaik Mohammed had been water-boarded 100 times in one week. She is president of the Lawyers’ Guild which is working to bring to justice the perpetrators of these atrocities.

    There is no difference between this torture and that conducted by the WWII Nazi’s, for which they were tried for war crimes. The fact is, our old OSS (Office of Special Services, renamed CIA) saved some of those Nazis from hanging and brought them to the US in order to learn their ’skills’. There is a video about one of the earlies OSS operatives who was involved in this program. (Frank Olson) Just google: video, Code Artichoke.

    Chaney was on CNN this morning still claiming it was justified and helped prevent further attacks. In my opinion, what he was really doing was bragging and thumbing his nose at decent people – – whatcha gonna do about it, huh???

    • LabDancer says:

      “[Zubaydah’s] mind was fragmented by all this prolonged, ‘choreographed’ combination of methods of torture”

      Oh, stop sugar-coating:

      According to Ron Suskind’s sources in his 1% Solution [one of whom would seem pretty obviously to have been the head of the FBI counter-terrorism unit credited with first picking up on the potential threat posed by al Qaeda & Osama bin Laden, Dan Foreman] when the US picked him up he was not just suffering from dreadful wounds from that operation, but for some years had been displaying all the signs of an acute multiple-personality disorder, attributed to having originated in injuries suffered in an incident when he was a teen-ager — for which his continued presence in al Qaeda was tolerated but due to which he was assigned largely nominal jobs if any.

      And all this was completely understood by us BEFORE he was fixed up to be submitted to this extended course of ‘experimentation’.

    • Nell says:

      small correction: that’s Marjorie Cohn.

      Which reminds me, since Prof. Cohn is one of the members of the committee that drafted the letter calling on Obama and Holder to appoint a special counsel to investigate for prosecution those responsible for the U.S. policy of torture, to join a commenter in the previous thread who recommended reading that committee’s preliminary memo, the basis for a formal legal complaint to be filed later this spring.

  6. freepatriot says:


    the previous statement is no longer operative

    that pretty much sums up the bush war criminal administation

    • Petrocelli says:

      ” … we do however pay others to do crazy f*ckin’ things, which have not been categorized thus far
      as torture by my legal (B)Eagles”

  7. Mary says:

    It does read horrifically, but it’s been pretty clear for a long time that human experimentation was a chapter in the manifesto. Remember, too, that the architects of the experimentation wanted to have the people put in those coffin boxes actually buried in them. Alive. And that Zubaydah was nuts the whole time all this was going on.

    Think about what you create, when you create people who torture for experimentation, then swing the bodies around by the neck to launch them headfirst into walls. And you create a cadre of spectators for that as well. People who are willing torturers, not just for a day, or a week, or a month, but for years. And not just willing to torture, but so immersed in it now that they happily make this country into nothing more than a sponsor of torture, all to justify their own roads to hell. I guess they’ll feel less lonely, dragging a whole nation with them on their descent.

  8. JohnLopresti says:

    It will be a while before I have time to read some of the specifics of the NYRoB article. The Fbi Ig report made clear Icrc was in the vicinity where documentation could develop. However, somewhat OT because the following link examines the due process point of view, I have been reading a Washington Coll article evidently slated for publication in 2008, covering some interesting ground to chronicle the flaws in DTA MCA and related jurisprudence in the DC court and at Scotus. I find the academic approach salubrious for its orientation toward grasping history and because it provides guidance for the thinkers who order process to perceive a way out of the bins of inhuman pursuits. Maybe some readers would see the article as a semantic exercise; the writer even accepts the possibility of employing that way of reading his historical analysis. Yet, I think this is the sort of leadership thru the literature, interpreting it in a forward referenced framework, which will provide government with the tools to make changes that will keep institutions from regressing in the next years of this administration as well as in subsequent administrations.

  9. selise says:

    Think about what you create, when you create people who torture for experimentation, then swing the bodies around by the neck to launch them headfirst into walls. And you create a cadre of spectators for that as well.

    don’t really want to, but darius rejali has.

  10. leveymg says:

    A lot of these techniques were used by the Chilean and Argentine juntas
    including the crouch boxes, beatings and being shackled in contorted positions for long periods.

    This was part of the CIA-sponsored Operation Condor that targeted leftists throughout Latin America during the 1970s and 1980s.

    This part isn’t exactly new.

    What was novel about the torture of Abu Zubaydah and the three other principal Al Qaeda detainess was not the methods but the apparent purpose: repeated waterboarding and “sensory driving” (Google “Dr. Ewing Cameron”) results in erosion of memory, not accurate recall of details. The techniques applied to this select group of 9/11 planners were not used to extract information or even to punish the detainees. The purpose was the same as the results – to erase and rearrange memory. See,

    Democratic Underground – Binyam Mohamed was one of five men linked …WHAT THE CIA DOESN’T WANT YOU TO KNOW ABOUT ABU ZUBAYDAH Posted by leveymg in General Discussion Mon Dec 10th 2007, 12:32 PM . …
    http://www.democraticundergrou…..esg… – 39k – Cached – Similar pages

    CIA Detainee Torture, Memory Loss, and the Bush Administration’s …ABU ZUBAYDAH: WATERBOARDING AND MEMORY ERASURE Abu Zubaydah was the first “high …. That is the worst form of memory erasure, of the electorate. leveymg …
    http://www.democraticundergrou…..15;2462592 – 101k – Cached – Similar pages
    More results from »
    leveymg’s Journal – THE CIA OFFICER WHO OVERSAW TORTURE: Cofer BlackAdvertise on more than 70 progressive blogs! leveymg’s Journal …. Abu Zubaydah is said to have been driven mad by waterboarding and sensory driving … – 58k – Cached – Similar pages
    “We tortured an insane man” | Salon NewsSep 7, 2006 … The author of “The One Percent Doctrine,” Ron Suskind, talks about what the U.S. really got out of Abu Zubaydah and why waterboarding … – Similar pages

    TPMmuckraker | Talking Points Memo | Today’s Must ReadDec 18, 2007 … Coleman said reports of Abu Zubaida’s statements during his early, … In addition to waterboarding, Zubaydah was subjected to sleep deprivation and bombarded … I have to agree with leveymg’s hypothesis in this case. …
    http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpoi…..004931.php – 46k – Cached – Similar pages

    TPMMuckraker | Talking Points Memo | Today’s Must ReadIn addition to waterboarding, Zubaydah was subjected to sleep deprivation and … I highly recommend DKos user leveymg’s recent series of diaries regarding …
    http::// – 110k – Cached – Similar pages

    Daily Kos: CIA Detainee Torture, Memory Loss, and the Bush …Dec 13, 2007 … ABU ZUBAYDAH: WATERBOARDING AND MEMORY ERASURE Abu Zubaydah was the ….. by leveymg on Thu Dec 13, 2007 at 12:50:38 PM PST. [ Parent ] ……..385/421664 – 41k – Cached – Similar pages

    Daily Kos: Torturers To Binyam: “We’re going to change your brain”Mar 10, 2009 … When we first learned the details of the repeated waterboarding torture of KSM, … Abt al-Nashiri, and Abu Zubaydah, my initial conclusion was that the … Recommended by: leveymg. The suppression of the report about ……..164/706653 – 81k – Cached – Similar pages
    More results from »
    Daily Kos: CIA Used

  11. Mary says:

    And they’ve known, since at least 2002, that their human purchases and experimenation were being carried out on kids, mentally disabled and people who just happened to be outsiders in a community where someone wanted the money from the sale. Or sometimes just against someone who had the “wrong” name or had the bad luck to have their name known by the “wrong” people. Or by someone else whose name was known by the wrong people. Or by someone who had the same neame as the “wrong” people.

    These are the reasons why no one wanted to give this government powers of attainder when it was formed, and why this government was specifically barred from trying to give itself such powers.

  12. phred says:

    where someone wanted the money from the sale

    IOW, the US got back in the business of slavery. In this case to have humans to experiment on to enhance their “interrogation techniques” to get “information” that could be used to prop up their illegal regime, rather than to keep commodity prices low. Sickening, no matter how you look at it.

  13. Mary says:

    23 – at least, that’s how I have looked at it for a long long time, and everytime more comes out, the more I feel that is the only legitimate way to look at it.

  14. Jkat says:

    all of this meets the classic definition of a “blivot”: ten pounds of shit in a five-pound bag ..

    what we require now is justice .. just simple justice .. wherein the law is enforced and the lawbreakers are punished ..

    it’s not “too much” to ask .. surely it’s not .. nor should it be too mcuh to “expect” ..

    gawd-dammit .. i am so sick-to-death of this collection of scofflaws and consiglieres and willing enablers ..and partisan supporters ..and in general the entire scheme of foot-dragging and lying and covering up ..and outright refusal to own up and DO something fucking about it ..

    it’s disgraceful .. it’s humiliating ..and it’s unbecoming of the united states of by-gawd america..

    sheesh .. just simple justice is all i’m asking .. a righting of the wrongs and the perps held accountable .. and that it cease and desist ..

    it’s just such an odious pus-filled oozing open wound on the soi disant sacred honor of our nation .. and we seem so powerless to do one damn simple thing to influence the granting of the most basic things .. truth .. justice .. honor .. integrity .. lawfulness .. stuff i would have never dreampt our nation would ever experience a single problem in dispensing ..

    and instead … shit ..[haawkk…spit !!].. look where we still are .. mired in bullshit .. cloaked in duplicity …estopped by the declaration of “state secrets” invoked to conceal criminal acts [which is in itself estopped from any such use ]

    but here we are .. neck deep in john yoo-poo

  15. WilliamOckham says:

    A few observations about this.

    KSM mentions that his interrogators, at one point, where three men that he describes as being over 65 years old, but very strong and tough. I find this very significant. These guys were retired and, therefore, most likely contractors. More importantly, it means they learned their ‘craft’ back in the late sixties. This is one more link back to the days when the CIA was trying to emulate and improve on the mind control techniques used on Korean and Viet Nam POWs. This effort was all about getting these prisoners to tell the stories the government wanted to hear. Contra the comment above the intention isn’t to damage memory recall (that’s a side effect, but there much easier ways to accomplish that), this is about creating a total dependence that allows the prisoner to be manipulated. The Bush/Cheney regime got exactly what they wanted out these guys; bogus threats against domestic targets, faked intelligence linking Iraq to WMD (although they outsourced that mostly to the Egyptians), and a portrait of al Qaeda as a sophisticated global organization.

    The leak of this report is one more manuever in the bureaucratic warfare between two factions inside our government. I’m not talking about the two party system. I’m talking about members of the permanent government. One faction is addicted to tyranny and its handiwork, that is, torture, fear, secrecy, endless war, and invasion of privacy. The other believes in the rule of law, democracy, and open government. The day is coming when we’re going to have to choose which side will be purged. No President is ever going to want to have to do this. We’ll have to force Congress to act. The half-measures we tried in the early seventies did work. The Iran-Contra investigation was largely a failure. These people and their protectors in the political class have escaped each time. This time is different because Cheney did his best to enshrine his view of a constitutional dictatorship openly in the law. He lost some battles, but he can still win most of what he wanted if we fail to clean up this mess.

    • Nell says:

      his interrogators, at one point, [were] three men that he describes as being over 65 years old, but very strong and tough.

      That struck me when I read the article, too, WO, but it just puzzled me. I think you made the right connection: retired, therefore contractors.

    • Loo Hoo. says:

      Yes, WØ. I’m so angry today after reading this and about the bonuses paid to AIG crooks, I’m ready to explode.

      Something has got to be done, and Leahy and Whitehouse can’t do it alone. It will require the Justice Dept…

    • klynn says:

      I agree with your conclusions but add that there is a third element in the “two permanent sides” of government, a foreign element. Moles are helping feed the addicted-to-fear side of permanent government and we seem to be failing to ferret such moles out. In some cases, it appears there could be powers who are clearly aware of such moles and like how the moles feed their agenda; therefore, they have no strategic reason to remove them. And I think the “other side” gets thwarted on each attempt to expose the “within the gate” reality. Additionally, I think there could also be a fourth mole element representing the largest corporate agendas that benefit from the addiction to fear.

      • WilliamOckham says:

        This is a transnational fight between evil and not-evil. I don’t make any distinction between the corporate interests and those in government. I doubt even they can. This battle plays out in intelligence agencies, military establishments, bars, back alleys, and board rooms every day. It can be awfully hard to tell who’s on which side.

        • klynn says:

          I agree.

          My concern is that there is the desire to pull this into the daylight while others want it to stay in the shadows of the flow of power. As some start pulling this into the daylight, I think they fear the public response and “that” response to the treason and multi-tyranny would probably be war before it would be a self-controlled response of walking this through the lens of justice.

          It’s that tragic baseline threat (I think) that keeps good people from bringing this into the light, much like the concern of cornering a wild animal that needs to be removed from the premises.

  16. Jkat says:

    exactly mr. ockham ..which is how we wound up with the specific regimen of “enhanced interrogation techniques” being modeled off the chicom’s system used on our own POW’s in chicom custody in the korean war .. a system which was never intended to elicit “the truth” in any event .. but was intended to break down and demoralize the victim .. a system which was intended to elicit false confessions of “germ warfare” .. or whatever the overlords of brainwashing deigned to “obtain” …

    disgusting .. isn’t it .. in the immortal words of pogo: “we has met the enemy and he is us… ”

    i’m really far beyond the point of “pissed off” these atrocities have been perpetuated “in my name” .. and even more insulted that those who have insisted on these actions justify them on the premise that they were necessary to “protect me” ..

    had i been consulted i would have told them “death before dishonor” isn’t just a string of random words signifying nothing ..

    the only time principles are worth anything is when they come at great risk and high personal cost .. principles which are abandonded at the fist hustings of potential danger .. can’t truly be said to have ever been princliples in the first place ..

    imo ..we are not a nation of quivering frightened rabbits cowering in our warrens fearful of our own shadows .. resigned to our horrible deaths at the hands of our enemies if our gub’mint doesn’t exceed all standards of reasonable behavior and willfully and deliberately violate or invalidate all the most inportant laws of the land land to “protect us” and insulate us from all the inherent risks living in a free and open society entails ..

    i didn’t sign on for that ..and they have no right to force it upon me .. nor change all the rules to fit their condition of cowardice internalized ..

    imo .. no good end can be had when a brave people are encouraged to be fearful of perpetual threat of instant and horrible death …while being led by cowardly men making pretenses of fortitude and righteousness ..

    [hawwkkk!!! spit] the bastards make me ill …

  17. radiofreewill says:

    The Danner NYRB article, which excerpts the ICRC Report, imvho, is a definitive moral knockout punch on Bush for Torture. Neither Bush, nor his Party, will be getting off the canvas from that one – it’s all over but the counting…

  18. Valtin says:

    RE who might have leaked the report… from the Washington Post article just out:

    At least five copies of the report were shared with the CIA and top White House officials in 2007 but barred from public release by ICRC guidelines intended to preserve the humanitarian group’s strict policy of neutrality in conflicts. A copy of the report was obtained by Mark Danner, a journalism professor and author who published extensive excerpts in the April 9 edition of the New York Review of Books, released yesterday. He did not say how he obtained the report.

  19. tbau says:

    this gets more and more disturbing. what do you call someone who shields war criminals from prosecution?

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