Monday, April 27, 2009

Hitchens Hits the CIA & Torture on the Head

Chris Hitchens, erstwhile leftist apostate, has been increasingly writing sensible articles as of late, perhaps having milked his "all-pro-war-in-Iraq, all the time" angle or finally seen the insane folly of supporting anyone like GW Bush to do anything consistent with reason or other higher calls not directly beamed into his head by the voice of "God" (who may or may not actually be just a team of mischevious kid geniuses transmitting directly into Bush's head -- "This is Jesus, W... and you've been a very naughty boy."). Though he is now a fellow at the conservative Hoover Institute, that doesn't negate the fact that he says in this article what a lot of commentators have avoided, or at least, synthesizes the elements of the US torture regime that have been left at loose ends by the US media at large and creates a potent indictment of the CIA.

Surely the most flabbergasting single disclosure in the recently released interrogation memos is the revelation that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, captured on March 1, 2003, was put to the water-board 183 times that month, or about six times a day. This can really only mean two things: that the method is very crude and inexact and/or that his interrogators were in a state of panic and under insane pressure to produce results. ...The memorandum rather silkily argues that "before the CIA used enhanced techniques," KSM was resisting "giving any answers to questions about future attacks," but if he was apprehended on March 1, 2003, and then "dunked" 183 times in the next 31 days, it suggests in the dry words of Scott Shane in the New York Times that "interrogators did not try a traditional, rapport-building approach for long."

Here is a seldom-mentioned reason why the CIA might go crazy in this way, to the point where even the FBI and other agencies were cripplingly (for us) reluctant to cooperate with it. On 9/11, according to Bob Woodward, George Tenet audibly hoped that the suicide-murderers of al-Qaida were not connected to the shady-looking pupils at those flight schools in the Midwest. The schools, that is to say, about which only the CIA knew! In other words, and not for the first time, the CIA (which disbelieved the evidence of Saddam's plan to attack Kuwait in 1990 and continually excused him as a "secularist") had left us defenseless and ignorant. Unprofessional and hysterical methods of interrogation, therefore, were unleashed in part to overcompensate for—and to cover up—a general lack of professionalism at every level of the agency from the top down. The case for closing and padlocking Langley and starting all over again with an attempt at a serious national intelligence body becomes more persuasive by the day.

A couple of degrees over on the "intelligence" spectrum, CIA Director Gen. Michael V. Hayden has deplored the release of the memorandums on the grounds that they inform our enemies of how far we are prepared to go. In what conceivable world has the general been living? The techniques of water-boarding were borrowed by us from our previous enemies in Japan and China and Korea and "taught" under the pretext of training people to withstand them...

Potent words, and a potent point: the CIA threw itself (one can barely resist adding the adverb "gleefully") into torture to distract attention from the fact that the failures leading the 9/11 were not due to a lack of authority, aggressiveness, or other "inorganic" barriers, but rather due to questionable competence on the part of the CIA and FBI themselves. What's more, the techniques used were borrowed from countries we ourselves have and had accused of torture for some of the same very practices, and while some in Congress and elsewhere have argued that it can't be torture because we subjected our own troops to it, that doesn't make very much sense assuming THE TRAINING WAS IN HOW TO RESIST TORTURE. That is, you can't claim it's not torture because we did it to ourselves if the reason we did it to ourselves was to expose our soldiers to torture-type techniques such that they could learn to resist it. To think otherwise just makes NO sense.

Anyway, it's work time for bonzo, way past actually, so ttfn...

1 comment:

Trail Blazer said...

Isn't there a video on YouTube of Hitchens undergoing waterboarding? He lasted about 3 seconds.

I will give it to him. At least he had the balls to try it before he went off on a rant about how inappropriate it is. To me, that gives him the right to speak.

Let's see GWB or Cheney volunteering to undergo torture "simulations".