Alberto Gonzales’s nomination as attorney general by President George W. Bush makes official what has long been hidden and/or denied: The United States, contrary to her public professions and signed treaties, endorses and uses torture.
At one point during Gonzales’s January 6 hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy asked about recently released reports from FBI agents (obtained through a Freedom of Information suit by the American Civil Liberties Union) who claimed that naked detainees were bound hand-to-foot, in a fetal position, and forced to lie in their own urine and feces for periods as long as 24 hours.
“I found those e-mails to be shocking and deeply troubling,” Gonzales responded. “I do not think it would be appropriate for me to address reports of interrogation practices discussed in the press and attempt to analyze whether such reported practices are lawful.”
Among the torture techniques applied to unknown numbers of individuals rounded up and imprisoned by U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq were such practices as hooding for prolonged periods; forced nudity; sexual humiliation; sexual torture; sodomy with flashlights, police sticks, light bulbs, and other items; electric shocking; sleep deprivation; exposure to loud, blaring rap music; use of guard dogs to terrorize; prostitutes menstruating on naked, chained prisoners; forcing Muslims to eat pork, and blaspheming Islam.
One prisoner at Abu Ghraib recounted, “They stripped me naked, they asked me, ‘Do you pray to Allah?’ I said, ‘Yes.’ They said ‘F–k you’ and ‘F–k him.’ . . . Someone else asked me, ‘Do you believe in anything?’ I said to him, ‘I believe in Allah.’ So he said, ‘But I believe in torture and I will torture you.’”
As Andrew Sullivan wrote in his review of two new books on the torture scandal (“Atrocities in Plain Sight,” New York Times, January 13) Gonzales argued that “the president’s warmaking powers gave him ultimate constitutional authority to ignore any relevant laws in the conduct of the conflict. Sticking to the Geneva Convention was the exclusive prerogative of one man, George W. Bush; and he could, if he wished, make exceptions. . . . Assistant Attorney General Jay S. Bybee . . . asserted that the president was within his legal rights to permit his military surrogates to inflict ‘cruel, inhuman or degrading’ treatment on prisoners without violating strictures against torture. For an act of abuse to be considered torture, the abuser must be inflicting pain ‘of such a high level of intensity that the pain is difficult for the subject to endure.’ If the abuser is doing this to get information and not merely for sadistic enjoyment, then ‘even if the defendant knows that severe pain will result from his actions,’ he’s not guilty of torture.”
While many Americans said they were shocked by the revelations that the United States has a torture policy, many Latin Americans said they were not, as Scotland’s Daily Herald reporter Andrew McLeod noted. “[T]he infamous pictures of abuse at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison,” he wrote, “brought back not only chilling recollections of their own experiences, but also confirmed what they have long maintained: that their torturers were following interrogation guidelines set by the US Army School of the Americas.”
CIA involvement in researching the effects of torture on humans goes back to the end of World War II, and one of the most significant researchers was American Ewen Cameron, who, funded by both the CIA and the Rockefeller Foundation, experimented on thousands of Catholic “orphans” at McGill University’s Allan Institute.
This subject is little known in the United States today, even though it was discussed in the U.S. Senate’s Church Committee Report in 1976; was the subject of a CBC Television miniseries, “The Sleep Room,” in 1998; and resulted in a highly publicized (in Canada) lawsuit by Canadian victims against the CIA, which the victims won. These CIA experiments—on children, even infants—included sexual abuse and humiliation, sleep deprivation, drug injections, and the use of loud music and bright lights.
Torture is very effective in dealing with “terrorists,” as any American pro-lifer could explain from experiences in the early 1990’s.
During the Clinton administration, pro-life men and women, as well as minor girls, were routinely beaten, sexually humiliated (in a famous Pittsburgh case, pro-life women had their shirts pulled over their heads while they were led to their cells), their wrists broken by nunchuks; pro-lifers were routinely subject to painful paralyzing grips to the neck and other parts of the body.
The widespread use of such tactics, and their acceptance by American courts, the mediarchy, and public opinion, did more to quash effective pro-life opposition to the culture of death than anything else.
The appointment of Alberto Gonzales as attorney general of the United States confirms the effectiveness of torture in subduing any population that dares resist the plans of the rulers of the cosmos.