Saturday, April 18, 2009

American Technicians of Pain

'Nobody had ever spoken to them like this before. It was all very clear; but at the same time they were stunned. Torture, in the hands of the police officers, had always been a confused affair of kicks, punches, angry swearing, insults that led to more violence, flying fists and a brawl in which none of them knew for certain where it might end.

They flung themselves into it blindly, passionately and even when the desired result was achieved, it left everyone exhausted, covered in blood. Sometimes, in the brutality of the attack, the prisoner died on them, so thwarting the whole object as he took with him the knowledge that they wanted.

They had always gone about it in this chaotic, disorganized manner until now; but here is the AID adviser to help them improve their techniques and their mental preparation...a way not to waste their hatred, no display of emotion. No fear, no arrogance. Method and more method...

El Infiero by Carlos Martinez Moreno (1981)


  1. The rise and fall of Uraguay's Tuparmaro urban guerillas by their exiled lawyer

    Documents such a this suggest why it is so diffucult to get any prosecution against top-level perpetrators like Rumsfeld and Cheney. The authorization of torture goes back decades and its practices are viewed as "progressive", "advanced" and "civilized", part of our training missions to foreign allies. Who in the government is interested in opening up Pandora's box?

    Note as well that those prosecutions that have occurred are against low-level figures who exceeded 'rational' restraints of the method, practicing humiliation and torture gratuitously or killing their victims.

    It should be noted, however, that "the modern method" is nothing new. The executioner in "The Last Witch Of Langenburg" was also the official torturer and always conducted his intorogations dispassionately with carefully calibrated methods to extract the maximum amount of useful information without totally incapacitating the victim.

    In "Eight O'Clock Ferry To The Windward Side; Seeking Justice In Guantanomo Bay" Clive Stafford Smith ( Lawyer for 50 prisoners in Guantanomo) wrote the following:

    "The ticking time bomb hypothetical- the most compelling argument in favor of torture has been rolled out by every torture apologist I had encountered. Mike Baker denied that such an event ever took place during his time with the CIA. Inded with each person I interviewed- prof. Levin, prof Dershowitz, Richard Perle- I gave them 500 years to come up with an example. Nobody could identify one instance when a catastrophic bomb had been defused by torture. It is this ticking time bomb that is used to justify the nightmare of torture."

  2. "The twelfth major U.S. investigation into Guantanamo Bay found that forcing an inmate to behave like a dog was not inhumane. Abdul Rahim Muslim Dost, who returned to Pakistan after three years in Guantanamo Bay, said that writing poetry kept him sane while imprisoned. "They may have weapons and missiles," he wrote, "but we can find no sign of manhood in this army."

    Harper's Weekly July 19,2005.