cw: discussions of torture

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The American institution.

When the CIA was born in 1947, it promoted torture in its first theaters, one of which was Greece. There, the agency created a Greek CIA equivalent called the KYP, which used torture to curb leftist support. After the 1953 CIA-backed coup in Iran, the United States created a secret police force for the Shah called SAVAK, which routinely tortured Iranians. Likewise, the United States sent infiltration agents from Munich into the U.S.S.R. to engage in sabotage. When the operation was infiltrated by double agents, suspects were routinely tortured. In Brazil, after the CIA overthrew leftist President João Goulart in 1964, suspected leftists were rounded up, death squads were formed, and suspects were tortured and killed on the U.S. taxpayer’s dime. In Uruguay, counterintelligence agent Philip Agee learned that one of his penetration agents in the police force was torturing a prisoner whose name Agee had inadvertently provided. The screams haunted him.

During the hunt for Ernesto “Che” Guevara in Bolivia, the CIA sent in Cuban exile-agents who tortured suspected leftist collaborators. Under Reagan, at least two Americans tortured General Ahmed Dlimi before he was killed in Morocco in 1983. In Nicaragua, the Contras routinely engaged in the torture of suspected leftists. “Rose had her breasts cut off,” went one retelling. “Then they cut into her chest and took out her heart.” In El Salvador in 1982, U.S. military advisers watched as their trainees tortured random prisoners who had been dragged from their beds in the middle of the night—and warned the trainees that having any pity was counterproductive. In 1992, Guatemala’s U.S.-trained counterinsurgents captured, tortured and murdered the leftist guerrilla Efrain Bámaca Velásquez. This became an international incident when his wife, the American lawyer Jennifer Harbury, petitioned the CIA with hunger strikes. And then, in November 2001, Libyan national Ibn Shaykh al-Libi was apprehended in Afghanistan and tortured in Egypt. Under duress, al-Libi told his torturers that Saddam Hussein was training Al Qaeda terrorists in the use of chemical weapons. This turned out not to be true. The toll? One million or so dead.

Joel Whitney on American methods.

What this article is actually about is the CIA’s long-running program of, effectively, vetting all films coming out of Hollywood. It’s specifically about The Report which, despite its on-the-nose tie-in merchandise, seems like exactly the kind of boring talking heads political thriller I would love…

Incidentally, for those of you who missed the actual findings from the Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Detention and Interrogation Program, a.k.a. the “torture report”, it was that torture does not work. Like. At all.

2020-01-11T10:59:15+11:0026th April, 2020|Tags: cw: discussions of torture, film, politics, pop culture, usa|

American torture.

Firsthand testimony from individuals who have endured torture at US hands. Content warning for descriptions of waterboarding, stress positions, public humiliation, psychological brutality, and similar.

This is also as good a time as any to remind everyone all evidence, including that accepted by the US Senate Intelligence Committee, consistently shows the value of torture as an intelligence gathering tool is, at best, “exaggerated” and, at worst, counterproductive (as people invent any answer they can to make the torture stop).

The real kicker, of course, is that there is an interrogation strategy that seems to consistently work on even the most “high value” detainees. You know what it is?


No, really. Keeping targets of interrogation in comfortable surroundings, offering them food (i.e. hospitality), and adopting a friendly or neutral attitude during questioning are all far more likely to reveal good intelligence outcomes than cruelty. The fact that it’s not done more widely says more about our own dark and punitive urges than it does about the effectiveness of torture. Which, yanno. Is kinda depressing on a lot of levels, really.

2018-07-23T15:32:00+10:0010th November, 2016|Tags: culture, cw: discussions of torture|
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