Torture and abuse: A pattern and practice of the U.S. military
May 4, 2004
The official word from the Bush administration is that the torture and sexual abuse of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. troops in Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison is not “systematic,” according to General Richard Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. This type of torture of indigenous and Third World people, however, is well-documented as a pattern and practice of the U.S. military and the CIA.
In January 1997, the Baltimore Sun exposed a 1983 CIA torture manual that was used to instruct five Latin American nations' security forces. The infamous disclaimer in the torture manual read: “While we do not stress the use of coercive techniques, we want to make you aware of them and the proper way to use them.” A 1996 U.S. government investigation into the U.S. Army School of the Americas in Ft. Benning, Georgia resulted in the release of no less than seven training manuals used at the school “which taught murder, torture, and extortion” as a means of repressing so-called “subversives,” according to a Congressional report. (www.fas.org/irp/congress/1997_rpt/soaexec.htm) In addition to the seven training manuals, add the 1983 Honduran Interrogation Manual and the 1984 Contra Manual as evidence of the U.S. military industrial complex’s long-standing practice of torture.
Recall the comments of former CIA Station Chief and National Security Council Coordinator John Stockwell about the CIA Contra Manual and actions promoted by the U.S. military in Nicaragua: “They go into villages. They haul out families. With the children forced to watch, they castrate the father. They peel the skin off his face. They put a grenade in his mouth, and pull the pin. With the children forced to watch, they gang-rape the mother, and slash her breasts off. And sometimes, for variety they make the parents watch while they do these things to the children.” (www.serendipity.li/cia/stock1.html)
In his lecture, “The Secret Wars of the CIA,” Stockwell outlined in detail the use of sexual humiliation from his own investigation. “She told about being tortured one day: She’s on this table, naked in a room full of six men and they’re doing these incredibly painful, degrading things to her body. There’s an interruption. The American is called to the telephone, and he’s in the next room, and the others take a smoke break. She’s lying on this table, and he’s saying: ‘Oh, hi Honey. Yes, I can wrap it up here in another hour or so, and meet you and the kids at the Ambassador’s on the way home.’”
The recent Iraqi allegations of sexual humiliation, forcing simulated sex, forcing detainees to “publicly masturbate” and at least one charge of an interrogator raping a male prisoner, according to the Guardian U.K., simply are a continuation of condoned U.S. military/CIA practices. (www.truthout.org/docs_04/050104A.shtml)
By now much of the world has seen images of a hooded Iraqi prisoner with electrical wires attached to his body. This is another long-standing practice of U.S. military and CIA interrogators. The Baltimore Sun also uncovered a 1963 manual called “KUBARK Counterintelligence Interrogation” containing references to the use of “electric shock.” (www.thirdworldtraveler.com/SOA/SOA_TortureManuals.html) CIA spokesperson Mark Mansfield told the Sun in 1997 that the agency was now opposed to the use of such torture tactics. (www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/40/049.html)
The discovery of the KUBARK document did little to prompt a full-scale investigation into U.S. military/CIA techniques, and if they were promoted throughout the world.
Stockwell and others have tried to remind America of the use of electronic torture by Dan Mitrione, the notorious U.S. “policy advisor” killed in 1970 in Uruguay. Stockwell claims that Mitrone perfected the use of an ultra-thin highly conductive wire that could be hooked to hand-cranked field phones and inserted as a catheter to shock subversives. A.J. Langguth wrote about this in a July 11, 1979 New York Times article entitled “Torture’s Teachers.”
Langguth notes in his article that “… the C.I.A. sent an operative to teach interrogation methods to SAVAK, the Shah’s secret police, [and] that the training included instructions in torture, and the techniques were copied from the Nazis.”
The only new trend in pattern and practice of U.S. military/CIA torture interrogation is the strong push to privatization, in line with President Bush’s ideology. The Guardian U.K. reports that both CACI International Inc. and Titan Corporations were names involved in the Abu Ghraib prison operation.
CACI’s website offers the following insight on the for-profit organization. Its goal is to “Help America’s intelligence community collect, analyze, and share global information in the war on terrorism.” The late CIA Director William Casey’s dream was the complete privatization of covert, and usually illegal, operations. In part, this privatization was used during the Iran-Contra affair through the likes of Richard Secord’s Enterprise. By privatizing, they seek to subvert the Geneva Conventions on war and other universal standards of human rights.
The torture and sexual humiliation of Iraqi prisoners is merely another sad and well-documented chapter of a pompous nation using virtuous rhetoric while perpetuating obvious evils. The fact that the U.S. military, with for-profit contractors, is torturing Iraqis in Saddam’s former prisons while claiming to bring American, and Bush’s, values to the war devastated nation is an irony not lost on the world.
The Bush administration is committed to systematically destroying the Iraqis in order to liberate them. The United Nations must demand that the people of the United States form a Truth Commission to look deeply and honestly into the practices of its bloated military and security industrial complexes. The truth may yet set Americans free.
Bob Fitrakis is a professor of political science, senior editor of the Free Press (http://freepress.org), and co-author of George W. Bush vs. the SuperPower of Peace.
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