World Affairs Brief, July 4, 2008. Commentary and Insights on a Troubled World.
Copyright Joel Skousen. Partial quotations with attribution permitted. Cite source as Joel Skousen’s World Affairs Brief
US SPREADING TORTURE DOCTRINES AND TECHNIQUES
Sadly it is no time to celebrate liberty in America, except as an important historical footnote. Patriotic fervor is only displayed in mindless and expensive fireworks extravaganzas mixed with country and rock concerts. Predictably, they all focus on supporting the troops in Iraq. The general public knows little about what is really happening to our nation and most are ignorant of what made this country both free and great–strict constitutional limitations on government power. Having dismantled those restrictions over the last 200 years our government is now becoming the Evil Empire of the world as it spreads violence abroad in the name of intervention and occupation. At home, essential civil liberties of privacy and freedom from warrantless search and seizure are under assault by those who have falsely sworn an oath to uphold these constitutional guarantees. The dark side of government is engaged in torturing prisoners and spreading their sophisticated versions of that evil to eager tyrants in other lands. This week the news broke that the Mexican public is in an uproar over videos showing Mexican police practicing torture techniques on fellow officers in preparation for use on the public—under the watchful eye of an American advisor. Leon city Police Chief Carlos Tornero told the AP that “the English-speaking man in the videos is a contractor from a private US security firm.”July 4, 2008 Once again, we see the increasing role of US mercenaries helping our own government spread torture while maintaining “plausible deniability.”
This week the NY Times broke the story that “…military trainers who came to Guantánamo Bay in December 2002 based an entire interrogation class on a chart showing the effects of ‘coercive management techniques’ for possible use on prisoners, including ‘sleep deprivation,’ ‘prolonged constraint,’ and ‘exposure.’ What the trainers did not say, and may not have known, was that their chart had been copied verbatim from a 1957 Air Force study of Chinese Communist techniques used during the Korean War to obtain confessions, many of them false, from American prisoners [“Communist Attempts to Elicit False Confessions From Air Force Prisoners of War” by Alfred D. Biderman, a sociologist then working for the Air Force]. The recycled chart is the latest and most vivid evidence of the way Communist interrogation methods that the United States long described as torture became the basis for interrogations both by the military at the base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and by the Central Intelligence Agency.”
What was missing in the briefings was the fact that these types of torture routinely cause prisoners to confess to crimes they did not commit. In the Biderman series of interviews he determined that “some of whom had been filmed by their Chinese interrogators confessed to germ warfare and other atrocities” -which never happened. After years of decrying torture in the Russian Gulags or Chinese Laogai, our government is now studying their techniques and learning from them. How could we have stooped so far? Can an actual American Gulag be not far behind?
SCALIA’S FLAWED DISSENT ON GUANTANAMO DETAINEES
Marjorie Cohn, of Truthout.org decided to research Supreme Court Justice Scalia’s dramatic claim that “At least 30 of those prisoners hitherto released from Guantanamo have returned to the battlefield.” When I initially read his claim I thought, How would he know this? It would be no small task to tract down the private lives of former detainees in foreign lands. This sounds like the kind of statistic some government spook would create. Scalia used those numbers to justify his dissent from the majority of the court in the Boumediene v. Bush case which struck down the administration’s denial of habeas corpus for detainees.
Cohn found out that Scalia’s statement was false. “According to a new report by Seton Hall Law Center for Policy and Research, ‘The statistic was endorsed by a Senate Minority Report issued June 26, 2007, which cites a media outlet, CNN. CNN, in turn, named the Department of Defense as its source. The ’30’ number, however, was corrected in a DoD press release issued in July 2007, and a DoD document submitted to the House Foreign Relations Committee on May 20, 2008, abandons the claim entirely.’ The largest possible number of detainees who could have returned to the fight is 12; however, the Department of Defense has no system for tracking the whereabouts of released detainees. The only one who has undisputedly taken up arms against the United States or its allies, ‘ISN 220,’ was released by political officers of the DoD against the recommendations of military officers.”
McClatchy News spent 8 months tracking down and interviewing 66 former prisoners of various US detention facilities after 9/11. Based on those interviews the investigation found that “the US imprisoned innocent men, subjected them to abuse, stripped them of their legal rights.” Most were broken men who had no faith in American justice. Who could blame them?