Thursday January 30, 2020
With all the media excitement focused on the impeachment of President Donald Trump, it comes as no surprise that some recent additional insights into how the United States became a torture regime have been largely ignored. It has been known for years that the George W. Bush Administration carried out what most of the world considers to be torture. Acting as if it really cared about illegal activity, the White House back at that time found two malleable Justice Department lawyers John Yoo and Jay Busby who would be willing to come up with a defense of torture. They discovered somewhere in their law books that it was possible to do anything to a suspect as long as it did not bring about organ failure. That became the bottom line for interrogations, though in practice some prisoners died anyway, which might be considered the ultimate organ failure. The only one who was subsequently punished over the illegal torture program was former CIA employee John Kiriakou, who blew the whistle on it.
Last week there was a hearing at a Guantanamo Bay courtroom in which one of the psychologists who devised the Central Intelligence Agency torture regime testified under oath. Psychologist James Mitchell was testifying in what was a preliminary hearing relating to the eventual trial of five alleged 9/11 conspirators He discussed how he and his business partner Dr. Bruce Jessup together developed the Agency’s torture program, which internal government documents described by employing the euphemism “enhanced interrogation techniques.” They were paid $81 million for their work and were able to produce a training manual that included waterboarding, stress positions and mock burials to physically and mentally destroy the target’s ability to resist. Both Mitchell and Jessup have asserted that their procedures were more designed to make a suspect uncomfortable rather than in pain and they blame interrogators who went too far for the physical and mental permanent damage that resulted.