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The Shame of a Civilisation:The CIA's "new tricks" in the War on Terror

The new report on the CIA (released overnight) seems tame enough. Nothing major, at least, when compared to the tales of Abu Graib and Guantanamo. Blocking a bloke's carotid artery till he's about to pass out seems a bit rough ("extreme waterboarding"?) but the CIA dirty tricks revealed by the American Department of Justice overnight are mostly justice mind games. Pretending to execute someone in the next room, threatening to bring in Mum and the kids, waving electric drills around. All in all it's the kind of games you'd expect them to be playing in Langley, the town of poker-faces.

And a lot of this stuff, you gather from accounts of the portion of the report that's been declassified, was only carried out on Kalid Sheikh Mohammed . Remember him? KSM was brought out of a CIA ghost camp and into Guantanamo just before David Hicks' trial, Along with the new tricks, the CIA had reportedly waterboarded KSM a total of 183 times before dumping him into the Halliburton-built prison, and into the tender care of Guantanamo architect Dick Cheney, weeks before Cheney brokered Hicks release (after treatment including a reported 265 days of total sensory deprivation) into the care of the South Australian Government.

If you follow the Cheney-esque line of reasoning, then the treatment that these people have endured is vindicated by the saving of human life that would otherwise have died. That doesn't, thank whatever you like to thank, seem to apply to the Obama administration. Hours before the release of the CIA info, the US Attorney General, in an echo of Obama policy, put a letter up on the Department of Justice home page explaining how he didn't want to convict people who believe they were acting with a prescribed US legal framework. From his words, it sounds like anything he does will only be a token gesture:

"I share the President’s conviction that as a nation, we must, to the extent possible, look forward and not backward when it comes to issues such as these. While this Department will follow its obligation to take this preliminary step to examine possible violations of law, we will not allow our important work of keeping the American people safe to be sidetracked."

Here's how the Guardian reports the CIA carrying out its "important work":

Interrogators, questioning al-Qaida and other suspects at Guantánamo and secret prisons round the world, took a power drill and a handgun into the interrogation room, and also staged a mock execution in a cell next door.

The CIA document, which the agency fought for years to prevent publication of, says that the Saudi suspected of being the leader of the attack on the US Navy warship USS Cole in Yemen, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, was told that if he did not talk, "we could get your mother in here. We can bring your family in here".

It added that the debriefer wanted Nashiri to infer that the "interrogation technique involves sexually abusing female relatives in front of the detainee".

You have to wonder, looking through all of this, how it all might relate to claims of U.S torture of Australians. Surely if local political pressure can help coerce Dick Cheney into releasing Hicks into South Australian custody, an appeal from those concerned that our own nationals might have been subjected to such gross violations of their rights might, just might, influence Obama to expedite the answers to questions the Rudd Government won't ask? If the U.S. is going to be able to atone for its sins, then is it just for Australia to not be allowed a similar opportunity?

Australia's retiring Police Commisssioner believed that Mamdou Habib was inventing torture claims at a time when, in the country where Habib was incarcerated, the UN believes Australian intelligence officers were visiting detainees in the places where they were being tortured. That report was lodged in February, resulting in no more Australian Government response than rebuttal of a need for inquiry.

You'd like to think that the new CIA disclosures might make the Australian Government take a more forthright stance towards participation in such activities at both the giving and receiving ends. If Australia continues its silence, it could appear to have lost control of its ethical conscience.

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Civilised--lets hurry then...

Marilyn, 'the natives' were very much like our own; saving they did not have the same near genocidal problems with infant mortality, and substance abuse.

The American 'savages'--like Australian aborigines--did not live peacefully amongst themselves--and so work chattels of captives is often portrayed as other than true.

Where we should follow the US is by recognising that individuals do have rights--and until recently Nuremberg was an ideal understanding of that very basic human need.

Your premise that we divorce ourselves from sensibilities is basically the same as the morality that thinks we the west are replete--and all we need do do is practice righteous actions.

Eastern societies were higher in complexity and far more successful in maintaining peace for thousands of years prior to the  western psyche and its insanity--and so it seems these persons shall probably outlast those without the skill set of non destructive outcomes.

Déjà vu

Just finished a post on that other redoubt of Western populist ( mustn't say redneck!) conservatism; Queensland and lo and behold, find a new police state thread up.

Obama is playing to the home crowd. He got in when the Cheneyites were on the nose, but now must lubricate the thick, alarmed prairie dog-like "crackers", to get his health (a little better for Americans and the world can pay for it!) legislation up. So there for he apparently gives way on national security and human rights, to keep himself from alienating the heartland, further.

Sort of Indian trading and let's the plebs think they are still in control, but which is very important, although for subtly different reasons, for illiterate control freaks and sleek Washington and New York insiders alike.

The real but tacit deal signals to all, that the recession will not worsen if the government retains the apparatus ( of which surveilance and torture are an integral part ) of international control of global resources.

It fits, as the herd will eventually understand, too.

Oddly Howardesque, for a so-called progressive!

What civilization?

Name one phase of US history that they have been in any way civilised since white theft of the land and massacre of the natives.

Go on, I dare you to find one.  Was it during the years of slavery, the frontier wars, the civil rights movement, Vietnam and eighty or so other interventions in other nations?

Just on the weekend Calley sort of apologised for the murder of 500 civilians for which he spent 3.5 years in easy brig and claimed still that he was only following orders.

The US civilised? Pull the other one.

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