“… regardless which [disposition] option we follow however, and especially in light of the planned psychological pressure techniques to be implemented, we need to get reasonable assurances that [Abu Zubaydah] will remain in isolation and incommunicado for the remainder of his life.”
Nothing says we know just how immoral, unethical, and down right wrong our actions are as the above statement. Abu Zubaydah is one of at least 119 known victims of the CIA rendition, detention, and interrogation (RDI) program. Suspecting someone of any criminal act does not preclude justice from being served in a just, ethical and moral manner; in fact, to act in any other regard nulls and voids the integrity of the actions of the hypocritically vengeful masquerading as proverbial white knights.
In the case of the CIA, their actions seem almost more criminal than the terrorists that they were so aggressively hunting. In hind sight, the truth is a lack of human intelligence expertise can create not only a vacuum of knowledge about ‘enemies’, it also creates a desperation in reaction that prevents intelligent, logical and rational judgment which respects the morals and legal code of conduct of the ‘good guys’. This dilemma ensures that errors in judgment will be made and that much greater disaster will ensue.
As terror acts increase around the world, one is left wondering how can the U.S. government claim to be winning the war on terror. Does the U.S. even know who the terrorists are? And when asked to identify the enemy in this war on terror, the Pentagon claims “National Security” for a “No Comment” answer. Combine that doubt creating answer with the Senate Report on the CIA RDI program and it makes it very hard for any logically thinking American to have any faith in the actions of the U.S. Government regarding terrorism and foreign policy.
The CIA is an intelligence gathering agency, it has no law enforcement policy or procedure, as a matter of fact it is designed to work outside the rules of law without actually breaking the law. It should have never been the job of the CIA to apprehend any suspect of terror activity; their sole action in the apprehension of terror suspects should have been limited to identification of proper suspects and providing the proper intelligence to agencies, such as the FBI, so that proper law enforcement action could have been taken against the suspects. It is very apparent, in looking at the data from how the RDI program was put together and run, that there was no properly defined end game, and it could even be argued that the start game was not as organized as a local park pick up game.
There are two names that are given as the creators of the enhanced interrogation techniques (EITs) used on victims of the CIA RDI program. Those names are James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, they are psychologists whom had served in the US Air Force. Mitchell received his PhD from University of South Florida, his dissertation was related to nutrition and diet’s effect on hypertension; and Jessen received his PhD from Utah State University, his dissertation was on family therapy. While, yes these men were affiliated with the SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape) program, they were observers to basically check a box with ensuring safety of the military students of the course. They were not developing policy or procedure, they were not writing SOPs or training manuals, they were not doing long term research on the effects of the course on students that passed or failed. As a matter of fact when it comes to real experience, these two men were about as qualified to found any interrogation policy as D.C. Meter Maids. Correction, the Meter Maids are probably more qualified in actual interrogation with suspects than these two men.
These men seem to have convinced officials of very questionable intelligence and even more questionable common sense that not only does torture work, but that what would absolutely ensure success was the complete psychological destruction of detainees to gain intel or worse to prove that they were not with-holding more. Most real and respected experts in the field of torture and interrogation will tell you that the exact opposite is true. That once you torture and ‘break’ a person, they will tell you ‘what you want to hear’ just to end the torture. It appears that in desperation to maintain control and relevance in the DC power war, the CIA rushed head first with blinders on into a terrorism black hole. The CIA has no idea how to investigate and build a prosecutable case against a suspect, again this was not their job. This fact seems to have been of no concern to them as they never considered allowing the justice system to have any part of holding terrorism accountable, having been allowed to operate in that gray area of the slippery slope that signals the self destruction of honor and integrity, the CIA decided that they alone knew how and what to do and whom to do it to to make the world a safe place. Instead what they have done is outranked the terrorists in destroying the safety and security and freedom of America and the world.
The RDI program basically answered to no one externally, when it functioned. What little ‘reporting to’ that was done was done to like minded over reactive neocons that think they are the only ones that know what is best. Even under their own ‘self reporting’ they still could not follow the rules or get it right. By their numbers, the CIA ‘wrongfully detained’ 26 individuals, of which 3 were subjected to EITs. In addition, the interrogators were supposed to get approval of EITs before using them on any prisoner, yet 17 victims suffered unauthorized EITs. And to what end or success did this program achieve; a mere 17 high value suspects were ever detained. For the record that is less than a 15% success rate!
Not only were their methods flawed once they had a victim, their intelligence sources for picking ‘terrorists’ to detain was also very flawed. Under the Clinton administration the budget of the intelligence agencies and military were slashed to the point that the US had virtually no human assets in unstable areas to provide real true intelligence on the climate and players. Thus, the US as a whole became very dependent on the rumors of the terror world and on the intelligence gathering of other countries. Most dissenters of the war in Iraq claim lies on the part of US officials leading up to the war, I would correct them in that it was not outright lies, it was incompetence and incomplete intelligence pieces to actually and factually know what was going on on the ground in Iraq, coupled with their own delusions of us against them left over from the Cold War. The proof can be seen in the sources that were cited regarding the WMD intelligence, some of which were Saddam’s own high ranking officers trying to save their own lives and insure personal gains for themselves and their families and none of them have ever been held accountable for their bad information that led to the disaster that is currently their homeland.
So who were some of the sources for names of terrorists that the CIA kidnapped? As Human Rights Watch has detailed, Gaddafi was one of the sources supplying the United States with the names of individuals it claimed were terrorism suspects. Most of the names that were supplied by such an honorable man as Gaddafi were members of the Libyan Islamist Fighting Group (LIFG), who were opposed to his rule in Libya. Thus in their ill-conceived rush to retaliate against the ‘bad guys’ the CIA became the thug enforcers for dictators that the US deemed terrorists themselves.
And what has been the result of the CIA’s rush to be the hero? There are over 100 broken men in the world. There was no regard for their guilt or innocence and no recompense for damages caused or life lost or time stolen, for how can you undo such damage as was inflicted during a torture session. How do you give a man back his pride and his sense of self when you stole it without cause? How do you return a man to family broken and shattered beyond repair? What good is a piece of paper saying we now believe you are not guilty when you have been locked up for years? Where is the justice for families that lost sons and brothers that succumbed to hate under the burden of grief inflicted by the absence of love ones for years? Where is the increased safety due to the creation of that hate? How many more have lost their lives over anger and hate born out of punishment and execution without judgement or proof?
In the hopes of some truth and justice coming out of this senseless ill-planned knee jerk reaction to the tragedy of 9/11, journalists and lawyers and human rights groups are trying to do the right thing by using the justice system of Europe and the US to bring some peace and solace to the victims of the CIA’s RDI program. The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has heard 4 cases concerning the involvement of European states with the secret CIA RDI program and is currently hearing 2 more. The 4 cases that the court has ruled on have resulted in finding that the accused European states were complacent to some degree in their action or lack there of regarding the violation of the human rights of the men whom brought the cases before the court. The first case involved a German national of Lebanese descent, whom was a victim of the CIA RDI program. His complaint states that “he was arrested, held in isolation, questioned and ill-treated in a Skopje hotel for 23 days.” This case resulted in the court finding that Macedonia (FYRM) had violated Articles 3, 5, 8, and 13. In 2 cases Poland was found in violation of Articles 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, and 38, as well as Protocol 6. In a case against Italy, the state was found in violations of Articles 3, 5, 8, and 13. And currently there are cases pending against Romania and Lithuania. For more on these cases please read the press release for the ECHR. In the US, the ACLU is pursuing action against the men directly responsible for the RDI, Mitchel and Jessen.
In addition to the legal action, there are other groups that are working on bringing the truth to the public audience. The Rendition Project from their about page describes themselves as an unique group of academics and human rights focused individuals working to bring out the truth of the CIA RDI program. Another group that is trying to give a public voice to the victims is The Bureau of Investigative Journalism. BIJ is an independent not-for-profit organization that hopes to educate the public about the realities of power in today’s world. Please follow their projects for more detailed and specific information about this and other important issues of a global level.