Tortura (Continuación)

The Senate Intelligence Committee’s «torture report» has reignited national debate on «enhanced» interrogation techniques. At the heart of this debate is the question: Do these methods work to prevent terrorist attacks?

Much of the American public seems to believe they do. Since the time the CIA’s program was in force, and even now, national surveys have indicated that a majority of Americans say the use of torture is justified when it is used against suspected terrorists who may know details about future attacks. But is belief in the effectiveness of severe interrogation methods really what motivates support for those methods? Or is there a darker psychological motive?…  Seguir leyendo »

Por el camino que vamos –o por el que nos llevan– llegará un momento en el que la única tarea del intelectual consistirá en desmontar los tópicos. Sólo con eso habrá alcanzado el nivel necesario para ser considerado un benefactor de la humanidad. Un ejemplo, ¿hasta cuándo habremos de soportar a toda la canalla del poder y sus sicarios repitiendo como cotorras que “el fin no justifica los medios”?

Es sabido desde la antigüedad que el fin justifica los medios, salvo en los casos en que no se alcancen los fines, por lo que entonces se echará toda la culpa a los medios.…  Seguir leyendo »

Estados Unidos, hoy, tiene más de dos millones de reclusos. Entre ellos no se contabilizan los 137 que quedan en la prisión de Guantánamo, como ninguno de los que les antecedieron en la misma. Seguramente aquellos presos oficiales no sufrirán las técnicas de tortura que han padecido los denominados enemigos encerrados en una isla de impunidad bajo el Programa de Rendición, Detención e Interrogatorio, creado por George W. Bush, el 17 de septiembre del 2001 y que permitió a la CIA desarrollar métodos como el waterboarding (ahogamiento simulado), walling (golpear contra el muro), humillaciones y violencia sexual, golpes, amenazas de muerte, privación de sueño, “hidratación y alimentación rectal”, entre otras, en forma sistemática, hasta el cierre de ese siniestro programa en el 2009 por orden del presidente Obama, quien, sin embargo, no exigió al fiscal general que abriera ninguna investigación pero sí pidió “comprensión” para los torturadores.…  Seguir leyendo »

No excuse for tolerating torture

I am tolerant. I have Republican friends. When racists speak in my presence, I don’t smash them in the jaw. I try to change their minds. Many of my close friends and relatives believe in God, which is wrong and therefore stupid, yet I don’t consider them stupid — just mistaken. America, I believe, must create and maintain the space where a multitude of points of view can thrive.

But there are limits. Not every opinion should be tolerated. If you think torture is OK — under any circumstance, for any reason — you are dangerous. If you believe that “they” had torture coming because “they” attacked “us” on 9/11, or because “they” chop off “our” heads, you are psychotic and sociopathic and should not be free to walk the streets, much less sit on juries or vote or drive a car or hold a job that a perfectly sane unemployed person needs.…  Seguir leyendo »

Secretary of state John Kerry tried to suppress publication of the CIA torture report, citing fears of a blowback against US targets in the Middle East. But the truth is that the region barely flinched in response to the publication of the 528-page document.

Almost all state-run media in the region ignored the report entirely, keen to play down their complicity in rendition programmes and their own rampant use of torture in domestic prisons. And the public in Arab countries took the revelations simply as confirmation of facts that they had long believed to be true. That the report has prompted such uproar in the US is comic to a region that expects dastardly behaviour from the US.…  Seguir leyendo »

The primary international treaty against torture, the Convention against Torture, which the United States ratified in 1994, contains two key requirements. First, it bans torture, without exception, as well as other inhumane treatment. Second, it requires that torturers be prosecuted.

President Obama has been firm in stopping torture. On his second day in office, he ordered an end to the Bush administration’s “enhanced interrogation techniques” — a euphemism for torture — and the closure of the secret CIA detention centers where torture was carried out.

But Obama has utterly failed in the second requirement. He has flatly refused to investigate the torture, let alone prosecute those responsible.…  Seguir leyendo »

While others will sharply disagree, I believe John Brennan deserves a national salute for his press conference yesterday about the CIA.

At a time when we are tearing ourselves apart over one controversy after another, he provided a model of a calm, adult leader trying to put the country first.

No doubt there will be counterattacks trying to blow holes in his story. Maybe there are some. But we sorely needed someone to come forth with views that are more balanced and impartial than a tragically one-sided report released this week by the Senate Intelligence Committee.

There were half a dozen aspects of the Brennan press conference that were welcome:

For starters, he placed the interrogation program into a context that too many are forgetting.…  Seguir leyendo »

I spent this semester teaching creative writing at Lehigh University. I’ve been a soldier, a police officer and an interrogator. So hearing students call me “Professor” and assigning homework was a significant change of pace.

But the course’s title, Writing War, kept me from straying too far from the memories that have haunted me over the last decade. I am grateful to Lehigh for the opportunity to teach the course. The school’s willingness to put a veteran in the classroom is the very thing this country needs to be doing in order to collectively process what the last 13 years of war have wrought.…  Seguir leyendo »

Before President George W. Bush left office, a group of conservatives lobbied the White House to grant pardons to the officials who had planned and authorized the United States torture program. My organization, the American Civil Liberties Union, found the proposal repugnant. Along with eight other human rights groups, we sent a letter to Mr. Bush arguing that granting pardons would undermine the rule of law and prevent Americans from learning what had been done in their names.

But with the impending release of the report from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, I have come to think that President Obama should issue pardons, after all — because it may be the only way to establish, once and for all, that torture is illegal.…  Seguir leyendo »

As the world awaited the US Senate report on the CIA’s detention and interrogation programme under the George W Bush administration, there was very little introspection in Europe. As if European countries had nothing to do with what went on in the hunt for al-Qaida in the years after 9/11. In fact, many of America’s European allies were deeply involved in the CIA programme. And they have managed to stay very quiet about it. Could this change now?

Under President Bush the CIA used a web of European airports and bases for its extraordinary rendition flights, secretly transferring terror suspects across borders for interrogation.…  Seguir leyendo »

The publication of the long-awaited summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee report on the CIA’s torture provides a useful moment to consider the lessons learned from this sorry chapter in American history and the steps that might be taken to avoid its recurrence. With the truth now told about this blatantly illegal policy, President Barack Obama has a chance to reverse his misguided refusal to prosecute the officials who authorized the torture, ending the impunity that sets a horrible precedent for future United States presidents and governments worldwide.

There will undoubtedly be much debate about its finding that torture did not “work” — that it produced little if any intelligence of value that was not or could not have been obtained by lawful means.…  Seguir leyendo »

After a multi-year odyssey marked by almost nonstop partisan bickering, CIA employees hacking into Senate Intelligence Committee computers, and former Bush administration officials launching a pre-emptive public counterattack against the committee’s report, we finally have a summary of the CIA’s use of torture.

So what have we learned?

The committee report confirms that six days after the 9/11 attacks, «President George W. Bush signed a covert action Memorandum of Notification (MON) to authorize the director of central intelligence (DCI) to ‘undertake operations designed to capture and detain persons who pose a continuing, serious threat of violence or death to U.S. persons and interest or who are planning terrorist activities.'»

That decision put the CIA on the path to revive and even expand coercive interrogation techniques it had employed during the Cold War.…  Seguir leyendo »

There has been a suggestion in recent days that now is not a good time to release a review prepared by the Senate Intelligence Committee of the CIA’s detention and interrogation program. But is there ever a good time to admit our country tortured people?

In the wake of 9/11, we were desperate to bring those responsible for the brutal attacks to justice. But even that urgency did not justify torture. The United States must be held to a higher standard than our enemies, yet some of our actions did not clear that bar. It is time to publicly examine how that happened.…  Seguir leyendo »

In North Korea’s utopian society, the very words «human rights» do not need to exist — because it’s so perfect, the regime maintains.

The North Korean regime controls and monitors the usage of the very words. The concept is not even taught. I had never even heard of the term «human rights» when I was in North Korea.

It also strongly denies the existence of the political prison camp system throughout the country.

It maintains this position even though I was born in the most infamous, political prison camp in North Korea: Camp 14. Even now, there are people who are born into a life of an inmate in a political prison camp.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Senate Intelligence Committee will soon release key sections of its report on the Central Intelligence Agency’s detention and interrogation of terrorism suspects after 9/11. In remarks on Friday anticipating the report’s release, which he has publicly supported, President Obama acknowledged that “we tortured some folks.”

In fact, from leaks to the press and the statements of those familiar with the report, we know the committee has determined that C.I.A. torture was more widespread and brutal than Americans were led to believe. The committee reportedly has also found that the C.I.A. misled Bush administration officials and Congress about the extent and nature of the torture, and that torture was ineffective for intelligence gathering.…  Seguir leyendo »

La decisión de España de rechazar las solicitudes de Argentina para extraditar al ex guardia civil Jesús Muñecas y al ex policía Juan Antonio González Pacheco, acusados de torturar a presos políticos durante la dictadura franquista, incumple la Convención contra la Tortura de Naciones Unidas. En virtud de la Convención, ratificada por España en 1987, España tiene la obligación de investigar y juzgar los casos de tortura siempre que no cumpla, o no pueda cumplir, con las solicitudes de extradición de otros países.

El propósito de la Convención es garantizar que no exista impunidad para la tortura: los sospechosos de tortura no deben tener el escudo de la justicia, independientemente del contexto o del lugar en el que los crímenes fueran cometidos, como tampoco importa quiénes fueran los autores.…  Seguir leyendo »

Seven years ago, I wrote an op-ed in this newspaper about my role conducting abusive interrogations in places like Abu Ghraib and Fallujah [“An Iraq interrogator’s nightmare,” op-ed, Feb. 9, 2007]. I ended the piece by suggesting that the story of Abu Ghraib and abusive interrogations wasn’t over. In many ways, I thought, we had yet to open the book.

The book never opened. Instead, our country spent the next seven years denying, ignoring or defending our use of interrogation practices that manipulated and abused the emotional, mental and physical well-being of thousands of foreign detainees.

In recent weeks, reports have emerged about growing friction between the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and CIA officials responsible for an internal report on interrogation.…  Seguir leyendo »

The British do not torture. At least, that is what we in Britain have always liked to think. But not anymore. In a historic decision last week, the British government agreed to compensate 5,228 Kenyans who were tortured and abused while detained during the Mau Mau rebellion of the 1950s. Each claimant will receive around £2,670 (about $4,000).

The money is paltry. But the principle it establishes, and the history it rewrites, are both profound. This is the first historical claim for compensation that the British government has accepted. It has never before admitted to committing torture in any part of its former empire.…  Seguir leyendo »

I watched “Zero Dark Thirty” not as a former F.B.I. special agent who spent a decade chasing, interrogating and prosecuting top members of Al Qaeda but as someone who enjoys Hollywood movies. As a movie, I enjoyed it. As history, it’s bunk.

The film opens with the words “Based on Firsthand Accounts of Actual Events.” But the filmmakers immediately pass fiction off as history, when a character named Ammar is tortured and afterward, it’s implied, gives up information that leads to Osama bin Laden.

Ammar is a composite character who bears a strong resemblance to a real-life terrorist, Ammar al-Baluchi. In both the film and real life he was a relative of Bin Laden’s lieutenant, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.…  Seguir leyendo »

The critical acclaim for the new Kathryn Bigelow movie Zero Dark Thirty has renewed the debate on the efficacy of torture.

The movie dramatizes the decade-long effort to find and eventually kill Osama bin Laden. In a riveting opening section, the film obliquely credits the discovery of the key piece of information in the search for bin Laden to the torture of an al-Qaida prisoner held by the CIA. This is at odds with the facts as they have been recounted by journalists reporting on the manhunt, by Obama administration intelligence officials and by legislative leaders.

Bigelow and her writing partner, Mark Boal, are promoting Zero Dark Thirty in part by stressing its basis in fact.…  Seguir leyendo »