Rights Groups Denounce Dropping of CIA Torture Cases

U.S. human rights groups have roundly condemned Thursday’s announcement by Attorney General Eric Holder that the Justice Department will not pursue prosecutions of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officers who may have been responsible for the deaths of two prisoners in their custody. The announcement appeared to mark the end of all efforts by the U.S. … Continue reading “Rights Groups Denounce Dropping of CIA Torture Cases”

Perfecting Illegality

Her white hair peeked out from under a brilliant cerulean blue headscarf. Her lips and teeth were stained red from chewing areca nut and betel leaf, a mild stimulant favored by older Vietnamese women. She was missing her right eye. She also appeared to be in danger of floating away had a stiff breeze swept … Continue reading “Perfecting Illegality”

Honoring a ‘Terror War’ Architect

Since even readers of The New York Times are aware of Deputy National Security Adviser John Brennan’s open identification with torture, secret prisons, and other abuses of national and international law, Fordham University’s invitation to him to give the commencement address on May 19 brought, well, shock and awe to many Fordham students, faculty, and … Continue reading “Honoring a ‘Terror War’ Architect”

US Torturers Are Still Awaiting Arrest

Treat ’em harshly,Go to town!There’s no courtTo bring us down. Torture isn’t a good subject to fail on one’s moral report card. If you’re an individual, St. Peter is likely to take a dim view. If you’re a nation, it can cost you plenty of international prestige, besides putting hot-headed zealots yearning for revenge on … Continue reading “US Torturers Are Still Awaiting Arrest”

Washington Felons Fret Over Hanky-Panky in Cartagena

Americans are frequently most hypocritical when they are responding to a sex scandal. The tale of the sins and omissions of the Obama secret service team in Colombia is still being revealed, piece by piece. The miscreants constituted a so-called advance team, flying on a military aircraft, which goes into a location where a protected … Continue reading “Washington Felons Fret Over Hanky-Panky in Cartagena”

Render to Caesar, Extraordinarily

Some of us pause on Good Friday to mark the torture and death of a high-value detainee rendered, extraordinarily, to Roman occupiers. Although the charges against Jesus of Nazareth were trumped up, the Romans decided to err on the safe side by going to the "dark side." They applied enhanced torture techniques with the ultimate … Continue reading “Render to Caesar, Extraordinarily”

Psychologists and Torture, Then and Now

History repeats itself, Marx famously warned, first as tragedy and then as farce. In the case of U.S. torture psychologists, the “tragedy” occurred half a century ago when CIA-funded psychological research on electroshock treatment, sensory deprivation, and the like found its way into the Agency’s counterintelligence interrogation manual. The 1963 KUBARK manual and its later … Continue reading “Psychologists and Torture, Then and Now”

The Return of Waterboarding?

During the recent Republican presidential primary debates, three candidates said without hesitation that they would authorize waterboarding as an interrogation technique if elected president. In their recent memoirs, both George W. Bush and Dick Cheney admitted with evident pride that they had approved the technique. This defense and approval of waterboarding has been voiced despite … Continue reading “The Return of Waterboarding?”

Understanding the US Torture State

The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration, and Abuse edited by Marjorie Cohn (New York University Press: 2011), 342 pages. When I was a child in Reagan’s America, a common theme in Cold War rhetoric was that the Soviets tortured people and detained them without cause, extracted phony confessions through cruel violence, did the unspeakable to … Continue reading “Understanding the US Torture State”

The CIA’s Selective Secrecy

From the coups that ousted Mohammed Mossadegh, Jacobo Arbenz, and Salvador Allende in the Cold War to the waterboarding of suspected terrorists in the Global War on Terror, the CIA has built a solid reputation as an extralegal agent of international sabotage and murder. Since the agency’s creation in 1947, successive U.S. presidents and their … Continue reading “The CIA’s Selective Secrecy”