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back to article CIA erased waterboarding videos

The director of the CIA has admitted that videotapes of American intelligence operatives using harsh interrogation methods on terrorist suspects have been destroyed. The interrogations in question are said to have taken place in 2002, when the US intelligence community had been unleashed by a vengeful president in response to 9/ …

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Unhappy

it is

waterboarding is torture simple at that may be not as extreme as some things done in other countries but USA is "supposed" to be a civilised country.

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Coat

Wow!

A boss that actually covers his employees' a*ses!!! At the end of the day, if anyone carries the can, it looks like Hayden has at least got the cajones to stand up.

"Hey guys, thanks for what you did, you got the job done like the Prez asked us to. So I'm just gonna erase this tape of you guys letting that goat get its own back on that jihadi...."

Of course, if the position had been reversed, and it had been the CIA guys captured by AQ, I'm sure the jihadis would have just given them a cup of tea and made a few polite enquiries. No chance of a little mutilation followed calls to the victim's family on the victim's mobile to gloat and threaten them, followed by a video-taped beheading. No siree, no chance!

I'll have the coat with the legend "Yes, I will defend your right to label me a sarcastic g*t!"....

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Unhappy

doesn't this sound familiar?

"These so-called ill-treatments and torturing........ stories of which were spread everywhere amongst the people, and particularly by detainees who were liberated by the occupying armies, were not, as assumed, inflicted methodically, but by individual leaders, sub-leaders, and men who laid violent hands on them . . . If in any way such a matter was brought to my notice, the perpetrator was, of course, immediately relieved of his post or transferred somewhere else. So that, even if he wasn't punished because there wasn't evidence to prove his guilt, he was taken away and given another position . . ."

who said this? Albert Gonzales? General Petraeus? Cheney, or Wolfowitz, or Rumsfeld, or even Dubya?

nope - it was Rudolf Hoess, commandant of Auschwitz, in his deposition to the Nuremberg Tribunal.

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Pirate

Torture

"Waterboarding is torture. It causes severe physical suffering in the form of reflexive choking, gagging, and the feeling of suffocation. It may cause severe pain in some cases. If uninterrupted, waterboarding will cause death by suffocation. It is also foreseeable that waterboarding, by producing an experience of drowning, will cause severe mental pain and suffering. The technique is a form of mock execution by suffocation with water. The process incapacitates the victim from drawing breath, and causes panic, distress, and terror of imminent death. Many victims of waterboarding suffer prolonged mental harm for years and even decades afterward."

From here: http://hrw.org/english/docs/2006/04/06/usdom13130.htm

So how long until G. W. Bush is indicted for war crimes?

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Stop

"made to feel that he is drowning" - slight understatement

Waterboarding is not some sort of slight inconvenience - it is controlled and prolonged drowning. Water is poured into your lungs in a perfectly civilised pace, the "interviewee" is given the opportunity to decide whether they want to speak or drown, more water is sent into the lungs, uncontrollable shakes happen as the interviewee's body reacts to the threat to its existance, more water is poared into their lungs, repeat until either the interviewee gives up, dies or the interviewers diecide to do something else.

All the time, of course, the interviewee is restrained to stop them moving and all they can really do is twitch against the restraints and experience the pain - would you like to undertake this?

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Ash

@Paul

Your source for this is?

From speaking to a scuba diving instructor, I know that it takes as little as 5ml of inhaled fluid to cause someone to drown. Surface tension of water prevents it draining completely into the alveoli (where it would do less damage to the person than the tar from a few cigarettes), and instead stays in the bronchioles (<1mm diamater) and blocks them.

I can't see this as being an actual drowning exercise, as death would be far too quick, but rather a gagging exercise as they're forced to swallow almost constantly.

Either way, it can't be pleasant.

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IT Angle

Check the lifts

Somebody dies in custody. Destroy the tapes. Problem solved.

I bet the CIA check the reg every friday for insight on how to go about covering up such monumental cockups.

In fact, I bet there`s a whole host of terrorists trapped in lifts around Langley.

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Alien

"It was done in line with the law"

the law that says don't get caught?

while it's bad pr for people to know that this is happening it would probably be much worse if people could see how horrific it is.

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"Paul -

"Paul" - sounds fun. not harsh enough for the people they needed information from.

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I'm curious

These people tortured, were they definetly terrorist or did it also happen to people merely suspected? Pretty sure you could get all the answers you want trying that on someone.

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@Mark

You'd certainly get all the answers you wanted. That's the best thing about torture (well, the second best - the main feature is the thrill of inflicting pain indiscriminately on another human being and always have been, not that the CIA perverts will ever admit it). Whether any of those answers are true or not is another thing entirely.

No-one - literally *no-one* - in Guantanamo Bay or in secret CIA prisons has ever been convicted of terrorist offences. The only people convicted of terrorist offences in a court of law so far have been fantasists with incriminating Google search histories and the occasional ludicrous homemade firecracker. So the answer to your question is the latter.

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Anonymous Coward

Torturers

"Were they ever to leak, they would permit identification of your CIA colleagues who had served in the programme, exposing them and their families to retaliation from al-Qaida and its sympathisers."

Or me if I ever met him in the street.

Whats Daddy done today at work ! These people know who they are, one day so will we.

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Anonymous Coward

Something not right here

Destroying one or two tapes is highly suggestive that the interrogators overstepped the mark.

The fact that suspects have to be transported to another country so that the interrogation is outside of the jurisdiction of civilised law, and that transport is given a meaningless euphemism ("rendition") tells you all about this crooked set up. "Interrogators" is another euphemism; let's just call them torturers so we know where we stand, OK?

Some of the "terror suspects" held in Guantanamo concentration camp are thought to be 12 years old. Are they being treated like this?

p.s. they are doing this in YOUR name, folks.

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Ah, what about just blacking-out the identifying bits?

Geesh. You see it on TV all the time: video with black boxes covering up the incriminating bits (faces, license plate numbers, competitors advertisements, obscene T-shirts, WTF-ever...). And unlike clumsily-redacted .pdf files (ahem.. cough cough...), video black-outs are fairly reliable.

So, the excuse is pure bullocks. And obviously so.

I've noticed that one of the prerequisites for being a senior Bush-supporter is the peculiar skill of being able to walk out on stage holding a large bucket of juicy cow turds, place the bucket on the floor, step into the bucket, make a twenty-minute speech regarding some critical policy issue, step out of the bucket and then escape without making any mention of the bucket of cow turds.

And if you can do the same thing with a chicken roosting on your head (in addition to the bucket of turds underfoot), then you're a shoe-in for a senior cabinet posting.

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waterboarding, torture; methinks not

I attended the USAFA towards the end of Viet Nam. During Beast (BCT) cadets were subjected to waterboarding. The idea was to increase an airman's ability to resist torture once captured. It scared the hell out of me, but it did no permanant damage, and it certainly wasn't life threatening. On the other hand, if it was performed on a person with compromised health, it could very well be injurious.(I do have first hand experience with life and death conditions as I served as a combat medic prior to attending the Hill, and was severely wounded.) I find it curious (but typical) that the people talking the loudest about this issue are the least informed.

Tre LaDormin

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Bronze badge

I don't condone torture, however . . .

These are ruthless people, these are the guys that planned the 9/11 attacks. I don't have much empathy for them and you won't get much out of them by shining a bright light into their eyes.

@ Tawakalna: Rudolf Hoess lied in his deposition, he lied to save his own skin. And he was targeting people that were no threat to him, rounding them up, torturing and killing them simply because he didn't like them. That's the difference.

The problem of course is that allowing this kind of torture puts us on a slippery slope. Pretty soon you'll be waterboarded just on the assumption that perhaps you might be associated with someone who could have some sympathy for the terrorists demands.

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IT Angle

Waterboarding

Gosh.... Its been a while since the CIA got caught torturing people. At least a week. For those with short memories, back in August 2006, the Judge Advocates General for each branch of the US military (that is to say Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines) all testified that waterboarding was a violation of both US internal law and the Geneva conventions. Its notable that the 2006 Army Field Manual issued last year explicitly banned its use, partly to prevent Army people being caught acting as front-men for CIA torturers.

Daniel Levin, a Justice Department Republican stooge voluntarily tested waterboarding in 2004. Despite his extreme-right wng positions on most things Levin drafted a legal opinion that waterboarding was torture. Levin was soon fired.

What I find fascinating is that, back in the days of the Tokyo War Crimes trials "waterboarding" was worthy of a long prison sentence (15+ years hard labour) at the least. The people that tortured Lt Chase Nielsen (via waterboarding) in 1942 were sentenced to long terms in jail. Of course back then Nielsen was defined by the Japanese government as a terrorist.

Being fair, in these days of Blairite morality its vaguely concerning that we should expect better behaviour from the Imperial Japanese military, the people that brought us the rape on Nanking, than from our own security services today. After all, if its a crime for them they must have been expected to behave better; whilst our own guys must be less moral. To put it another way no one complains if a dog pees on a lamppost in public, but if you do the same...

Still its nice to remember back when we might have argued that we were the good guys. Bin Laden, who has long argued that the West actually has no interest in human rights, and merely uses them as a thing to pretend to be superior to Muslims with, must be laughing his nuts off. If we take Bin Laden's November 2002 missive "letter to the American people":

"As for the war criminals which you censure and form criminal courts for - you shamelessly ask that your own are granted immunity!! However, history will not forget the war crimes that you committed against the Muslims and the rest of the world; those you have killed in Japan, Afghanistan, Somalia, Lebanon and Iraq will remain a shame that you will never be able to escape..."

"You have claimed to be the vanguards of Human Rights, and your Ministry of Foreign affairs issues annual reports containing statistics of those countries that violate any Human Rights. However, all these things vanished when the Mujahideen hit you, and you then implemented the methods of the same documented governments that you used to curse. In America, you captured thousands the Muslims and Arabs, took them into custody with neither reason, court trial, nor even disclosing their names. You issued newer, harsher laws."

"What happens in Guatanamo is a historical embarrassment to America and its values, and it screams into your faces - you hypocrites, "What is the value of your signature on any agreement or treaty?" "

The really depressing thing is that Bin Laden has a point. Maybe its too much to hope that we might start in trying to beat him by not doing what he's predicted we'd do all along.

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trained to resist tortue by undergoing not-torture?

Sorry Tre, but I'm pretty certain that torture doesn't have to be life threatening. In fact I'm pretty certain that keeping the prisoner alive is quite an important part of the whole process of extracting information through torture. At least until they've talked.

I'm not sure how you reason that on one hand waterboarding isn't torture because it's not life threatening, but on the other hand it was deemed a good way to demonstrate and increase resistance to torture methods among US servicemen.

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@Tre LaDormin

Is there the possibility that if waterboarding had been applied to you by people who you knew or felt to be hostile to you, whilst you were being held captive, as opposed to it being carried out in (what I surmise from your brief description, though I might have misunderstood) a fairly benign environment, possibly by someone that you know, that it migh thave been terrifying, rather then just scary?

From what you say, you have the most informed opinion here, but is your take on it affected by the context in which you experienced it, is my question.

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IT Angle

Try and stick to the facts

These are not people who took part in the 11th of September attacks. In fact these are people who are suspected of fighting against the US for what they see as freedom for their country and religion (I'm not saying I agree with their point of view).

As they are suspects it seems some of them were innocent of any crime and didn't even raise their voices against the US.

So, the US is guilty of torturing innocent people along with one or two who may have been guilty of something. Either way they were tortured.

So, why aren't we cutting of diplomatic relations with the US and imposing trade sanctions?

I'm detecting double standards here.

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Happy

@Jhan Bastiaansen

The comparision towards nazi-germany may be more "on spot" than you imagine.

In pre-war germany, the parliment was burned. This was the excuse for forming the feared "Gestapo", and it was blamed on communist sympatisers.

In 2001, World trade center fell down, in circumstances that have been called (mildly) suspect. This gave George W. Bush the excuse to turn FEMA into DHS, which now is more concerned with abusing power, than actual security.

In pre-war Germany, the Gestapo, and the excuse of "communist sympatisers" led to laws removing every civil right.

In post-9/11 USA the fall of the world trade center has led to civilised laws like patriot act (1 and 2), and given the amount of laws already there, pretty much removed every civil rights US people ever had.

Why is this my business? Because just like the pre wwii Germans, Americans seems to think that their law applies worldwide, and has added the kidnapping-policy to enforce it.

Since the american people has done NOTHING to A) get GWB removed, B) get GWB on trial for his crimes against humanity. Actually you have done worse: You re-elected him. I'd say Americans are just as guilty as the Nazis were. And I consider that they should be treated the same.

Good riddance.

//Svein

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Pirate

What to do if you are being water-boarded...

Breathe out as hard and far and long as you can for a minute before they start, if you can judge it. Then being restrained with a mouth full of water you will have to breathe it all in within about 30 seconds due to reflex.

Either they see you are trying to commit suicide and stop, or they don't in which case you will be dead or unconscious in short order. Either way, your problem is solved.

That's the theory. Could it work in practice?

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