AFP PODCAST & ARTICLE: The Results Are In, Torture Doesn’t Work

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Philip M. Giraldi, a former Central Intelligence Agency operations officer who “serve[d] overseas for 17 years…primarily in Europe and the Middle East…and worked on counterterrorism, and [is] the Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, an advocacy group working to create a more sensible foreign policy most particularly in the Middle East,” sat down with AMERICAN FREE PRESS to discuss The Constitution Project’s 577-page report, Task Force on Detainee Treatment, “ in this revealing interview (16:17).

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Dave Gahary, a former submariner in the U.S. Navy, is the host of AFP’s ‘Underground Interview’ series.

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The Results Are In: Torture Doesn’t Work

By Dave Gahary

“The main point is that torture took place, it was put into place by the U.S. government, there’s been no accountability and there have been no measures to make sure that it never happens again.”

A report released last month by The Constitution Project, “a non-profit think tank in the United States that builds bipartisan consensus on significant constitutional and legal questions,” put the final nail in the coffin of anyone who still harbors any belief that torture is an effective tool in the fight against terrorism. The 577-page report entitled Task Force on Detainee Treatment, “an independent, bipartisan, blue-ribbon panel charged with examining the federal government’s policies and actions related to the capture, detention and treatment of suspected terrorists during the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations,” found incontrovertible evidence that torture doesn’t work.

Philip M. Giraldi, a former Central Intelligence Agency operations officer who “serve[d] overseas for 17 years…primarily in Europe and the Middle East…and worked on counterterrorism, and [is] the Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, an advocacy group working to create a more sensible foreign policy most particularly in the Middle East,” penned an article on the report’s significance. AMERICAN FREE PRESS readers may know Phil an expert who was interviewed for the book Ship Without a Country, about the treacherous attack on the USS Liberty by Israel.

AFP asked if the report’s conclusions are irrefutable, in light of the fact that Phil read the entire 577-page report.

“Yes it is. This has been looked at from a number of directions by a number of people from all angles of the political equation, so it’s not exactly like this is a partisan judgment. And the Senate committee, which has both Republicans and Democrats on it, could not find any evidence of torture ever being actually useful in terms of stopping a terrorist act or obtaining information that led to the arrest of a terrorist, and the Constitution Project came to the same conclusion from a different direction. They were interviewing actual guards and prisoners, people that were detained as a result of these policies and they also went through all the publicly available information which is of course quite a bit. So the undeniable conclusion is that torture is not effective.”

As Phil wrote in his article, “The report describes in detail how some prisoners were tortured to death or died under mysterious circumstances. Others were chained to walls or hung from ceilings. Some were restrained and placed in unchanged diapers for days at a time, forcing the prisoner to soil himself repeatedly for the duration of his interrogation. Placing suspects in stress positions for hours or days, the use of guard dogs to terrify, enforced nakedness, exposure to cold and heat, and sleep deprivation were routine.”

AFP asked if we are in America anymore.

“Of course that’s the big question. The first issue that the report tried to address was the very nature of torture and what it did, and this is very clever, it basically went through U.S. government documents going back 50 years and more and even to the Second World War with the Nuremberg Trials, where the U.S. government took a position on what occurred in other countries and that it defined as torture. I think you’re probably aware that a number of Japanese officers were executed by the Allies after the Second World War for engaging in waterboarding. So there is a long tradition of the U.S. government itself saying to other governments that when you engage in this practice we consider it torture. The ultimate irony on this was that the Bush administration was simultaneously engaging in torture and criticizing other countries like Sudan for engaging in similar practices. What the Constitution Project wound up doing obviously is proving that all of these enhanced interrogation techniques that the Bushies engaged in, were, as defined by the U.S. government, absolutely torture, no question about it.”

The report detailed that torture was begun under Bill Clinton, enhanced by George W. Bush and effectively kept in place by Barack H. Obama, because of his refusal to acknowledge it, who “has since stonewalled on any accountability by repeatedly citing the state secrets privilege to hold legal proceedings or attempts by victims of the quarter to obtain redress.” AFP asked why Obama has failed to honor any of his pre-election promises regarding detainee treatment, “in spite of the fact that Washington is a signatory to the international convention against torture which requires prompt investigation of all such allegations.”

“I think it was a fight he didn’t want to fight, that’s really what it comes down to. He knew that if he really engaged on this issue in a serious way, that there would be a lot of mud thrown and most of it would have stuck on people that were in the George W. Bush administration. So it was a political issue in a sense…[and] I think he just decided to walk away from it.”

AFP asked why he thinks the mainstream media was paying attention to this report, when in the past they almost completely ignored the topic of torture.

“It seems to me that the report was just so serious and so credible and was clearly nonpartisan, that they paid attention to it. There must have been someone making an editorial decision somewhere in the food chain who decided that this was really news, and of course this was really news. It should be really news and every American should have it as required reading, even 577 pages of it. But the fact is that the story has died since then. There’s been no follow-up on it. There’s no constituency in the United States, apart from people like me and you, who are pushing for this kind of action to take place, and we don’t count. It’s essentially like a can of worms that Mr. Obama and whoever replaces Mr. Obama is never gonna open, but I think it’s significant that an effort was made here and that for once we have seriously come to the conclusion that, yes, the United States did carry out torture and the other point the report makes is that this torture regime was authorized at the highest levels of the U.S. government, all the way up to the presidency, where this issue was discussed…and a decision was made to torture people. That is the importance of the report, and I think that may have caught the imagination of some people in the media.”

AFP asked if he holds out any hope that the United States can regain its previous higher ground.

“The unfortunate reality of both the American public and probably the public in most countries is that their memory span is about 30 seconds. So I think that people have forgotten a lot of this stuff already. They’ve forgotten that, if they ever really comprehended it, that the United States government behaved so badly in the aftermath of 9-11. So if the United States basically were to become a normal country again and stop killing people with drones and stop doing renditions, and stop engaging in basically what amounts to terrorist activity around the world, then I think people would kind of forgive and forget, but I don’t see that happening.  We have a consensus certainly within government that all these activities are necessarily in place to protect us, which of course is nonsense. They’re only making the world a more dangerous place. I can’t see the U.S. government changing its basic groupthink on these issues. Republicans and Democrats unfortunately are too similar in terms of embracing this national security state and I think that we’re gonna be seeing that for the foreseeable future.”