Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Why torture?

Dickhead Cheney still wants to be able to torture people. McCain added an amendment to the military spending bill re-affirming the many existing laws and treaties against torture. So Cheney is now trying to get the CIA excluded from the amendment, so that they can still torture people even though Bush keeps lying that the US doesn't torture people. Why?

McCain shouldn't have needed to add that amendment. The US is a signatory to the Geneva Conventions, which prohibit torture, and since those conventions are an international treaty they are constitutionally the supreme law of the land. The US is a signatory to an international treaty against torture, and again because it is an international treaty it is constitutionally the supreme law of the land. The eighth amendment to the US constitution forbids "cruel and unusual punishment." The US army rulebook prohibits torture. But Cheney wants the right to torture anyway. Why?

The CIA and other intelligence agencies know that torture is ineffective at getting information. In many cases the enemy uses "cells" to limit how much any one person knows, so the prisoner may simply not know the information you want. In many cases the enemy runs to a tight schedule, so even if the prisoner knows the information you want he can hold out long enough until the event you sought to prevent has happened. A clever prisoner will deliberately appear to "break" and feed you false information, sending you on wild goose chases and wasting your resources. And finally, even innocent people who were captured in error will eventually "break" and say absolutely anything to make the torture stop. The CIA must have made Cheney aware of all this but he wants the right to torture anyway. Why?

Well, there are three cases where torture is effective. None of them involve obtaining accurate information:


  1. Obtaining a (false) confession from the innocent.

    One reason for wanting a false confession is for a "show trial." Korea and the USSR have used this technique against Americans so they could wave the "confession" in front of the world and prove that the US was involved in doing "bad things." The USSR used the technique against its own political and military officials when they seemed on the point of gaining too much power.

    Another reason for wanting a false confessions is to steal. When the Vatican altered the rules of the Spanish Inquisition so that inquisitors got to keep a large percentage of the possessions of the people they tortured, they switched from torturing widowed crones living in poverty to torturing the rich aristocracy.

    I doubt Cheney wants torture for these purposes.

  2. Suppressing a rebellion.

    This has long been standard practise in tyrranies. People learn that anyone who shows the slightest sign of dissent vanishes. Months or even years later a tortured corpse might show up. A small fraction of those tortured are released so they can tell others just how bad it was. This is terrorism, pure and simple.

    However, for this to be effective you need a fairly good domestic intelligence agency. If people think you're just torturing people at random then they have nothing to lose by rising up in rebellion. If, however, they know that you are fairly good at identifying those planning rebellion, they'll turn in anybody who even mentions rebellion.

    The US does not have good enough intelligence in Iraq for this to work.

  3. Keeping a rebellion going.

    As I have stated before, the Bush administration wants to stay in Iraq until the oil runs out. The Bush administration is constructing 14 permanent military bases in Iraq from which it can attack the other oil-producing countries in the region. The Bush administration is constructing the largest ever embassy in Iraq, far larger than is needed, and which is almost certainly intended to become the administrative hub of the new oil colonies. Oil companies, defence contractors, Halliburton and Bechtel are all making money hand-over-fist as long as Iraq is in chaos.

    If Iraq became a stable and peaceful country, capable of self-government, then the US would be obligated under the Geneva Conventions to withdraw. OTOH, as long as Iraq is in chaos then the Geneva Conventions require it to stay and fix things (there is a way of avoiding that obligation, by saying that staying is making matters worse and that stability will only occur if the US withdraws).

    So the US tortures people in Iraq. Pictures and videos of the torture "leak." Women in Abu Ghraib smuggle out letters begging their relatives to kill them for the shame of being raped by US personnel. Some of the prisoners are released, and they recount their tales and show their scars. Iraqis are enraged, and the rebellion keeps growing.


So that is the reason why Cheney wants to be able to torture. He needs to be able to keep fanning the flames. Of course, the botched reconstruction efforts also fan the flames, but that's really a bonus side-effect of the racketeering by Halliburton and Bechtel rather than the primary purpose. It's the torture that's inflaming passions. It's the torture that's keeping this whole profitable (for the Bush administration and its cronies) exercise going.

It's the torture that is inflaming the entire islamic world against the US, and a very large percentage of the islamic world lives in countries that have a lot of oil. Inciting the people of those countries to carry out terrorist acts against the US will give the US the excuse it needs to invade them (if necessary, terrorist acts will be manufactured by the US itself).

And now you know why Cheney is desperately trying to retain the right to use a barbaric practise that the civilized world condemns. That treaties signed by the US and which are the supreme law of the land prohibit. That the 8th amendment to the US Constitution prohibits. Cheney wants to be able to torture because, for what Cheney wants to achieve, it is extremely effective.

1 Comments:

Blogger Orewan said...

I reached the same conclusion. Logic and history tell us that torture has never worked as a method of obtaining useful information. Specifically anti-Muslim humiliation of detainees is an attack on Islam itself, igniting U.S. hatred and more anti-U.S. violence. Perhaps Cheney sees the escalation and prolongation of terrorism as a political win for republicans, who can use their "strong on defense" slogan until the end of time.

Thursday, November 10, 2005 9:44:00 AM  

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