Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
It’s your last chance to make a tax-deductible donation to CounterPunch in 2017. Help us gear up to fight the status-quo in 2018! Every dollar counts!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Outsourcing Torture

by

According to the Senate report, the CIA’s torture was outsourced to private enterprise.

Bruce Jessen and James E. Mitchell weren’t just hired to question prisoners. The former Air Force psychologists were paid $81 million to create a company that would torture prisoners on an industrial scale.

CIA Director Michael Hayden assured Congress that his interrogators were highly trained. That was not true. Neither Jessen nor Mitchell had any experience as interrogators. They were not fluent in the languages of the prisoners and they did not know anything about al Qaeda, Islam, or the culture of the Middle East. Their only expertise lay in abusing Air Force pilots, to demonstrate how they would be treated, should they be captured by a ruthless enemy. Nor did either man have any medical training, so they could not have saved a prisoner’s’ life if, for example, he drowned while being waterboarded, or had his intestines pierced by so-called “rectal feeding tubes.”

It’s too late to prosecute these torturers, the politicians who led them to “the dark side,” or the lawyers who wrote bogus legal pyletorturememoranda to give them “get out of jail free” cards. The Obama administration has seen to that. Together with the intelligence committees and the CIA, the president and the attorney general made sure that hard evidence of the torture would not be disclosed until the time limit on prosecutions had run out. Even now, the committee has not identified who was specifically responsible, at which points, for the torture policy.

So, what can be done? Congress could extend the statute of limitations, but it won’t. Like the Obama administration, many of its members don’t believe in the rule of law. Republicans, in particular, believe these torturers are patriots who acted in “good faith,” and rammed plastic tubes up men’s asses because some government lawyer said they could, so long as they called it something else.

But maybe the Republicans, who take over in January and pride themselves on fiscal responsibility, could investigate the psychologists’ contract as a waste of money, much as Harry Truman kept contractors honest during World War II. The original agreement was for $180 million. That’s a lot, even by government standards. The Justice Department, run by Democrats,
limited the Senate committee, run by Democrats, to looking only at documents. But that criminal inquiry is now over and the time to prosecute has run out. So now, perhaps, the Republicans could ask the CIA officials what they had in mind for $180 million: a corporation, surely, with its own offices and security and an aversion to keeping good records, should news of its activities leak; a staff of torturers who could be dispatched, anywhere on earth at a moment’s notice, to interrogate new prisoners, with cover identities to conceal their real professions; and a retirement plan and medical insurance for these patriots, when their brutality was no longer required.

If torture was outsourced to private industry, what about the construction of “black site” prisons in Poland, Lithuania, Bulgaria Afghanistan, Iraq, Thailand, North Africa, and elsewhere.

Surely some corporation – Brown, Root & Kellogg, perhaps – had an even larger contract for that. And the secret air carrier with Gulf Stream jets to flew kidnapped CIA prisoners though more than 140 cooperating countries must have had contracts too. Did we get our money’s worth?

But these secret companies don’t begin to represent the private industry that is secretly feeding off the corpse of American democracy. At last count the NSA was employing 5,400 corporations to eavesdrop on just about everyone in the world, while retired CIA executives like George Tenet and Michael Hayden, and hundreds of others like them, alongside about half of Congress’s recent retirees, have been getting rich lobbying their former associates for still more no-bid, secret contracts.

Since 9/11, a frightened Congress has thrown more than $40 billion a year at a this secret industry with little or no oversight by Congress, including the committee that wrote this report. That’s the real scandal here, besides the torture.

Christopher H. Pyle teaches constitutional law and civil liberties at Mount Holyoke College. He is the author of Military Surveillance of Civilian Politics and Getting Away with Torture. He  is currently writing a book about money in politics.In 1970, he disclosed the U.S. military’s surveillance of civilian politics and worked as a consultant to three Congressional committees, including the Church Committee. 

 

More articles by:

Christopher H. Pyle teaches constitutional law and civil liberties at Mount Holyoke College. He is the author of Military Surveillance of Civilian Politics and Getting Away with Torture. He  is currently writing a book about money in politics.In 1970, he disclosed the U.S. military’s surveillance of civilian politics and worked as a consultant to three Congressional committees, including the Church Committee.   

Weekend Edition
December 15, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
What’s Not Happening With Mr. Jones
Timothy M. Gill
The Height of Racial Resentment: White Cops
Andrew Levine
Democrats Have Much to Learn and the Odious Have Much to Teach Them
Luciana Bohne
Operation Jerusalem Capital: Second Balfour Declaration or Arab-Israeli NATO?
Anthony DiMaggio
#Me Too: Women are Speaking Out, Are We Listening?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Out Walked Monk
Ann Robertson - Bill Leumer
The Demoralizing Impact of Trump, But Hope Has Arrived
Samantha Paez – Sandra de los Santos
The Most Dangerous Place for Mexican Women is in the Streets
Martin Billheimer
Assassins of the Image: the CIA as Cultural Gatekeeper
Jérôme Duval
From Slave Trade to Debt: Occupation Disguised as “Discovery”
Vijay Prashad
The October Revolution
John Wight
The Grenfell Fire UK Establishment Circus
Steve Martinot
Twisted Thinking: Police Militarization in Berkeley
Robert Fantina
Juvenile Delinquency in U.S. Government
Dave Lindorff
Stupidity and Blindness Have Destroyed Whatever Democracy the US Ever Had
Pete Dolack
You are Working Harder and Getting Paid Less
Joseph Natoli
The Axioms of the Other
Susan Babbitt
Why Don Quixote?
Ralph Nader
What Does Trump Mean by “Make America Great Again”?
Ramzy Baroud
Towards a New Palestinian Beginning
Binoy Kampmark
Escaping Reality: Roy Moore and the Rage of Decency
Mark Luskus
Corporate Interests Are Warping the Internet
Brian Terrell
A Story of Two Blockades: New York City and Yemen
Ron Jacobs
Sinking in the Swamp
Brian Cloughley
Prepare! Pursue!! Prevail!!!
Matthew Stevenson
Into Africa: The Tanzania-Zambia Train to Nowhere
Jill Richardson
We Agree Assault is Bad, Now Let’s Agree on How to Punish It
Jeremy Corbyn
The Greatest Threats to Our Common Humanity
Walter Clemens – Stephen Advocate
The Amoral Code of America’s Dirty Old Men
Sheldon Richman
Trump & Co.’s Vile Anti-Immigrationism
Jessicah Pierre
Trump’s Cruel Policy on Haitian Refugees
George Wuerthner
Water Rights or Water Privileges?
Nick Pemberton
What I Learned in Ghana 
Missy Comley Beattie
It’s Capitalism
Tom H. Hastings
Stop Trump movement
Thomas Knapp
The Real Internet Censorship Threat
Robert Koehler
Peace on the Far Side of Nuclear Weapons
Kary Love
Christmas Letter to Jesus
Tom Clifford
China: From the Treasure Fleet to One Belt, One Road
Charles R. Larson
Trump’s Blueprint for State Capture
M. Shadee Malaklou
Jay-Z’s 4:44 Moves Black Radical Thought Through and Beyond the Classroom
Michael Dickinson
What About Our Debts, Pope Francis?
Phil Rockstroh
What Was Verifiably Great About America: Fragments of a Memoir Set to a Musical Soundtrack
David Yearsley
Froberger’s Musical Therapy
Edward Curtin
A Man Turns
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail