• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

CounterPunch needs you. piggybank-icon You need us. The cost of keeping the site alive and running is growing fast, as more and more readers visit. We want you to stick around, but it eats up bandwidth and costs us a bundle. Help us reach our modest goal (we are half way there!) so we can keep CounterPunch going. Donate today!
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Outsourcing Torture

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.   

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

Weekend Edition
May 24, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Rob Urie
Iran, Venezuela and the Throes of Empire
Melvin Goodman
The Dangerous Demise of Disarmament
Jeffrey St. Clair
“The Army Ain’t No Place for a Black Man:” How the Wolf Got Caged
Richard Moser
War is War on Mother Earth
Andrew Levine
The (Small-d) Democrat’s Dilemma
Russell Mokhiber
The Boeing Way: Blaming Dead Pilots
Rev. William Alberts
Gaslighters of God
Phyllis Bennis
The Amputation Crisis in Gaza: a US-Funded Atrocity
David Rosen
21st Century Conglomerate Trusts 
Jonathan Latham
As a GMO Stunt, Professor Tasted a Pesticide and Gave It to Students
Binoy Kampmark
The Espionage Act and Julian Assange
Kathy Deacon
Liberals Fall Into Line: a Recurring Phenomenon
Jill Richardson
The Disparity Behind Anti-Abortion Laws
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Chelsea Manning is Showing Us What Real Resistance Looks Like
Zhivko Illeieff
Russiagate and the Dry Rot in American Journalism
Norman Solomon
Will Biden’s Dog Whistles for Racism Catch Up with Him?
Yanis Varoufakis
The Left Refuses to Get Its Act Together in the Face of Neofascism
Lawrence Davidson
Senator Schumer’s Divine Mission
Thomas Knapp
War Crimes Pardons: A Terrible Memorial Day Idea
Renee Parsons
Dump Bolton before He Starts the Next War
Yves Engler
Canada’s Meddling in Venezuela
Katie Singer
Controlling 5G: A Course in Obstacles
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Beauty of Trees
Jesse Jackson
Extremist Laws, Like Alabama’s, Will Hit Poor Women the Hardest
Andrew Bacevich
The “Forever Wars” Enshrined
Ron Jacobs
Another One Moves On: Roz Payne, Presente!
Christopher Brauchli
The Offal Office
Daniel Falcone
Where the ‘Democratic Left’ Goes to Die: Staten Island NYC and the Forgotten Primaries   
Julia Paley
Life After Deportation
Sarah Anderson
America Needs a Long-Term Care Program for Seniors
Seiji Yamada – John Witeck
Stop U.S. Funding for Human Rights Abuses in the Philippines
Shane Doyle, A.J. Not Afraid and Adrian Bird, Jr.
The Crazy Mountains Deserve Preservation
Charlie Nash
Will Generation Z Introduce a Wizard Renaissance?
Ron Ridenour
Denmark Peace-Justice Conference Based on Activism in Many Countries
Douglas Bevington
Why California’s Costly (and Destructive) Logging Plan for Wildfires Will Fail
Gary Leupp
“Escalating Tensions” with Iran
Jonathan Power
Making the World More Equal
Cesar Chelala
The Social Burden of Depression in Japan
Stephen Cooper
Imbibe Culture and Consciousness with Cocoa Tea (The Interview)
Stacy Bannerman
End This Hidden Threat to Military Families
Kevin Basl
Time to Rethink That POW/MIA Flag
Nicky Reid
Pledging Allegiance to the Divided States of America
Louis Proyect
A Second Look at Neflix
Martin Billheimer
Closed Shave: T. O. Bobe, the Girl and Curl
David Yearsley
Hard Bop and Bezos’ Balls
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail