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« Money, Politics, and Your Local Leaders | Main | Bill Moyers & Michael Winship: The Wave of "Capitol Crimes" Continues »

A New Administration, A New Policy On Torture?

(Photo by Robin Holland)

This week on the JOURNAL, Bill Moyers spoke with investigative reporter Jane Mayer, whose new book, THE DARK SIDE: THE INSIDE STORY OF HOW THE WAR ON TERROR TURNED INTO A WAR ON AMERICAN IDEALS, chronicles the use of torture by the United States following the events of September 11th, 2001. Mayer addressed what she sees as evasive statements from U.S. government officials about interrogation techniques.


“The CIA's always said, ‘We did nothing to the detainees that we haven't done to our own people in training.’ And that sounds okay maybe, until you really know what do we do to our people in training. Well, there's a special program inside the military called the SERE program... It stands for survival, evasion, resistance, and escape. What is that program? The program is... mock torture program based on hideous Communist methods of torture that U.S. soldiers have had to endure in the past. They do it in order to inoculate our soldiers, to give them sort of a defensive training. So when they said, ‘Well, we're just doing what we do with our own people,’ they didn't explain that what we're doing to our own people as a special program is Communist torture methods... We copied the methods of the people that we labeled the evil empire, ironically enough.”

What do you think?

  • How should the incoming administration deal with the question of torture?

  • What specific actions would you like to see the next administration take in terms of future policies?

  • How should they deal with actions taken by the current administration over the last seven years?


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    Comments

    I think that we should pull back are troops from the war in Afganistan.

    This ignorant corrupt warmongering Cheney-Bush regime in the Wh**e House should, if there is any justice, be at the Hague Tribunal trying to keep their necks out of the noose for the war crimes that they have committed.

    And the Repubs and Democs say that impeachment if off the table.

    It is way past time for us to support a new political party.

    Jesse Ventura for President!

    Tina Beacock: Right on, girl!
    Sometimes the Socialist Worker has information rejected elsewhere, information all Americans should hear. It is not only in Chicago that helpless prisoners are abused and killed. The rash of deadly tazering should also be a warning to the public.
    John McCain says he plans to approach domestic crime with the same kinds of surge tactics he cites as successful in Iraq (Obama had no reply, no critique, implying approval.). Despite the legal and strategic differences making his proposal sound insane, it implies more preemptive killing, torture, abamdonment of due process, even payments to criminal gangs and covert para militaries. David Eddy's appeals to shaming seem silly in a lawless world where a police state hosts the Olympics. (having criminal Bush scold the Chinese administration makes him look like a jealous competitor, a dictator wannabe.
    Thank you again educator and human rights advocate Tina Beacock. Will you be marching on Washington with us Moyeristas Inauguration Day? I'd be delighted to meet you. beretco.op@gmail.com

    Tina Beacock: Right on, girl!
    Sometimes the Socialist Worker has information rejected elsewhere, information all Americans should hear. It is not only in Chicago that helpless prisoners are abused and killed. The rash of deadly tazering should also be a warning to the public.
    John McCain says he plans to approach domestic crime with the same kinds of surge tactics he cites as successful in Iraq (Obama had no reply, no critique, implying approval.). Despite the legal and strategic differences making his proposal sound insane, it implies more preemptive killing, torture, abamdonment of due process, even payments to criminal gangs and covert para militaries. David Eddy's appeals to shaming seem silly in a lawless world where a police state hosts the Olympics. (having criminal Bush scold the Chinese administration makes him look like a jealous competitor, a dictator wannabe.
    Thank you again Tina Beacock. Will you be marching on Washington with us Moyeristas Inauguration Day? I'd be delighted to meet you. beretco.op@gmail.com

    Pre-emptive killings and torture have been a NO NO! SHAME SHAME! BAD BAD! since the Geneva Conference. Why would we want to return to this type of inhumanity? There is no doubt that these practices go against moral and Christian principles.
    Removing prisoners clothing and threatening them with dogs is disgraceful as well as immoral. It also has sexual implications. The whole thing is Sick! Sick! Sick! How can we tolerate that kind of behavior? Have we gone mad? We need to put the supporters and perpetuators of these crimes in a mental hospital. There has been an intense effort by the entertainment media to promote inhumane and malicious behavior. We need to take whatever actions are necessary to ride our selves of this malignant behavior.

    There are members of our government who probably ought to be tried for war crimes.

    I think that President Obama will deal with these matters. I am not competely confident that he will, but daily I have more confidence in his wisedom and moral judgment.

    "DOUGLAS FEITH: It's about removing of comfort items and of clothing that would make - the idea was to induce stress, they talked about. But one could induce - in our police stations around America every day, American citizens are subjected to stress as part of interrogations. It could be done in an inhumane way; it could be done in a humane way. The general guidance-" Feith is right-- torture IS used in U.S. See this article:http://socialistworker.org/2008/07/25/abu-ghraib-in-chicago

    "DOUGLAS FEITH: It's about removing of comfort items and of clothing that would make - the idea was to induce stress, they talked about. But one could induce - in our police stations around America every day, American citizens are subjected to stress as part of interrogations. It could be done in an inhumane way; it could be done in a humane way. The general guidance-" Feith is right-- torture IS used in U.S. See this article:http://socialistworker.org/2008/07/25/abu-ghraib-in-chicago

    Hero: You are a hero just for posting the you tube access to Brian Lamb's July 28th interview with Chris Heges.
    One begins to understand how our country is dying and that no election, or smart ass comments or Olympics, or stimulus package can save it.
    Moyers: You need to forget your little plastic election playset and bring Chris Heges back for a follow-up. Your book shilling and covert politicking are going nowhere. No matter if the Republicans have a rotten kettle of fish, you're serving Obama baloney and mustard on white bread. Why not call the mass murderers to account?

    Justin Roth:
    You better tell the Republican hodaddies about this CIA skin game. The implications for voter fraud in November are horrendous. E-mail the Ohio and Florida Secs. of State endlessly,and the Justic Department, until you obtain satisfaction. I wondered why pieces kept falling off McCain's head: Now I know!

    The CIA has a secret program where they take a person and put them into a lifelike bodysuit of synthetic skin. The whole suit looks very real, but the fact is that the government is using this method to rip families apart, torture, and spy on people without a warrant. I know this because the CIA tried to recruit me and has been trying for the past few years. First they paint a jellylike substance onto the body then they add layers of synthetic material over the body and heat seal it onto them. Then, they paint it and add hair and texture to the synthetic skin and the whole thing looks very life like. Just think of this election year's political buzzword "change" and also look at Barack Obama's appearance on Saturday Night Live at
    http://www.nbc.com/Saturday_Night_Live/politics/video/play.shtml?mea=229116
    My family and I are victims of this program and I haven't seen them in several years. Instead, government agents have been contracting with the CIA and using the bodysuit method I described earlier to steal my family's identities.
    This is a very serious domestic issue that is not being explored at all by the media. If you go and ask the CIA or the Justice Department specifically about this program, I wonder what they would say.
    Again, this is a U.S. government program being used to rip families apart and spy on and torture American citizens. This is extremely serious. Thank you for listening.

    Plan of Dick Cheney to cause Americans kill Americans

    We have the Pearl Harbor, and 9/11-Incident. Here is another attempt to fabricate casus belli between Tehran and Washington.

    http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article20398.htm
    To Provoke War

    Cheney Considered Proposal To Dress Up Navy Seals As Iranians And Shoot At Them

    By Faiz

    01/08/08 "Think Progress" --- Speaking at the Campus Progress journalism conference earlier this month, Seymour Hersh — a Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist for The New Yorker — revealed that Bush administration officials held a meeting recently in the Vice President’s office to discuss ways to provoke a war with Iran.
    In Hersh’s most recent article, he reports that this meeting occurred in the wake of the overblown incident in the Strait of Hormuz, when a U.S. carrier almost shot at a few small Iranian speedboats. The “meeting took place in the Vice-President’s office. ‘The subject was how to create a casus belli between Tehran and Washington,’” according to one of Hersh’s sources.

    During the journalism conference event, I asked Hersh specifically about this meeting and if he could elaborate on what occurred. Hersh explained that, during the meeting in Cheney’s office, an idea was considered to dress up Navy Seals as Iranians, put them on fake Iranian speedboats, and shoot at them. This idea, intended to provoke an Iran war, was ultimately rejected:

    HERSH: There was a dozen ideas proffered about how to trigger a war. The one that interested me the most was why don’t we build — we in our shipyard — build four or five boats that look like Iranian PT boats. Put Navy seals on them with a lot of arms. And next time one of our boats goes to the Straits of Hormuz, start a shoot-up.

    Might cost some lives. And it was rejected because you can’t have Americans killing Americans. That’s the kind of — that’s the level of stuff we’re talking about. Provocation. But that was rejected.

    Watch it:


    Hersh argued that one of the things the Bush administration learned during the encounter in the Strait of Hormuz was that, “if you get the right incident, the American public will support” it.

    “Look, is it high school? Yeah,” Hersh said. “Are we playing high school with you know 5,000 nuclear warheads in our arsenal? Yeah we are. We’re playing, you know, who’s the first guy to run off the highway with us and Iran.”

    Transcript:

    HERSH: There was a meeting. Among the items considered and rejected — which is why the New Yorker did not publish it, on grounds that it wasn’t accepted — one of the items was why not…

    There was a dozen ideas proffered about how to trigger a war. The one that interested me the most was why don’t we build — we in our shipyard — build four or five boats that look like Iranian PT boats. Put Navy seals on them with a lot of arms. And next time one of our boats goes to the Straits of Hormuz, start a shoot-up. Might cost some lives.

    And it was rejected because you can’t have Americans killing Americans. That’s the kind of — that’s the level of stuff we’re talking about. Provocation. But that was rejected.

    So I can understand the argument for not writing something that was rejected — uh maybe. My attitude always towards editors is they’re mice training to be rats.

    But the point is jejune, if you know what that means. Silly? Maybe. But potentially very lethal. Because one of the things they learned in the incident was the American public, if you get the right incident, the American public will support bang-bang-kiss-kiss. You know, we’re into it.

    …What happened in the Gulf was, in the Straits, in early January, the President was just about to go to the Middle East for a visit. So that was one reason they wanted to gin it up. Get it going.

    Look, is it high school? Yeah. Are we playing high school with you know 5,000 nuclear warheads in our arsenal? Yeah we are. We’re playing, you know, who’s the first guy to run off the highway with us and Iran.

    Click on "comments" below to read or post comments

    Comments (12) Comment (0)

    Why is the political process dragging on for so long? Don't we have enough evidence to put Rumsfeld on trail for war crimes? There is a lesson to be learnt around the world from this experience. The most powerful country in the world does not have the ability to contain the errant acts of criminal elements within the government. If this can happen, who is watching out that some other criminal act like pre-emptively attacking another country without full support of the US congress won't happen under this administration's watch? Chilling...

    Dear Bill Moyers,

    Thank you for your show. I listen to the podcasts as they become available.

    Jane Mayer's report was very informative. Negative sanctions up the chain of command would be a good place to start breathing life back into the constitution.

    Dear Mr. Moyers,

    I really look forward to your Friday night program on PBS. You do a great service to our country and to the cause of truth. Regarding the segment with Jane Mayer last week, I have several observations. First, the question of torture is really not as complicated as it might seem. Just ask the question, if the methods that have been used on our detainees had been perpetrated on our own soldiers in captivity, would they be considered torture? If the American public learned that our captured troops were subjected to forced feeding, beatings, or nudity, would there be outrage over their treatment? If yes, then it's torture.

    Secondly, as for whether torture "works" in providing useful information, we should remember what Lavrenti Beria, Stalin's chief of secret police, said once: "Give me a man for one night and I can make him confess to anything."

    The use of doctors and psychologists in interrogations should trouble us all. How soon we forget that this is something that was widely condemned in the former Soviet Union when psychiatrists and other doctors assisted in the "treatment" of dissidents in mental hospitals and prisons. I'm surprised that in the discussions of the involvement of doctors and psychologists in Guantanamo and other places this historical analogy is never mentioned.

    i have yet to see anything from someone that knows what SERE realy is .drop you off with just a uniform ,its too cold at night to sleep,keep moving knowing the "others"have night vision.
    might go 36 hours with no food before cought.then you learn that waterboarding just breaks its not for learning anything,no one can walk away from waterboarding saying they won.

    It turns my stomach, quite literally, to watch someone of such despicable charater as this cretin feith. Along with the true "Asses of Evil" - bush, cheney and rice, and all the other sub-humans who have dragged the US into the gutter with their ilk, these disgusting creatures have set the US back decades if not centuries. War criminals all - beyond contempt.

    I have to say this interview was excellent, and at the same time shocking and incredibly disappointing, as far as our government goes that is.

    Did you see the recent news that the McCain campaign said don't listen to McCain on taxes? Really. You probably heard this already. But let's seriously think about what this means: http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2008/7/30/211014/271/656/559705

    A fantastic interview C-Span!
    Brian Lamb Q&A Chris Hedges

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iOZrJlIcCOs

    How disappointing. So much for my rose colored glasses in thinking that Americans were above this. Cheney, the puppet master, and Rumsfeld being convicted of war crimes wouldn't bother me in the least.
    However I would have liked to have heard more about 'rendition'.

    Vanity Fair reporter Katherine Eban unravels the central role of two CIA-contracted psychologists, James Elmer Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, in designing torture tactics for use on detainees held in secret CIA prisons around the world. In her article,Rorschach and Awe,America's coercive interrogation methods were reverse-engineered by two C.I.A. psychologists who had spent their careers training U.S. soldiers to endure Communist-style torture techniques. The spread of these tactics was fueled by a myth about a critical "black site" operation.
    As opposition grows over the APA's policy allowing psychologists to take part in military interrogations,there is a further point, a more serious charge. Psychology and other social sciences might be doing actual harm to our society. You needn't be a scholar to sense this. In fact, scholarship is often a hindrance to understanding what is really happening.
    Despite the creation of a virtual army of psychiatrists, psychologists, psychometrists, counselors, and social workers, there has been no letup in the rate of mental illness, suicide, alcoholism, drug addiction, child abuse, divorce, murder, and general mayhem.And now, designing torture tactics.

    Torture by administration?
    is a lot like everything else to do with this administration.

    Like dancing at the prom with who brung ya.

    And perhaps even date-raped.

    NeoCON world is a world without consequences.

    It is obvious to almost everyone by now that our Government does not trust us-we the people.
    I for one do not trust anyone in our now stinking government.
    I would trust Osama Bin Laden before the liars bush and cheney.

    Jon, you're right, notice how Mayer denied that "our torture" resembled or approached "Nazi torture."
    Yes Mikell van der Laa, torture is routine in most every police station and confinement facility because we are socialized as a sadistic society. We are even lees productive because our jobs are predatory. George Bush's evils (not unique)were made possible by citizen ignorance fostered by media and mis-education.
    Polpundit wants a definition and Jacob wants to know what works. Jacob, don't be sucked in, even top psychologists disagree on what degradations and pains do to people. Maybe you'd just like to watch 24. Pol, it's like pornography: "I'll know it when I see it." When they take your clothes and begin to shock your rectum as you lie hogtied in sewage the definition will be indelibly marked on your soul. (I speak from experience, 1983-Guatemala.)
    Annie and lost souls, I am a fellow traveler with you.
    Ella52- You can find something much more informative and meaningful to read than flak Jane Mayer's containment piece. This Sadistically Transmitted Disease has permeated our cosmos. We are all tortured hostages now. It is our duty to humanity to escape and resist, not to read our own post mortem. If you want to serve as an humane executioner Max Kaehn, I will volunteer as a strict judge of Bush's gang, but I don't know where we'd find an honest jury.

    I want the next president of the United States to be a morally righteous man that does only what is good for the betterment of a troubled mankind, and what is right for the well-being of an unhealthy planet in desperate need of some tender loving care. I would ask and expect nothing more or less than that.

    =
    MJA

    Since we can never know if the instances where torture was 'successful' whether or not humane interrogations would have been as productive or better, are there any situations where traditional techniques were employed unsuccessfully impelling them to use torture, which was successful? That's what I want to know.

    Thank you for the opportunity to hear the voices that we wouldn't normally hear. In the end, it seems that we have become the enemy that we so greatly feared.

    If we want to restore our international credibility quickly, we need to find the highest-ranked names that authorized the use of torture and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law, and make it abundantly clear that the people of the United States will not stand for torture being done in our name. That kind of abrupt turnaround could do as much good for our image and the corresponding international cooperation as years of calm diplomacy.

    The interview with Jane Mayer simply begged the question, a question that continues to swirl and swirl around within the media, yet never seems to light or come to a stop in order to allow a focused view. That question is what is torture?

    Bill Moyers never defined torture in the interview with Ms. Mayer. Ms. Mayer never defined torture in the interview. Generic terms such as “inhumane” “humiliating” and “cruel” were added to season the mix of the swirl, and except for an allusion to “waterboarding” that was used on three people, a death caused by a terrorist being suffocated in a sleeping bag, and a vague reference to the survival, evasion, resistance and escape training protocol that has been used by the military for decades, during both Republican administrations and Democratic administrations, there was no concrete definition or concrete examples of the “torture” that was being referenced.

    Exactly what acts constitute torture? Waterboarding and smothering are the easier acts to address. No argument there. But, is sleep interruption torture? Is sleep deprivation torture? Is moving a captured terrorist from one cell to another during the day and night torture? Is interrupting his feeding patterns while still honoring his religious diet requirements torture? Is asking him hard questions torture? Is putting a hood over his head during transport torture? Is keeping him guarded by dogs torture?

    Reasonable people may differ on the answers to these questions.

    If you are going to discuss torture and throw the term “torture” around like it’s obvious that everything is torture that doesn’t allow terrorists – not soldiers – not unarmed civilians – but terrorists who are caught in the act, or after the act of armed conflict with the U.S. military – to be completely free of questions, stress, incarceration, eight to nine hours of uninterrupted sleep every night, three hot religiously correct meals a day, a bed to sleep in, prayer-time five times a day, access to an Imam and a Koran, then you need to be more responsible in your reporting.

    Very disappointed, and this from a Texas Democrat.
    Watched your Journal on “Torture” and the recent hearings: I’ve now lost all the respect for you fortified while seeing you in person at SMU in the 1980s.
    What a slam you did on the subject simply to get your twisted point of view across. Fact: NO TORTURE was every sanctioned or performed on Al Qaeda detainees, unless of course you consider what happens in every police station in the United States to suspects (SUSPECTS not even convicted persons) is somehow now called torture. I think not! You are clearly the type willing to sell US integrity down the stream in order to get a lousy hit point on Bush and his half witted henchmen: redefining torture so you can claim that “America is a now a torturer thanks to Bush”.
    Do you think we (the US) forced or coerced information from the French in the 1600s or the British in the 1700s or the Germans, Japanese and Italians in the 19th century, the Vietnamese, the Cubans the Russians? Do you think the three people water boarded in Guantanamo Bay were the start of something uniquely Bushian? I’ll bet you are better informed than that.
    You spent the entire segment attempting to force the word “torture” “torture” “torture” down my throat. It was cruel and inhumane, do I have a claim? By your definition I might. In reality you’ve presented zero evidence short of a few likeminded persons that believe the US is evil.
    The real message in your Journal concerning torture was this: I Bill Moyers have a distinct view of power and its abuse and I intend to illustrate that George Bush and his administration are truly evil, even if I have to twist every fact, omit evidence to the contrary, scope every view, stack every witness deck such that their views match my own, journalism be damn!
    Media is power in the 21st century and your segment slam is “THE” example of its modern abuse. Humans are too dumb for conspiracies Bill, and hearing you wax on the subject of a grand Bushian conspiracy to torture is like listening to people talk about alien abduction.

    I am a disabled woman who has lived with unreasonable fear most all of my life. I lived through Vietnam, assignations and now this Bush Imperialism.

    At some point I believe with all my heart the peoples of our United States will rise up and take back our Government or we might as well resign to the inevitable implosion of this Country.

    Wonderful interview. I heard about the book on NPR, now I am on the wait list for it at my library.
    Once again PBS and specifically Bill Moyers is the only place to hear people talking about the very real consequences of ill-thought out policies. I agree with a previous post that we should be talking also about how to return to the fundamentals in the Constitution. If we throw out our founding principles because of national security how are we different from every other oppressive regime. When I was growing up we were always told that the Communists believed "the ends justified the means" and how corrupting a belief like that could be.
    But apparently that it isn't an issue for this administration.

    If anyone, including Dick Cheney, ever sanctioned torture, then he should have given permission to the enemy, that it was OK to torture our soldiers if they were captured. And this is a damable logic.

    Thanks for a good interview with Jane Mayer. I had heard of the book, and was interested in the subject matter. The interview was educational and politically balanced. The interview was clear and unbiased, in the presentation of the issues. Thanks!

    Thanks for a good interview with Jane Mayer. I had heard of the book, and was interested in the subject matter. The interview was educational and politically balanced. The interview was clear and unbiased, in the presentation of the issues. Thanks!

    The meta narrative SHOULD be how we are ever going to be able to effect a full Constitutional restoration. Without it, we will continue down this rogue path to a fascist dictatorship. I believe that there has already been a de facto coup d'etat, and that we no longer a functioning republic form of democracy.

    I agree with Ms. Mayer when she avers that once torture is used, responses become incrementally and increasingly harder, more police-like and more forceful. This is evidenced by the criminalization of people with mental illness, the criminalization of people with drug dependency and the widespread and unregulated use of tasers and other forms of torture and abuse which mostly leave few, if any physcial marks.

    I miss the "good old US of A" - where the Constitution and the rule of law was largely followed prior to the oppressive, secretive and authoritarian reign of Bush and Cheney, and I really don't think we will get it back in the way of a functioning Constitution when people such as Nancy Pelosi, speaking this morning on the NBC Today show, remark that the primary responsibility of any president is to protect the American people and national security instead of to accutely convey that it is to the Constitution and NOT to national security, that their primary accountability lies. Democrats, just as much as Republicans, have broken the public trust and their oaths of office - to protect, defend and preserve the Constitution of the United States.

    Devastating.

    It seems while the American culture of violence can readily be compared, in many respects, to the practices of Germany during WWII - the use and roots of American terrorism is more fundamental and more closely aligned with the Inquisitions of the past 1000 years. The god-delusion seems hard to let go of.

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