America’s Tortured Past

Linked with Stephen Lendman – USA.

Published by the peoples voice, by Stephen Lendman, Aug 31, 2009.

On August 24, an ACLU press release stated:

In response to two Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits, “The government today handed over to the American Civil Liberties Union (one of dozens of documents comprising an unprecedented 130,000 previously secret pages, including) a detailed official description of the CIA’s interrogation program.”

Referring to a heavily redacted December 2004 report (originally commissioned by CIA director George Tenet) detailing torture of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan, it “describes the use of abusive interrogation techniques including forced nudity, sleep deprivation, dietary manipulation and stress positions.” Far worse ones were understated or redacted entirely.  

According to Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU National Security Project:

The report “is a profoundly disturbing document that illustrates, as well as anything could, how far the CIA strayed from the law and from values that are integral to our democracy. That the barbaric methods outlined in the paper were approved by the country’s senior-most officials is particularly appalling.”

Bush’s Justice Department office of legal counsel head, now a federal appeals court judge, Jay Bybee, advised the CIA that torture and threats of imminent death were legal if they didn’t cause mental harm even though US and international law forbid all forms at all times with no exceptions allowed for any reason …

… America’s Tortured Past

Many, perhaps most or all countries have used torture at times in their past, so it shouldn’t surprise that America did as far back as before the republic’s birth. Accused 17th century Salem witches faced abusive interrogations, a less extreme form of waterboarding, grueling trials, death by hanging for those convicted, and at least one victim was crushed to death under heavy boulders. None so far as known was burned alive.

Native Americans were (and still are) victims of genocide through mass slaughter, starvation, neglect, and by exposing them to deadly pathogens like smallpox and other diseases, including influenza, whooping cough, diphtheria, typhus, plague, cholera, and scarlet fever.

Entire tribes were annihilated. Columbus exterminated the whole Hispaniola population by torture, mass-murder, forced labor, starvation, disease, despair, stabbing natives for sport, dashing babies’ heads on rocks, letting children be eaten by dogs, beheadings, and burning people at the stake among other atrocities, including especially brutal treatment of women.

In the antebellum South, slaves were tortured by whipping, painful restraint, prolonged isolation in a sealed shed with choking tobacco smoke, and by other punishments. Theodore Roosevelt defended water torture (today’s waterboarding) called the “water cure” to extract confessions from Filipinos because “nobody was seriously damaged.”

In 1995, Bill Clinton issued Presidential Decision Directive 39 (PDD-39) authorizing extraordinary rendition to other countries for interrogations and torture.

Torture As A Weapon of War: … (full text).

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