by Robert Fisk, The Independent
Up to the end, they wanted to keep it secret.
And the vicious psychopaths and sadists that ran the CIA’s torture centres “on our behalf” must be protected, even praised by the Bushies for keeping our civilisation safe. Their lies – to us as well as their victims – were all in the cause of freedom, so let’s have no more talk of Muslims standing on broken feet, bubbling through the mouth after 82 rounds of waterboarding or being fed hummus through the rectum.
And the Republicans and Bushies, sniffing how badly they come out of all this – of course the release of these vile tortures is “ideologically motivated”, just as they claim – now respond with an excuse that almost parallels the weapons-of-mass-destruction-al-Qaeda-links-to-Saddam-Niger-tubes tosh we were fed before we embarked on our slaughter in Iraq 11 years ago. In fact, it’s the same old rubbish they churned out before the obscene Abu Ghraib photos were published. “It will significantly endanger Americans around the world,” the Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told us.
So we’ve locked up our embassies and put our people on red alert or purple alert or whatever infantile coding suffices to terrorise Americans and their friends, and we’ve concocted the lie – perhaps as poisonous as all the other CIA lies – that the Arab Muslim world will be really, really angry when they learn about the atrocities our chaps committed in the cause of freedom, liberty and the West. That’s what they said about the Abu Ghraib snapshots – these Arab chappies are going to be awfully upset when they see the snapshots of piled human torsos and the guy in the hood strung up with electric wires. And they might be so angry that they might turn violent. Now, it’s the same again with the CIA report.
All nonsense. The CIA’s depravities are not going to infuriate the Muslim world – because the Muslim world has been enraged about these crimes for years. They were the victims, for heaven’s sake. They were the witnesses. They knew the truth long before our masters admitted the truth to us. These poor men – and women, if we include the female victims of rape at Abu Ghraib, whose pictures we were never allowed to see – came home, most of them, years ago, and told their families and friends all about the iniquities we inflicted upon them. Theirs was the only testament that counted. It was true.
The fear of our masters – of the Pentagon, the Bushies, the CIA – is not that the Arabs will be shocked by these revelations. Their anxiety is that we will be so ashamed at what they have done in our name that we will consider them war criminals (which, of course, they are) and perhaps lock them up in – and here, I love the American phrase for prison – “a correctional institution”. Indeed, some may argue that many of these criminal men (and, alas, women) need psychological help to “deradicalise” them. For yes, while we waffle on and on about the “radicalisation” of our young people who go to join the criminals of Isis, we pay no attention to the equally frightful “radicalisation” of the thugs and misfits (or perhaps not misfits at all) in the CIA – and the smarmy acceptance of their methods by our own security services, in so far as they accepted information gained under torture – who were “radicalised” (oddly, the word makes more sense in this context) by the desire to inflict suffering in the torture chambers of the state.
A detainee with wires attached to him in Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad in 2003 A detainee with wires attached to him in Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad in 2003 (AP) Yes, it is our fury and surprise and anger at these revelations which leads the Republicans – thankfully, not all of them – to denounce the CIA report, even though it is a highly censored version of the original, just as the Abu Ghraib photos were a highly censored collection of the pictures that were available. It is we who are saying: Did we do this? Did our public servants perform these acts in the torture chambers? In our name?
But we should have realised all this when Dick Cheney started talking of the “dark side”, when the CIA denied those black prisons in Poland and Romania, when the first detainees came home and told us of their suffering. It was all “propaganda”. I remember our masters reassuring us that this was Baathist propaganda or rebel propaganda or terrorist propaganda or Islamist propaganda – the British used the same stuff (IRA or terrorist propaganda) when they were in conflict in Northern Ireland. So did the French in Algeria. And the moment you allow the sleek young men of the CIA – actively encouraged by the most recent American television serials promoting brutality and assassination – to torture against “terror”, you’re in the same basket as the bad guys. We are the bad guys, too. That’s what the US Senate Intelligence Committee report told us this week.
As for poor old Obama, well, you can read his own statement any way you like. “I will continue to use my authority as President to make sure we never resort to those methods again.” Just like he was going to close Guantanamo forever. Just like he’s using more drones than the Bushies ever contemplated sending against their enemies – and civilians. Well, at least we’re not as bad as Isis. We don’t cut throats or enslave women (although the rapes at Abu Ghraib come a close second). As a former British Prime Minister used to remind us when the mass graves were filling up in Iraq, at least we’re not as bad as Saddam.
Some moral compass that!