Hersh's new book


But the interrogations at Guantánamo were a bust. Very little useful intelligence had been gathered, while prisoners from around the world continued to flow into the base, and the facility constantly expanded. The CIA analyst had been sent there to find out what was going wrong. He was fluent in Arabic and familiar with the Islamic world. He was held in high respect within the agency, and was capable of reporting directly, if he chose, to George Tenet, the CIA director. The analyst did more than just visit and inspect. He interviewed at least 30 prisoners to find out who they were and how they ended up in Guantánamo. Some of his findings, he later confided to a former CIA colleague, were devastating.

“He came back convinced that we were committing war crimes in Guantánamo,” the colleague told me. “Based on his sample, more than half the people there didn’t belong there. He found people lying in their own faeces,” including two captives, perhaps in their 80s, who were clearly suffering from dementia. “He thought what was going on was an outrage,” the CIA colleague added. There was no rational system for determining who was important.

Gonzales added that Bush bore no responsibility for the wrongdoing. “The president has not authorised, ordered or directed in any way any activity that would transgress the standards of the torture conventions or the torture statute, or other applicable laws,” Gonzales said. In fact, a secret statement of the president’s views, which he signed on February 7, 2002 contained a loophole that applied worldwide: “I determine that none of the provisions of Geneva apply to our conflict with al-Qaida in Afghanistan or elsewhere throughout the world,” the president asserted.

One of the marines assigned to guard duty at Guantánamo in 2003, who has since left the military, told me, after being promised anonymity, that he and his enlisted colleagues at the base were encouraged by their squad leaders to “give the prisoners a visit” once or twice a month, when there were no television crews, journalists, or other outside visitors at the prison.

“We tried to fuck with them as much as we could - inflict a little bit of pain. We couldn’t do much,” for fear of exposure, the former marine, who also served in Afghanistan, told me.

“There were always newspeople there,” he said. “That’s why you couldn’t send them back with a broken leg or so. And if somebody died, I’d get court-martialled.”

The roughing up of prisoners was sometimes spur-of-the-moment, the former marine said: “A squad leader would say, ‘Let’s go - all the cameras on lunch break.’” One pastime was to put hoods on the prisoners and “drive them around the camp in a Humvee, making turns so they didn’t know where they were. […] I wasn’t trying to get information. I was just having a little fun - playing mind control.” When I asked a senior FBI official about the former marine’s account, he told me that agents assigned to interrogation duties at Guantánamo had described similar activities to their superiors.

In May 2004, the New York Times reported that the FBI had instructed its agents to avoid being present at interrogation sessions with suspected al-Qaida members. The newspaper said the severe methods used to extract information would be prohibited in criminal cases, and therefore could compromise the agents in future legal proceedings against the suspects. “We don’t believe in coercion,” a senior FBI official subsequently told me. “Our goal is to get information and we try to gain the prisoners’ trust. We have strong feelings about it.” The FBI official added, “I thought Rumsfeld should have been fired long ago.”

“They did it the wrong way,” a Pentagon adviser on the war on terror told me, “and took a heavy-handed approach based on coercion, instead of persuasion - which actually has a much better track record. It’s about rage and the need to strike back. It’s evil, but it’s also stupid. It’s not torture but acts of kindness that lead to concessions. The persuasive approach takes longer but gets far better results.”

No doubt this will reduce the overall terrorist count - people don’t ever hear about or get upset about this sort of thing and declare jihad against the US! Fuck.

Can you name one group who has declared jihad on the US who had not previously? I’m not saying our policies are right (they clearly aren’t) but Im just curious.

Like there’s going to be a terrorist group that previously was all peaceful? :wink:

I’d imagine detaining innocent old men and keeping them in pools of their own waste might flip a few moderate muslims into full-bore hatred of the US, and making people love us in the muslim world is pretty much our #1 goal here to cut off the terrorist’s support base.