A Brief History of American Torture

Wilkins, Bret

Publisher:  CounterPunch
Date Written:  08/05/2018
Year Published:  2018  
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX22612

The recent appointment of Gina Haspel as Head of the CIA reopens a dark chapter in US history -- the "enhanced interrogation", or torture of men, women and children. It also emphasizes the fact that no American officials who sanctioned, devised, supervised or implemented torture have ever been brought to justice for these crimes against humanity.



As the war on terror expanded to include countries that had absolutely nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks, people resisting US invasion and occupation, as well as innocent men, women and children, were imprisoned and abused. The most notorious of these torture prisons was Abu Ghraib near Baghdad, Iraq, where prolonged vicious beatings, sexual humiliation and death threats were common, and where men, at least one boy and, allegedly, numerous women were raped by their jailers. As one former guard there quipped, "you can't spell abuse without Abu."


By September 11, 2001, the United States had literally written the book - a whole series of them - on torture. The shocking slaughter of nearly 3,000 Americans on that bright, blue Tuesday morning, coupled with the hard-line ideology of many leading Bush officials, led to torture becoming official administration doctrine. Bush falsely argued that domestic and international laws against torture no longer applied in the new worldwide war. Justice Department lawyer John Yoo even asserted that the president had unlimited wartimes powers to order the massacre of an entire village of civilians if he so desired.
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