Sunday, 19 April 2009

The Increased Pressure Phase

Attention grasp
Facial Hold
Facial Slap
Cramped Confinement
Wall Standing
Sleep Deprivation
Food Deprivation

It’s probable that until the legendary act of “waterboarding” was mentioned, none of these phrases actually meant anything. This is, of course, a list of alleged torture techniques used by the CIA during the Bush presidential years to interrogate terrorists (or “terrorists” depending on what day it was, and who had been captured). Although they aren’t alleged techniques anymore, because according to previously top secret memos from the time show that since August 2001, John Rizzo and the US justice department decided it was about time they strode ahead and implemented the “Increased Pressure Phase” all over some suspected Al-Qaida ass.

My personal favourite is the dubious inclusion of “Insects”, which until more research has been carried out, seems quite amusing. Did they show the terrorists some ants? “Here, what do you make of these?” Or were detainees made to dress up as beetles and play in a hastily-put-together guitar band tribute act to entertain the guards? Perhaps flies were set free into the prisoners’ cells to make annoying buzzing sounds all night while they tried to get to sleep after a hard day of prison brutality. Banging repeatedly against the flickering neon striplights; I’m surprised nobody went mad in there.

What this method of torture actually consists of is a little more gruesome than this – according to Time magazine, head Al-Qaida honcho Abu Zubaydah was placed in a confinement box along with a number of insects. An apt form of torture considering his phobias of insects, especially those which can sting. In a memo recently made public by President Jesus Obama, the Department of Justice accept the reasonings for the torture methods, and give the go-ahead. Here is the memo, as printed in Time.

"You [the CIA] would like to place Zubaydah in a cramped confinement box with an insect. You have informed us [the Department of Justice] that he appears to have a fear of insects. In particular, you would like to tell Zubaydah that you intend to place a stinging insect into the box with him. You would, however, place a harmless insect in the box. You have orally informed us that you would in fact place a harmless insect such as a caterpillar in the box with him." Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee who was responsible for reviewing the techniques and deciding their relevance and/or levels of inhumanity, went on to explain; "an individual placed in a box, even an individual with a fear of insects, would not reasonably feel threatened with severe physical pain or suffering if a caterpillar was placed in the box," adding that interrogation staff should not imply that the imposter insect "would produce death or severe pain."

I’m sure we can all rest easily knowing that those working for the Information Obtaining and Secret-Gathering Management team (a fictitious title, a real job) took these guidelines on board and let loose the friendliest bug they could find. I can hear the screams and giggles now from the interrogation suite, as the caterpillar dawdles placidly across the captive’s toes. Barbaric.

Depending on what you read and where you read it, these techniques were signed off as acceptable and implemented on as many as 14 people [UK Guardian] (because yes, they are people, as well as being suspected terrorists. I like to constantly remind people that the key word here is “suspected”. Even in cases where a person had been detained under fairly good reason, I still feel slightly unsure that using torture to gain information is going to create a better press for the West in the countries where these dissolutioned individuals hail from.) or were used on an unknown number of suspects and some techniques were abandoned or disregarded [Time] (According to Time, the insect torture was not used in the end, possibly due to it being ridiculous).

Thankfully Guantanamo Bay was shut down along with thousands of other small businesses at the start of the year, ending some of the more farcical aspects of our free and just society. It would appear that Moneygeddon has achieved something useful, at least.


Laura @ Hungry and Frozen said...

I can't pretend to be entirely au fait with American politics but I can't agree with torture, no matter who the subject is. Thought provoking stuff :)

Kim said...

You don't have a clue you do you? Idiot!!

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