Friday, May 14, 2004

The CIA, Torture and the Guatemalan precedent

Veteran CIA operative and writer Bob Bauer talks to Salon this week about his experience with torture, saying that it was strictly forbidden during the time he served (1976-1998). He says 9/11 must have changed all that, and points to Guatemala as a good example of what happened to agents who even failed to report cases of torture:

Remember those two guys in Guatemala [CIA agents Terry Ward and Frederick Brugger]? They were running the Guatemalan colonel who was alleged to have been involved in the torture and death of the husband of an American woman, Jennifer Harbury. That's a key case that people have forgotten. Those guys weren't even involved. But they didn't report it quickly enough, and Sen. Bob Torricelli of New Jersey leaked it to the papers. Administratively they didn't report it, and these guys were forced to retire. That's how serious it was, torture. And the colonel wasn't even involved, as it turned out.
And what if Torricelli hadn't leaked this to the press?

Or, if the Pentagon hadn't leaked the photos from Iraq to the press?

Last year, our prez stated on United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture that "notorious human rights abusers, including, among others, Burma, Cuba, North Korea, Iran, and Zimbabwe, have long sought to shield their abuses from the eyes of the world by staging elaborate deceptions and denying access to international human rights monitors."

The only thing keeping the U.S. from joining that illustrious list of countries is the existence of a few lone leakers.

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