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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 6/29/11

Memoirs of Torturers

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"This conversation -- this case -- was clearly one of the key moments in my career; I needed to GET IT RIGHT, to exercise refined judgment, to see and act clearly where values and goals conflicted, in the murky areas where there might be no right choice, but one had to choose and act nonetheless."

Why did one?  Why was resigning and going public at any moment not always an available option?

Carle read one of John Yoo's torture memos, thought it was illegal, and went along anyway:

"I recall thinking when I read it (a view shared by many colleagues at the time [not a one of whom said a damn word to the American people about it]) that it was tendentious and intellectually shoddy, an obvious bit of hack work, a bit of legal sophistry to justify what the administration wanted done, not a guideline and interpretation of the spirit and intention of the laws and statutes that had guided the Agency for decades [except for all the times they didn't]. . . . Challenging a finding, though, was, as the expression goes, way beyond my pay grade, and in any event, would be viewed as presumptuous and out of place at the moment."

God forbid!

"We were talking about what some, what I, might consider the torture of a helpless man," Carle recalls. 

"What about the Geneva Convention?" he asked his superior.

"Which flag do you serve?" was the reply.

"I flew out of Dulles two days later," Carle recounts, having chosen knowingly and inexcusably to become a cog in a machine of kidnapping, torture, and death.

Was it really rage over 9-11 that drove Carle onward?  He tells us that when the planes hit the towers, he was too busy being petty and self-centered on the telephone to be bothered to watch.  He then tried to go shopping and couldn't get clerks in stores to stop obsessing over 9-11 long enough to help him. 

Carle's wife inexplicably became an alcoholic, resulting in this touching scene:

"One evening I was working on the computer in the bedroom, not wanting to think about work, or home; I just wanted to turn off my brain [how would one tell?].  Sally was cooking in the kitchen.  I heard a plate crash.  I paid no attention and was barely aware of it.  Ten minutes later I wandered into the kitchen to get a soda from the refrigerator.  Sally lay unconscious on the floor.  I was angry, disdainful.  I decided to leave her there to sleep it off.  I stepped over her into a huge and growing pool of blood.  It covered half the kitchen floor. 'Oh no!  Sally!  What have you done?'"

Carle describes his interrogation of "CAPTUS," whom he knew to have been kidnapped and who he knew was being held outside of any legal system.  Carle repeatedly threatened him with harsh treatment by others. 

The interrogation was helped by Carle's preference for humane tactics, even while threatening others, as well as by his openness to recognizing the man's innocence.  But it was hampered by the CIA's incredibly incompetent failure to get Carle access to the documents that had been seized along with his victim, and by the CIA's refusal to consider the possibility that CAPTUS was not who they thought he was.

Carle took a don't ask / don't tell approach to the question of whether CAPTUS was being tortured in between periods of interrogation at the first location where Carle interrogated him.  Carle did ask, but the CIA blacked out in the book whatever he tried to tell us, about what was done to CAPTUS upon relocating him to a different lawless prison. 

When Bush gave a speech pretending to oppose torture, Carle "found this speech infuriating.  I knew what we were doing; our actions soiled what it meant to be an American, perverted our oath, and betrayed our flag.  Lawyers could argue our actions were legal.  But I had lived what we were doing.  I knew otherwise."

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David Swanson is the author of "When the World Outlawed War," "War Is A Lie" and "Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union." He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for the online (more...)
 
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