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Installing a Torture Fan at CIA

By       Message Ray McGovern       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   38 comments

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Pompeo seemed to be taking his cue from former chair of the House Intelligence Committee Pete Hoekstra, R-Michigan, who, right after the Senate report was released, boasted to me on live TV that he had been briefed on "90 to 95 percent" of the cruel practices laid bare in the Senate investigation. [See Consortiumnews.com's "Clashing Face to Face on Torture."

Torture also has its supporters in the Senate, which will be called on to confirm Pompeo as CIA director. At a Senate hearing on May 13, 2009, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, gave a tip of the cap to the Spanish Inquisition, which he cited as proof that torture could elicit some useful confessions (as it was used in the Fifteenth Century to detect "crypto Jews" and to burn several thousand heretics at the stake).

During a hearing on detainee interrogations, Sen. Graham said: "Let's have both sides of the story here," pointing out that there could be evidence that torture produced "good information." Graham added, "I mean, one of the reasons these techniques have survived for about 500 years is apparently they work."

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On Wednesday, I was given nine minutes on radio to comment on the ICC's tentative move to seek accountability for American torture practices. But Pompeo's nomination on Friday is sure to dispel the brief moment of anxiety among the CIA's torturers.

Congressman Pompeo is living proof that you can get all A's at West Point, graduate first in your class, and still flunk the Constitution with its quaint Eighth Amendment prohibition against "cruel and unusual punishment." Not knowing the Constitution and the Bill of Rights apparently makes you a good pick to head the CIA.

As member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI), Pompeo also was protective of the National Security Agency's systematic abuse of the Fourth Amendment's prohibition against illegal searches and seizures.

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The selection of Pompeo came a few days after Vice President-elect Mike Pence told ABC that he would model his handling of the job after former Vice President Dick Cheney under President George W. Bush.

Though Pence may have meant Cheney's assertive role and interaction with Congress, there was also Cheney's advocacy for "regime change" wars and what the Bush administration called "enhanced interrogation techniques," which earned Cheney the label from The Washington Post, "Vice President for Torture."

Cheney has never been repentant about his aggressiveness in the "war on terror." "I'd do it again in a minute," he has declared.

Real Expert on Torture

Yet, even as Bush-Cheney apologists found excuses and euphemisms for torture, Gen. John Kimmons, head of Army Intelligence, told a Pentagon press conference on Sept. 6, 2006 -- the same day he knew that President Bush planned to advertise the efficacy of his "alternate set of procedures" -- that torture did not result in sound information.


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Conceding past "transgressions and mistakes," Kimmons insisted: "No good intelligence is going to come from abusive practices. I think history tells us that. I think the empirical evidence of the last five years, hard years, tells us that." (Emphasis added)

That's also what I learned as a young Army Intelligence officer 50 years ago. Cheney, Hoekstra, Graham, Trump, Pence and Pompeo can keep whistling on the dark side, but there is zero evidence to challenge what Gen. Kimmons had to guts to point out on that important day. The Senate Intelligence Committee report of December 2014 should have long since laid to rest the canard that torture "works."

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Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He was an Army infantry/intelligence officer and then a CIA analyst for 27 years, and is now on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS). His (more...)
 

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