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Memoirs of Torturers

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On September 18, 2009, seven former heads of the CIA publicly told President Barack Obama not to prosecute CIA torturers.  On April 16, 2009, Obama had already publicly told Attorney General Eric Holder not to prosecute CIA torturers.  On September 18th, Holder publicly reassured the CIA. 

The coast was clear.  The books started flowing.  George W. Bush and John Yoo put their books out in 2010, Donald Rumsfeld in 2011, and Dick Cheney's also later this summer.

Just as the torture techniques drifted down the chain of command from these dealers in death to the rank and file, so too the book contracts.  The cogs in the machine are now documenting their bit parts in the past decade's torture epidemic with pride and publishing deals.

Witness "The Interrogator: An Education" by Glenn L. Carle.  This is the story of how a none-too-bright, self-centered, insecure, careerist bureaucrat with weak principles, a fragile ego, a troubled marriage, and no interrogation experience, but the ability to actually speak Arabic, was chosen to lead the interrogating (or "interviewing") of an innocent man the CIA boneheadedly believed to be a "top al Qaeda terrorist" when they kidnapped him off a street and flew him to an undisclosed location outside any rule of law.

As to who got an education in the process of living, writing, or reading this book, your guess is as good as mine.

You may have spotted the author in the media last week, since he managed to get James Risen at the New York Times to print his revelation that the Bush White House had asked the CIA to investigate American blogger Juan Cole.  That story is not in the book, but was apparently timed to boost the book's sales.  Who knows what other nasty anecdotes Carle is sitting on in hopes of productively producing them when and if he writes a sequel.  Even with that prospect, let's hope fervently that he does not.

What an awful book!  What an awful example of how to live!

Yes, Carle asserts what all of the experts agree on: torture and abuse are not useful interrogation techniques.  The most effective tools for eliciting useful information are the legal ones.  But Carle simply asserts this.  He provides no new evidence to back it up -- not that there was a shortage.

Carle is like a veteran soldier joining in demonstrations against the war he was part of but still talking about how he "served" his country.  "I made it possible for American children to sleep safe at night," he brags.  How exactly did he do this?  Why, by participating in criminal operations that enraged billions of people against the United States of America.  Good going, Glenn!

Carle discusses, by way of background, the "victims of the Iran-Contra scandal," by which he means not the men, women, and children illegally killed, but the criminals prosecuted or otherwise inconvenienced.  When Carle was yanked out of his cubicle to employ his linguistic skills in interrogating a kidnapping victim, he was not long in coming to view himself as the victim of most concern to the reader.  He had concerns about what he was being sent into, but he "was not about to question the apparent basis for my involvement in a very important case." 

"Suppose our partners do something to CAPTUS [the kidnapped man] that I consider unacceptable?" he asked a superior.

"Well, then, you just walk out of the room, if you feel you should.  Then you won't have to see anything, will you?  You will not have been party to anything."

Wow, with that defense, get-away drivers aren't guilty of robberies anymore.  And that defense was plenty good enough for Carle.  He was largely interested in venting his own emotions, he tells us, just as he must have been when composing the book:

"Every American -- and perhaps we in the CIA more than anyone -- was outraged and determined to destroy the jihadists who had killed our countrymen [on 9-11] and had been attacking our countrymen for years.  I was being sent to the front lines, as it were.  I was going to be part of the avenging and protective hidden hand of the CIA, striking al Qaeda for us all.  I WANTED to interrogate the S.O.B. and play a key role in our counter-terrorism operations."

I for one would prefer he had settled for tweeting a photo of his penis.

Carle presented himself with the important moral dilemma of whether to screw up this immoral operation or do it right:

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http://davidswanson.org
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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