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CIA Torture Training

Zinfandel | 03.06.2004 16:16 | Anti-militarism | Globalisation | Repression | London

From Private Eye No.1107

Torture Manuals amended to include preface stating that torture is illegal!

Concern over American forces' use of torture will not be news to US vice-president Dick Cheney. He was warned about the practice as long ago as 1992 when he was defence secretary under George Bush Sun

In 1988 US senators investigated claims that American-backed "counter insurgency" operations in Central and South America, particularly Honduras, had included abusive interrogations. The senators were shocked to discover that two CIA manuals used to train interrogators recommended torture. They included techniques similar to those that have been used more recently at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

After the senate investigation the CIA added a new preface to the manuals, stating: "The use of force, mental torture, threats, insults or exposure to inhumane treatment of any kind as an aid to interrogation is prohibited by law, both international and domestic; it is neither authorized nor condoned." However, the National Security Archive, a historical project at George Washington University, uncovered a 1992 memo to Cheney warning that, even after the 1988 investigations the US government was still circulating Spanish language guidebooks with the torture instructions.

It warned Cheney that the "offensive and objectionable material in the manuals... undermines US credibility and could result in significant embarrassment".

The memo was stamped "SECDEF HAS SEEN", and Cheney scribbled on it "1 concur" referring to the recommendations that the manuals be withdrawn and the human rights component of military training be re-emphasised.

The senate investigations that led to the 1992 memo to Cheney were spurred by revelations of torture by US-backed forces in Honduras. The US ambassador to Honduras, who was implicated in the scandal, was one John Negroponte. Mr Negroponte is now the US ambassador to... Iraq.

Isn't that a bit like the kind of disclaimer that says that 'this book is intended for entertainment purposes only' when everybody knows it is a computer hacking manual!

In other words 'do it - but don't get caught!'