After torture, and between Harry Potter novels, CIA allowed KSM to design a vacuum cleaner


#1

Photoshopped by Rob Beschizza. The Associated Press published a bizarre exclusive today on a newly-revealed detail of senior Al Qaeda boss Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was waterboarded by the CIA 183 times and forced him to stay awake for 180 hours while in secret custody. Confined to the basement of a CIA secret prison in… READ THE REST


#2

Oh I've seen this one. He makes a sophisticated suit of armor using the vacuum parts to escape the bad guys' lair and becomes a superhero, right?


#3

He got his bachelor's in mechanical engineering at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. He also attended Chowan College in North Carolina. Look it up.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, mastermind of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, is a Tar Heel.


#4

Would love to ask KSM how he feels about Sirius Black. Oy.

Such a Foucauldian setup that CIA gave KSM: here's something ostensibly for your benefit, and which will render you a more valuable asset in case we get tired of torturing-ignoring you, and actually, O I DUNNO, bring you to trial someday.

Now if we could only get the design and fabricate one out of bones or blood or something FOR GREAT JUSTICE


#5

That kind of sleep deprivation was what North Korea used to "brainwash" American POWs to make them confess to war crimes. The point of that sort of torture is to reduce someone to the state where they will say literally anything. Which is of course totally the opposite of interrogating someone. The Army knows this better than anyone, and they have known it 60+ years, so our handling of these prisoners was Amateur Hour.


#6

Do the Sheikh and vac,
To put the freshness back,
Do the Sheikh and vac and put the freshness back.


#7

You have GOT to wonder.. what did he give up to get book 7 of Harry Potter.

Because after 1-6, I'd have given up family members stuck_out_tongue


#8

My theory is that KSM read Our Man In Havana at some point and was inspired to do the opposite: passing communiqués to his associates in the form of vacuum cleaner designs.


#9

Sadly, sleep deprivation and the far worse forms of torture can indeed gather reliable intelligence.

Just not the way Hollywood does it, where a single person is tortured - you wouldn't know if the person is just telling you what he thinks you want to hear.

So they torture the person, AND they torture his fellow terrorists, insurgents, family and friends. Then they compare notes to see who's story doesn't match. It's a DATA MINING operation. The more people they torture, the more accurate a picture they get.

This is why Gitmo had to be expanded AND they had interrogation centers in eastern Europe and Morocco AND they were torturing in Iraqi prisons AND they were torturing in Afghanistan AND STILL they had to farm out work to places like Syria and Egypt. They even tortured people they had only the vaguest suspicions about. (Like Canadian Maher Arar for example, taken off a flight to Canada and tortured. He's since been fully cleared.) They were trying to get as big a dataset as possible.


#10

Professor John Yoo, delighted to see you here!


#11

If they didn't want him to "go nuts" perhaps they should have considered not torturing him constantly for a year.


#12

That's a darn solid insight.


#13

Yoo too!

Professor Yoo has a degree in American history from Harvard University. He's written several books on the war on terror, and contributed chapters to others. The Washington Times shakes it's pom-poms for his point of view.

And make no mistake, his point of view has won. Not only has there been a lack of prosecution of the torturers or the chain of command that ordered it, but in the recent election Perry, Bachmann and Cain each called for resuming torture without the slightest amount of controversy. (Presumably Ron Paul thinks that torture is an issue that should be left to the states.) This makes it clear that the torture program hasn't ended; it's merely been put on hold for the duration of the current administration.

Far from being prosecuted under the law, Professor Yoo has gone back to teaching it. At Berkeley, no less. Those who would repeat the past must control the teaching of history.


#14

Bin Laden went to the LSE. And, apparently, was a big Arsenal fan.


#15

I can't tell if you're kidding or not. Torture is effective, moral, humane? I haven't seen Yoo or his apologists "win" against basic truths of human experience and human vulnerability, or against the studies disproving those rancid claims that torture is an effective interrogation technique. Yoo and his minions won at the technicalities of what exactly constituted torture versus "enhanced" methods, which one recalls as a lot of lawyerly pettifoggery aided by the radically permissive political culture of the far right and the depredations of the Bush regime.


#16

Well, quite. I think the point was more that the people who have the power to stop it don't give a fuck. And he has a nice cushy post at Berkely, rather than public opprobrium and a justifiable fear of going out in public due to being hounded for being an evil shit. So, 'winning'.


#17

Torturing groups of people is pointless if they all agreed on a simple cover story, like everyone says that their contact is "Bob" the bartender with a goatee at that titty bar "The Landing Strip" beside LAX. That's an easy enough story to remember isn't it? Sucks to be Bob though.

Or maybe it is magical yellow bird sent by Mary Warren, like in "The Crucible." In Salem, torture quickly ramped up to an industrial scale operation that only generated sillier and sillier ghost stories.

As Orwell said in 1984, the use of torture has nothing to do with getting the truth.


#18

Understand, I would never argue that torture is moral, humane or even remotely a good idea:

The US executed Japanese soldiers for using the same techniques that the US now uses. Taking torture off the table as "an essential part of warfare/intelligence gathering" PROTECTS American soldiers and citizens.

In reducing itself to a torture state, the US put torture back on the table for its enemies. Turn-about is fair play. If an enemy state feels that it might be able to get information from an American soldier (or any American on a business trip) through torture, America can't say, "That's a crime!"

Which is why the US didn't do this (or warrant-less wiretapping, etc.) when the Soviet Union was the enemy, and the Soviets were certainly a far more dangerous enemy than what's left of al Qaeda.

In the first Gulf War Iraqi troops surrendered to in large numbers even BEFORE fighting, because they knew they'd be treated well. That no doubt saved a lot of American lives - lives that would have been lost in battle with troops who otherwise would have fought. America's torture program - widely reported in the Arab media - will make enemy troops keep fighting. It'll cost far more American lives than it will save.

Notwithstanding all this:

  • The "torture is ventriloquism" argument against torture is wrong - because it applies only to the torture of one person and that's not what the US was doing. They were doing it on a large scale, not just torturing terrorists, but torturing people they had vague suspicions might be distantly associated with them. In my mind that makes it far MORE horrific, MORE wrong, but the point still stands.

  • America's torture program isn't ended; it's on hold for the current administration. The lack of prosecution even under a Democrat administration, recent election demands by prominent Republicans to resume torture, and the total lack of backlash over those demands even by Democrats - make this pretty clear.

  • John Yoo will live happily ever after. Check out the Washington Times review of his book that I linked to above. It praises his doctrine with "boldly state political truths that others dare not utter." It refers to "illegal" policies of the administration... just like that: With "illegal" in quotes. It derides opposition to his doctrine as "the protests at Berkeley." Now, years later, John Yoo is teaching at Berkeley.


#19

You'll love it! It's a life style.


#21

You beat me to it, but I'll say it anyway: Welcome to the First Church of Appliantology.