CIA Torture? Then I Was Tortured

By | June 20, 2019 | 1 Comments

Politicians ‒ mainly Democrats but also some Republicans ‒ claim that after 9/11, the U.S. government used “torture” on terrorist suspects. This charge is one among many that “progressives” here and in Europe use to defame America. But is the charge accurate?

The “torture” included: deprivation of sleep, humiliation, exposure to cold, emotional stress, use of “stress” positions until the subject soiled himself, and threats of physical violence. These methods reportedly were used on only about 28 of the worst offenders, and valuable information was obtained – for example, information that averted an attack on the Los Angeles Library Tower, the tallest building west of Chicago.

One method involved giving the detainee only liquids to eat, then removing his clothes. This resembles preparation for a colonoscopy, which people undergo voluntarily. It is unpleasant, but it isn’t “torture.”

Another detainee was afraid of insects, so he was confined in a box with a caterpillar. This reminds me of the time my wife and I went to a restaurant and were served vegetables crawling with worms. It was revolting, but it wasn’t “torture.”

The harshest technique, apparently used on only three detainees and only when vital information was needed, was waterboarding. This involved tying the detainee to a horizontal board, covering his face with a cloth, and pouring water on the cloth. This gives the sensation of drowning without the risk. It reminds me of a root canal. I don’t mind dental work, but I hate the feeling of choking caused by lying on my back with a rubber dam blocking my throat. It is uncomfortable, but it isn’t “torture.”

The inappropriate use of the term “torture” slanders Americans who obtain information that has prevented terrorist attacks. And it dilutes the word until real torture no longer disgusts us. But if all this was “torture,” then I have been “tortured.”

● I was in the Army Reserve, where I went places I didn’t want to go and did things I didn’t want to do, under threat of imprisonment if I didn’t comply. This included putting on a gas mask, going into a chamber filled with tear gas, and taking off the mask. This caused severe eye and nose irritation, and often vomiting.

● Military personnel undergo SERE training to prepare them for being captured, including waterboarding. Yet no one protests when our own troops are treated this way. Why the difference? Is suffering objectionable only when our enemies suffer?

● During internship and residency, I was often deprived of sleep to the point of being irritable, confused, or even silly.

● In the midst of my residency, I was injured in a vehicle accident with the Army Reserve. I limped for months on a badly swollen knee, while the 14 stitches in my face healed. But my supervisor made no allowance, and was irritated at my inability to keep up with him on the stairs.

● The first time I drove on a highway after my accident, I broke out in a cold sweat and had a vivid memory of the event. This was mild PTSD, but I didn’t know it.

● During my residency, I was on call every third night. That meant that one week I worked Sunday, the next week I worked Saturday, and only every third week I was free for the weekend – that is, after 12 noon on Saturday.

● In addition, I attended Army Reserve meetings every Wednesday night, and all day Sunday once a month. So I was free for one and one-half days about one weekend a month.

● The on-call room held two or three beds, and there were no cell phones or pagers. If anyone in the room was needed, the phone rang, and everyone woke up. I was lucky to get one or two hours’ sleep.

● At night and on weekends I was totally responsible for the lives of my patients, with no one to ask for advice. This heavy responsibility, plus the excess number of patients and lack of sleep, caused emotional stress − and a duodenal ulcer.

● Chief residents and attending physicians criticized me in front of my colleagues. We considered this teaching, not “humiliation.”

● When my fellow resident was ill, I was responsible for four interns caring for between 40 and 60 patients. While I was trying to do the work of two people, the chief of the service appeared holding a yardstick. He slapped it into his hand as he angrily asked why we were not at a conference he had scheduled. I protested that we had many critically ill patients, but he insisted. So we left our patients and went to the conference. My only alternative was to refuse, be fired − and leave my ward even more understaffed. But at least I would have found out what he intended to do with the stick. I know what I wanted to do with it. You want stress and threats? You’ve got them.

● Our patients included alcoholics who vomited blood, sometimes on me. In the emergency room, I saw a man with his throat cut ear-to-ear, a man shot in the head, and a comatose child hit by a car. I’ll never forget two young Marines in uniform. They had shotgun wounds, one in the leg (he lived) and one in the back (he didn’t). When I see war or crime movies, sometimes I think I smell blood. And I can’t stand the smell of Parmesan cheese – it reminds me of vomit. You want bad memories? You’ve got them.

● Nights at old San Francisco County Hospital were cold and damp. (Watch the film “Bullitt.”) I wore two scrub shirts and a tee shirt under my white jacket. There was no snack bar or vending machine, so if I missed the evening meal, I was hungry as well as tired and cold – a bad combination.

By leftist standards, I was “tortured” regularly. But so are many other young people who go through medical training, not to mention our military, firefighters, paramedics, and police. Then there are construction workers, miners, farmers, and others who do actual, physical work, under difficult and sometimes dangerous conditions.

Those who define “torture” so loosely probably have liberal-arts or law degrees and work in offices. They think getting a report in on time is “stress,” getting a stain on their shirt before a staff meeting is “trauma,” driving a BMW older than two years is “humiliation,” and having to drink plain coffee instead of decaf nonfat latte macchiato is “deprivation.”

They have no idea of real torture – you know, what Saddam did until our troops stopped him. Or what Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, one of the three who were waterboarded, did to Daniel Pearl – before Pearl was beheaded. Those who insist that we follow the Marquess of Queensbury rules, while our enemies follow no rules at all, may claim to be “humanitarian,” but in fact they are aiding the triumph of barbarism.

If the detainees were “tortured,” so was I, and so are millions of people who undergo rigorous training, then actually work for a living. And if you think what happened at Guantanamo was “torture,” try going through basic training, not to mention airborne or Special Forces training. Then try living under combat conditions in Afghanistan.

When leftists feel as much empathy for our own troops as they feel for our enemies, I will pay attention to what they say. When they show as much concern for Daniel Pearl as for the man who beheaded him, I will listen. When they are as distressed by the nearly 3000 innocent people who died horribly on 9/11 as by the discomfort of 28 terrorists, I will hear them.

Until then, they should shut up. Listening to them is painful − in fact, it might be “torture.”

We live in a dangerous world. We need to know what our enemies are doing and planning. Weakening our government’s intelligence-gathering ability can have only one of two results: Either private companies will take over the intelligence field, which will endanger our freedom. Or the need will remain unmet, which will endanger our lives.

Those who claim we practiced “torture” should consider this: If they added together all the discomfort and indignity suffered by all the detainees we interrogated, the total would not come near to equaling the pain and terror suffered by just one of the hundreds who jumped out of the World Trade Center on 9/11 to avoid being incinerated at 1500 degrees, and then spent ten seconds falling, to hit the pavement at 120 miles per hour.

That is the calculation we should make before rendering an opinion on those who used admittedly rough methods to prevent another 9/11.

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One Comment

  • SDB says:

    During Bill Clinton’s first 100 days in office, he and former United States Deputy Attorney General, Jamie Gorelick, wrote two executive orders which crippled our intelligence gathering and left us vulnerable to the attack on our nation, September the 11th, 2001. These two EO’s essentially prohibited our intelligence communities from networking or associating with known or suspected murderers and terrorists. HOW CAN WE COVERTLY PROBE WITHOUT ASSOCIATING WITH THOSE WE ARE ATTEMPTING TO DEVELOP INTELLIGENCE? The second EO prohibited our intelligence gather community from sharing intelligence through a pre-Patriot Act “Wall of Separation.”

    I have always admired and appreciated John McCain’s courage, sacrifice, and selflessness while a POW. Make no mistake, his commitment to his fellow solider and to country are a true testament to his character and beyond reproach. However, that is not to say that these acts define his inability to be wrong or tendentious, if by nothing other than his own experiences. Were it not for his own harrowing experiences, his authoring the Anti-torture provisions in the Intelligence Authorization Act would have been unforgivable. Although the bill was vetoed by President Bush (the House failed to override), two days after Barack Obama became president, this failed legislation served as a template when the President issued an executive order ordering the CIA to apply the standards of the U.S. Army Field Manual. A disgrace!

    Three liberal Executive Orders are generally responsible for the diminished intelligence gathering capabilities of our great nation.

    Without going into too much detail, after the first Gulf War, there were very effective tools for interrogation and intelligence gathering that are no longer permitted as they are within the “grey or prohibited area.”

    Immediately upon capture, a detainee is secured, searched, and field interrogated for immediate, actionable intelligence on the battlefield which is intended to be used to safeguard troops in action and aid the in the battle-plan. If the detainee is wounded, first aid will be administered. The detainee is then “Tagged” which merely documents them and the event surrounding their capture. For safety, It is common for detainees and prisoners to be bound during transport from location to location, or even building to building.

    Once this is conducted, and assuming the detainee does not have life threatening injuries, the detainee is evacuated to a secure area where those presumed or suspected to have significant intel value are held. They are then segregated from others collected from the battlefield, stripped for intelligence purposes (much can be garnered by clothing alone) and if available, are issued a brightly colored jumpsuit (typically orange) to identify them as a prisoner who has been thoroughly searched is and cleared of weapons. A professional is sent to assess if the detainee is a legitimate threat or to determine if they possess intel of value. Once verified, the detainee may become a prisoner.

    At this point, the prisoner is placed within the custody of a specialist interrogation team. The prisoner is taken to a small, modestly furnished debriefing room with a table and chair. Upon an initial debriefing, the prisoner may be given water or warm (not hot) tea. They are asked very general questions such as name, where they were born, etc., and observed for stress, injury, illness, nutrition, and to determine the level of “likely” cooperation.

    If the prisoner is cooperative, the rest is fairly easy.

    If the prisoner is obstinate, defiant, and contumacious, elevated methods of intelligence collection will immediately commence.

    The prisoner may then be removed from the interrogation room, secured, and sent to a holding area akin to a cell, isolated from others. Their issued clothing may be removed upon entering the holding area. This is intended to create discomfort, uncertainty, and to create a general uneasy feeling. The holding area may contain an inch or so of water and a bucket, nothing else. This creates discomfort and is typically not enough to cause a mild hypothermic state. This is important because hypothermia may render any intelligence gathered to be unreliable. Then prisoner is then told if they wish to talk, they may come out and do so upon request.

    The next day, the prisoner may be lead out of the holding area and given back his issued clothing. Returning to the interrogation room, they may be given water, warm tea, and some lite food. If they choose not to talk, they may be returned to the cell, clothing removed, and the cycle repeats the next day.

    After the second day, the prisoner may become programmed to understand that when he is out of the cell, he is comfortable, when he is in the cell, he is not. The only way to leave the cell is to agree to talk. If he wishes to become comfortable, all he has to do is talk. Sometimes, this is actually enough. When it is not, more enhanced methods may be used.

    Torture is the infliction of pain for indifferent cruelty or punishment sake. On its face, torture, real torture, is typically an unreliable interrogation method as the level of stress is induced, the prisoner tends to say anything to immediately cease the pain, even if they have no real intel at all. The fear of torture however, can be very, very persuasive. The important thing here is this that the techniques described herein create forms of discomfort, not torture, yet by definition, this treatment is now considered to be torture. I assure it is not. Ask any young soldier who has to dig “Ranger Graves” for their remain overnight, just to watch the rain fill those holes up with water as they sleep and try to shield themselves from the elements. It called soldiering…… not torture!

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