The arcane logic of the CIA

Perhaps, reading the catalogue of alibis and rationalizations out there which explain our government’s use of torture, you reach a point at which you say, “Okay, I understand. I don’t like, I don’t condone, but I understand. From their warped mindset, their infantile point of view, some brutalities were necessary.”

I hope you don’t reach that point, but if you do, hey, that’s simply a point where you and I won’t meet. Let it pass.

But surely you reach a point at which you say, “Holy shit, these guys are not only vain, misguided, brutal, insensitive, and opportunistic, they are also pretty fucking stupid to think anyone would fall for that line of reasoning.”

If you have not yet reached the point, please let me to lead you to it. An article today, several places, this version from the LA Times.

a Pakistani man named Janat Gul… was captured in June 2004, based in part on statements by a CIA informant… who… identified Gul as a facilitator for Al Qaeda who had knowledge of plans to conduct attacks in the U.S. in the weeks leading up to the 2004 elections….

After several weeks of being hit, pushed into walls and doused with water, Gul had not divulged any information about a plot.

The interrogations continued through September, despite cables from the personnel at the detention site saying Gul seemed to have little information to impart. In October, the CIA began to reassess the information from its informant who then “admitted to having fabricated the information.

In December… they described Gul as “a very simple man” who was not linked to senior Al Qaeda officials.

In April 2005, with Gul still in CIA custody, Justice Department officials asked the CIA what justification they had for his interrogation. The agency responded that Gul’s information had enabled them to determine that the informant was unreliable.

In simplest terms, the CIA argued that torturing Gul was legitimate and necessary because, although he was “a simple man, not linked to Al Qaeda,” his information — that is, his inability to provide any information — proved that the other informant was a liar.

If you want to stay awake into the wee hours tonight, consider what might happen if one of your neighbors reported that you were a Russian spy, or a Korean terrorist. That night a couple guys grab you and take you to a secret base in Tanzania. Once there, they kick the shit out of you for a few months. You don’t tell the anything useful, because you don’t know anything useful. Finally they decide you aren’t a spy or a terrorist at all, just “a simple man.”

However, torturing you was okay, because it proved that your neighbor was a fucking liar.

Sleep well.

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