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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2909

CIA Applies Interrogation Methods on Terrorists when other Techniques don’t work

Daya Gamage – US National Correspondent Asian Tribune – News Analysis

Washington, D.C. 27 June ( “CIA’s terrorist interrogation program, lawful and effective, was born of necessity. As President Bush told the nation in September 2006, the Agency (CIA) applied its methods of questioning when other techniques did not work and when a captured terrorist 'had more information that could save innocent lives.’ Unlike traditional law enforcement, the CIA’s chief objective in interrogations is not forensics on past events, but actionable, forward-looking intelligence.”

The Asian Tribune quotes the above paragraph from a message sent by CIA Director Michael Hayden on February 13 this year to CIA employees.

There is a near consensus here in the United States among the masses of the people that the nation is under severe threat by external terrorist forces and that the threat should be dealt with seriously to eliminate, if possible brutally, for the sake of national security.

National security has been given high priority by a majority of the American people since the 9/11 attack on their soil. And, extracting information, in whatever form, from captured terrorists or ‘enemy combatants’ as the administration would like to describe them, to safeguard national security is not considered a violation of human rights or civil liberties when the American psychic is engulfed in how best to combat global terrorism that has harmed their nation.

The US Congress dominated by the Republican Party before January 2007 in fact suspended Habeas Corpus for captured ‘enemy combatants’ and the CIA was using somewhat harsh interrogation methods to elicit information from them with the objective of preventing another attack on the homeland.

The Democratic Party opposition in the Congress attacked the methods employed by the administration and its law enforcement agencies, restored the Habeas Corpus after they regained control of the Congress in January 2007 while highlighting human rights and civil liberties in America’s ‘War on Global Terrorism’.

The difference between the presumptive Republican Party presidential candidate Senator John McCain and presumptive Democratic Party presidential candidate Senator Barrack Obama is that the former favors a rigid and strong policy toward combating terrorism while the latter takes a ‘criminal justice’ approach toward terrorism having human rights/civil liberties high on the agenda.

The CIA Director Hayden’s message to his employees stated about the much discussed ‘waterboarding’ technique used by the interrogators to elicit information from enemy combatants: “In the Congressional testimony last week, I confirmed publicly that waterboarding had been used on three hardened terrorists in our high-value interrogation program. That tactic, which has not been employed since 2003, was deemed legal by the Department of Justice when it was used……

“My testimony attracted a fair amount of public attention and comment, not all of it accurate. Before both the Senate and the House, I emphasized that our program has operated within a strict legal framework, subject to review and oversight.”

The CIA director further says: “The Agency’s decision to employ waterboarding in the wake of 9/11 was not only lawful, it reflected the circumstances of the time. In reply to a question at the Senate hearing, I said: ‘Very critical to those circumstances was the belief that additional catastrophic attacks against the homeland were imminent. In addition to that, my Agency and our Community writ large had limited knowledge about al-Qaeda and its workings. Those two realities have changed.’”

Water boarding has been around for centuries. It was a common interrogation technique during the Italian Inquisition of the 1500s and was used perhaps most famously in Cambodian prisons during the reign of the Khmer Rouge regime during the 1970s. As late as November 2005, water boarding was on the CIA’s list of approved "enhanced interrogation techniques" intended for use against high-value terror suspects.

In a nutshell, water boarding makes a person feel like he is drowning.

Water boarding as it is currently described involves strapping a person to an inclined board, with his feet raised and his head lowered. The interrogators bind the person's arms and legs so he can't move at all, and they cover his face. In some descriptions, the person is gagged, and some sort of cloth covers his nose and mouth; in others, his face is wrapped in cellophane. The interrogator then repeatedly pours water onto the person's face. Depending on the exact setup, the water may or may not actually get into the person's mouth and nose; but the physical experience of being underneath a wave of water seems to be secondary to the psychological experience. The person's mind believes he is drowning, and his gag reflex kicks in as if he were choking on all that water falling on his face.

Terrorism, counter terrorism, human rights and national security have been very high on the agendas of both McCain and Obama in the run up to the November 4 presidential election.

Despite Bush administration’s mishandling of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the economy and secretive nature of the Bush-Chaney rule that has earned low ratings in all public opinion polls which has adversely affected the candidacy of Republican John McCain at the November election, a vast majority of Americans believe that the techniques employed by the Bush administration and the former Republican-controlled Congress to combat terrorism have largely prevented another terrorist attack on the homeland and that the Republicans are good at securing the nation.

The Obama’s ‘criminal justice approach’ to terrorism has somewhat buried by other issues such as economic recession currently faced by the U.S., the loss of purchasing power of America’s middle and low income groups, the lack of medical insurance to the low middle class, the Bush administration’s economic catering to the ten percent of those who are in the highest income group and other pressing ‘pocket book’ issues for Senator Obama to lead in all polls when the nation is moving toward a critical presidential election.

This ‘criminal justice’ approach (of President Obama) is certain to affect Third World developing nations who face insurgencies and terrorism that have no connection to the ‘War on Global Terrorism’ the United States is involved in.

The CIA Director Michael Hayden further noted in his memo to his staff when he described the controversial waterboarding as: “It’s not a technique that I’ve asked for. It is not included in the current program, and in my view, it is not certain that the technique would be considered lawful under current statute.”

The Asian Tribune, from time to time, will present policy planks emerging during this US presidential election cycle for the policymakers and those who influence policymakers in developing Third World nations especially the Asian Region who form part of this Online Daily Newspaper’s readership to comprehend the policies of the next occupant of the White House.

Asian Tribune strongly believes that it’s well researched future submissions about policy planks of both McCain and Obama, which could affect nations in the Asian Region who face insurgencies, rebellions, separatist and terrorist threats will seriously be taken by policymakers and those who influence policymakers of those nations to adjust to a situation that they may not anticipate.

- Asian Tribune -

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