Archival by Joe Vialls
Did you ever wonder who provided you with the startling video of American John Walker being tortured by CIA operative Mike Spann, or those sickening pictures of hooded, chained, and drugged prisoners being herded onto American military aircraft at Kandahar Airport?
Extraordinary though it may seem, these and other horrific images were deliberately leaked to you by members of US Special Forces, who had direct control of the areas where the images were produced. Considerably concerned by the actions of local CIA operatives, and certain illegal orders from Washington, members of Special Forces responded by leaking highly sensitive information to the public.
Do not misunderstand me. American and other western Special Forces are not a crowd of harp-playing angels determined to protect the “human rights” of any old Tom, Dick or Harry. Most members of Special Forces are seriously heavy duty soldiers who go about their business loaded for bear, and God help anyone who gets in their way. Nor are Special Forces averse to knocking captured members of the enemy around on the battlefield, if they believe that the enemy in question has tactical information that might reduce risks to their own unit. Many years ago I was stupid enough to volunteer for a “practice interrogation” at the hands of these folk; a mistake I remember vividly to this day because the details are etched in my memory.
The main point to note is that although painful, my “practice interrogation” was swift and soon over. In a tactical battlefield situation, a soldier or airman is only reckoned to have information relevant for about 48 hours after capture, because grass roots military folk are never privy to long term strategic planning. Thus if a battlefield prisoner hasn’t spilled the beans inside 48 hours, chances are there are no useful beans left to spill.
At that stage, Special Forces and other military units ship the captured enemy off to a normal prisoner-of-war facility. Put simply, soldiers are not “into” extended sensory deprivation, and other obscene forms of torture favored by psychiatrists and psychologists working for most of the intelligence agencies and security services. Details of this torture and its effects will be provided later in the report, but first we need to examine the ways in which the American military in faraway Afghanistan, alerted the American public at home by using members of the media as unwitting tools.
Early on in the “War on Terror”, four hundred Taliban prisoners were transported by warlords to a fort outside Mazar-e Sharif in northern Afghanistan. The only cameras and long-range shotgun microphones present were in the hands of US Special Forces, who used them to film and catch the sound of CIA operative Mike Spann torturing “American Taliban” John Walker. Not long after that, someone chucked the so-called Taliban a few grenades which they used to stage a revolt against their captors, who at that time were gleefully pouring oil on the Taliban prisoners and lighting it with matches. A little later, the CIA’s Mike Spann was reportedly beaten to death, and the survivors of the revolt were shipped off to another prison camp.
Under normal circumstances the footage and sound captured by Special Forces would be considered as top secret material, for Pentagon eyes only, especially as this footage showed the CIA torturing a prisoner. But these were not normal circumstances. A member of the CIA was torturing an American citizen in the presence of “allied” warlords, the latter directly responsible for supplying seventy percent of America’s heroin until 1995 (UN Estimate). So instead of sending the footage off in a diplomatic pouch to the Pentagon, Special Forces “lost it” in the immediate vicinity of the Kabul media pack. If action had not been taken when it was, there is a high probability John Walker would not have survived his “interrogation” by Mike Spann, and without the critical video footage you would never have known Walker ever existed.
Next up we have the equally astonishing footage of so-called Al Qaeda and Taliban prisoners being led hooded, chained, and medically sedated, to an American C17 transport aircraft parked at Kandahar Airport at the dead of night. It was this footage in particular that caused such a huge fuss by human rights groups all over the world. This is not surprising, because without this video footage, few people would believe that Americans from the “Land of the Free” would indulge themselves in such barbaric behavior. So, were members of Special Forces responsible for taking this footage as well?
No they were not, but Special Forces did have complete control of Kandahar Airport, meaning that they and only they controlled the flow of people in and out of the Airport proper. In this particular case, Special Forces “gave the nod” to the media, telling them what time to arrive, and where to point their cameras in order to get the best shots of the prisoners.
This activity took place completely outside the US Government chain of command, and it was a while before Washington found out what had happened. Then US Government officials went ballistic. Unable to retrieve the footage from the various news organizations, officers nominated personally by Donald Rumsfeld frantically asked members of the media pack to sign an “undertaking” that they would not show the footage until they received permission. Too late! By then some of the footage had been transmitted by satellite, and had already been shown to a startled and outraged western public on international television.
The Defense Secretary, officials, psychiatrists, and psychologists in Washington had several valid reasons to be alarmed, not least of which was the fact that this footage in isolation proves exactly what sort of torture was, and still is, intended for these prisoners. Military contacts have confirmed that far from being the “very, very dangerous” men claimed by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, most of the prisoners taken to Cuba are low grade fighters and others, i.e. those most likely to “crack” under sustained cruelty, and sign false confessions of the kind needed by Washington to ramp up its flagging “War on Terror”. Interrogators have been told the confessions must be ready by September at the latest. Exactly how psychological torture will be used to extract the required confessions is explained further down this page, but first we have to consider why the US Government needs confessions all.
At present the US Government is using inference, innuendo, and outright lies to bolster its ridiculous claim that a bunch of Arab Terrorists were responsible for the attacks on New York and Washington on 11 September 2001, story here. . There has never been any hard evidence to support this wild and inaccurate claim, so as usual, the US Government is planning one of its more spectacular “Trials by Media” later this year. In the dock on 14 October [shortly after the first anniversary of the World Trade center attack] will be one Zacarius Moussaoui, who was arrested on immigration charges on 17 August 2001, nearly a month before the attacks, and who has now been charged with “conspiracy” in those attacks. The case against Moussaoui is pitifully weak, with no hard or even corroborative evidence that he knew what al Qaeda was, much less that he was part of the alleged organization. In any case, how can a man firmly in US custody at the time of the attacks be a suspect?
In a court nearby will be Richard Colvin Reid, the alleged “Shoe Bomber” on American Airlines Flight 63, said to have tried to light his shoe in flight in order to blow up the aircraft. The US Government is now trying to invent “links” to al Qaeda, the principle claim being that Reid worshipped at the same London Mosque as Moussaoui during late 1998. So what? I visited Westminster Abbey the same year as Queen Elizabeth the Second, but I never met Her Majesty personally, and neither of us are members of the mysterious al Qaeda.
You can see the way this is going, can’t you? One creative false link at a time, until we have enough creative false links to finally convince a skeptical American public that the official lie of October 2001, should be accepted as the actual truth in October 2002. But the huge problem facing the US Government is that neither Moussaoui or Reid have actually been seen in the company of Osama Bin Laden, or even in Afghanistan, though we do know the Israelis shipped Reid to Israel for a week aboard one of their very own El Al jets.
This total absence of any proof that either man was connected to al Qaeda is where the prisoners kidnapped to Cuba finally come into the picture – God help them.
Before September is out, the American Federal Prosecution will have signed confessions which “prove” some of the men held in Cuba personally helped to train Moussaoui and Reid in terrorist techniques, with others possibly providing flight instruction, bomb making, and so on.
All lies of course, but the US Government doesn’t care about that. Think about it people, think about it! What other possible reason can there be for importing these Afghans and Arabs into Cuba, after kidnapping them overseas? If they were the “very, very dangerous” men claimed by Rumsfeld, they would have been left to the tender mercies of the drug-running warlords recently restored to power by the CIA. Believe me when I say that justice would then have been incredibly swift, incredibly terminal, and no drain on the American taxpayer at all.
To discover exactly how the “disappeared” will be made to “confess”, we need to go back in history to the seventies, when the British Government made a conscious decision to psychologically torture twelve suspected members of the Irish Republican Army. Remember very carefully here that, like the prisoners in Cuba, those tortured in Ireland had not been convicted of any crime.
Indeed, none had even been charged with a crime. Also like the prisoners in Cuba, hoods, restraints and noise all played a significant part. Here are some subjective comments from one of the tortured Irishmen:
“Plain-clothes men beside us. Four blue bags produced and put over our heads. Short of breath because of bag. Then released from handcuffs which connected one to the others and hands handcuffed in front individually. Then run across field to ‘copter. Landed, did not know where. Lorry backed up to ‘copter. Taken out and thrown into back of lorry, like a sack of potatoes. Lorry smelt of cow dung. Driven in lorry for about 100 yards. Pulled out of lorry (bag still over head) marched into some sort of building.
Stripped naked, examined by doctor. Bag still over head. Put lying on bed and examined. Overalls (I later discovered) put on me, taken into room. Noise like compressed-air engine in room. Very loud, deafening.
“Hands put against wall. Legs spread apart. Head pulled up by bag and backside pushed in. Stayed there for about four hours. Could no longer hold up arms. Fell down. Arms put up again. Hands hammered until circulation restored. This happened continually for twelve or fourteen hours, until I eventually collapsed. Thinking how that Paisley had seized power in some way and that I would be executed or tortured to death. Started to pray very hard. Mouth dried up. Couldn’t get moisture in mouth. Pulse taken.
Thought of a youngster who had died at six months old, started to pray that God would give me strength that I would not go insane. Fell down several times more. Slapped back up again. This must have gone on for two or three days; I lost track of time. No sleep. No food. Knew I had gone unconscious several times, but did not know for how long. One time I thought, or imagined, I had died…”
Dr. O’Malley was the first medical man to see any of the men who had undergone the SD [sensory deprivation] torture. He saw two of the original twelve men in Crumlin Road jail sixteen days after their ordeal, and one other somewhat later. He estimated that all three had developed a psychosis within the first day of interrogation. “The psychosis consisted of loss of sense of time, perceptual disturbances leading to visual and auditory hallucinations, profound apprehension and depression, and delusional beliefs – e.g. hearing Paisley [A Protestant Minister] lead an evangelical choir intent on slaughtering Catholics.” Of the three men, O’Malley gave as his opinion that one would recover completely, one would possibly recover but the process would be lengthy, and one was in need of urgent psychiatric assistance if he was to make a full recovery. Despite the doctor’s recommendations, nothing was done and all were subsequently moved from Crumlin jail to Long Kesh [an internment camp].
In his book “The Guinea Pigs” (1974), author John McGuffin goes a long way towards explaining exactly how this type of psychological torture works. “Sensory deprivation (SD) refers literally to the artificial deprivation of the senses – auditory, visual, tactile and kinesthetic. In connection with the Northern Ireland ‘guineapigs’ it meant (1) hooding prisoners prior to their interrogation; (2) constant use of a sound machine which produces white noise’, a high pitched hissing, mushy sound; (3) long periods of immobilization, being forced to lean against a wall, legs wide apart with only the fingertips touching the wall; (4) little or no food or drink; and (5) being forced to wear loose overalls, several sizes too big. In addition, (6) prisoners were deprived of sleep for days on end; while not technically SD this accentuates the process.
“There is a purpose behind all these actions. Measures (1), (2), (3) and (5) cause visual, auditory, kinesthetic and tactile deprivation while measures (4) and (6) deprive the brain of oxygen and sugar necessary for normal functioning. In addition, measures (1), (4) and (6) may disturb the normal body metabolism. Hooding causes an imbalance in the ratio of oxygen to carbon dioxide in the air breathed and this causes mental confusion. The wall-standing, which is deliberately made to sound so innocuous by apologists like Sir Edmund Compton is extremely painful – especially when accompanied by beatings – and causes, in addition to fatigue and swollen wrists and ankles, poor circulation of the blood which leads to a reduced supply of oxygen and sugar to the brain. The restricted and in some cases almost non-existent diet was also sugar-free (Storr has pointed out that the brain needs three things if it is to function efficiently: sensory stimulation, sugar and oxygen).”
The Irish Government later made a formal complaint to the European Commission for Human Rights and the European Court of Human Rights. The Commission found Britain guilty of torture. Where the prisoners in Cuba are concerned, the US Government is already guilty on more than a single count. In 1975 the United Nations defined torture as “any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted by or at the instigation of a public official on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or confession, punishing him for an act he has committed, or intimidating him or other persons…
Torture constitutes an aggravated and deliberate form of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” The US Government’s use of isolation units in Cuba breaks two United Nations Covenants against Torture, and the UN Covenant for the Treatment of Prisoners, both of which the United States has signed.
By now, most readers will appreciate the incredibly awkward position Special Forces placed the US Government in when it allowed the prisoners to be filmed boarding the C17 Transport at Kandahar Airport, and leaked details about the sedatives administered to them. Here was almost a carbon copy of the torture conducted in Northern Ireland: The same hoods, the same restraints, and 30 hours or more of high pitched aircraft noise on the way to Cuba substituting for the “White Noise” used by British security psychiatrists and psychologists.
Though detailed information about the psychological torture in Northern Ireland has largely receded into the back rooms of Irish pubs and remote corners of the Internet, the US Government is very aware that, back in the seventies, the British Government faced an avalanche of adverse publicity. Hated though the IRA was in many quarters, there was no excuse for this shocking use of psychological torture against mere suspects of terrorism – some of them only teenagers. No doubt in the fullness of time the US Government will face its own avalanche of adverse publicity, which will be richly deserved.
In judging its progress to date where the “War on Terror” is concerned, it seems likely that Washington is listening more to the fawning comments of external supporters in the “International Community” than it is to its own citizens, which in the long term could prove to be a fatal error of judgement. One such fawning external country is Australia, where the Attorney General, Queens Counsel Mr Daryl Williams, has recently made it quite clear that whatever the Americans want to do to their illegal prisoners, that’s OK by Australia. With reference to “Australian Taliban” David Hicks, Mr Williams stated:
“You have to be realistic about the nature of the potential threat that the prisoners who have been transferred to Cuba represent …. they have been trained to be terrorists and to act in accordance with the objectives of al Qaeda. That makes them about as dangerous as a person can be in modern times.”
Trained? By whom, when, where, and what are the charges? Apparently in their “Queens Counsel 101” courses, Australian law schools neglect to mention the need for evidence. The prisoners kidnapped and flown under strict sensory deprivation conditions to Cuba, where they are now housed in diminutive cages open to the elements, are not dangerous persons at all. More dangerous by far are politicians of any nation who try to invent fictional “terrorists” in order to further their own political careers or other ambitions, and others who cite the conveniently invented “terrorists” to force additional Draconian controls over ordinary members of the public.
It seems likely that David Hicks will be released into Australian custody sometime during the next few months, in order to be tried on some trumped-up charge around October 2002, the same time as the mammoth “Trial by Media” of Moussaoui and Reid in America. Combined with other trials in countries including Great Britain, the last quarter of 2002 promises to break all records for pure media hype and social engineering.
Regardless of what Australia or other obsequious countries might say or do, now or in the future, where the Afghan prisoners are concerned the US Government is acting specifically “in the name of the American people”. Many Americans are of Irish descent, and many took deep offence to British behavior in Northern Ireland. There is no credible reason to believe that American citizens in general will condone Rumsfeld’s torture of the Afghans simply because they are “not Irish”, nor because they are Muslims rather than Catholics or Protestants.
t important of all, the US Government is forcing members of the US military to behave in ways which offend their rigid training and discipline. It is perfectly alright to shoot a man dead in combat if he is shooting at you, and it is perfectly alright to wound a man in combat if he is trying to wound you. On the flip side of the coin, torturing suspects for purely political reasons is not alright under any military code ever written, and it seems likely there will be more “breaches of discipline” if the United States Government is not very careful in the future.