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La Razon, Bolivia

Torture and Secrets

Translated By Natalie Legros

8 January 2013

Edited by Lau­rence Bouvard


Bolivia - La Razon - Original Article (Spanish)

"America does not torture." This is a quote from the current U.S. president, included in a television scene that appears in "Zero Dark Thirty," a film by the award-winning director Kathryn Bigelow which has reopened the debate on torture by the CIA. The tape insinuates that the torture of a prisoner finally led to the whereabouts of Osama Bin Laden.

In just three words, Obama's statement hides a generalization as well as a lie. The generalization has to do with "America" since Obama knows the issue is much bigger than the United States. The lie refers to "doesn't torture," since he himself has shown that in revenge for the Twin Towers attacks in Sept. 2001, the U.S. tortured prisoners in the name of security and the fight against terrorism.

Does the United States torture? There is evidence, at least, that they did during the dark years under George W. Bush. The debate is rather in regards to "the legitimacy of torture." Was it necessary to obtain information against terrorists (mainly Muslims, of course) that want to destroy the U.S. and so on? Is it perhaps "collateral damage?" How can it be that in the "land of the free" all liberties are subordinated to the imperative of security?

The debate is open once again, though of course put into terms that are easier for American public opinion to stomach. Instead of torture, it is called “coercive interrogation techniques.” Or more elegantly, there are no torture methods, but rather “an improved interrogation program.” At least this way those who carry it out and are in charge are called “technicians.” For them, applying simulated suffocation 183 times—as they did with Jalid Sheji Mohamed, for example—is only an improved coercive interrogation.

However, real existing torture is not only hidden under a changed name. Torture at the hands of the U.S. was possible due to the existence of secret prisons (eliminated by Obama), and because that ominous symbol of human rights violations that is the military base in Guantanamo is still standing. The "defensive war" justifies it all, on a cynical level. They say that Obama was able to capture Osama due to the "tough decisions" (read: torture) that Bush "had to make" during his time in office.

The United States Senate is now very preoccupied with Bigelow's movie. It will probably investigate the CIA, not to check whether or not there was torture—which has been asked too much— but to know what kind of collaboration the agency offered the tape’s producers. The subject of torture remains in the past, like a shadow and a secret; and the CIA, redeemed. ”Zero Dark Thirty” can also be a manifestation of the most evil regime.



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