What Fresh Hell Is This?

December 18, 2016

Jack Kelly Sunday

In a column in this week's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, our friend Jack Kelly gives some significant column space (as well as some political cover) to an admitted torturer.

Shame on the new post-Obama/pro-Trump P-G for letting him do so.

It only takes a few minutes to peek through the cover Jack's thrown.  Take a look:
Large-scale attacks were “nice, but not necessary,” the planner of the 9/​11 attacks told his interrogator. Low-tech attacks could bring down America the same way “enough disease-infected fleas could bring down an elephant.”

Jihadi-minded brothers would move to the United States and “wrap themselves in America’s rights and laws” until they were strong enough to rise up and attack,” Khalid Sheikh Mohammed told James Mitchell, the former Air Force psychologist who helped develop interrogation techniques for the CIA. Mr. Mitchell’s new book, “Enhanced Interrogation: Inside the Minds and Motives of the Islamic Terrorists Trying To Destroy America,” details his work.
The relationship between Mitchell and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is much more complicated (and illegal) than Jack Kelly wishes you to know.

From Newsweek:
One of the chief architects of the CIA’s harsh Bush-era interrogation program has admitted in a media interview for the first time that he waterboarded terrorism suspects, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the suspected mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

James Mitchell, a former U.S. Air Force psychologist, confirmed some of the specific details in a Senate committee report released last week and defended the practices, saying that valuable intelligence was obtained despite investigators’ conclusion to the contrary.

“Yes, I waterboarded KSM,” Mitchell told the Internet-based global television news outlet VICE News, referring to Mohammed, whose interrogation was described in brutal detail in the report and which has been deemed torture by human rights groups.
Now go back and look at how Jack describes the interaction between the two - how Khalid Sheikh Mohammed "told" things to his "interrogator" Mitchell, a guy who merely "helped develop interrogation techniques for the CIA" and not how Mitchell tortured Khalid Sheikh Mohammed with the methods he and his colleagues developed.

Good going, Jack.  Nice to see you euphemise war crimes into what sounds like a friendly chat between adversaries.

And again, it's so nice to see the P-G letting him get away with it.  Yay torture!  Make America great again!

Let's look a little closer at Jack's source for this part of this column.  Did you know that they had a contract for $180 million from the CIA to develop the torture techniques?  The contract was cancelled after $80 million in 2009 (thanks, Obama!) but we also learn this from NBC:
John Rizzo, the acting CIA general counsel who met with the psychologists, wrote in his book, "Company Man," that he found some of what Mitchell and Jessen were recommending "sadistic and terrifying." One technique, he wrote, was "so gruesome that the Justice Department later stopped short of approving it."
Ouch.  The acting CIA general counsel found that some of the stuff Jack's source recommended was "sadistic and terrifying."

Did you also know that James Elmer Mitchell is a defendant in a lawsuit:
...for their commission of torture; cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment; non-consensual human experimentation; and war crimes.
Let's all remember that President-elect Trump has promised to bring back waterboarding.  This is what's going on in a post-Obama world - Trump's torture programs are being normalized (as with the above Jack Kelly column).

Resist the normalization of torture.  It doesn't work from the Army Field Manual:
The use of force, mental torture, threats, insults, or exposure to unpleasant and inhumane treatment of any kind is prohibited by law and is neither authorized nor. condoned by the US Government. Experience indicates that the use of force is not necessary to gain the cooperation of sources for interrogation. Therefore, the use of force is a poor technique, as it yields unreliable results, may damage subsequent collection efforts, and can induce the source to say whatever he thinks the interrogator wants to hear.
and it's a war crime:
No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. In particular, no one shall be subjected without his free consent to medical or scientific experimentation.
It's disgusting and immoral to see it any other way.

Jack Kelly and the P-G should know better - but apparently they don't.