We were wrong. Torture does work. It’s the best marketing tool we’ve got.

Forget all that nonsense about torture being a poor interrogation tool, eliciting false information. The U.S. interrogators have to know that most of the poor blokes they’re brutalizing, beating, burning, and bestializing don’t know much if anything.

Each of you can recall, in your own lives, the silencing effect of fear. I have been threatened. I’ve worried ever since my daughter and I went to a Palestinian event in Seattle about four years ago. (Were there “agents” there? Were they watching which sign-up forms we signed?) Am I intimidated? You bet. Am I fearful? Friends at DKos have actually suggested it’s unwise of me to write diaries like this. I personally don’t worry because I’m using MSM sources. Writes Naomi Klein:

As an interrogation tool, torture is a bust. But when it comes to social control, nothing works quite like torture.

More below on the insidious payoffs from intimidation and torture:
Maher Arar, enroute home to Canada, was picked up by U.S. officials at Kennedy airport, interrogated heavily for days, and then “rendered” to Syria for torture and more interrogation. Michael Ratner, head of the Center for Constitutional Rights, says:

Arar was a Canadian citizen who was sent to Syria, kept in an underground prison for 10 months, probably would have never seen the light of day except that he was Canadian and it was a big stink made about it …

He had a stop at Kennedy. They pulled him off the plane for 10 days, interrogated him heavily. They don’t let him really have any access to his attorney, held a midnight hearing Sunday night at 12:00 where no attorney could ever be there. He complains, “I’ll be tortured if I’m send back to Syria.” He left Syria when he was 16 years old. They put him on one of these private, white, C.I.A. jets that are flying around all these places where they’re taking people out for torture and take him into an underground cell in Syria.

Maher Arar, in an interview on Democracy Now!, describes part of his ordeal:

The first day [in Syria] it was mainly routine questions, between 8 and 12. The second day, that’s when the beatings started because, you know, on the first day, they did not find anything strange about what I told them and they started beating me with a cable, threaded cable, and they would beat me for three, four times. They would stop again and they would ask me questions again and they always kept telling me you are a liar and things like that. So, the beating continued for the first two weeks.

Arar’s story is known by almost all Canadians. Millions of Canadians have rallied to get his story out and demand reparations from the U.S.

But millions of other Canadians have shrunk away from Arar and his story — nearly shunning Arar — out of intense fear.

Naomi Klein writes about the honor that Arar received from the Canadian CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations). Klein notes, “The audience gave him a heartfelt standing ovation, but there was fear mixed in with the celebration”:

Many of the prominent community leaders kept their distance from Arar, responding to him only tentatively. Some speakers were unable even to mention the honored guest by name, as if he had something they could catch. And perhaps they were right: The tenuous “evidence”–later discredited–that landed Arar in a rat-infested cell was guilt by association. And if that could happen to Arar, a successful software engineer and family man, who is safe?

“In a rare public speech, Arar addressed this fear directly,” Klein continues. “He told the audience that an independent commissioner has been trying to gather evidence of law-enforcement officials breaking the rules when investigating Muslim Canadians.”

The commissioner has heard dozens of stories of threats, harassment and inappropriate home visits.

But, Arar said, “not a single person made a public complaint. Fear prevented them from doing so.” Fear of being the next Maher Arar.

Klein claims that “[t]he fear is even thicker among Muslims in the United States, where the Patriot Act gives police the power to seize the records of any mosque, school, library or community group on mere suspicion of terrorist links”:

When this intense surveillance is paired with the ever-present threat of torture, the message is clear: You are being watched, your neighbor may be a spy, the government can find out anything about you. If you misstep, you could disappear onto a plane bound for Syria, or into “the deep dark hole that is Guantánamo Bay,” to borrow a phrase from Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

Haven’t you wondered, as I have, why the Pentagon okayed the new book by Erik Saar, “Inside the Wire : A Military Intelligence Soldier’s Eyewitness Account of Life at Guantanamo”?

Could it be that the Pentagon sanctioned this book because they find it a good marketing tool to intimidate Muslims?

“{T]his fear has to be finely calibrated,” Klein postulates. “The people being intimidated need to know enough to be afraid but not so much that they demand justice.”

This helps explain why the Defense Department will release certain kinds of seemingly incriminating information about Guantánamo–pictures of men in cages, for instance–at the same time that it acts to suppress photographs on a par with what escaped from Abu Ghraib. And it might also explain why the Pentagon approved the new book by a former military translator, including the passages about prisoners being sexually humiliated, but prevented him from writing about the widespread use of attack dogs.

Update [2005-5-14 13:17:57 by SusanHu]:

Amy Goodman asked Erik Saar in a May 4 DN! interview about the use of attack dogs:

AMY GOODMAN: Were dogs used?

ERIK SAAR: Dogs were used on occasion, yes, ma’am.


ERIK SAAR: That’s another thing that because the Pentagon vetted the book, I really can’t speak outside of the scope of what I have written, unfortunately.

AMY GOODMAN: Were you concerned about that use of dogs?

ERIK SAAR: To be honest with you, ma’am, one of the things I was trying to explain in the book is that, you know, I went to Guantanamo Bay with one expectation, and I, to be honest with you, I had no reservations whatsoever about any techniques we were going to use and about the lack of a system of justice for the detainees, but really, what my experience was was that over time, I came to the conclusion by the time I left Guantanamo that we’re making a drastic mistake here, and what I saw as a whole was inconsistent with who we are and the values we represent as a nation.

“This strategic leaking of information, combined with official denials,” asserts Klein, “induces a state of mind that Argentines describe as ‘knowing/not knowing,’ a vestige of their ‘dirty war’.”

“Obviously, intelligence agents have an incentive to hide the use of unlawful methods,” says the ACLU’s Jameel Jaffer. “On the other hand, when they use rendition and torture as a threat, it’s undeniable that they benefit, in some sense, from the fact that people know that intelligence agents are willing to act unlawfully. They benefit from the fact that people understand the threat and believe it to be credible.”

As many of you might recall, I wrote several DKos diaries about Mamdouh Habib, an Australian citizen who was detained and ended up being tortured in Pakistan and at the U.S. Bagram air base in Afghanistan, after which he was “rendered” by CIA jet to Egypt for six months of intense torture. He was then transferred back to Afghanistan and then to Guantanamo Bay, where he endured more torture, despite his already perilous physical and mental condition because of the previous torture.

As I researched Habib’s story for months, I kept running across statements by Muslims in Afghanistan that labeled Habib as a slightly looney embarrassment who ran around in a pro-Al Qaeda t-shirt. During his long detention, from late 2001 until early 2005, the Australian Muslim community distanced itself from him. Mostly white human rights groups in Australia campaigned for his release.

Now, one of the leaders of the Muslim community in Australia has flown to Iraq in a highly publicized move to win the release of Douglas Wood, the white Aussie contractor kidnapped by Iraqi insurgents.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usCleric prays for Wood’s release

An Australian cleric in Iraq to negotiate the release of a kidnapped contractor prayed in a Sunni mosque in Baghdad on Friday for the hostage’s freedom.

“I came here to pray for the release of Douglas Wood,” Australian mufti Sheikh Taj el-Din al-Hilaly said.

He is calling on Mr Wood’s captors to provide their hostage with medical treatment.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usThe hostage’s family says the 63-year-old is suffering from a number of life-threatening illnesses, including heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and rheumatoid arthritis.

“Douglas Wood’s abduction is a matter which affects all Muslims worldwide,” Sheikh al-Hilaly said after Friday prayers in Baghdad’s Abdel Kader al-Gilani mosque.

“I met several people in Iraq who promised me to do their utmost” to secure Mr Wood’s release, he said.

Australia’s ABC television reported on May 11 that Mamdouh Habib has volunteered to fly to Iraq to help save Mr. Wood.

While the cleric’s and Mr. Habib’s compassionate offers to help save Mr. Wood — because of their obvious influence — are laudable, one has to wonder how much their fear plays a part. Writes Klein:

And the threats have been received. In an affidavit filed with an ACLU court challenge to Section 215 of the Patriot Act, Nazih Hassan, president of the Muslim Community Association of Ann Arbor, Mich., describes this new climate. Membership and attendance are down, donations are way down, board members have resigned–Hassan says his members fear doing anything that could get their names on lists. One member testified anonymously that he has “stopped speaking out on political and social issues” because he doesn’t want to draw attention to himself.

The essence of it all: If you’re a Muslim, it’s only safe to speak out on behalf of a white Australian kidnapped by Iraqi thugs.

All emphases mine.

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