Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Readings: Weird Science

Chapter 7 of The Dark Side, Jane Mayer’s study of the growth of the American culture of torture and extra-legal imprisonment, is entitled “Inside the Black Sites”. The following excerpt, which is concerned with the CIA interrogation of al-Qaeda logistics chief Abu Zubayda, is revelatory of the degree of degradation to which our neocon masters have subjected the rule of law and human decency:

XX “AZ,” an informed source said of Zubayda, “was talking a lot.” The FBI agents believed they were getting “phenomenal” information. In a matter of days, a CIA team arrived and took over, freezing out the FBI. The apparent leader of the CIA team was a former military psychologist named James Mitchell, whom the intelligence agency had hired on a contract. Oddly, given the Agency’s own dearth of experience in the area of interrogating Islamic extremists, he had no background in the Middle East or in Islamic terrorism. He spoke no Arabic and he knew next to nothing about the Muslim religion. He was himself a devout Mormon. But others present said he seemed to think he had all the answers about how to deal with Zubayda. Mitchell announced that the suspect had to be treated “like a dog in a cage,” informed sources said. “He said it was like an experiment, when you apply electric shocks to a caged dog, after a while, he’s so diminished, he can’t resist.”
XX The FBI agents, with their traditions of working within the U.S. criminal legal framework, were appalled. They argued that Zubayda was not a dog, he was a human being.
XX Mitchell, according to the informed sources, retorted, “Science is science.”

Could Dr. Mengele have stated the issue any more clearly?