Observations of an Expat: Torture

Reuters photo



Tom Arms


Torture is bad. Well, there is nothing like stating the obvious. Nothing like shouting a truism from the digital rooftop.

Except that for 58 percent of Americans it is not a truism. It is not a position which they support. In fact, they support torture. Perhaps because their president claims “it absolutely works.”

This is despite the opposition of CIA experts and Defence Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis who made it perfectly clear to Donald Trump that he could either have torture or Mad Dog at the Pentagon. But he couldn’t have both.

So the president backed down. Or has he?

This week the Associated Press reported details of what are known as “Black Sites” run by the United Arab Emirates and based in lawless South Yemen. Black sites are secret bases where people are sent to be tortured.

AP reported that there are at least 18 Yemeni black sites and at least 2,000 suspected Jihadists have disappeared into them. The secret prisons are inside military bases, ports, an airport, private villas and even a nightclub.

The means of torture are excruciatingly cruel. There is of course the tried and tested waterboarding and various techniques involving electricity, rape, clubs and fists. In one case the victims were locked for days in a container with the walls smeared with human faeces. One of the favourite techniques is to tie the victim to a spit and roast them over an open fire.

According to the AP report there is no evidence that any American personnel hit any torture victim, pushed any Jihadist under water or turned the crank of any roasting spit. Apparently, the CIA and Department of Defense can place hands on hearts and declare: “We have not tortured anyone.”

However, there is strong evidence that the United States is heavily complicit in what is happening at the Yemeni torture sites. According to the AP report, US personnel submit questions to UAE torturers. The torturers put the questions to their victims and then write up a detailed report for their American friends.

Not a single hair of any victim is touched by American hands. But does this not mean they are clean?

Of course not, the law—both moral and actual—is clear. Anyone who knowingly benefits from the fruits of torture is as guilty as the person who actually carried out the torture, just as anyone who ordered and benefitted from a street robbery, fraud or murder is guilty of conspiracy to commit the crime.

If the AP reports are true then the Trump Administration is as guilty as sin and Mad Dog should start seriously thinking about clearing out his desk.

Of course, there is the original Trump argument that “torture absolutely works.” And besides, suspected terrorists deserve it—don’t they?

The first thing is that the victims are often just that—suspected. They are arrested, detained and subjected to degrading torture which will scar them for life on the basis of suspicion. They have not been tried in any court of law.

The 26th of June was International Day in Support of the Victims of Torture. The International Bar Association and the UN High Commission for Human Rights marked the occasion with a joint conference at King’s College London. Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the High Commissioner for human rights, made it absolutely clear that torture does not work. It dehumanizes victims and torturers and the information it extracts is highly suspect if not totally misleading and unreliable.

I can assure anyone listening or reading this that if any grinning sadistic torturer bearing an electric appliance came within ten feet of any of my body parts, I would tell them anything they wanted to hear—truth or not.






Tom Arms is the editor of LookAheadnews.comSign up now for the weekly diary of world news events.

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Tom Arms

I am a journalist, entrepreneur and historian with extensive experience in print, web and broadcast journalism. I started as a diplomatic correspondent, wrote several books (The Falklands Crisis, World Elections On File and the Encyclopedia of the Cold War), and then in 1987 started my own business (Future Events News Service, www.fensinformation.com) which over 25 years established itself as the world and UK media’s diary. Our strapline was: “We set the world’s news agenda.” I sold FENS in December 2012 but retained the exclusive broadcast rights to all of FENS data. To exploit these rights I set up LookAhead TV which produces unique programmes which “Broadcasts Tomorrow Today” so that viewers can “Plan to Participate.” LookAhead has appeared regularly on Vox Africa, Radio Tatras International, The Conversation and Voice of Africa Radio.

In addition to being a syndicated broadcaster and columnist on global affairs, Tom is also available for speaking engagements and can be contacted on TwitterLinkedin and email[email protected].


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