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Thursday, September 07, 2006 

Black holes and revelations.

Away from the media circus which is Blair's announcement that he's going to do what he was going to do anyway, which solves absolutely fuck all, (Lenin's Tomb has a brilliant post on a protest outside the school which they did everything they possibly could to stop from happening and Bloggerheads shows just how far up the arse of Tony Blair and Downing Street Rebekah Wade and her paper are) President Bush yesterday told the world what we already knew: that America operates a series of secret prisons, and will continue to do so.

Mr Bush said the prisons were a vital tool in the war on terror and that intelligence gathered had saved lives.

He added that the CIA treated detainees humanely and did not use torture.

He said all suspects would be afforded protection under the Geneva Conventions.

Mr Bush said the CIA had used an "alternative set of procedures", agreed with the justice department, once suspects had stopped talking.

But he said: "The US does not torture. I have not authorised it and I will not."

Quite so. The CIA treats detainees so humanely that it has been known to abduct them off the street in broad daylight and then fly them to a country which is more than happy to practice torture on their behalf.

As for the "alternative set of procedures", well, they're known to include waterboarding. Other delightful humane practices which the CIA use are:

4. Long Time Standing: This technique is described as among the most effective. Prisoners are forced to stand, handcuffed and with their feet shackled to an eye bolt in the floor for more than 40 hours. Exhaustion and sleep deprivation are effective in yielding confessions.

5. The Cold Cell: The prisoner is left to stand naked in a cell kept near 50 degrees. Throughout the time in the cell the prisoner is doused with cold water.

This is without going into other techniques which were authorized for use by a certain Donald Rumsfeld. The signing of that memo led directly to the abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib.

Is Bush lying when he said that he has never authorised torture? Possibly not. He got Donald Rumsfeld to do that for him. He did however reserve the right to suspend the Geneva Conventions at any time. One memo which Bush certainly did see was written by Jay Bybee, later made a federal judge, which argued that torture and even killing of suspects was permissible if it would protect US security.

Has anyone else directly lied about the existence of these secret prisons? Condoleezza Rice was incredibly careful back in December when the row over extraordinary rendition was at its height to neither confirm or deny that these black holes existed. She did however tell a huge porker when she said that:

"The United States does not transport, and has not transported, detainees from one country to another for the purpose of interrogation using torture."

Similarly, British officials have been careful not to confirm the existence of secret prisons, or that they knew anything at all full stop about rendition flights coming through the UK. This is the ask no questions tell no lies form of defense; they didn't tell (although it's increasingly obvious that the security services know all too well what was and is going on, as the CIA pools its intelligence with both MI5 and 6. Whether they told ministers or not is something we'll probably not know until those likely to have been informed leave office.) and we didn't ask.

This is the reality behind the war on terror. We're told repeatedly that whoever it is we're fighting against are inhumane barbarians who love death while we love life. The truth is that we've been lied to and told misinformation time after time after time. In secret prisons terrorist suspects were tortured by the CIA; some of them were guilty of only being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Others were transported by CIA agents to countries where the authorities there carried out the torture for them. Call it outsourcing. All businesses do it now, and the US government is certainly a business.

Now that we've been told the truth, is anything or everything going to change? Err, no. In fact, the Bush administration plans to ignore the previous supreme court ruling and go ahead with military tribunals in Guantanamo Bay anyway. Why you ask? Well, they can hardly try them in a US court room when they've been tortured, can they? The evidence would be thrown out. Hence the cycle of idiocy and abuse continues. And we're all complicit.

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