Saturday, January 10, 2015

necropolitics: from interrogation to extermination in a climate of perpetration


WSWS |  One month ago, the Senate Intelligence Committee released the 525-page summary of its voluminous report on the torture of prisoners in secret CIA facilities overseas, conducted between 2002 and 2007. In grisly detail, the report documented such practices as waterboarding, systematic beatings, and hitherto unknown tortures such as “rectal feeding.” But in practice, the report has been buried, its evidence of government criminality ignored, the perpetrators and organizers of torture going scot-free.

As the World Socialist Web Site declared at the time, “Two irrefutable conclusions flow from the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture: 1) The United States, during the Bush administration, committed criminal acts of the most serious character, in violation of international and domestic law; and 2) None of those responsible for these crimes will be arrested, indicted or prosecuted for their actions.”

Far from being shamed or humiliated by the detailed exposure of their criminality, those most implicated in the establishment and operation of the torture chambers have brazenly defended their conduct. From former Vice President Dick Cheney to ex-CIA directors George Tenet, Michael Hayden and Porter Goss, to the operational head of the interrogation program, Jose Rodriguez, they have displayed a well-justified confidence that the Obama administration will protect them from any consequences.

The Obama administration has officially shut down the secret CIA prisons and adopted a policy of blowing up its enemies with drone-fired missiles rather than capturing them. The shift from interrogation to extermination has increased the number of innocent victims many-fold. Whereas dozens of those jailed in CIA prisons were found to have no connection to terrorism, the drone-missile strikes have killed thousands of civilians in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and other countries.

Two recent incidents demonstrate the complicity of the Obama administration with the torturers. On December 30, the outgoing chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Dianne Feinstein, sent a nine-page letter to the president outlining proposed legislative and administrative actions to be taken on the basis of the torture report.

The changes were largely cosmetic, such as enacting into law the ban on waterboarding and other forms of torture imposed by executive order after Obama took office in 2009. Even these minimal legislative actions will go nowhere in the new Republican-controlled Congress, and the proposed administrative actions will be ignored by the military-intelligence apparatus. The White House has not bothered to respond to Feinstein’s letter.

In a statement issued January 5, the CIA announced that after four years in office, the agency’s inspector-general, David Buckley, was resigning, effective the end of the month, to “pursue an opportunity in the private sector.” Buckley ran afoul of the CIA top brass with a report last July acknowledging that five CIA operatives had penetrated the computers used by Senate Intelligence Committee staffers who prepared the torture report, in an effort to find out how the Senate panel had obtained certain CIA internal documents the agency had decided to withhold from the committee that has legal oversight authority.

This electronic surveillance of the legislative branch was so brazenly criminal that Senator Feinstein felt compelled to deliver a one-hour address on the floor of the Senate last March denouncing the agency’s actions. She charged that the agency “may well have violated the separation-of-powers principle embodied in the United States Constitution,” and also “the Fourth Amendment, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, as well as Executive Order 12333, which prohibits the CIA from conducting domestic searches or surveillance.”