Torture for profit

I wasn’t originally going to write anything about the latest ghastly CIA torture revelations, because a lot has been written already. But unfortunately, from what I can see, almost all of it misses the point.

Certainly, the same excuses and justifications are trotted out as have been used throughout modern history. (They were bad people/we saved lives/they started it/I knew nothing/ Who would have guessed?/I was only following orders). And we know enough about what happens when you put absolute power of life and death into the hands of sadists, not to be surprised at what one group of sadists did. But there’s one thing, among the anal rape and the humiliation and the drowning and the electrocutions that really does stand out, because it’s new.

I mean, of course, the idea of outsourcing torture. It appears that a private company was actually paid some $80M to oversee the programme and provide training, even though, in the great tradition of outsourcing, the company had little expertise in the area. Perhaps there were people in the CIA who thought that, somehow, some of the filth would not settle on their hands if they did this: it’s hard to know.

At least the French in Algeria (and the Americans in Vietnam for that matter) used their own people to carry out torture. The idea of anal rape as a business opportunity had, I admit, not occurred to me until now.


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