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  • Wednesday, October 26, 2005


    The Politics of US Torture

    I saw Jennifer Harbury on Book TV, a regular feature on C-SPAN2 every weekend. She has an extraordinary personal story but she's also written a book which sounds worth reading, Truth, Torture, and the American Way: The History and Consequences of U.S. Involvement in Torture.

    Ms. Harbury is director of the Stop Torture Permanently (STOP) Campaign. This is her bio over on the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) website:
    Jennifer Harbury, a human rights activist and attorney who has long worked to curb human rights violations by the United States, is director of the STOP Campaign. Ms. Harbury's husband, Efraín Bámaca Velásquez, was secretly detained and tortured to death in Guatemala in the early 1990s. Her long efforts to save his life led to the startling official disclosure that his killers were Guatemalan intelligence officers serving as paid CIA informants or "“assets."” Since then, Ms. Harbury has investigated and reported the links between U.S. intelligence networks and the Latin American death squads.
    This question often comes up for me: Where are the middle order-givers of US torture? We know for a fact that policy for these tactics comes from the highest levels with Rumsfeld and Alberto Gonzales' so-called "torture memo". We know some of the people at the bottom end of the chain of command, the so-called "bad apples", who we are told are rogues and not officially authorized to perform torture. Yet if we have evidence of intent at the top of the chain of command and evidence of action at the bottom, it seems obvious that orders are being transmitted through someone.

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