Media “Whitewash” Integral Role of Torture in US Intelligence

by Vins
Published: Last Updated on

Although both the corporate and progressive press focused public attention on the Senate Intelligence Committee’s December 2014 report on the CIA’s secret program of abductions, “brutal” interrogations, and torture of terrorism suspects, Nafeez Ahmed reports that media coverage of the Senate report has “whitewashed the extent to which torture has always been an integral and systematic intelligence practice since the second World War.” Despite President Obama’s claims that he officially banned torture in 2009, these practices continue today, “under the careful recalibration of Obama and his senior military intelligence officials,” serving to legitimize the existence and expansion of the national security apparatus, Ahmed writes.

President Obama did not ban torture in 2009, Ahmed reports, and now his administration is “exploiting the new Senate report to convince the world that the intelligence community’s systematic embroilment in torture was merely a Bush-era aberration that is now safely in the past.”

In fact, Obama’s 2009 executive order rehabilitated torture. That order required that interrogation techniques fit the US Army Field Manual, which complies with the Geneva Convention prohibitions against torture that date back to 1956. However, in 2006 revisions to the manual added nineteen different methods of interrogation that “went far beyond the original Geneva-inspired restrictions” of the original field manual. At the time, Obama’s director of national intelligence, Admiral Dennis Blair, advised the Senate Intelligence Committee that the Army Field Manual revisions to allow new forms of harsh interrogation would remain classified.

“What we are seeing now,” Ahmed writes, “is not the Obama administration putting an end to torture, but rather putting an end to the open acknowledgement of the use of torture as a routine intelligence practice.”

Source: Nafeez Ahmed, “The United State Is Committing Brutal Acts of Torture Right Now,” December 11, 2014, AlterNet,

Student Researcher: Brooks Brorsen (Sonoma State University)

Faculty Evaluator: Peter Phillips (Sonoma State University)