The word ‘torture’ does not appear in our orders…the problem is the FLN wants us to leave Algeria and we want to remain. Should France remain in Algeria? If you answer yes, then you must accept all necessary consequences.
–Col Mathieu, The Battle of Algiers

Regarding “Palestinian hanging”, the film quoted above immediately comes to mind. Recall that early in the Iraq insurgency there was much talk of American officers viewing Gillo Pontecorvo’s classic about France’s early suppression of the FLN, as a training tool on how to wage counterinsurgency. The film opens with a montage of French paratroopers torturing prisoners by waterboarding and “strappado”, or Palestinian hanging, which, according to this Wikipedia article, began with the Inquisition (as of course did water-torture) and was used at Auschwitz.

I couldn’t find the essay Philip Giraldi cites above, but in November 2005 Jane Mayer wrote about the alleged torture death of an Iraqi prisoner at the hands of the CIA in the New Yorker. I can’t help wondering if he’s the man from the photos.

When Americans advocate torture they (at least one hopes) justify it by describing its victims as “terrorist suspects” or simply “terrorists.” But remember the abuses of Abu Ghirab were a desperate attempt to quickly pacify an unexpected insurgency. No matter how brutal their methods, these countless Iraqis who have passed through our military prisons (or languish there still) were never a threat to US interests anywhere until the invasion of Iraq. More foul spoils of George and Dick’s Repellent Adventure.

Endless war ensures an infinite supply of these prisoners and a never-ending “need” to interrogate them. And for those who think that torture can be contained, note that these methods were developed at Guantanamo before being exported for use on what are essentially prisoners of war in Iraq (if you think it will spread no further, I’ve got a war on Iran I’d like to sell you). Aside from the sheer immorality of it, we are developing a culture of torture that is degrading our military. More consequences of empire.

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