Leon Panetta admits torture in Bin Laden hunt
One of the scenes in Zero Dark Thirty, a newly released movie about the CIA’s 10-year manhunt for Osama Bin Laden, reveals that CIA and FBI agents used torture to knock information about Bin Laden’s whereabouts out of Guantanamo cellmates.
An NBC host asked Leon Panetta whether the newly released film is true to life.
Amnesty International refers to the Guantanamo prison in Cuba as a place known for the most atrocious human rights violations, or else a major concentration camp under US supervision. Established under President George W. Bush, the Guantanamo camp had the largest number of inmates – up to 800 – between 2003 and 2006. At present, it has about 200 inmates, mainly Muslims from all over the world, whom the US describes as terrorists. Since they are referred to as ‘militants’, not ‘prisoners of war’, international conventions do not apply to them.
Cases of torture at Guantanamo have long been no secret, Sergei Mikheyev of the Center for Political Studies, says.
"In accordance with American principles, everything that brings benefit is good. If it’s beneficial to kill someone or torture someone to death, go ahead. While accusing others of human rights breaches, the United States reserves the right to breach them for itself being guided by the cynical maxim that ‘what is permitted to one person or group, is not permitted to everyone’."
Water-boarding is the worst form of torture. Inmates are also subjected to beating and are deprived of sleep and fettered to the cell floor. More than 40 suicide attempts over unbearable prison conditions have been reported since the opening of the Guantanamo prison in 2002.
Even though Barack Obama promised to close the Guantanamo detention camp shortly after taking office in 2009, the prison is still functioning. The CIA, the FBI and the Pentagon continue to insist that without the so-called ‘special methods of interrogation’ they would have failed to secure the information they needed so badly.
In the search for America’s "terrorist number one" Osama bin Laden, the U.S. used information obtained as a result of "extreme interrogation techniques", or torture, of suspected terrorists. This was confirmed by Pentagon head Leon Panetta, who at the time was the director of the CIA.
At the same time Panetta stressed that they “could have gotten bin Laden without that”, as “there was a lot of intelligence” that had eventually let them conclude that Bin Laden had likely been hiding at the compound in Abbotabad, Pakistan.
The statement was made by Panetta during NBC's "Meet the Press", devoted to a soon release of the film "Zero Dark Thirty" directed by Kathryn Bigelow about the operation to capture bin Laden in May 2011.
The film implies that “enhanced interrogation techniques” played a crucial role in finding bin Laden.
"First of all, it's a movie," Panetta said. "Let's remember that."
"Yes, some of it [intelligence] came from some of the tactics that were used at that time, interrogation tactics that were used," Panetta said. "But the fact is we put together most of that intelligence without having to resort to that."
"Zero Dark Thirty" has been nominated for several 2013 Academy Awards, including Best Picture. The film is based on real data, the film creators maintain, and is a chronicle of the search for Osama bin Laden that resulted in his capture and execution by U.S. forces in May 2011.
One of the first American officers to prove that the US used water-boarding against inmates, John Kiriakou is waiting for a summons to go to jail for 2.5 years after he blew the cover of an agent involved in torturing prisoners.
“When I blew the whistle on torture in December 2007, the Justice Department here in the US began investigating me and never stopped investigating me until they were able to patch together a charge and force me into taking a plea agreement,” the former CIA officer said in an interview to a Russian news agency.
“I took a strong stance and a very public one and that’s what got me into trouble,” he added.
According to the CIA vet, the Central Intelligence Agency offered special training to those who had no moral problem with torturing people. “When I returned from Pakistan to CIA headquarters early in the summer 2002, I was asked by a senior officer in the CIA’s counter-terrorist center if I wanted to be trained in the use of torture techniques, and I told him that I had a moral problem with these techniques,” he confessed.
Mr. Kiriakou believes that people in the post 9/11 America were “losing our civil liberties.” “Ten years ago, the thought of the National Security Agency spying on American citizens and intercepting their emails would have been anathema to Americans and now it’s just a part of normal business,” he told the journalist.
Voice of Russia, RT, TASS