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“Corrupt, toxic and sociopathic”: Glenn Greenwald unloads on torture, CIA and Washington’s rotten soul

Pentagon Holds Departure Ceremony For Rumsfeld

Glenn Greenwald tells Salon how the torture report exposes true evil — and a nation drowning in hypocrisy by ELIAS ISQUITH

It took years until the executive summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s torture report — which shows not only that the CIA’s torture regime was larger and more vicious than understood, but that the agency repeatedly lied about it to the White House and Congress — was finally released to the public. But it only took hours before President Obama was once again urging the nation to look forward, not back. “Rather than another reason to refight old arguments,” read a White House statement, “I hope that today’s report can help us leave these techniques where they belong — in the past.” When members of the media asked whether that meant the White House considered torture to be ineffective, as the report claims, an anonymous official said Obama would not “engage” in the ongoing “debate.” On the issues of rape, waterboarding and induced hypothermia, apparently, reasonable minds can differ.

Glenn Greenwald, the Intercept’s Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and longtime critic of the war on terror, disagrees. “There’s no debate,” he told Salon. “Everything that we did,” he continued, “in terms of how we treated detainees, has [long] been viewed as morally vile and inexcusable and criminal.” Greenwald has little doubt, however, that Washington will turn torture into yet another partisan squabble. It’s the go-to move, he says, when America’s political and media elite decide they’d rather look the other way. “That’s just the ritual Washington engages in,” Greenwald said.

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Speaking with Salon from his home in Brazil (or at least we assumed as much, given the barking in the background) Greenwald discussed what surprised him about the summary, what we still don’t know, why expressions of shock and horror from Congress are disingenuous, how President Obama is culpable, too, and why America’s leaders are “sociopathic.” Our conversation is below and has been edited for clarity and length.

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Torture report: 10 examples of the horror in the CIA’s prisons

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Senate’s 480-page report summary lays out in horrifying detail what happened to detainees in secret torture sites

CIA torture report release: A detainee from Afghanistan is carried on a stretcher before being interrogated by military officials at Camp X-Ray at the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba

A detainee from Afghanistan is carried on a stretcher before being interrogated by military officials at Camp X-Ray at the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba  By Raf Sanchez, Peter Foster,  Washington 6:29AM GMT 10 Dec 2014

 

The Senate report into the CIA’s secret torture programmes is clinical and unsparing.

Over the course of a 480-page summary, it lays out in horrifying detail what was done to detainees in secret torture sites around the world. Here are some of the starkest examples:

Detainees were “rectally fed”

At least five prisoners were forced to ingest food or water through their rectums. One detainee, Majid Khan, went on hunger strike and had a “food tray” of pureed hummus, pasta, nuts and raisins forced into his rectum. Khan apparently tried to kill himself by biting his own veins.

In 2012, he pleaded guilty to terror charges in front of a military court at Guantánamo Bay.

Prisoner dies of suspected hypothermia

In November 2002, the suspected Afghan militant Gul Rahman was being held at “the Salt Pit”, a secret US prison in Afghanistan. Rahman was stripped naked below the waist, chained, and made to sit on a bare concrete floor. He was found dead the next day of suspected hypothermia.

26 of 119 prisoners were wrongfully held

Among the people who were wrongly held was Nazar Ali, “an ‘intellectually challenged’ individual whose taped crying was used as leverage against his family member”.

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