According to the New York Times, Iranian officials have announced that they have secured confessions from top reformers to a conspiracy to bring down the Iranian government. The paper stated that such confessions are “almost always extracted under duress.”
Now, take a wild guess what such “duress” consists of. The paper states: “The government has made it a practice to publicize confessions from political prisoners held without charge or legal representation, often subjected to pressure tactics like sleep deprivation, solitary confinement and torture, according to human rights groups and former political prisoners.”
You bet it does! In fact, these are precisely the “harsh interrogation techniques” employed by the CIA and the Pentagon that U.S. neocons have been consistently describing as fraternity-type hazing for the last 8 years. Of course, we’ve got to add waterboarding — i.e., forced drowning — to the U.S. interrogation techniques, something that the Iranians don’t appear to have utilized in securing their confessions.
The article also mentioned another facet of interrogation that Iranian and American officials have in common: sex abuse. Consider this account of a journalist-blogger, Omid Memarian, who was arrested in 2007 and who now lives as an exile in the United States:
“He said that his interrogator at first sought to humiliate him by forcing him to discuss details of his sex life, and that when he hesitated, the interrogator would grab his hair and smash his head against the wall. He said the interrogator asked him about prominent politicians he had interviewed, asked if they ever had affairs, and asked if he had ever slept with their wives.”
(U.S. torturers refer to the head-smashing technique as “walling,” an interrogation technique they employ too.)
“I was crying, I begged him, please do not ask me this. They said if you don’t talk now you will talk in a month, in two months, in a year. If you don’t talk now, you will talk. You will just stay here.”
Consider this account by Ali Afshari, a student leader arrested in 2001:
He said he was held in solitary confinement for 335 days and resisted confessing for the first two months. But after two mock executions and a five-day stretch where his interrogators would not let him sleep, he said he eventually caved in. “They tortured me, some beatings, sleep deprivation, insults, psychological torture, standing me for several hours in front of a wall, keeping me in solitary confinement for one year,” Mr. Afshari said in an interview from his home in Washington. “They eventually broke my resistance.”
So far, U.S. neocons have been silent over the confessions extracted by the Iranian officials. That’s not surprising. After all, what can they say?
Can they say that the confessions are invalid, after claiming for 8 years that the confessions extracted by U.S. interrogators using the same techniques (and worse) are perfectly valid?
Can they claim that the techniques employed by the Iranian interrogators are nothing worse than what takes place in American fraternity houses, when they’ve been using that description for the same techniques employed by U.S. officials (and actually much worse: e.g., waterboarding, dogs, forced nudity, and highly bizarre sexual acts)?
Can they claim that the Iranian dissidents have been tortured into giving those confessions when they have claimed for 8 years that similar (and worse) interrogation methods at the hands of the CIA and Pentagon have not constituted torture?
Did the Iranian officials simply copy their torture techniques from the United States? No. As anti-torture proponents have been pointing out for years, these are the modern-day torture techniques of professional torturers everywhere. Modern-day professional torturers don’t use the rack or hot irons or anything else that leaves physical scars. Instead, they employ what has become known as “touchless torture” — torture techniques that are just as effective but only scar the mind and that leave the torturer free to say, “I never laid a hand on him!”
What is happening in Iran, one of the most tyrannical regimes in the world, constitutes a red light for the American people. What better signal than that to tell us that our nation is off course with the U.S. government’s torture policy and its attacks on civil liberties?