[Note for TomDispatch Readers: TD will, as always, be taking the Memorial Day weekend off and will return next Tuesday. In the meantime, just a small reminder that, if you want to keep following the world according to TomDispatch and you can afford it, I hope you’ll consider visiting our donation page and contributing something to keep this site afloat. (A series of striking books, signed and personalized, are always available for anyone who donates $125 or, if you live outside the U.S., $150.) I hate to regularly bother you this way, but the truth is that you’re all that stands between TD and The End. Tom]
In January 2005, I began my introduction to the first piece Karen Greenberg ever wrote for TomDispatch this way: “Pick a week, any week, and you can now be guaranteed that yet more gruesome news will seep out about the global torture regime the Bush administration has set up around the world.” And I described the prison President George W. Bush and crew had established at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, for those it captured in what was then called the Global War on Terror as “our Bermuda Triangle of injustice.” I added that “the paper trail already made public on torture, abuse, and other crimes against humanity is unprecedented.” The Torture Papers: The Road to Abu Ghraib, a groundbreaking book by Greenberg and Joshua Dratel (who co-authored that 2005 dispatch), was, in fact, just about to be published.
In that long-ago piece, Greenberg and Dratel posed 37 — yes, 37! — questions to then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on the Bush administration’s torture policies, starting with “Does torture work?” More than 18 years later, we certainly know two things, as reflected in Greenberg’s latest TD post: first, torture most distinctly does not work; and second, despite all the efforts of Greenberg (including her 2010 book, The Least Worst Place: Guantanamo’s First 100 Days), Dratel, and others like them, the horrific American record of torture at CIA “black sites” across the planet and at Guantánamo Bay has yet to be fully revealed. Today, TomDispatch regular Greenberg puts her years of devotion to uncovering the nightmare that has long inhabited the very heart of this country’s disastrous war on terror in context and considers when, if ever, we’ll truly know the full story of the horrific global torture regime the American government established in these years.
In a world in which the Supreme Court ruled (in a split decision) in 2022 that a detainee at Guantánamo could not obtain information from two former CIA contractors involved in torturing him at a black site in Poland for fear of revealing state secrets, all too sadly, a story still remains to be told. Tom
America’s Continuing Quest to Hide Torture
In the Blindman’s Buff variation of tag, a child designated as “It” is tasked with tapping another child while wearing a blindfold. The sightless child knows the other children, all able to see, are there but is left to stumble around, using sounds and knowledge of the space they're in as guides. Finally, that child does succeed, either by bumping into someone, peeking, or thanks to sheer dumb luck.
Think of us, the American public, as that blindfolded child when it comes to our government's torture program that followed the 9/11 disaster and the launching of the ill-fated war on terror. We've been left to search in the dark for what so many of us sensed was there.Read More