Voice in the Wilderness

The news about the "war on terror" your local newspaper won't print.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Plausible Deniability on Systematic Torture

Plausible deniability is a political doctrine originally developed in the United States in the 1950s and applied to operations by the then newly-formed Central Intelligence Agency. Many people consider the doctrine to be a form of hypocrisy. Plausible deniability involves the creation of power structures and chains of command loose and informal enough to be denied if necessary. The idea was that the CIA (and, later, other bodies) could be given controversial instructions by powerful figures -- up to and including the President himselfÂ?but that the existence and true source of those instructions could be denied if necessary; if, for example, an operation went disastrously wrong and it was necessary for the administration to disclaim responsibility. --Wikipedia
Wonderful thing, that plausible deniability. If someone else sticks his neck out for you and ultimately takes the blame for whatever goes wrong, you have nothing to worry about. In The Godfather Part II they even paid off the family of the wise guy who took the fall for Michael Corleone.

Something similar seems to be happening in Iraq, where the latest eye-opener is a report coming from the London Observer. Seems that millions of dollars that have been earmarked to train and equip Iraq's police force -- one of the linchpins in the Iraqification of the war -- actually have been used to fund a vast unofficial interrogation system that has resulted in the brutal deaths by torture of numerous prisoners.

Write Peter Beaumont and Martin Wright:
The allegations follow a wide-ranging investigation by this paper into serious human rights abuses being conducted by anti-insurgency forces in Iraq. The Observer has seen photographic evidence of post-mortem and hospital examinations of alleged terror suspects from Baghdad and the Sunni Triangle which demonstrate serious abuse of suspects including burnings, strangulation, the breaking of limbs and - in one case - the apparent use of an electric drill to perform a knee-capping. (Read the entire story.)
(The Observer also published an article detailing the extent of this torture. Parts of it are very graphic. You can read the entire article by clicking here.)

Now this has been given nary a hoot of exposure throughout most of the United States because all this money apparently is in sterling, not greenbacks -- twenty million pounds, according to the newspaper. But here's where plausible deniability comes in: Our hands are clean! It's the British who are at fault on all this! Can't blame it on us! Nyaaah, nyaaah!

And until the smoking gun is revealed, which is to say a definite link is established to American aid, the American press will pooh-pooh this as just another Brit problem and have nothing to do with the story.

It's the same premise as the administration's attempt to weasel out of the Downing Street memos: "Huh! Those Brits! That's what they thought about the talks they had with us! Thought we'd already planned on going to war, huh! That's what you get when you drink warm beer and your favorite sport is played by wusses who can't use their hands!"

Just have someone else do your dirty work and your hands are clean. Michael Corleone could tell you.


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