Volume , Number 0
There are no articles.Commentary
There are no articles.Culture
There are no articles.Features
The Social Forum of the â€¦
Coretta Scott King
Lee Siu hin
There are no articles.
NOTE: Z Magazine subscribers and sustainers have access to all Z Magazine articles here and in the archive. The latest Z Magazine articles available to everyone are listed in the Free Articles box at the top of the table of contents, and are starred in the list below. Questions? e-mail Z Magazine Online.
The CFR Debates Torture, Part 1
M issing from the ongoing public debate over war and the torture and abuse of detainees by the CIA and U.S. military is the extent to which the debaters on both sides are all members of only one very influential ruling class organization, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). Their ongoing discussion reflects this organization’s ability to frame public debate and the passage of laws. The debate also highlights the divisions within the CFR and the larger U.S. ruling class over imperial strategy and tactics as the U.S. tries to subdue Iraqi resistance and maintain control of its neoliberal empire.
The New York-based CFR is the oldest, largest, and most powerful of U.S. ruling class think tanks. It is much more than a think tank, however, since it is also an organization with over 4,200 members, each one prominent in a key sector of U.S. life. The CFR also publishes Foreign Affairs magazine, which, according to a recent survey, is the nation’s “most influential” media outlet, ahead of all other newspapers, magazines, and broadcast media.
The largest single group in the CFR is the corporate business community, which makes up 31 percent of the CFR membership, with the academic community in second place with 25 percent. The balance of CFR members are employed in the nonprofit sector, government, law, and journalism. The business community is also the source of most of CFR’s financial support, with hundreds of top U.S. corporations giving them from $15,000 to $50,000 every year. Among corporations who gave at least $25,000 during the 2004-2005 year were Exxon Mobil, ConocoPhillips, BP plc, Amerada Hess, Chevron, Halliburton-KBR, Marathon Oil, Occidental Petroleum, Shell Oil, Kuwait Petroleum, Schlumberger Limited, and Aramco Services.
In terms of membership, the densest network of corporate ties to CFR are from the New York multinational corporate community. The CFR has also always had a close relationship with key federal government departments. Noteworthy for the purposes of an understanding of torture and abuse by the U.S. government is the close long-term ties between CFR and the CIA, along with extensive ties to the U.S. military. The CFR has had at least 14 CIA directors among its members, along with many other top CIA and intelligence leaders. A review of CFR membership lists finds that at least 20 current U.S. generals and admirals are also members of the Council.
Viewed in ideological terms, there are four key groups among the CFR membership. The small “left” side of the political spectrum is made up mainly of liberal Democrats, along with a few scholars and activists. These include people like civil rights leader Jessie Jackson, Nation magazine editor Katrina vanden Heuvel, Richard J. Barnet of the Institute for Policy Studies, ACLU President Nadine Strossen, former Senator George S. McGovern, U.S. head of Amnesty International William Schulz, author/activist Daniel Ellsberg, and Princeton University Professor Richard A. Falk.
Moving to the right is what could be called “middle of the
road” imperialists. These are people who play important roles
in both the Democratic Party and the CFR, people like former Presidents
Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton; current and former Senators John
Kerry, Christopher J. Dodd, Joseph I. Lieberman, Bob Graham, Sam
Nunn, Gary Hart, John D. Rockefeller, Evan Bayh, and Diane Feinstein;
AFL-CIO head John J. Sweeney; Robert E. Rubin of Citicorp; international
businessperson George Soros; former Secretary of State Madeleine
K. Albright; Zbigniew Brzezinski of the Center for Strategic and
International Studies; Laura d’Andrea Tyson of Morgan Stanley
and the Brookings Institution; and many others.
Moving further to the right is another key membership group, best labeled the conservative Republican imperialists. Much of the CFR’s top leadership, past and present, fits into this category. Examples include corporate leaders David Rockefeller, Peter G. Peterson, Maurice R. Greenberg, and Carla A. Hills. Also part of this group are current and former Senators Chuck Hagel, Bill Frist, John McCain, John Warner, Olympia Snowe, Alfonse M. D’Amato, Warren Rudman, and William S. Cohen, as well as former Presidents Gerald R. Ford and George H.W. Bush (a former CFR member and director, but no longer listed as a member), and former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger, Alexander M. Haig Jr., Colin L. Powell, and George P. Shultz.
At the far right end of the CFR political spectrum is a large group of so-called “neo-conservatives.” These are ultra-imperialists whose extremist ideological/political approach includes unilateral preventative war, disdain for human rights, use of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause, obsession with national security, favoring corporate control of society, racism, super-nationalism, extreme militarism, disregard for the rule of law, suppression of labor unions, promotion of fraudulent elections, and rampant cronyism/corruption. Council members who fit into this category include Vice President Dick Cheney and his former chief assistant I. Lewis Libby; former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz; former Undersecretary of Defense Douglas J. Feith; former Defense Policy Board chair Richard Perle; former Congresspeople Vin Weber and Newton L. Gingrich; State Department officials Elliott Abrams and John Bolton; right-wing organizer Grover G. Norquist; Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; author Norman Podhoretz; and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad. All of these, except Rice, Feith, Perle, Bolton, Gingrich and Norquist, are also founding members of the super-imperialist group Project for a New American Century.
Given its right leaning, but politically divided membership, an ongoing central goal of the CFR is to develop a bipartisan consensus on the key foreign policy issues of the day, especially bringing together the rightwing and middle sectors of the U.S. political spectrum. It also deals with questions of the balance of power between states and the key role of certain “linchpin” nations in that balance. Geopolitical economics has been the CFR’s dominant worldview at least since World War II.
The U.S. War in Iraq
I raq, with its large proven oil reserves and even larger potential, but as yet undeveloped reserves, had been on the radar of the geopolitical economic planners of CFR for many years. This attention came to a climax with two studies in 2001. During that year the CFR co-sponsored an Independent Task Force on Strategic Energy Policy Challenges for the 21st Century with the James A. Baker III Institute of Public Policy at Rice University in Texas. Former Secretary of State James A. Baker III is a long-time CFR member and is also personally and politically close to the Bush family. Fifty-one task force members, many of them connected to the oil industry, signed the report, which reached a consensus on a number of questions. The first general conclusion was that “a new era of energy scarcity” was upon the world, with “supply constraints” now “...presenting fundamental obstacles to continued economic growth and prosperity.” The primary cause of this, in turn, was seen as “persistent under investment juxtaposed with strong economic and oil demand growth.” This applied especially to the Middle East-Persian Gulf region, where the bulk of the world’s oil resources is concentrated, making it the only place with meaningful spare capacity to solve a looming and serious shortfall: “If political factors were to block the development of new oil fields in the Middle East, the ramifications for world oil markets could be quite severe.” At the same time, United States energy independence is unattainable because it “faces a steep decline rate in its domestic oil fields...”
Finally, the CFR/Baker Institute group concluded that the U.S. government should create a permanent “interagency process to articulate and promote energy security policy with overall economic, environmental and foreign policy,” noting that “the Bush Administration has moved rapidly in this direction through the creation of the White House Energy Policy Development Group headed by Vice President Dick Cheney.”
Cheney had long seen the Persian Gulf region as the key to world power. In 1990 he stated that whoever controlled this region of the world was “in a position to dictate the future of worldwide energy policy…[and would have] a stranglehold on our economy and on that of most of the other nations of the world as well.” The Cheney energy policy group followed up on the CFR/Baker Institute study, including in their work consultation with representatives of major oil companies such as ExxonMobil, Conoco, British Petroleum America, Chevron, and Shell Oil. Cheney’s secretive group evidently agreed with the CFR/Baker Institute that Iraqi oil was central to the strategic energy needs of the U.S.
While the complete documentary record of its work is classified and unavailable, Freedom of Information requests and a court case did result in the release of some edited documents from the Cheney energy policy group. One of these was a map of Iraq showing lease areas where oil drilling was planned. Another consisted of a list of 40 oil companies from 30 nations who were slated to get permission to drill for oil in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. The problem for the U.S. and Britain was that their oil companies were absent from this list of those who were to get concessions, and Iraq was second only to Saudi Arabia in proven oil reserves, with the possibility of much more petroleum in the largely unexplored western part of the country. The U.S. and UK would thus be frozen out of what was clearly one of the greatest material prizes in world history.
In 2003, a few months after taking over Iraq, Bush issued Presidential Executive Order 13303, which attempted to provide legal cover for U.S. corporations to loot Iraqi oil without consequences. This order states that the possibility of future legal claims on Iraq’s oil wealth is “an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States,” adding that “any judicial process is prohibited, and shall be deemed null and void” with regard to any commercial operation conducted by U.S. corporations involved in the Iraqi oil industry. Thomas Devine, legal director of the Governmental Accountability Project, condemned Bush’s directive, arguing that it “cancels the concept of corporate accountability and abandons the rule of law” and is “a license for corporations to loot Iraq and its citizens.” Also during 2003, and within a few months of his installation as the U.S. dictator of Iraq, CFR member L. Paul Bremer III issued his infamous Order 39, which privatized 200 Iraqi state companies and decreed that foreign firms can retain 100 percent ownership of Iraqi banks, mines, and factories and allowed these firms to send 100 percent of their profits out of Iraq. Bremer said his goal, irrespective of the wishes of the Iraqi people, was to change a “centrally planned economy to a market economy.”
Bush declared in a 2005 address to the CFR, “Iraq’s a
nation with the potential for tremendous prosperity...they have
among the largest oil resources in the world,” adding that
“liberating” and “reconstructing” Iraq would
serve as a starting point for establishing a “U.S.-Middle East
free-trade area” including 22 nations and based on the “free
market system.” Defense Secretary Rumsfeld underscored that
the U.S. occupying authority would adopt policies that “favor
market systems” conducive to foreign investment, control, and
exploitation, again irrespective of the needs of the Iraqi people.
First, due to the high unemployment created by the switch to a “free
market” system (estimates of unemployment and underemployment
range from 26 percent to over 70 percent), the people of Iraq now
have trouble getting enough food. Second, CNN reported in May 2005
that there was “widespread poverty” in Iraq and 43 percent
of Iraqi children aged 6 months to 5 years “...suffer from
some form of malnutrition.” Third, common crime of all kinds
is rampant in Iraq, making the country insecure for everyone, but
especially for women and children.
Working the “Dark Side”
O n February 15, 2002 Vice President Dick Cheney traveled to New York to speak at the opening of CFR’s new Geoeconomic Center. Cheney argued that terror cells existed in 60 nations and vast military spending and actions would be required to defeat them. Cheney also pointed out the importance of a “multifaceted approach” to the problem: “...some of it will be visible and public, as when we went into Afghanistan to take out the Taliban, other aspects of it may never see the light of day, probably shouldn’t. You’re clearly going to have to deal in the shadows...” Using slightly different words, Cheney stated a few months earlier that in dealing with terrorism, “We have to work...the dark side.”
Cheney’s references to dealing “in the shadows” and working the “dark side” reflected the fact that less than a week after the 9/11 attacks, President Bush gave the CIA wide ranging authorization to kill, capture, kidnap, imprison, interrogate, and torture suspected Al-Qaeda members in secret “black site” prisons around the world. Bush also authorized “extraordinary rendition,” the kidnapping and transportation of suspects to countries with records of using torture. The CIA, under the leadership of CFR member George Tenet, implemented the use of black sites, extraordinary rendition, interrogation, and torture of detainees at the U.S. Naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in Afghanistan, and other locations. Because these actions lacked due process and kidnapping and torture were involved, they were illegal under U.S. and international law, as well as the laws of some cooperating nations. Lawyers on Cheney’s staff and from the Justice Department were therefore given the task of redefining the law. After much effort they bent the accepted legal definition of torture and “cruel and inhumane or degrading treatment” to include only those interrogation techniques that deliberately resulted in severe harm to a bodily organ or death. This definition allowed massive torture and was very different than that accepted by other legal experts and the United Nations. These government lawyers also decided that the Geneva Conventions governing treatment of all detainees during any conflict—which was part of U.S. law by treaty—did not apply to Al-Qaeda, the Taliban in Afghanistan, or to non-Iraqi detainees in Iraq.
Two of the top Justice Department lawyers working on these issues were CFR members John C. Yoo, now a professor of law at the University of California’s Boalt Hall law school, and Jack L. Goldsmith III, now a professor at Harvard Law School. Goldsmith reportedly worked on the inapplicability of the Geneva Conventions and Yoo wrote the legal opinion that redefined the law to justify what was, in reality, torture. During the same period, Yoo wrote the “classified legal opinion” justifying unchecked presidential power to engage in domestic spying without a court order, which amounted to executive authorization of criminal activity.
Defenders of torture, such as Yoo and neo-fascist/neo-conservative commentator Max Boot, a CFR senior fellow who writes for the Los Angeles Times , have excused torture with various arguments. Boot, in a January 2005 LA Times article entitled “Necessary Roughness,” denied that extensive abuse occurred, arguing that it was limited to “a few renegade guards at one prison,” and then defended the use of torture like waterboarding when he wrote, “legions of critics are condemning one of the successful steps taken to prevent another 9/11—the aggressive interrogation of captured terrorists.”
An Epidemic of Torture and Abuse
I n a recent comparison of the Vietnam and Iraq wars, James Lindsey, CFR’s vice president and director of studies, captured the essence of why the U.S. ruling class wants to stay in Iraq: “It was always hard to sustain the argument that if the United States withdrew from Vietnam there would be immense geopolitical consequences. As we look at Iraq, its a very different issue. It’s a country in one of the volatile parts of the world, which has a very precious resource that modern economies rely on, namely oil...” CFR President Richard N. Haass added that in invading Iraq, U.S. leaders wanted to send a message to the world that “geopolitical momentum” was moving in their favor. The problem is that, as shown in both polls and actions, the vast majority of the Iraqi people do not want the U.S. occupying their country. A recent Washington Post poll put the figure wanting U.S. troops out at over 80 percent. Since ruling by consent appears to be impossible, ruling by fear, intimidation, and punishment is the only route open to the U.S. The by-now routine epidemic of violence, torture, and abuse perpetrated by Washington on the people of Iraq develops out of the logic of this situation. Added to it is the anger of U.S. troops at having to be in Iraq and having friends killed or injured. Ignored is the fact that the International Red Cross has estimated that 70 to 90 percent of the tens of thousands of Iraqis who have been detained by the U.S. have been arrested by mistake and are completely innocent. The total detained may be as high as 75,000. As of November 1, 2005 almost 14,000 were still being held illegally, without any due process. Despite their innocence, many are nevertheless abused, tortured, and even murdered by the CIA and U.S. soldiers, fueling the resistance.
Many of these CIA torture techniques were codified much earlier in a secret 1963 torture instruction book called KUBARK Counterintelligence Interrogation . These torture techniques have been spread by the CIA throughout the world over the past 40 years, resulting in an epidemic of torture worldwide.
A September 2005 Human Rights Watch report based on interviews with active duty soldiers in the elite 82nd Airborne Division occupying part of Iraq found that military commanders demanded that lower ranking soldiers get intelligence from detainees, without giving guidelines about what was allowed in terms of interrogation techniques. The report found that the torture of detainees at the 82nd Airborne’s base in Iraq (called FOB Mercury) took place almost daily from September 2003 to April 2004. It concluded that, since no full scale investigation had taken place and no one had been punished, such torture was probably still continuing today. Detainees captured by the 82nd were held in tents separated from the rest of the base by concertina wire for several days prior to being released or sent to Abu Ghraib. In these tents detainees were tortured to get information under the direction of officers from the military intelligence unit.
A summary of the Human Rights Watch report, based on U.S. soldiers’ own testimony, stated that techniques used included: “severe beatings (in one observed incident, a soldier reportedly broke a detainee’s leg with a baseball bat), blows and kicks to the face, chest, abdomen, and extremities, and repeated kicks to various parts of the detainees’ body; the application of chemical substances to exposed skin and eyes; forced stress positions...sometimes to the point of unconsciousness; sleep deprivation; subjecting detainees to extremes of hot and cold; the stacking of detainees into human pyramids; and, the withholding of food (beyond crackers) and water.” The torture of detainees became so widespread and accepted that it became a means of “stress relief” for soldiers who were welcomed to the tents to beat up or otherwise abuse detainees. If a detainee suffered a broken bone from such beatings, then an army physician’s assistant was called in to cover up the beating and agree that the detainee was injured during capture. Military intelligence officers approved of the beatings because they believed that it demoralized the detainees, making it easier to get intelligence from them. Officers and soldiers of the 82nd who wished to behave honorably and tried to report what was happening to superior officers to stop these outrages were told to keep their mouths shut and not risk their careers.
Since investigations about the behavior of other important U.S. military units in Iraq have not been conducted, we do not know if other divisions and units are also guilty of similar torture and abuse of detainees, but it would be surprising if this were not the case, since this problem is epidemic.
Laurence H. Shoup has taught U.S. history at several universities and written three books, including: Imperial Brain Trust: the Council on Foreign Relations and U.S. Foreign Policy (with William Minter), first published by Monthly Review Press in 1977, reprinted by iUniverse in 2004. Part II of this article will appear in April.
Z Magazine Archive
HUMAN RIGHTS - The U.S. Human Rights Network will celebrate its 10th anniversary with the Advancing Human Rights 2013 Conference, December 6-8, in Atlanta, GA.
Contact: 250 Georgia Avenue SE, Suite 330, Atlanta, GA 30312; firstname.lastname@example.org; http:// www.ushrnetwork.org/.
AFRICAN/SOCIALIST - The Sixth Congress of the African People’s Socialist Party USA will be held December 7-11, in St. Petersburg, FL.
Contact: 1245 18th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33705; 727- 821-6620; info@aps puhuru.org; http://asiuhuru.org/.
SCHOOLS - The Dignity in Schools Campaign (DSC) will host a workshop on the DSC “Model Code on Education and Dignity: Presenting A Human Rights Framework for Schools” at the Mid-Hudson Region NY State Leadership Summit on School Justice Partnerships, December 11 in White Plains, NY.
Contact: http://www.dignityin schools.org/.
ANARCHIST/BOOKFAIR - The Humboldt Anarchist Book Fair will be held December 14, in Eureka, CA.
Contact: humboldtgrassroots @riseup.net; http://humbold tanarchist bookfair.wordpress. com/.
CLIMATE - The World Symposium on Sustainable Development at Universities is hosting a follow-up event to the 2012 Rio de Janeiro symposium. The gathering will be held in Qatar on January 28-30, 2014.
Contact: http://environment.tufts. edu/.
LABOR - The United Association for Labor Education (UALE) will host Organizing for Power: A New Labor Movement for the New Working Class in Los Angeles, March 26-29. Proposals are due December 15.
Contact: LAWCHA, 226 Carr Building (East Campus), Box 90719, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708-0719;lawcha @duke. edu; http://lawcha.org/.
MEDIA FELLOWSHIP - The Media Mobilizing Project is seeking applicants for the first annual Movement Media Fellowship Program. The Fellow will work with MMP to produce the spring season of Media Mobilizing Project TV. MMPTV is a news and talk show that tells the stories of local communities organizing to win human rights and build a movement to end poverty.
Contact: 4233 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104; 215-821- 9632; milena@media mobilizing.org; http://www.media mobilizing.org/.
RACE - The 7th Facing Race: A National Conference will be held in Dallas, TX November 13-15, 2014. Organizers, educators, artists, funders and everyone interested in racial equity is invited to exchange best practices and learn about innovative models and successful organizing initiatives. Proposals must be submitted by January 24, 2014.
Contact: Race Forward, 32 Broadway, Suite 1801, New York, NY 10004; 212-513-7925; media @raceforward.org; http://race forward.org/.
VETERANS - They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America’s Wars - The Untold Story, by Ann Jones, is about the journey of veterans from the moment of being wounded in rural Afghanistan to their return home.
Contact: Haymarket Books, PO Box 180165, Chicago, IL 60618; 773-583-7884; http://www.haymarketbooks.org/.
LIBYA - Destroying Libya and World Order: The Three-Decade U.S. Campaign to Terminate the Qaddafi Revolution, by Francis A. Boyle, is a history and critique of American foreign policy from Reagan to Obama.
Contact: Clarity Press, Inc., Ste. 469, 3277 Roswell Rd. NE, Atlanta, GE 30305; 404-647-6501; email@example.com; http://www. claritypress.com/.
CHILDREN - Fannie and Freddie by Becky Z. Dernbach is about two bumbling villains who gamble away the savings of the people of Homeville.
Contact: fannieandfreddiebook @gmail.com; http://fannieand freddie.org/.
PROTEST/COMIC - Fight the Power!: A Visual History of Protest Among English Speaking Peoples, by Sean Michael Wilson and Benjamin Dickson is a graphic narrative that explains how people have fought against oppression.
Contact: Seven Stories Press, 140 Watts Street, New York, NY 10013; 212-226-8760; info@ sevenstories.com; http://www. sevenstories.com.
CHILDREN - Brave Girl by Michelle Markel and illustrated by Melissa Sweet is the true story of Clara Lemlich, a young Ukrainian immigrant who led the largest strike of women workers in U.S. history.
Contact: http://www.harpercollins childrens.com/Kids/.
FESTIVAL - The 2014 Queer Women of Color Film Festival will be held June 13-15 in San Francisco. The festival is currently accepting submissions until December 31.
Contact: QWOCMAP, 59 Cook Street, San Francisco, CA 94118-3310; 415-752-0868; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.qwocmap.org/.
IRAQ/REFUGEES - Ten years after the U.S.-led war in Iraq, thousands of displaced Iraqi refugees are still facing a crisis in the United States. The Lost Dream follows Nazar and Salam who had to flee Iraq in order to avoid threats by Al- Qaeda-affiliated groups and Iraqi insurgents that consider them “traitors” for supporting U.S. forces in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Contact: Typecast Films, 888- 591-3456; info@type castfilms. com; http://type castfilms.com/.
HUMAN RIGHTS - Lyrical Revolt! III will be held December 4 in Syracuse, NY. The event will feature hip-hop musician Anhel whose album Young, Gifted, and Brown was just released. The event is sponsored by ANSWER Syracuse, Liberation News, and SyracuseHip Hop.com. Performers and artists are encouraged to send submissions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.answercoalition.org/syracuse/.
FOLK - Musician Painless Parker has released his album Music for miscreants, malcontents and misanthropes featuring “Fuck Yeah, the Working Class.”
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://painlessparkermusic.com/.
COMEDY - Political comedian Lee Camp’s new album Pepper Spray the Tears Away has been released.