this may be of interest..
Celerino “Cele” Castillo III, _May 18, 2004
Editor's Note: As the Abu Ghraib scandal widens, the Bush administration is sticking to its mantra, “This is not America.” But in this essay sent to us by veteran deep cover operative Celerino “Cele” Castillo III offers a stark reminder of this country’s true legacy of the use of torture. Castillo knows what he’s talking about. A 20-year veteran of state and federal law enforcement, Castillo spent twelve years in the Drug Enforcement Administration, working undercover in Central and South America during the 1980s. While in El Salvador, he found himself smack in the middle of another Bush’s illegal war. He discovered that drug sales authorized by the CIA were being used to fund the brutal and corrupt Nicaraguan Contra army. He also found out firsthand that the use of torture is not limited to the world's so-called "evildoers." He sent us these thoughts on Abu Ghraib, the Nick Berg killing and the connections between the "war on drugs" and the "war on terror":
“We’re going to ask you some questions. If you give an answer we like, we’ll let you smoke. If we don’t like the answer, we’ll burn you. The anticipation was worse than the burns.” - A CIA agent and his goon squad torturing an American nun Diana Ortiz, by burning her 75 times with a cigarette.
Photos of humiliated, helpless Iraqi prisoners flood the nation’s front pages, computer screens and high-definition televisions. Here we are once again, caught in the act of what is known as “what we do best”. It is no longer the image of Saddam’s statue tipping over – it’s an American female warrior with an Iraqi prisoner on a leash. Forget about winning the hearts and minds of not only the Iraqi people but also the entire world.
The CIA got the “green light” to implement torture, authorized by a set of secret rules for the interrogation of high-level Al Qaeda prisoners. These secret rules were endorsed by the Justice Department after they had been adopted by the Bush administration after the Sept. 11 attacks. These tortures were the results of several murders committed by the CIA.
There is no doubt, in my mind, that the CIA was involved in the murder of Nick Berg, the America who was executed in Iraq. There is a history of how the CIA has a way of staging murders of Americans, so that the enemy takes a fall from it. My opinion is that the CIA found that Nick was getting to close to some Iraqis, which made him an automatic target of the CIA. According to his family, he had been detained by American intelligence and later disappeared.
I saw it time and time again in the 1980s in Central American. Our government has staged several events where it attempted to implicate Nicaragua government in drug trafficking. The CIA was also implicated in the torture of an American nun in Guatemala. And in El Salvador, it had staged the murder of Jesuits priests. The FMLN were supposed to have to taken the fall for the murders, but it backfired on the CIA. A U.S. military adviser, who accompanies the Salvadorian soldiers, gave up the U.S. involvement. Once again, in my opinion, Berg’s murder was set up to enrage the American people in support of what American is doing to the prisoners in Iraq.
During my childhood, my parents and grandparents has instilled in me to, “be righteous in everything I did.” That was always in the back of my mind when I started to see all these atrocities of torturing people. For the first time in my life, I felt ashamed to be an American. After my complaints went unanswered, I started to take pictures of the violations. Why take the photos? Because I knew what United States government was permitting, was criminally wrong. I remember complaining to CIA agent Randy Capister and his respond was that, “that’s what happens in third world countries.” I warned him, that these atrocities were going to come back and bit us in the ass. He stated that they had been conducting these atrocities for years and no one has ever stopped them. Moreover, in a way he was right.
In 1985, Kike Camarena, a DEA agent in Mexico, was tortured and buried alive by CIA assets. Horribly, his torture was recorded. I still remember listening to the audiotapes, where he asked for his life to be spared because of his children. I could also hear the use of the buzzer’ (la chicharra) being administered to him. La chicharra is an electric prod attached to the eyes, gums, tongue, nipples and genitals of their victims. The main question remains of to why the CIA agents (handlers) were never held accountable for his torture and cover up. There was too much to lose because the U.S. government had just trained the Nicaragua “Contras” in a Guadalajara ranch owned by one of the biggest drug cartels in Mexico.
In 1989, while working as a missionary in Guatemala, Sister Dianna Ortiz, an American Ursuline, was abducted by security forces and brutally tortured. Her case attracted international attention—not because it was so unusual, but because she escaped to reveal the details, and most important, the implication that the man who intervened with her captors was an American CIA agent by the name of Randy Capister.
Sister Diana Ortiz has identified Randy Capister as the American who questioned her during her interrogation.
"I looked again. Two words drummed inside me until I spoke them: 'It’s him.' I didn’t want to cry, but I felt myself being pulled back into that November day, and the sobs came." - Sister Dianna Ortiz
The term ‘torture’ means any act by which severe pain and suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purpose as obtaining from him information or a confession. It is use to obtain information, extract confessions or break down a community. But experienced interrogators know that they usually can’t tell if what the subject says under torture or humiliation is true, because the subject will say what he or she thinks will end the torture. Clearly, the impunity that allows torture in the first place also acknowledges that murder is permissible. Torture is not a remote phenomenon. It lurks beneath the surface wherever power is exercised without transparency and accountability. One individual acting in the belief that he has authority to inflict pain upon another is a manifestation of power at its crudest, when those who control a society feel they have the right to insist that all opposition should be silenced. Torture is most likely to occur in a society where the government attempts to assert total control over the citizenry. This is what the United States has allowed to occur in most of the third world countries it has gotten involved with.
The kind of character produced in American democratic society cannot be counted on to insulate its citizens from brutality and inhumane treatment at the direction of a malevolent authority. A substantial proportion of people do what they are told to do, irrespective of the content of the act and without limitations of conscience, so long as they perceive that the command comes from a legitimate authority. That is why we do want we do best.
There can never be any justification for torture, because it creates an escalation of violence in the internal affairs of states. It spreads like a contagious disease from country to country. It also has lasting effects on the mental and physical health of the victim, and brutalizes the torture. So why do we do it? For one, because there has never been any “check or balance” and as long as you aren’t caught, it’s acceptable. We also tend to turn a blind eye to the pain and violence inflicted upon those who depend upon us in every way. Torture and terror can quickly become their method of demonstrating unquestioning loyalty. Furthermore, once the security forces are given the “green light” to seek out and destroy dissidents, the citizenry are given a license to become informers and agents provocateurs.
What is the solution to these atrocities? When a crime under international law is subject to universal jurisdiction, state, which finds on its territory a person suspected of committing this crime, may bring the suspect to trial, no matter where the crime occurred. Period! Arrest anyone who not only committed these atrocities but those who permitted it and took those extra steps to cover it up.
President Clinton made front-page headlines in 1999 saying, “What we did in Guatemala was wrong.” Are a few words all we owe when we created and maintained an army that slaughtered hundreds of thousands? With that sort of impunity, it has given us permission to do it again. And we most definitely have.
And still, in any bureaucracy of repression, there are personnel schooled in the ideological attitudes necessary to keep such systems in operation. In some cases this schooling takes place literally, for example at the infamous once known as the School of Americans based at Fort Benning in Georgia, otherwise known as the ‘school for dictators’ or ‘La escuela del golpe’ (the coup school). The U. S. gets to train death squads’ leaders from Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and other third world countries. One of their lectures is Torture 101, accompanied with a manual. After they graduate, they return to their own country and with the assistance of the CIA and DEA, they get to implement these techniques.
TORTURE is a crime under federal law. When a U.S. national conspires, attempts, or commits torture outside of the United States, he can be sentenced to 20 years in prison. If his victim dies, the perpetrator can receive life in prison or the death penalty.
Celerino “Cele” Castillo III is the author of "Powderburns: Cocaine, Contras and the Drug War." He is a 20 veteran of law enforcement. Watch Cele in GNN's Sundance award-winning NewsVideo Crack the CIA