The CIAs dirty deeds done dirt cheap

A confession, dear reader. The shockingly juvenile rock-metal band AC/DC were part of the soundtrack to my youth. They were always blasting away on mum and dad’s “stereogramme” when they (mum and dad) were up the pub on a Friday night.

Yes, I know, a bombshell of an admission. Later, schooled into disliking vulgar rock bands by the prevailing snooty punk/new wave sensibility, I spent years trying to resist the appeal of dunderhead Beavis & Butthead-style rawk. No use. I still like AC/DC.

Australia’s finest come to mind (my slightly off-centre mind that is) in light of the latest revelations that the CIA terrorised prisoners in the “war on terror”. Power drills – presumably running on (ahem) AC or DC current – were apparently brandished to terrify prisoners not scared enough by mock executions, beatings, waterboarding, being deprived of sleep and, of course, being subjected to ear-splittingly-loud rock music in darkened rooms for hours on end.

To pursue/force the AC/DC metaphor, you might say that is was an example of one of the world’s best-funded detection and law-enforcement operations trying to get intelligence without paying for it (no fancy trials); indeed, this was a case of dirty deeds done dirt cheap. A few power drills, a standard-issue handgun and a piece of wood and some straps for waterboarding – this was inexpensive torture instead of costly justice.

As it happens Amnesty has also documented an alternative no-expenses-spared approach to holding detainees in special secret jails (possibly in eastern Europe). Meanwhile recent reports that the – not inexpensive - private security company Blackwater was approached as a potential partner in a secret CIA-led international assassinations programme shows that money was sometimes no object when it came to the USA’s dirty war on terror. But still, the CIA was apparently keeping costs down on torture, even as it spent American taxpayer’s money on elaborate “black site” jails.

So what next? Even as we were hearing news of these leaks from (a long-suppressed) report into CIA behaviour, we also learnt that the Red Cross is finally getting information about who is still being held in US prisons in places like Bagram in Afghanistan. Like blood from a stone, information is coming out. Naturally some close to the CIA are now briefing the supposed view of the intelligence community, with claims that "the pendulum has swung too far”.

Mmm. Instead, I say that we need a full inquiry into how on earth the CIA got itself onto this highway to hell in the first place.

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