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Article posted Jun 11 2007, 5:35 AM Category: Tyranny/Police State Source: Sydney Morning Herald Print

We got it wrong, says former torturer

By Tim Shipman

Washington - A FORMER US Army torturer has described the traumatic effects of American interrogation techniques in Iraq - on their victims and on the perpetrators themselves.

Tony Lagouranis said he conducted mock executions, forced men and boys into agonising stress positions, kept suspects awake for weeks on end, used dogs to terrify prisoners and subjected others to hypothermia.

But he said he was deeply scarred by the realisation that what he did had contributed to the plight of US forces in Iraq.

Mr Lagouranis, 37, said he suffered nightmares and anxiety attacks after returning to Chicago, where he works as a pub doorman.

Between January 2004 and January 2005, first at Abu Ghraib prison and then in Mosul, in northern Babil province, he tortured suspects, most of whom he said were innocent. He realised he had entered a moral dungeon when he found himself reading a Holocaust memoir, hoping to pick up torture tips from the Nazis.

Mr Lagouranis told The Sunday Telegraph: "When I first got back I had a lot of anxiety. I had a personal crisis because I felt I had done immoral things and I didn't see a way to cope with that."

Disturbingly for the British military, which has distanced itself from the worst excesses of Abu Ghraib, Mr Lagouranis says the Americans learnt much of their uncompromising approach from British interrogators.

"We heard about interrogators in Northern Ireland who were successful. Some of our interrogators went on the British interrogation course, which was tough. People wanted to emulate that, but we went too far."

Mr Lagouranis said he never beat a prisoner. "[But] these coercive techniques - isolation, dogs, sleep deprivation, stress positions, hypothermia - crossed a legal line because they violated the Geneva Conventions," he said.

His story raises disturbing questions about the effectiveness of enhanced interrogation techniques. British intelligence has used information supplied under torture in Uzbekistan, and the Government has been accused of turning a blind eye to suspects being abducted and sent to secret prisons where they could be tortured.

Mr Lagouranis, who has written a recently published book about his experiences, said these techniques were developed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War because they are successful in breaking a person's will and spirit. "That doesn't mean they work in terms of extracting intelligence," he said. "I didn't get actionable intelligence using the harsher methods; I got it using manipulation and lying and by promising them things I didn't deliver on."

Mr Lagouranis is scathing about a system in which inexperienced young interrogators copied what they saw in Hollywood and on television programs such as 24, whose lead character Jack Bauer regularly uses torture on terrorists.

In the book, Fear Up Harsh - a term for intimidating a prisoner by shouting at him - he says torture has cost the US its moral authority in Iraq by detaining innocent people and treating them badly.

"I could blame [President George] Bush and [former defence secretary Donald] Rumsfeld, but I would always have to also blame myself," he wrote.

The campaign group Human Rights Watch and two of Mr Lagouranis's fellow interrogators confirmed details of his account.





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Comments 1 - 9 of 9 Add Comment Page 1 of 1
friendstacy

Posted: Jun 11 2007, 8:03 AM

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little bit late to be saying "I'm sorry" now, isn't it?

Writing a book and making money from telling the story of the torture of other people doesn't seem like an adequate reaction to having done so much harm. No wonder he has nightmares!
therzal

Posted: Jun 11 2007, 8:21 AM

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124191 Best way to get rid of nightmares??
Kill your self you maggot.
phosphorescent

Posted: Jun 11 2007, 1:27 PM

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I agree with the sentiments posted above. What kind of person would only realize this after having done so? It boggles the mind. Did this person never hear of the Geneva Convention before having gone to Iraq and tortured these People? I hope this man suffers for the rest of his life.
David Stanley

Posted: Jun 11 2007, 2:23 PM

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86213 I don't wish the man harm, that would harm me if not us all, it just perpetuates evil. The cycle of violence can only end with a great deal of forgiveness, but before that, the truth must come out, the participants and the evidence.

As for Northern Ireland, the intelligence unit was headed up by Jim Gamble, now in charge of CEOP, a sub-division of SOCA specialising in the Internet, and by claim 'child exploitation'. The supremo who fled to England with him, Sir Ronnie Flanagan, is now Her Majesty's Inspector of Constabulary, recently decorated again by the Queen. He was given the task of inspecting the Iraqi police, just as he did in Yugoslavia and he is currently writing a report on the way forward for the British police. Those people haven't come forward, they are still at it. I filed complaints with evidence, of course the complaints commission are trying their hardest to hide them as they have already for some two years.

It wasn't long ago that the MI5 put a section up on its website especially for children. The lady then in charge wanted to dispel a few myths, that Britain tortured people, indeed a man who had hit a prisoner questioning a subject in world war II was fired her website said. I wrote to then head Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, she was an outright disgrace to the planet for telling such lies to children and she was then a direct participant in the current torture program. Their website and her speaches seemed to represent concerted attempts to incite racial hatred, if not terrorism.

Documents had then been declassified about the 'black room', a torture camp operated in London back during the war, and the pictures resemble those from Auschwitz, showing the emaciated victims of torture.

Britain hasn't stopped doing it, there are different kinds of torture, but it has never been this open, this common and Tony Blair, his Home Secretary and his Attorney General even tried to legalise one of the most repulsive crimes on the planet, all the more so because it is not something practiced by some uneducated tribe in some remote jungle, it is the practice of George Bush and Tony Blair with consent of the justice departments, police forces and with the nearly whole hearted support of the corporate media.

I don't think it would be just to turn the spotlight on this one man, we should welcome him back from the world into which he fell. First we must have as much truth as possible, then those with the greatest responsibility must take the most blame and first.
David Stanley

Posted: Jun 11 2007, 2:35 PM

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86213 When researching Northern Ireland, I traced as many of the intelligicence units as I could, a whole cluster of them at MI5. When it emerged that Brisith Intelligence, the military and British Police were involved in the torture, murder and terrorism, they stopped, the violence pretty much came to an end and all those intelligence units working on Northern Ireland issues closed. It does rather show who the terrorists were, and their most potent hit squad, an elite group of specially selected SAS officers, is now in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East. When you hear a bomb goes off hitting western troops, don't for a moment presume to know who did it, these people speciallise in murder and deception to order.

The then head of MI5, Sir Stephen Lander, moved in to what was called 'reforming' the legal complaint system. There had been legal complaints in Northern Ireland, indeed the once head of justice there, Lord Hutton presided over the whitewash over the death of Dr. David Kelly. Some say murder, I presume so, there was even a semi-official leak that the Prime Minister requested it. Sir Stephen Lander is chair of SOCA, UK's secret police force styled on ICE. It works directly for the government, has medieval powers, and no independant accountability.

In effect, what has changed is the scale, these hidden attrocities are now being carried out at home and abroad and pretty much in broad daylight. People with the as depraved behaviour as one could imagine are in charge of it. Personally it makes me feel rather sick.
Don

Posted: Jun 11 2007, 2:41 PM

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71165 Why is he concerned about the Geneva Convention? It doesn't apply for two reasons. 1. The Geneva Convention applies only when combatants are in uniform. When have you seen the Islamoterrorists wearing a uniform. 2. Does the Geneva Convention allow for captured civilians such as AP reporter Daniel Pearl to be beheaded? This is a war with no rules and no restraints! The disarmament and "give-peace-a-chance" crowd doesn't understand that the other side never reciprocates. Wise up!
friendstacy

Posted: Jun 11 2007, 2:46 PM

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fair enough (in reply to David Stanley). harmful deeds does not make a person bad. In my long ago past, I did some pretty rotten things, though nothing that even comes close to what this man admits he did. I simply cannot comprehend the sort of mindset that would allow any person to consciously torture other people. How is it that anyone can so completely turn off their brains and allow others to tell them what to do? I remember seeing the same thing in footage from VietNam, the blank look in the eyes of the soldiers who turned their brains off in order to follow orders and kill people. I've seen that same blank look in the eyes of battered women as well, especially when you try to talk to them about their situation. But I totally can't understand it at all. Does fear really have such complete control over people or is it something else?
David Stanley

Posted: Jun 11 2007, 3:35 PM

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86213 In reply to friendstacy, I have a mispent youth behind me, I am neither ashamed or proud of it, the relevance now is that I learn a lot from it, especially now.

Killing and torture are extreme, though looking at what goes on in US jails, it is acceptable practice to the absurdly named Department of Justice and with the British Police now psychological torture is all the rage. I was only today reading the transcripts of a US trial where a judge obliterated a family when he stood up for three police officers who lied through their teeth to fit someone up. I would not say that glibly, I have seen the evidence they tried to hide.

I would ask Ron to examine the evidence on 9/11. He might like to explain to me why the FBI management refused to allow investigation of what was believed to be a plot to fly planes into the world trade centre and why director Mueller has still not told the truth after being caught lying through his teeth on that issue before further promoting islamaphobia, which is counterproductive in all circumstances.

When someone does something that is wrong, it is important I believe to seperate the 'act' from the 'person'. Few people are described by the worst things they have done, similarly few people are described by the best things they have done. We are all people, we are all in this together and we all share responsibility for what is happening now. We are all individuals, consciences are different, personally I would be frightened if I didn't listen to and act on my conscience. That is why I speak as I do not want this blood on my hands, torture will not be done in my name, I wish it to end and would seek by peaceful means to help achieve that.
David Stanley

Posted: Jun 11 2007, 3:54 PM

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86213 I haven't watched tv for years, I enjoyed a film to relax, but in the UK where I was you are not allowed to watch television unless you pay the government, who then pay the BBC for bogus propaganda. I refused to pay the licence and unplugged the tv.

It isn't all propaganda, someone just popped up on messenger to let me that channel 4 was covering what the CIA were doing, women and children kidnapped.
http://www.channel4.com/news/articles/dispatches/kidnapped+to+order/552067

I have seen someone's private documentary on part of this rendition process, peasants, normal people, men, women and children on route to a secret CIA detention facility. There were rather a lot of them, they were just people grabbed to make up the numbers American dollars had paid for. In Nazi Germany people gave anyone away rather than be taken themselves though most of these people were just rounded up and handed over to the US and UK military. They didn't make it to one of the secret prisons, they were executed on mass and I mean on mass. They were buried in an unmarked grave. This is somewhere Ron I think you should visit, because to use a political word like terrorism, you have to damn sure where you point the finger, and not all the witnesses are dead and as far as I know the grave is still there.
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