CIA ignores own lessons in developing torture program, says MSNBC host Rachel Maddow.
Maddow links today’s scandal to the abuse of Yuri Nosenko, a Soviet military intelligence officer, who endured harsh interrogation techniques in the 1960s after he told told the CIA that Soviet intelligence service had no relationship with accused presidential assassin Lee Harvey Oswald.
Maddow is right because JFK’s assassination and the government’s decision to avoid investigating it was critical in the consolidation of the national security state that now tortures, spies, and bombs with impunity.
But she makes some mistakes that are worth pointing out. While Nosenko was treated harshly, his CIA interrogators never directly inflicted pain on him. They put him in solitary confinement. They subjected him to sleeplessness, deprived him of food and the like. That may be torture to some but it is not the same as the torture that the Bush administration inflicted.
Maddow works from the assumption that Oswald’s sole guilt is beyond dispute, a view I do not share.
She says that Nosenko interviewed Oswald, which is not the case. Nosenko reviewed his file but never met Oswald.
She says that Nosenko said Oswald “acted alone,” which is not the case. Nosenko only told the CIA that Soviet intelligence had no dealings with him. He did not pass judgment on the question of his alleged sole guilt.
Maddow says that “the CIA did not believe him,” which is simplistic. Counterintelligence chief James Angleton and other officials close to him did not believe Nosenko. Other senior CIA officers did.
Maddow says the CIA ignored his history when it launched the torture regime after the September 11 attacks. But it may not have been that conscious. When the CIA keeps secrets, it keeps them from its own personnel as well as from the public. Secrecy makes us and them ignorant. And when you are ignorant, you can’t help but ignore.
In fact, most of the details of Nosenko’s treatment are withheld by the CIA, which cites the JFK Assassination Records Act as justification. More than 2,000 pages of records related to Nosenko’s interrogation are still withheld from public view until at least 2017.