from:  A Question of Torture, CIA Interrogation, from the Cold War to the War on Terror, Alfred W. McCoy, Metropolitan, 2006.





In April 2004, the American public was stunned [briefly!, demonstrating group expectations] when CBS Television broadcast photographs from Abu Ghraib prison, showing Iraqis naked, hooded, and contorted in humiliating positions while U.S. soldiers stood over them, smiling.1  As the scandal grabbed headlines around the globe, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld assured Congress that the abuse was "perpetrated by a small number of U.S. military," whom columnist William Safire branded as "creeps."2  Other commentators—citing the famous Stanford prison experiment in which ordinary students role-playing the "guards" soon became brutal—attributed the abuse to a collapse of discipline by over-stretched American soldiers in overcrowded prisons.3

            But these photos are not, in fact, snapshots of simple sadism or a breakdown in military discipline.  Rather, they show CIA torture methods that have metastasized like an undetected cancer inside the U.S. intelligence community over the past half century.  If we look closely at these grainy images, we can see the genealogy of CIA torture techniques, from their origins in 1950 to their present-day perfection.  Indeed, the photographs from Iraq illustrate standard interrogation practice inside the global gulag of secret CIA prisons that have operated, on executive authority, since the start of the war on terror.  These photos, and the later investigations they prompted, offer telltale signs that the CIA was both the lead agency at Abu Ghraib and the source of systematic tortures practiced in Guantánamo, Afghanistan, and Iraq.  In this light, the nine soldiers court-martialed for the abuse at Abu Ghraib were simply following orders.  Responsibility for their actions lies higher, much higher, up the chain of command….'  ["5"-6].



'Through its use in judicial interrogation, torture had played a central role in European law for more than two thousand years.  While ancient Athens had limited torture to extraction of evidence from slaves, imperial Rome extended the practice to freemen, for both proof and punishment.  "By quaestio [torture] we are to understand the torment and suffering of the body in order to elicit the truth," wrote the imperial jurist Ulpian [Domitus Ulpianus, died 228] in the third century A.D.  But he also recognized that torture was a






"delicate, dangerous, and deceptive thing," often yielding problematic evidence.  "For many persons have such strength of body and soul that they heed pain very little, so that there is no means of obtaining the truth from them," he explained, "while others are so susceptible to pain that they will tell any lie rather than suffer it."20

            With the rise of Christian Europe, the use of torture in courts of law faded for several centuries[?].  Torture was antithetical to Christ's teachings and so, in 866 [centuries late], Pope Nicholas I banned the practice.21  But after a Church council abolished trial by ordeal in 1215, European civil courts revived Roman law with its reliance on torture to obtain confessions—an approach that persisted for the next five centuries.22  With the parallel rise of the Inquisition, Church interrogators also used torture for both confession and punishment, a procedure that was formalized under Pope Innocent IV in 1252.  By the fourteenth century, the Italian Inquisition used the strappado to suspend the victim by ropes in five degrees of escalating duration and severity—a scale preserved in modern memory in the phrase "the third degree" to mean harsh police questioning.23

            The impact of judicial torture on European culture went far beyond the dungeon, coinciding with a subtle shift in theological emphasis from the life of Jesus to the death of the Christ—a change reflected in artistic representations, both painting and sculpture, of his body being scourged, tortured, and crucified [like media stories now:  "If it bleeds it leads!"]. 










Excursus:  from:  Women Without Superstition "No Gods—No Masters", The Collected Writings of Women Freethinkers of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, edited by Annie Laurie Gaylor, Freedom From Religion Foundation, 1997.


'Annie Besant


The Quixotic Victorian


October 1, 1847September 20, 1933


"God" is always the equivalent of "I do not know."


"The Gospel of Atheism"'



"Is Christianity a Success?


This was published as a one-penny pamphlet by Annie Besant and Charles Bradlaugh in 1885."  [274]. 


"Look where we will at the treatment experienced by the savage at Christian hands, and we find ever the same old story—cruelty that sickens, treachery that disgusts, brutality that appals….


Persecution also in Christendom has been more ruthless, more bloody, more refined in cruelty, than in lands subject to any other form of faith."  [275]. 


End of Excursus.



Later, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the absolutist regimes elaborated on this embrace of torture.  "Military torture was prodigious," wrote Alec Mellor of these sixteenth-century states, "religious torture was regularized; and judicial torture was enriched daily by new varieties."25 

            But in the eighteenth century, evaluation of evidence on its merits replaced forced confessions….'  [16-17].







            'Under actual field conditions, the CIA's psychological paradigm—of which this British interrogation is a textbook example—was often supplemented by conventional physical tactics, whether from simple cruelty or a need to accelerate psychological breakdown.  With the physical thus compounding the psychological, medieval and modern methods sometimes seemed indistinguishable.  Inside the CIA's interrogation center at Bagram Air Base near Kabul in 2002, for example, American guards would force prisoners "to stand with their hands chained to the ceiling and their feet shackled," creating an effect similar to the Italian Inquisition's strappado.  At Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison in 2003, U.S. military police would parade Iraqi prisoners naked with plastic sandbags over their heads, combining psychological humiliation with the pain of restricted breathing—just as medieval victims were once displayed in town squares with iron masks clamped on their heads, suffering both "imagined ridiculousness" and "physical torture through obstruction of the mouth or the nose."95

            Yet there are also subtle, significant differences in the CIA's techniques, which dispensed with crude physical implements to make the pain seem self-inflicted.  In place of the Inquisition's "crippling stork" that twisted the victim's body to fit into an iron frame, CIA interrogators made their victims assume "stress positions" without any external mechanism.  Similarly, both the Paris Inquisition's "water question" and the CIA's "water boarding" forced fluids down the victim's throat to simulate a sense of drowning.  The Church, of course, sought to purge [create] evil with physical punishment, while the agency [CIA] aims to induce the survival reflex of a near-death experience and thus break the victim psychologically.96

            These modern innovations, while absent from the research first codified in the CIA's Kubark manual, would evolve, over time, as the agency set about propagating its new torture techniques worldwide.  Like many important discoveries, the CIA's psychological paradigm, once a complex problem that had challenged brilliant behavioral scientists, soon became, through this global journey, a simple technique easily mastered by any police sergeant with a secondary education.  It would prove, moreover, a surprisingly supple procedure, readily refined by any officer or operative with taste for torture.'  [58-59].


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Excursus:  from:


"'Strange', she said, pointing to the cross hanging from her neck, 'how the cross, an instrument of torture, has become a fashion icon.  Would we use a guillotine [no!, because its symbolism does not include immortality, etc.]?'"


● ● ● ● ●



Excursus:  from:  Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, edited by James Hastings, Charles Scribner's Sons, Vol. IV, 1961.



            "II.  The Christian cross.—The cross in the Christian sense is the…[Greek word] or lignum infelix, a wooden post surmounted by a cross-beam, to which the Romans, following the example of the Greeks and the Easterns, nailed or attached certain classes of condemned criminals till they died.  The fact that Jesus suffered death on the cross has converted this infamous figure [the cross] into a symbol of resurrection and salvation.  'I determined to know among you nothing save Jesus Christ and him crucified,' writes St. Paul (1 Co 22).  The early Christians saw the cross in all the intersecting lines which presented themselves to their view in ordinary life, in art, in Nature.  The 'sign of the cross' was their favourite symbol [sources?].  'At every step, at every movement, at every coming in and going out,' wrote Tertullian [c. 160 – c. 220, famous Christian writer (witness).  Objective?  No!  Percent validity?] at the beginning of the 3rd cent. (de Corona, 3), 'in putting on our clothes and our shoes, in the bath, at table in the evening, lying down or sitting, whatever attitude we assume, we mark our foreheads with a little sign of the cross.'  Moreover, Christians had to defend themselves against the charge of pagans that they paid adoration to the cross like an idol.  'Cruces non colimus nec optamus ["Cruces etiam nec colimus nec optamus." ["Crosses again we neither worship nor set our hopes on."] (see page 7 for reference)],' wrote Minucius Felix.1  But it is plain[sources?] that the great mass of Christians attached a magical value to this sign.  At all events they used it as a form of exorcism, a means of warding off






unclean spirits.  One of the most ancient portable crosses, found in a Christian tomb at Rome, bears the inscription:  'Crux est vita mihi; mors, inimice, tibi' ('The cross is life to me; death, O enemy [the devil[?]], to thee').  Soon the cross came to work miracles of itself.  People went the length of marking cattle with it to protect them from disease.2"  [328].



            "Strangely enough, the early Christians, in spite of the importance they attached to the cross, refrained from reproducing it in their iconography.  During the first three centuries (with possibly a single exception, that of the equilateral [Greek] cross cut on a sepulchral inscription, which de Rossi believes may be assigned to the end of the 2nd or the beginning of the 3rd cent.) the cross of Christ is invariably dissimulated under the form of an object which recalls its image:  a trident, an anchor (see figs. 22, 23), a ship with rigging; or under the forms of the cross already employed by other cults.  the cross potencée [T shaped (Tau Cross)] and the gammate [two illustrations]…[swastika] cross.  The cross potencée, according to certain archaeologists, is, by the way, the form which most accurately recalls the instrument of crucifixion employed by the Romans….

Further, the Latin [equilateral (Greek)] cross already appears upon certain coins of Constantine, although this emperor, true to his policy of religious eclecticism, shows no scruple about introducing on the same coins representations of Mars or Apollo as gods.  Julian [Emperor 361 – 363 (331 – 363)], of course, suppressed both cross and chi-rho.  But, after his time, the cross finally takes its place upon coins [see:, Links, The Non-Christian Cross] and even upon the Imperial diadem.  At the same time it asserts itself under its proper form in funeral inscriptions, upon altars, reliquaries, lamps, jewels, and even upon the facades of houses and the tops of basilicas, where it takes the place of the monogram; and before long it may be seen furnishing the ground plan of churches.  In the 5th cent. the employment of the cross potencée becomes rare except in Celtic countries, where it continues to show itself in inscriptions.  In like manner the gammate [swastika] cross now appears only sporadically, in the west and the north of Europe, upon tombstones and sacerdotal vestments.






            The so-called Latin cross and the equilateral cross were at first employed without discrimination.  Only gradually did the equilateral come to be the specialty of the East, and the form with unequal limbs that of the West.

            As to the crucifix, i.e. a cross with the body of Jesus nailed to it, this representation does not make its appearance till the 7th century [see page 9].  The art of the Middle Ages was not slow to heighten its realism still more.  But at the same time a distinction was drawn between the cross of the Passion, which is accompanied by all the implements of crucifixion, and the cross of the Resurrection, with which Jesus ascends to heaven.  The first is painted sometimes green, because it was cut from a tree; sometimes red, because it was stained with the blood of Christ.  The second is painted sometimes blue, the colour of the sky; sometimes white, as symbolizing the invisible Divinity.  It is this last which is carried at the head of processions.

            The cross became a hierarchical symbol in the Church [and, the Christian Cross imposes a negative hierarchy on non-Christian peoples].  Thus the Pope has the privilege of having carried before him a cross with three bars, while cardinals and archbishops have to be content with two, and bishops with one."  [328-329].


"Goblet D'Alviella."  [329].


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Excursus:  from Article 9, 218: 


from:  Minucius Felix ["d. c. 250"],  [Octavius], English Translation by Gerald H. Rendall, Harvard U., 1960 (1931). 

[Note:  no "Jesus" or "Paul", in the Index (for this book [2 book Index])].


            [29.6] "Crosses again we neither worship nor set our hopes on ["Cruces etiam nec colimus nec optamus." [406]].a  You, who consecrate gods of wood, very possibly adore wooden crosses as being portions of your gods.  [7]  For what are your standards, and






banners, and ensigns but gilded and decorated crosses? Your trophies of victory show not only the figure of a simple cross, but also of one crucified [EARLY CHRISTIAN REFERENCE TO PAGAN CRUCIFIXION] .  [8] Quite true we see the sign of the cross naturally figured in a ship riding the swelling waves, or impelled by outspread oars; a cross-beam set up forms the sign of the cross; and so too does a man with outstretched hands devoutly offering worship to God.  In this way the system of nature leans on the sign of the cross or your religion is shaped thereby."  [407].


_____     _____     _____



Excursus:  from:  Article 20, 402: 


from:  Aryan Sun-Myths, The Origin of Religions, [Sarah Elizabeth Titcomb 1842 - 1895 (only other reference(s) encountered:  Nat. Union Cat., 1978, Vol. 595, 204)] [published anonymously], With an Introduction by Charles Morris [1833 - 1922 (prolific author)], Author of "A Manual of Classical Literature," and "The Aryan Race:  Its Origin and Its Achievements.", Nims and Knight, 1889.  [received 3/11/97].


[See:  #13, 263-328 passim; #15, 335-341 passim].


Reprinted 1996 by The Book Tree, P.O. Box 724, Escondido, CA  92033.

[The Book Tree was my source for The Christ Myth (see #15, 335-341)].




             The attention of the writer having been called to the fact that all Indo-Germanic nations have worshipped crucified Saviours, an investigation of the subject was made.  Overwhelming proof was obtained that the sun-myths of the ancient Aryans were the origin of the religions in all of the countries which were peopled by the Aryans.  The Saviours worshipped in these lands are personifications of the Sun [see #13, 263-328 passim; #15, 336-337], the chief god of the Aryans. That Pagan nations worshipped a crucified man, was admitted by the Fathers of the early Christian Church. The holy Father






Minucius Felix [d. c. 250], in his Octavius, written as late as A.D. 211, indignantly resents the supposition that the sign of the cross should be considered as exclusively a Christian symbol; and represents his advocate of the Christian argument as retorting on an infidel opponent thus:  "As for the adoration of crosses, which you object to against us, I must tell you that we neither adore crosses nor desire them.  You it is, ye Pagans, who worship wooden gods, who are the most likely people to adore wooden crosses, as being parts of the same substance with your deities.  For what else are your ensigns, flags, and standards, but crosses gilt and beautified?  Your victorious trophies not only represent a simple cross, but a cross with a man upon it [EARLY CHRISTIAN REFERENCE TO PAGAN CRUCIFIXION]."'  ["5"-6]. [See: #9, 218 (Minucius Felix (Octavius))].


            "Not until the pontificate of Agathon (A.D. 608 [680]) [Pope Agatho 678 - 681 (577? - 681)] was Christ represented as a man on a cross.  During the reign of Constantine Pogonatus [Constans II Pogonatus, Byzantine emperor 641 - 668], by the Sixth Synod of Constantinople (Canon 82) it was ORDAINED that instead of the ancient symbol, which had been the lamb, the figure of a man nailed to a cross should be represented.  All this was confirmed by Pope Adrian I ["Hadrian I (d. 795), Pope from 772."  (Ox. Dict. C.C.)].2  ["2Quoted in Higgins's Anacalypsis, vol. ii. p. 3."]"  [111].


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Christian Cross:  symbol of everlasting lifeimmortality, a symbol derived from prior Pagans, produced by fear of death.


The Christian Cross [not the crosses of prior Pagans (see:, Links, The Non-Christian Cross ("Summary"))], also, is the perennial masochistic—sadistic symbol of torture; and, like skulls in a village of Cannibals, the symbol, the Christian Cross, inculcates and inures—mental and physical torture!