Dennis Loo

Sometimes asking for the impossible is the only realistic path

Dennis Loo

Dennis Loo
Los Angeles, California,
December 31
Professor of Sociology
Cal Poly Pomona
Author of Globalization and the Demolition of Society; Co-Editor/Author of Impeach the President: the Case Against Bush and Cheney, World Can't Wait Steering Committee Member, co-author of "Crimes Are Crimes, No Matter Who Does Them" statement, dog and fruit tree lover. Published poet. Winner of the Alfred R. Lindesmith Award, Project Censored Award and the Nation Magazine's Most Valuable Campaign Award. Punahou and Harvard Honor Graduate. Ph.D. in Sociology from UC Santa Cruz. An archive of close to 500 postings of mine can be found at my blogspot blog, Dennis Loo, link below. I publish regularly at, (link below) and also at OpEd News and sometimes at Counterpunch.

APRIL 23, 2009 1:16PM

Penis Cutting: Torture or State Sponsored Body Modification?

Rate: 20 Flag

(Additional material at the end) 

In CQ:  

Nancy Pelosi, in stating that she's known for years about the wiretap on Rep. Jane Harman (a story that now has legs and threatens precious Harman's career and that of Pelosi, poor dears), unintentionally revealed yesterday why Congress has become irrelevant: 

"'When you are briefed on something it isn't your role to share it with anybody else,' said Pelosi, who served on the Intelligence Committee for a decade until she entered the House Democratic leadership about six years ago."


Pelosi, along with Jane Harman, who were the ranking Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee, were briefed along with two GOP Congressmen in 2002 about waterboarding being used on detainees - a war crime - and about the massive, warrantless surveillance by the NSA over all of our telecommunications - felonies in explicit and dramatic violation of FISA.

When it came out years later that this was going on, Pelosi said that yes, she was briefed, but she couldn't say anything about it. 

This is part of what former CIA intelligence analyst (for 27 years) Ray McGovern said about this on December 12, 2007:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has admitted knowing for several years about the Bush administration's eavesdropping on Americans without a court warrant. She was briefed on it when she was ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee when Bush and Cheney took office.

One key unanswered question is this: Was she told that within days of their taking office—that is, seven months before 9/11, the National Security Agency's electronic vacuum cleaner had already begun to suck up information on Americans—the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, not to mention the Constitution, be damned?

In a Washington Post op-ed of Jan. 15, 2006, Pelosi proudly advertised her uniquely long tenure on the Intelligence Committee and acknowledged that she was one of the privileged handful of lawmakers who were briefed.

"This is how I came to be informed of President Bush's authorization for the NSA to conduct certain types of surveillance," she wrote. Pelosi then proceeded to demonstrate the bowing and scraping characteristic of her subservient attitude toward the Executive Branch:

"But when the administration notifies Congress in this manner, it is not seeking approval. There is a clear expectation that the information will be shared by no one, including other members of the intelligence committees. As a result, only a few members of Congress were aware of the president's surveillance program, and they were constrained from discussing it more widely." 


This is an excerpt from a December 9, 2007 Washington Post article on the subject of waterboarding:

In September 2002, four members of Congress met in secret for a first look at a unique CIA program designed to wring vital information from reticent terrorism suspects in U.S. custody. For more than an hour, the bipartisan group, which included current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), was given a virtual tour of the CIA's overseas detention sites and the harsh techniques interrogators had devised to try to make their prisoners talk.

Among the techniques described, said two officials present, was waterboarding, a practice that years later would be condemned as torture by Democrats and some Republicans on Capitol Hill. But on that day, no objections were raised. Instead, at least two lawmakers in the room asked the CIA to push harder, two U.S. officials said.

"The briefer was specifically asked if the methods were tough enough," said a U.S. official who witnessed the exchange.

Congressional leaders from both parties would later seize on waterboarding as a symbol of the worst excesses of the Bush administration's counterterrorism effort. The CIA last week admitted that videotape of an interrogation of one of the waterboarded detainees was destroyed in 2005 against the advice of Justice Department and White House officials, provoking allegations that its actions were illegal and the destruction was a coverup.

Yet long before "waterboarding" entered the public discourse, the CIA gave key legislative overseers about 30 private briefings, some of which included descriptions of that technique and other harsh interrogation methods, according to interviews with multiple U.S. officials with firsthand knowledge.

With one known exception, no formal objections were raised by the lawmakers briefed about the harsh methods during the two years in which waterboarding was employed, from 2002 to 2003, said Democrats and Republicans with direct knowledge of the matter. The lawmakers who held oversight roles during the period included Pelosi and Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) and Sens. Bob Graham (D-Fla.) and John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), as well as Rep. Porter J. Goss (R-Fla.) and Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan). 


Let me get this straight: the White House tells a handful of Congressional leaders that the White House is doing things on the hush-hush that are illegal so that

a) the White House can't be accused of hiding it and

b) so that they can say that there was bipartisan support for it if it ever comes out what they're doing, and

c) the reason we have representatives in Congress is supposed to be to protect the people's interests and uphold the law, but no matter what these people hear, no matter how illegal or egregious, it isn't their "role to share it with anybody else"? 

Pelosi can't say anything, but I will say something: why don't we just disband Congress altogether, declare that we are a dictatorship, save all the money that is now spent on the pampered Congress and save us all the fiction that there is anything but a dictatorship? 

In the same story cited above, there was also this:

"On Tuesday, President Obama said some officials who developed the policy for harsh interrogation could face prosecutions."

This represents, of course, a reversal of his earlier repeated assertions that those who developed the policies of torture - let's call it what it is - will not be prosecuted. This is a good sign, but it is only happening now because of the palpable and growing public outrage about the sadism that has been American policy that more people are now aware of and unwilling to tolerate any longer. 

Obama doesn't want to go down this road. He is being forced down this road and will only go as far as he is forced to go by the people's demands.  


For those who wonder whether torture works, see this from someone who was tortured, Binyam Mohamed, the only person released from Gitmo since Obama's election, and whose torture included razors used to cut into his penis:

“Binyam Mohamed, the first detainee to be transferred out of Guantanamo Bay since Obama took office, also said British agents ‘sold me out’ by cooperating with his alleged torturers, in his first interview since release which was published Sunday.

“Mohamed, a 30-year-old Ethiopian-born former British resident, gave further details of what he has called the ‘medieval’ torture he faced in Pakistan and Morocco, as well as in a secret CIA prison in Kabul and at Guantanamo.

"’The result of my experience is that I feel emotionally dead,’ he told the Mail on Sunday newspaper. ‘It seems like a miracle my brain is still intact.’

“Far from improving, Mohamed said conditions at Guantanamo have worsened since Obama was elected in November.”


"Understandably unable to resist the effects of the torture, Binyam proceeded to confess to whatever wild theories were put to him by his torturers. 'They had fed me enough through their questions for me to make up what they wanted to hear,' he said. 'I confessed to it all. There was the plot to build a dirty nuclear bomb, and another to blow up apartments in New York with their gas pipes.' As Rose noted, 'This — supposedly the brainchild of the 9/11 planner Khalid Sheikh Mohammed — always sounded improbable: it was never quite clear how gas pipes might become weapons.'

"Binyam added, 'I said Khalid Sheikh Mohammed had given me a false passport after I was stopped the first time in Karachi and that I had met Osama bin Laden 30 times. None of it was true. The British could have stopped the torture because they knew I had tried to use the same passport at Karachi both times. That should have told them that what I was saying under torture wasn’t true. But so far as I know, they did nothing.'


"Abandoned by the British government, Binyam was then subjected to 'extraordinary rendition,' and, as flight logs confirm, was flown from Islamabad to Rabat, Morocco on July 21, 2002. What happened next — 18 months of torture at the hands of the American’s proxy torturers in Morocco, who regularly cut his penis with a razor blade — has already been documented in excruciating detail, when the notes that Clive Stafford Smith compiled during a three-day interview with Binyam at Guantánamo in early 2005 were passed by the Pentagon’s military censors and published in the Guardian in August 2005. As Rose described it, Binyam did not want to talk about his experiences. 'Shuddering, he wrote, 'he says the details of what he endured in Morocco are such that he cannot bring himself to relate them again.'


"Binyam also said that, in the 'Dark Prison, as Rose put it, 'the thrust of his interrogations had changed,' and that, 'Since he made his fantastical confession, the Americans wanted him to become a prosecution witness' in the Military Commission trial system at Guantánamo, to testify against the alleged al-Qaeda leaders — including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abu Zubaydah — whose supposed involvement in the spectral 'dirty bomb' plot had been pivotal to much of his torture in Morocco, where, as he has previously reported, he was, essentially, trained in what to say. In his statement to Clive Stafford Smith, he explained that, between the savage beatings and the razor cuts to his penis, his torturers 'would tell me what to say,' and added that even towards the end of his time in Morocco, they were still 'training me what to say,' and one of them told him, 'We’re going to change your brain.'” 


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Your Point c is right on the money, although I suspect had a Congressman or woman divulged what they were told, their security clearances would have been taken away, along with much of their clout. That is something our typical representatives just can't stomach.

What I find amusing is that you state these revelations may disrail Harman's career, when it should be Pelosi's career that is now in jeopardy.
You are right Procopius. I didn't state it about Pelosi because I take it for granted and point out that they should all lose their jobs.

BBE: I will take your advice about the title, as much as I like mine, I defer to your experience and expertise on this.
I have now explicitly mentioned Pelosi's career in the first paragraph based on your feedback, Pro.
I'd like to see Rush and Dick try to justify cutting someone's penis: "We had to cut his dick so that we could save the really big Dick (hidden in some undisclosed location.)"
There are so many corrupt complicit democrats; and ALL the republicans hawk back from when the days of the know-nothing party ("The Know Nothing movement was a nativist American political movement of the 1840s and 1850s. Most ended up joining the Republican Party by the time of the 1860 presidential election. The origin of the "Know Nothing" term was in the semi-secret organization of the party. When a member was asked about its activities, he was supposed to reply, "I know nothing." [sounds like Sgt Schultz from "Hogan's Heros])

that were we to prosecute them all, things would be so much easier.

A quorum could consist of less than the number of fingers on a hand (maybe two), and votes would be recorded in single digits.

Please excuse me, now . . . everytime I see the name pelosi, I have an uncontrollable need to regurgitate and purge myself.

(rated as I rush out of room 101)
Do you think that Rush Limbaugh might be willing to do this form of torture on himself? He said the other day that he was slapping himself and therefore carrying out what is being "called torture." Like to see him cut his own penis multiple times...
It's time to send a large magnifying glass to both Limbaugh and O'Reilly. Tell them when they are ready to show their toughness and undergo this treatment that they need to loan the magnifying glass to the guy with the razor. Help him out a bit.
Nutjob: Good point. This is some sick stuff. Surely there are more humane ways of getting info.

I will say that the terrorists certainly aren't upholding the Genevea Convention either. You don't kidnap a journalist and saw off his head with a pocket knife, while recording the entire thing. The Romans had a tatic that served them very well, treat the opposing army with as much mercy as they would treat you.

Torture is fucked up, period. I say we quit doing that and just give these terrorists pigs what they want, to go down in a shower of bullets, so that they can go to hell and be down with it. Then we can bring our troops home and take care or our own shit here at home.
Thank you for this post. I felt sick reading it, but it's important information for Americans to know. Rated.
There are neither enough facelifts or subpoenas available to go around to save Pelosi or Harman or this country. Where is the outrage, I wonder?
Cartouche: Agreed on the facelifts and subpoenas being inadequate. Ditto on the insufficiency of the outrage, although, on the other hand, the emerging outrage IS enough so far to precipitate a shift in Obama's opposition to prosecutions. They had to shift within one day, from what Obama and Emanuel said on Sunday ruling out any prosecutions of anyone, to backpedaling on Monday and since.

This is an EXTREMELY important and welcome development. Recommend everyone read Chris Floyd's piece at Empire Burlesque - "The Fatal Thread..." I learned about it at someone's blog today. I'm afraid I can't recall who's it is. She has a lot of really useful links. When I find it or remember it I'll post it.
Thank you, Dr. Loo, for posting this. I was not aware of Mr. Binyam's ordeals. Archived, rated, and linked.
Serious shit. Not equivalent, but that kind of thing would weaken the West arguing against female genital mutilation. But you have to get me more than just what Binyam said.
I thought this would be about circumcision. This is every bit as horrible.
The Puzzle Palace is a book about government electronic survllience written around 1980. It catalogs the various intelligence agencies doing it, going back to Western Union and tapping the Telegram lines.