NSA ad offering work & watersports in Gitmo for 90 days ‘abominable & repulsive’

Annie Machon
Annie Machon is a former intel­li­gence officer for MI5, the UK Secur­ity Ser­vice, who resigned in the late 1990s to blow the whistle on the spies’ incom­pet­ence and crimes with her ex-partner, David Shayler. Draw­ing on her var­ied exper­i­ences, she is now a pub­lic speaker, writer, media pun­dit, inter­na­tional tour and event organ­iser, polit­ical cam­paigner, and PR con­sult­ant. She is also now the Dir­ector of LEAP, Europe. She has a rare per­spect­ive both on the inner work­ings of gov­ern­ments, intel­li­gence agen­cies and the media, as well as the wider implic­a­tions for the need for increased open­ness and account­ab­il­ity in both pub­lic and private sectors.
© Brennan Linsley
A recently leaked NSA advert encouraging its personnel to come to work in Guantanamo – and enjoy watersports nearby bounty-hunted people who are being waterboarded – is sickening, Annie Machon, a former MI5 intelligence officer, told RT.

New documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden, claim that US National Security Agency (NSA) personnel worked alongside the military and the CIA to interrogate prisoners at the detention center in Guantanamo Bay.

RT: The latest revelation of NSA documents shows an advertisement encouraging its employees to work in Guantanamo Bay in 2003: “this is your chance to get to Gitmo for 90 days.” The documents even mention the word “fun.” Taking into consideration the human rights violations and torture that were reported in Guantanamo, what is your take on this?

Annie Machon: First of all, I find the whole advertisement sickening. You have a situation when they are trying to get NSA employees to go down to Guantanamo and enjoy watersports where nearby terrorist suspects or innocent people who have been bounty-hunted across Central Asia are being waterboarded. The contrast I find absolutely abominable and repulsive. And the fact that this was being muted that way on the inside with the intelligence agencies shows us an alarming lack of moral compass. In terms of their involvement in this sort of work though, it doesn’t surprise me. Because we have seen time and again across Europe primarily how other intelligence agencies have been coopted to be involved in extraordinary rendition cases, interrogations and torture cases. MI5 and MI6 in the UK have gone through multiple civil suits where they’ve had to pay out to torture victims. So, the fact that the Americans were coopting their own NSA is no surprise. It is good to have the proof of what many of us already suspected.  

RT: It's also been revealed that NSA analysts were closely involved in interrogations in Iraq, deployed as counter-terrorism analysts in 2003 with the ad saying that it was “a unique opportunity to fight terrorism.” What do you think about this?

AM: There is a broad spectrum of different intelligence agencies in most of our countries. So, you have the electronic surveillance, you have the foreign intelligence government surveillance and you have the domestic security surveillance. And as the war on terror gained ground, then of course all these agencies are going to be pulled in to coordinate and cooperate with each other when it comes to interrogating high value suspects – as they used to be known; most of them just were bounty-hunted. With overdependence – particularly in America – on electronic surveillance, then the experts at the surveillance are going to be involved in the interrogations… so, they will be an interrogation, the suspect is forced to say something because they’ve been tortured, and they would check that against their available intelligence – most of it from NSA product. And then the NSA will be asked to feedback and say: “Ask this as the next question because this is how we see it.” It is no surprise whatsoever that all the intelligence agencies are actually involved on the ground in these illegal interrogations.

RT: You are a former intelligence officer. Is this kind of advertisement common among intelligence agencies?

AM: No, I was quite shocked by that. If I wasn’t surprised by the fact that the NSA is involved in illegal interrogations, I was shocked by the flippancy that was used to try entice young NSA officers to go and get involved in that sort of thing. It is almost like advertising Cuba as a holiday resort. And as I said, on the one hand, you have them playing watersports. On the other hand, you have the suspects being waterboarded. I find that abominable. And there is no mention either that there might be legal questions around their involvement in this sort of work. It is well established now that extraordinary rendition and stress positions and torture are illegal and those who are involved in the intelligence agencies may well be exposed to prosecution for their involvement in that both in the UK, other countries in Europe and in America, potentially.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.