We’ve seen the political causes that make the use of torture not only necessary, but essential for an authoritarian state to triumph. Torture satisfies the purpose of extracting information, turns captured rebels against each other, scares the population into submission and keeps the illegal ruling junta in power. But merely applying torture is half the task; what is essential is mastering the psychological terror that it sows in individuals, and its association with extreme physical pain, discovering the secret of human endurance in order to cause the highest amount of pain in the most economical way, without killing the victim or harming them in ways that would impair the expected result. The only purpose for this is to make extraction of information more likely and accurate.
We will now proceed to take a look at Dan Mitrione, chief torturer in the southernmost tip of South America.
Mitrione was a police officer in Richmond, Indiana, from 1945 to 1947 and joined the FBI in 1959. In 1960 he was assigned to State Department’s International Cooperation Administration, going to South American countries to teach “advanced counterinsurgency techniques,” meaning extreme forms of torture. Mitrione introduced revolutionary methods in torture involving electrocution, particularly electric needles to the gums and electric shocks to the genitals. AJ Langguth, a former New York Times bureau chief in Saigon, claimed that Mitrione was among the US advisors teaching Brazilian police how much electric shock to apply to prisoners without killing them. Under Mitrione, extreme torture became commonplace even in regular police headquarters in Montevideo.
From 1960 to 1967, Mitrione worked with the Brazilian police, first in Belo Horizonte then in Rio de Janeiro. He returned to the US in 1967 to share his experiences and expertise on “counter-guerrilla warfare” at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), in Washington DC. In 1969, Mitrione moved to Uruguay, again under USAID, to oversee the Office of Public Safety. By the way, for those of you who don’t know what USAID is, it’s officially supposed to be a Unitedstatian humanitarian organization that seeks to help unfortunate countries and hopefully make them see that the US is not that bad. Think again. The USAID has been proven to be time and time again actively involved in destabilization attempts against governments the US doesn’t like. It is currently operating actively in Venezuela, where it tries to destabilize the government of democratically-elected president Nicolás Maduro, and it also operates without success in Cuba, trying to instill in the population anti-government sentiment. You can verify by yourselves the involvement of USAID in worldwide Unitedstatian interventionism and political destabilization.
In this period the Uruguayan government, led by the Colorado Party, had its hands full with a collapsing economy, labor and student strikes, and the Tupamaros. On the other hand, Washington feared a possible victory during the elections of the Frente Amplio, a left-wing coalition, on the model of the victory of the Unidad Popular government in Chile, led by Salvador Allende, in 1970. The OPS had been helping the local police since 1965, providing them with weapons and training. It is claimed that torture had already been practiced since the ‘60s, but Dan Mitrione was the man who made it routine. His most famous quote is: “the precise pain, in the precise place, in the precise amount, for the desired effect.” Perhaps many of you recognize this from Cunningham’s speech when he tortures Big Boss with an electric baton: “apply the right type of pain, to the right degree, at just the right location.” Cunningham is a cynical, sadistic and manipulative former CIA operative who wears a bandana with a US flag motif, and is a perfect representative of CIA torturers. It should be noted that Kojima must have had previous knowledge of this unless it is a coincidence, but Cunningham seems to be accurately modeled after Mitrione. His role, allegiance and characterization aside from his quote when first torturing Big Boss, are simply too similar to Mitrione’s to be merely coincidental. Only research done for this, knowing well of Mitrione, could have resulted in such a similar quote.
Evidence of Mitrione’s secret activities would later emerge, mostly through Cuban double agent Manuel Hevia Cosculluela. In his book Hevia related that Mitrione had built a soundproofed room in the cellar of his house in Montevideo, in which he summoned selected Uruguayan police officers to observe modern torture demonstrations. Hevia did not say specifically what Mitrione’s direct part in those demonstrations was, but later publicly stated that the OPS chief had “personally tortured four beggars to death with electric shocks.” Proof of these stories has been supported by pictures, which will not be posted here due to their extremely graphic nature (nudity and graphic depictions of torture). The pictures specifically depict the use of electric shock to the gums via needles, and to the genitals and other areas with batons. The tortured subjects are restrained by leather straps on torture beds while being held and observed by military personnel. The subjects are clearly shown to be screaming in extreme pain.
As the use of torture allegations grew and the tensions in Uruguay escalated, Mitrione was eventually kidnapped by the Tupamaros on the 31st of July, 1970. They proceeded to interrogate him about his past and the intervention of the US government in Latin American affairs. They also demanded the release of 150 political prisoners.
The Uruguayan government, with US backing, refused, and Mitrione was later found dead in a stolen Buick car, shot twice in the head and with no other visible signs of mistreatment (beyond the fact that, during the kidnapping, Mitrione had been shot in one shoulder — a wound for which he had evidently been treated while in captivity). Tom Golden, a career army intelligence operative detailed to the CIA and assigned to the US Embassy in Montevideo, was a personal friend of Mitrione who worked closely with Uruguayan officials to try to secure the release of Mitrione and prevent his execution. After Mitrione’s death Golden disputed the torture-training allegations in closed-door testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee.
After being released from prison, the leader of the Tupamaros, Raúl Sendic, revealed that they had not suspected Mitrione of teaching torture techniques to the police. He had trained police in riot control and was targeted for kidnapping as retaliation for the deaths of student protestors. In addition, Sendic also revealed that Mitrione’s death was unintended; the Tupamaro leaders had decided to keep Mitrione alive and hold him indefinitely instead of killing him, should the government continue to refuse their demands. But on August 7, 1970, just a week after the kidnapping, the Uruguayan police raided the house where the Tupamaro leadership was staying and captured Sendic and the others. A short time later, he said, the replacement leadership, which also knew of the plan to keep Mr. Mitrione alive, was also captured. “Those captured lost all contact with the others,” he said, “and when the deadline came the group that was left with Mitrione did not know what to do. So they decided to carry out the threat.”
In spite of Sendic’s memories, told almost 17 years after the events and after many years of imprisonment, just a few days after Mitrione’s funeral a senior Uruguayan police officer, Alejandro Otero, told the Jornal do Brasil that Mitrione had been employed to teach the police to use “violent techniques of torture and repression.”
The Nixon Administration through spokesman Ron Ziegler affirmed that Mitrione’s “devoted service to the cause of peaceful progress in an orderly world will remain as an example for free men everywhere.” His funeral was largely publicized by the US media, and it was attended by, among others, David Eisenhower and Richard Nixon’s secretary of state William Rogers. Frank Sinatra and Jerry Lewis held a benefit concert for his family in Richmond, Indiana, where he was praised for being “a fighter against communism.”