Former members of the Provisional IRA will be very familiar with the chilling soubriquet ‘Burke & Hare’, that was applied to the two figures who dominated the IRA’s spy-catching Internal Security Unit during the latter part of the Troubles.
Like the Irish-born grave-robbers of early 19th century Edinburgh in Scotland, the IRA’s Burke & Hare instilled terror wherever they roamed in their mission to catch spies (although as it turned out the British more than the IRA command were often the beneficiaries of their grisly work).
Falling into the hands of the IRA’s Burke & Hare very likely meant being tortured, both mentally and physically, and those unfortunate enough to cross their paths considered themselves lucky to survive the experience. Many didn’t. In the case of one of the pair there is compelling testimony to suggest that he was a psychopath who derived pleasure from his work.
Unsurprisingly, the Senate report on CIA torture, which was partially released yesterday, makes a similar claim about the mental background of those at the cutting edge of the US torture programme: “This group of officers (involved in interrogations) included individuals who, among other issues, had engaged in inappropriate detainee interrogations, had workplace anger management issues, and had reportedly admitted to sexual assault.”
It turns out that the CIA also had its Burke & Hare who were identified in the Senate report as military psychologists who were hired as contractors by the CIA, at a cost of $80 million, to devise, oversee and run the torture programme. They have become symbols of all that is wrong about America’s privatised and corporatised Global War On Terror (GWOT).
Today, courtesy of Science of Us, more details have emerged about these two gentlemen which can be read below: