Alfreda-Frances-Bikowsky-Scheuer-CIA-YbeU-Beauty1

Photo illustration: Elise Swain/The Intercept; Photos: Getty Images

What do CIA torturers do when they retire? According to a new Reuters article on Alfreda Scheuer, one possibility is to become a beauty and life coach for middle-aged women.

Scheuer, née Bikowsky, who spoke to reporter Aram Roston in her first-ever interview, retired from the agency in 2021. Today she speaks proudly of her participation in the CIA’s notorious rendition, detention, and interrogation program in the years immediately after 9/11. According to Scheuer, “I wasn’t on the sidelines. I didn’t bury my head in the sand.” Her CIA legacy was an inspiration for the Jessica Chastain character Maya in the film “Zero Dark Thirty,” as well as Diane Marsh in the television series “The Looming Tower.” Today she’s married to Michael Scheuer, the former head of the agency division tasked with tracking Osama bin Laden, and who has his own peculiar history.

Her work also led to her being dubbed the “Queen of Torture” by the New Yorker. According to reporting around the Senate’s 2014 conclusive investigation of the CIA’s actions, Scheuer was a primary force behind the waterboarding of U.S. prisoners; the agency’s nabbing and torment of a German citizen; a wild goose chase for Al Qaeda in Montana; and attempts to lie to Congress about the effectiveness of torture.

But now Scheuer is a life coach with a #hashtag #heavy Instagram account, where she writes that “even in my former career, my passion for all things beauty was well known, and the females who worked with me sought out my advice and saw that it was okay to embrace being both a boss and a girl.”

What does the website of her company, YBeUBeauty, look like? Currently it appears to be down. You can check out an archived version or, if you’re like us, imagine what her beauty blogs might say. We emphasize that the writing below is parody. Please do not sue and/or torture us.

midlife

Do Good While Feeling Good

Your kids have left home. Your husband is engrossed in his career and online community. But where is life taking YOU?

Do you ever look in the mirror and wonder how you even sleep at night? Do you see fine lines, tired eyes, and graying hair and wonder why the fake news media won’t stop calling you a monster?

Well, I don’t, and I can teach you how not to either! Maybe the time has come for you to start having so much confidence that the mistakes of your past simply don’t matter at all.

Hi. I’m Freda. After decades working in the most Stygian corners of recent U.S. history, I’m ready for a new and scary change! I want to help women — women just like you — to embrace their true femininity, start a new chapter at mid-life, and embrace their tortured, or torturous, past. Or we can just cut to the chase and focus on the torture part, as that’s where I have the most experience. Anyway —

Maybe there’s always been that little voice in your head whispering: I’d love to join the exciting, fast-paced, glamorous world of international war crimes. Perhaps you’re first considering it at this very moment.

What matters is that we are here together, you and I, right now, in this dark, dark place.

My coaching can teach you all this, and more!

  • Eight Hairstyles That Will Make Your Victim, Even as Your Lackeys Stuff Him Into a Small “Dog Box,” Think “Damn, She Looks Good”
  • What Mascara to Wear as Your Very Likely Innocent Prisoner Gazes Hopelessly at You From Behind the Barbed Wire of Guantánamo Bay
  • Easy Recipes for “Rectal Feeding,” Which Is Exactly What It Sounds Like

Most importantly, I’ll help you understand you’re part of a long tradition of strong women through history, doing what needed to be done!

About Freda, Me!

Some have called me the “Queen of Torture.” This is, frankly, insulting. I am the Empress of Torture.

I was recruited for the CIA in 1988 by Duane “Dewey” Clarridge, a famed operative who helped organize the Contras in Nicaragua in the 1980s and later admitted they had assassinated doctors, nurses, and judges. While I loved Dewey, I strongly disagreed with his tactics. It is much better to keep people alive, because you can’t get the dead to tell you useless or false information with no intelligence value just to please get the pain to stop please.

In 1996, I joined the section of the CIA tasked with tracking Osama bin Laden. It was run by Michael Scheuer, then my future husband and now 100 percent out of his mind. For example, in 2018 he started foaming at the mouth in anticipation of President Donald Trump killing “a long and very precise list” of Americans, and fantasized about “the sheer, nay, utter joy and satisfaction to be derived from beholding great piles of dead U.S.-citizen tyrants.”

You can see why we get along so well! Also, he’s super into QAnon; sometimes I slip into a skintight ultra-realistic mask and body suit of John F. Kennedy Jr. to keep our marriage alive. I know this country is grateful to have had such individuals as Michael and myself on the ramparts, guarding you all as you slept.

Speaking of which, in 2000 our division knew that two of the future 9/11 hijackers had visas to enter the U.S. My direct subordinate and I prevented the FBI from learning about this. Why? Certainly not because we hoped to recruit the hijackers and have them infiltrate Al Qaeda. That would have been one of the greatest fuckups in American history, and so obviously didn’t happen, and insinuating that it did is legally actionable.

As for my involvement in the torture program during the 2000s, you can learn all about it via the Senate’s report, or at least you could if my name wasn’t completely redacted.

Also, I know a ton about skin care, so you should hire me if you’re looking for someone with a truly unusual combination of skills. For instance: Polyhydroxy acid is the best way to give you that just-after-waterboarding fresh look. Any product with PHA is a must-have in your beauty bag. Think of it as a secret weapon: your own little personal “blacksite.”

happy-is-a-CHOICE

FAQ

How long before I can start torturing people?

You absolutely may not torture anyone, even a little, until your deposit clears.

What does the phrase “enhanced interrogation” mean?

That’s for me to know and you to find out! (It means “torture.”)

Why would I want to torture people? 

To paraphrase George Mallory, the first man to summit Everest, you should want to torture people because they are there. Right there, begging to be tortured.

Does torture work?

It absolutely works, depending on what you mean by “work.”

Isn’t this highly illegal?

You’d think so! President Ronald Reagan signed the U.N. Convention Against Torture in 1988, but the Bush administration kept waterboarding — I mean enhanced interrogation techniques — legal until the press found out about it. And my experience is, it turns out that it’s fine. Not a single person even had to think about jail time!

Aren’t you a walking, talking example of what Hannah Arendt called the banality of evil?

I have never read a single book and do not know what “the banality of evil” means.

Shouldn’t your husband be institutionalized?

ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeee