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Torture Doctors Without Borders
June 28, 2006 8:47 AM   Subscribe

How Doctors Got Into the Torture Business
An Interview with Steven Miles: The torture-endangered Society
posted by y2karl (59 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
From the second link:
There seem to be things Americans need to believe about themselves that require that we filter certain facts out of our awareness. In my work with the Hoover archives at Stanford, I came across documentation from an authoritative source who named 10 specific countries with which we partner in torture. We may not be the ones turning on the electricity, but our people are present when it happens. He claims this did not begin with 9/11.

Another source discussed the use of children in those experiments done decades ago.


Its interesting that there was a certain coyness about the data that came out of Iraq. The photographs that have been released so far are all photographs of men. Photographs of women have been retained and have not been released by the media sources that have them.

Sy Hersh said the other photos are much worse. He mentioned audio recordings of children screaming while being sodomized.

All of the prisoner deaths that have been included in official tabulations, which are admittedly incomplete -- curiously, you find references to the death of children by the Department of Defense only in footnotes. There is no reporting of kids’ deaths in official lists or in death certificates or anything else. So there are sets of this data that remain hidden. The data has obviously been scrubbed.

What have you seen ?

I have seen the footnotes referring to the kids' deaths and have seen credible evidence of sexual abuse described in Army investigations. I have not seen photos. I do not need to see them, but I have seen investigators’ reports.

Steve, aren’t we describing war crimes ?

Yes. We are describing war crimes and I think its important to name them for what they are for a couple of reasons. First, when you name it as a war crime, you hint at the reality of the things we have described, the gravity of the harms that have occurred. Second, in describing it as a war crime you also describe accurately the transgressions against a framework of justice and the damage to the civil order that would be avoided by pretending these are not war crimes. I think thats important to do.
posted by y2karl at 8:49 AM on June 28, 2006 [1 favorite]


This is very, very bad stuff. From the first link:
Some of the medical involvement in torture defies belief. In one of the few actual logs we have of a high-level interrogation, that of Mohammed al-Qhatani..., doctors were present during the long process of constant sleep deprivation over 55 days, and they induced hypothermia and the use of threatening dogs, among other techniques. According to Miles, Medics had to administer three bags of medical saline to Qhatani — while he was strapped to a chair — and aggressively treat him for hypothermia in the hospital. They then returned him to his interrogators. Elsewhere in Guantánamo, one prisoner had a gunshot wound that was left to fester during three days of interrogation before treatment, and two others were denied antibiotics for wounds. In Iraq, according to the Army surgeon general as reported by Miles, "an anesthesiologist repeatedly dropped a 2-lb. bag of intravenous fluid on a patient; a nurse deliberately delayed giving pain medication, and medical staff fed pork to Muslim patients." Doctors were also tasked at Abu Ghraib with "Dietary Manip (monitored by med)," in other words, using someone's food intake to weaken or manipulate them.
The conclusion is indisputable:
After a while, you get numb reading these stories. They read like accounts of a South American dictatorship, not an American presidency. But we learn one thing: once you allow the torture of prisoners for any reason, as this President did, the cancer spreads. In the end it spreads to healers as well, and turns them into accomplices to harm.
Thanks for the post.
posted by languagehat at 9:02 AM on June 28, 2006


.
posted by anotherpanacea at 9:08 AM on June 28, 2006


Monstrous.
posted by interrobang at 9:10 AM on June 28, 2006


Absolutely correct. We shouldn't bother with torture. Let's just saw their heads off when we catch them.
posted by tadellin at 9:12 AM on June 28, 2006


Absolutely correct. We shouldn't bother with torture. Let's just saw their heads off when we catch them.

Right. During the Cold War, we tried to out-weaponize our enemies. During the War on Terror, we must out-crazy them.
posted by interrobang at 9:15 AM on June 28, 2006


Why am I not surprised by tadellin's comment?
posted by NationalKato at 9:19 AM on June 28, 2006


Haha, I did the tadellin comment tour yesterday. Pretty pathetic.
posted by sonofsamiam at 9:24 AM on June 28, 2006


Absolutely correct. We shouldn't bother with torture. Let's just saw their heads off when we catch them.

Makes me proud to be an American.

*wretches violently*
posted by three blind mice at 9:25 AM on June 28, 2006


Personally, I would rather have my head sawn off immediately than be tortured and be reprimanded to a prison for years, never having been officially charged with a crime. But I'm crazy that way.

I have to quote this section purely for emphasis:
Our ability to contextualize our own internal discussions of what it means to be a global empire is impaired. We wind up misreading our incredible impact not only on the world but on our own desires to project a civil society around the world. We can’t contextualize our actions internationally if we don’t have an international vision within our own domestic conversation.
Spot on.
posted by slimepuppy at 9:30 AM on June 28, 2006


Let's hope those doctors lose their licenses over this.
posted by caddis at 9:36 AM on June 28, 2006


Hey, what happens in Brown-person-istan stays in Brown-person-istan.
posted by Artw at 9:36 AM on June 28, 2006


Thanks for posting this, y2karl.

tadellin: Absolutely correct. We shouldn't bother with torture. Let's just saw their heads off when we catch them.

From the second link: There are a couple of ways to look at that which are of great interest to ethicists. One is to speak of creating a precedent. For example, there was the business of Spc. Keith Maupin, an American soldier in Iraq who was kidnapped and killed -- but only after the Abu Ghraib photos were shown. Before the photos became public, every POW returned alive, but not afterward. [Television carried the Abu Ghraib photographs on April 29, 2004. The first of the 11 beheadings in Iraq occurred 12 days later.]
posted by russilwvong at 9:37 AM on June 28, 2006


Let's hope those doctors go to jail over this?
posted by chunking express at 9:41 AM on June 28, 2006


Hey, what happens in Brown-person-istan stays in Brown-person-istan.

I assume that's a question. Well, I suppose some people - not you of course - will become even more insular, racist, and ignorant than they already are.
posted by three blind mice at 9:42 AM on June 28, 2006


I thought America was all maxed out when it came to being insular and ignorant?
posted by chunking express at 9:53 AM on June 28, 2006


Oh, they're sawing off heads too, don't get it twisted. They may not use those exact methods all the time, but murder is not a big step up from extreme torture.
posted by cell divide at 10:11 AM on June 28, 2006


Book Review: A Question of Torture

Those of us who have been horrified by American atrocities committed at locations such as Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay, and have wondered how the US became a notorious perpetrator of torture will want to read McCoy's (2006) latest book, A Question of Torture. What McCoy provides is a scholarly and readable historical account of the CIA'?s role as an innovator of modern torture techniques beginning in the late 1940s and continuing on to the present.

McCoy's book highlights early efforts by the CIA to research mind control drugs in response to allegations that the Soviet Union was pioneering the use of these drugs as part of its own interrogation regimen. A number of years of research on a variety of psychoactive drugs, including LSD, failed to yield an effective mind control drug that could elicit information from suspected spies.

Of more pertinence to psychologists is McCoy's coverage of the shift in focus by the CIA from developing mind control drugs to researching key behavioral components of psychological torture. The ground-breaking work by psychologist D.O. Hebb on sensory deprivation in particular would inspire many of the torture techniques currently utilized by US-run military prisons. The second key element that was researched and developed by CIA-backed psychological research was self-inflicted pain based upon techniques pioneered by the KGB (such as forced postures for lengthy periods of time). The third key element of interest to the CIA regarded the situational factors needed to produce torturers. As McCoy notes,

Stanley Milgram's (1974) research on destructive obedience -- research that turned out to be funded covertly by the CIA - demonstrated that practically anyone could be turned into a torturer. These elements would be refined by the CIA and put into practice beginning in the 1960s.

One thing that McCoy covers in his chapter on psychological research is the persistent lapses in ethics. Many human participants in these various experiments were subjected to sensory deprivation and self-inflicted pain techniques served involuntarily and had no means of escaping the experimental environment. Psychiatric patients and prisoners in particular were targeted for such experimentation. Experiments relying on voluntary human participants often failed to provide adequate informed consent to these individuals, as in the case of Milgram's experiments on obedience. As McCoy notes, the negative psychological consequences (such as amnesia) for human participants as a result of being exposed to extreme sensory deprivation or self-inflicted pain was often long-lasting (even in experiments relying on voluntary participation).

McCoy goes on in subsequent chapters to outline how the CIA put these new torture techniques into practice, as well as efforts to export these techniques to various other US client states, as well as the human toll exacted on the victims. In addition McCoy provides us with a context for understanding the persistence of the use of psychological torture in the years after the end of the Cold War, as the US government shifted ultimately to a new War on Terror. Although some effort was made by the US government in the 1990s to cease the use of torture, the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks provided cover for torture'?s advocates including Alberto Gonzales (now Attorney General), John Yoo, Donald Rumsfeld, and General Geoffrey Miller.

McCoy closes the book with a summary of the effectiveness of torture. The bottom line is that at least two millennia of experience in practicing torture in its various forms have failed to yield accurate information from its victims. In fact, McCoy suggests that the persistent reliance on torture is more of a reflection of the psychological needs of government leaders in times of crisis than as a means of pursuing truth.

For psychologists desiring a historical context within which to place the US government's current use of torture and who desire the context within which the current debate within the psychological profession regarding appropriate (pdf) ethical guidelines for psychologists working in military prisons, McCoy's book is an excellent resource.
posted by Unregistered User at 10:15 AM on June 28, 2006 [2 favorites]


I would strongly agree with the opinion in the linked article, and I saw the described attitude present in my time in the British Army. From a lesson on how to handle prisoners that was very much presented with a nod and a wink, and where the instructor explicitly stated that the rules applied "in theory" to the constant dehumanisation of enemy groups. This applied both to our institutional view of the Irish Catholics (songs included "We are the Billy Boys"... itself containing the line "up to our knees in Fenian blood" *cue cheers*) and tendancy to refer to everyone on the nationalist side as either IRA or IRA sympathisers, and the more modern use of raghead as the description of people in the Middle East. When the enemy is not human, all is permissable.
posted by jaduncan at 10:17 AM on June 28, 2006


This whole thing brings up what might be called the "M*A*S*H" conumdrum, which simply stated, asks: How can any medical person involve him or herself in any way with the military? I mean, if he or she takes the Hippocratic oath seriously?
posted by Faze at 10:18 AM on June 28, 2006


Until there is a Nuremberg style war crimes trial convicting all those guilty, including soldiers, officers, doctors, government officials this blind and insane murder will go on while civilization suffers and regresses because of it. What is happening now with the blessing of the U.S.` government is no different than what happened in Saddam's Iraq, no different than what happens in Israel against the Palestinians, no different than any third world dictatorship, many of which are directly supported by this administrations officials and followers and no different than what happened against jews in Hitler's Germany, right along with Mengele's 'experiments' and resultant deaths of innocents.

I hope that someday there is real justice, and when (and if) that time comes many of those who are guilty will have to spend the rest of their lives running and hiding just as Nazi war criminals did after WWII.
posted by mk1gti at 10:19 AM on June 28, 2006


They read like accounts of a South American dictatorship, not an American presidency.

I don't know whether to laugh or shudder at that. Certainly an, er, interesting comparison given the role of the US with regard to South American dictatorships.

I assume that's a question.

I really don't think it was.
posted by jack_mo at 10:23 AM on June 28, 2006


Faze: you have to be kidding.

There is a difference between providing medical care for the military and assisting torture.

If you do not see the difference, I suspect there is something wrong with you.
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:25 AM on June 28, 2006


doctors and war crimes? Robert Jay Lifton has written an essential book about that.

unfortunately, "war crime" is a fluid concept, after 9-11, just like "torture". the current American President clearly thinks to have inherent authority to define these terms himself, no matter what the rest of the world -- not even Congress -- thinks.

hence, a political discussion of "war crimes" recently perpetrated by the USA is by definition moot. a classic example of war crime: preemptively attacking a sovereign nation. but that was a pre 9-11 thing, it was a Nuremberg idea. the US administration has deemed such rules and definitions to be obsolete, in the War Against Terror. you're only left with outrage if you don't agree with the Bush/Cheney game plan. but outrage has not reached critical mass in the USA nor will it manage to accomplish that anytime soon.

Americans who don't like what their nation has become as of late, ie a nation where torture is official government policy, have really little to do. American voters do not consider these issues to be a priority -- there are bigger fish to fry in US electoral politics, such as gay marriage, the destroyed content of Terry Schiavo's skull, and four cases of flag-burning. torture is politically radioactive because talking about it makes the Democrats look pro-terrorist, it doesn't make the Republicans look like nail-rippers.

hence, if you don't like torture and you're American you'll have to wait for an actual thorough Congressional investigation. which won't happen -- if at all -- until Democrats take back Congress or the White House, and only if you think that Diebold will count the votes fairly in that case.

it would be wise not to hold one's breath, in the meantime
posted by matteo at 10:25 AM on June 28, 2006


and, thanks for the post y2karl
posted by matteo at 10:26 AM on June 28, 2006


I assume that's a question.

No... it's a SLOGAN!
posted by Artw at 10:47 AM on June 28, 2006


Unregistered User wins the great addition to a great post award!

Living in the US under a government that performs barbarisms in my name is a type of (much lesser) torture in itself.

One link above talks about how the studies into mind control have been implemented on our own troops and the general population. Examples abound, what with the Pentagon performing psyops directed at the American public to improving the "kill ratio" of our troops. Enough there for its own post.
posted by nofundy at 10:51 AM on June 28, 2006


I thought America was all maxed out when it came to being insular and ignorant?
posted by chunking express at 9:53 AM PST


The card was maxed, but the limit was raised.

(Really, what ARE you going to do as an American citizen that will have an effect?)

outrage has not reached critical mass in the USA nor will it manage to accomplish that anytime soon.

The 'outrage' will come if the rest of the world opts to stop trading in US Dollars. And really, what are the 'levers of control' the rest of the world has?
posted by rough ashlar at 10:58 AM on June 28, 2006


Good post.

Makes me wonder wether this will affect the coalition in Afghanistan.
The Netherlands cooperate there with the US. I hope european politicians raise hell about this.
But...
posted by jouke at 11:07 AM on June 28, 2006


For those of you who don't like my suggestion to just dispatch terrorists at the earliest opportunity: please, let's hear your ideas. Should we:

a) feed, shelter, clothe them for the rest of their lives
b) let them go, so they can continue to terrorize people
c) other (and if you pick this, please explain)

Hey, I've got it! Why don't we jusy ask them three times in a row a la (no pun intended) Austin Powers? They have to tell us where the other cells are then, right?
posted by tadellin at 11:34 AM on June 28, 2006


For those of you who don't like my suggestion to just dispatch terrorists at the earliest opportunity: please, let's hear your ideas.

First you have to figure out if your prisoner is actually a terrorist, or just a guy who was picked up in a sweep. Usually that means putting him on trial.
posted by russilwvong at 11:39 AM on June 28, 2006


ditto to what russilwvong said, times all the thousands of Iraqis that have been picked up in these sweeps, tortured, found not guilty of anything at all and had their lives (and minds and bodies) destroyed because of it. Hey tadellin, perhaps you can go over there, pose as an Iraqi just standing on a street corner at the wrong time, experience an interogation and let us know what it's like? Cake and ice cream for everyone who tells the truth!!!
posted by mk1gti at 11:46 AM on June 28, 2006


From: The Dept of Meta-textuality
To: see list below

The following Mefi's should report immediately for processing at the Albert Gonzalez Annex Dept of Truthiness Black Lodge (room 3-D) in order to clarify ideological identifications stated when the metafilter blog was in uranus. No coercion will be applied. The dept. of truthiness has other ways of making you talk.

(c.f. you will be required to read Gullible's Travels.)

This list was compiled by synchronious data mining by the C. Jung Run encryption service and the pulling there of out of said planetary aspects.

Xena, Warrior Princess
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Annie Lennox
Vermeerista!
Lucrezia (aka Lucrecia) Borgia nee Borgia
Quigley, Joan
Quigley, Down Under
Crazy Cora
Dr. Tongue
Dr. Demento
Dr. Fu Manchu (please bring your marmoset after sedating and caging...its bites have been recorded)
Walter Mitty
Walter Cronkite
Walter Reed
Erasmus
Erasmus Darwin (please bring your work, Zoomania, for inspection re: your discussion of the properties of cannabis in same)
Laura Palmer
David Lynch
Special Agent Dale Palmer
William Donovan
James Butler Hickock
Paris Hilton
James Hilton (in re: inspiration for a certain 1960s girl band)
Lutecia Cesarium
Mudhoney (the group is excluded at this time)
Russ Meyer
Bettie Page, RN
Zeppo et freres
Dios

If you feel your name has appeared on this list in error, god will sort them out. we have hundreds of smiling assistants waiting to answer your questions.
posted by Unregistered User at 11:52 AM on June 28, 2006


tadellin: how about I just come over there and kick your bloodthirsty ass, since anyone making such an argument is a clear danger to my countrymen.

My logic works at least as well as yours, do you disagree?
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:57 AM on June 28, 2006


Just ignore him, sonofsamiam. He's only doing a parody-- you know as well as I do that no one really thinks the way he pretends to.
posted by leftcoastbob at 12:00 PM on June 28, 2006


For those of you who don't like my suggestion to just dispatch terrorists at the earliest opportunity: please, let's hear your ideas.

You've rejected the idea of a court where cases can be heard.

Tell ya what. When YOUR idea shows that the people who are labeled as 'terrorist' by others are ACTUAL terrorists then you can have your be-heading.

Well? We are waiting for your sage wisdom.
posted by rough ashlar at 12:02 PM on June 28, 2006


The 'outrage' will come if the rest of the world opts to stop trading in US Dollars. And really, what are the 'levers of control' the rest of the world has?
posted by rough ashlar


This bears repeating. I was thinking just last week about what it would take for economic sanctions against the US by other countries for its behavior. Or is that so out of the realm of possibility? Would it even make a difference?
posted by NationalKato at 12:04 PM on June 28, 2006


tadellin - get them married.
posted by longbaugh at 12:08 PM on June 28, 2006


First you have to figure out if your prisoner is actually a terrorist, or just a guy who was picked up in a sweep. Usually that means putting him on trial.

Easy: just torture him. He'll tell you exactly what you want to hear the truth, then, for sure.
posted by lodurr at 12:11 PM on June 28, 2006


By 08:30 the Americans were done and started driving back to base. As the main element departed, the psychological operations vehicle blasted AC/DC rock music through neighborhood streets. “It’s good for morale after such a long mission,” a captain said.

nir rosen at truthdig via cursor.


YEAH! HIGHWAY TO HELL, WERE ON THE HIGHWAY TO...
*SING* W/ME EVERYONE!
posted by Unregistered User at 12:14 PM on June 28, 2006


That's a great article, longbaugh.

NationalKato: I was thinking just last week about what it would take for economic sanctions against the US by other countries for its behavior.

To be honest, I think this is going to be up to US voters to deal with, through the 2006 congressional elections and the 2008 presidential election.

It's not possible for other powers to pressure the US, through measures short of war, into giving up a vital interest; and the Bush administration appears to view this issue--its ability to hold prisoners indefinitely and subject them to inhumane treatment--as a vital interest.

Conversely, I can't think of any powers which regard this issue as a vital interest, and which therefore would be willing to fight a war with the US over it. Not even al-Qaeda or the Iraqi insurgency: the US mistreatment of prisoners strengthens their support in the Muslim world rather than weakening it.
posted by russilwvong at 12:24 PM on June 28, 2006


This bears repeating. I was thinking just last week about what it would take for economic sanctions against the US by other countries for its behavior.

Don't be silly. How would that make anyone rich?
posted by Drexen at 12:26 PM on June 28, 2006


I can't take credit for it russilwvong - it's from an old FPP quite some back.
posted by longbaugh at 12:32 PM on June 28, 2006


There is a difference between providing medical care for the military and assisting torture.


Would that be that those who provide medical care help those who capture and torture innocent people.

and those who assist torture only help torture.

so the "regular" doctors are possibly worse.

Right?
posted by Megafly at 12:37 PM on June 28, 2006


Terrorists are criminals. Plain and simple. Those that think they are anything but petty criminals, and should be treated as such give terrorists far to much power, and have themselves become terrorized.
posted by Freen at 12:43 PM on June 28, 2006


I think this is going to be up to US voters to deal with

So basically it won't be dealt with.
posted by Artw at 12:48 PM on June 28, 2006


Freen: Terrorists are criminals. Plain and simple. Those that think they are anything but petty criminals, and should be treated as such give terrorists far to much power, and have themselves become terrorized.

I'm afraid I disagree with this view.

Law enforcement can focus on catching criminals after they've committed crimes.

Counter-terrorism has to focus on preventing terrorist acts before they occur. This requires intelligence work (e.g. getting agents inside terrorist cells), not just police work. I've posted before about what a comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy would look like.
posted by russilwvong at 12:49 PM on June 28, 2006


Terrorists are criminals. Plain and simple. Those that think they are anything but petty criminals, and should be treated as such give terrorists far to much power, and have themselves become terrorized.
So, you are beginning with the assumption that anyone captured is, de-facto, a terrorist? I suppose that makes sense. Why else would they be in the neighborhood?
posted by Thorzdad at 12:58 PM on June 28, 2006


Police arrest and prosecute individuals planning to commit crimes all the time, this is why we have charges such as conspiracy. The FBI is responsible for counter-intelligence within the US borders and they are capable of dealing with investigations into terrorism - look at the amount of data they had gathered prior to 9/11.
posted by longbaugh at 1:01 PM on June 28, 2006


YEAH! HIGHWAY TO HELL, WERE ON THE HIGHWAY TO...
*SING* W/ME EVERYONE!
posted by Unregistered User


Great link, unregistered.
posted by leftcoastbob at 1:21 PM on June 28, 2006



/very good reading from many quarters, thanks y2karl .

I’m with mk1gti (et.al.) I’d like to see Gonzales, Rumsfeld, et.al prosecuted for war crimes.

“...hence, if you don't like torture and you're American you'll have to wait for an actual thorough Congressional investigation...” - matteo

There are other methods to redress grievances.
I know people with juice, I know people with money. I know people who are deeply upset by this. I don’t, unfortunately, know anyone with juice and money willing to lay it down to fight this. I make a good chunk of take home, but I don’t have the kind of bank it would take to effect change. (I’m driving a beat up POS truck as it is). There are some organizations out there, but they seem lacking in the kind of passion needed. I suppose that’s a hazard of the mindset. Compassionate caring people rarely have the kind of ruthless fury to sting political asses. (And when they do they often get assassinated by a “lone nut”)

But there’s always hope.


“For those of you who don't like my suggestion to just dispatch terrorists at the earliest opportunity...”

Yeah, uh, some people have actually done this in the field. It’s not like in the movies. You want to try it? Enlist.

Indulge me in another screwy metaphor: Hunting.
I will/have shoot and eat a deer.
I will not/never capture and torture a deer. I will not harm the deer’s family. I will not imprison a pheasant thinking it may be revealed to be a deer, so I may then kill it. I will not deforest the area and kill robins, squirrels, opossum, skunk, badger, woodpeckers, and myriad other animals in order to get a partial buck horn as a trophy.

Ironically, all these things require more effort and make the hunt harder than simply finding, accurately identifying and shooting a deer.

Perhaps then the objective is not to hunt deer.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:19 PM on June 28, 2006 [1 favorite]


Forgot my initial reason for posting - Wouldn’t doctors be able to rely on their oath (legally binding or not) as some measure of moral defense to not act to help the interrogators whether the Geneva conventions apply or not?

I suppose the dilemma is in looking at a doctor as a technician vs. an ethical actor.
Interesting point brought up in a M*A*S*H episode -who would you rather have operate on you, Hawkeye or Winchester?
Details aside, stripping them down to the above terms (the superior technician vs. the superior medical ethic) posits an interesting question for society.
I mean we give doctors such social distinction, it appears to me, for that ethical componant, not, I believe for their technical skills.
The question becomes what kind of doctor does society want?
‘Cause it seems to me the doctors here were just meat technicians.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:29 PM on June 28, 2006


Terrorists are criminals. Plain and simple. Those that think they are anything but petty criminals, and should be treated as such give terrorists far to much power, and have themselves become terrorized.
posted by Freen


Most Americans-- even the highly and roundly educated-- have absolutely no realistic understanding of what torture is. Most of them think like Freen: they assume all those tortured are guilty of something, and that we can get useful information out of them by torture that we can't get by normal investigative measures. I've worked against torture for over a decade. It's difficult to express how very, very tired I am of explaining why torture is useless and actually counterproductive to our goals. If it were so great, do you think that the United States would have ratified the UN Convention Against Torture, even with the disclaimer?

Doctors should report evidence of torture as outlined in the Istanbul Protocol, and it's not as if the problem of dual loyalty has never been considered as a practical matter. Instead, doctors end up covering it up. Why?
posted by zennie at 2:35 PM on June 28, 2006


As I understand it, in saying that terrorism should be treated like any other crime, Freen is arguing against torture or mistreatment of terrorist suspects.

longbaugh: Police arrest and prosecute individuals planning to commit crimes all the time, this is why we have charges such as conspiracy. The FBI is responsible for counter-intelligence within the US borders and they are capable of dealing with investigations into terrorism - look at the amount of data they had gathered prior to 9/11.

Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon provide a rather more dismal picture in The Next Attack.
The Bureau's culture remains committed to law enforcement, not intelligence gathering, and to combating crime rather than countering terrorist conspiracies. Power belongs to special agents from the criminal division who preside over the fifty-six field offices distributed throughout the United States. For the most part, their responsibilities are driven by the crime-busting needs of the localities where they are based. It is therefore not surprising that they insist that "bin Laden is never going to Des Moines." In addition, dealing with crime is better for one's career at the FBI, where accomplishments that are easily measured--for example, the number of arrests an agent makes--count toward promotion, while the murkier tasks involved in counterterrorism do not lend themselves as easily to this box-checking process. Counterterrorism is therefore unlikely to migrate to the top of the typical agent's "to do" list.

Neither will intelligence analysis. In order to detect the formation of jihadist networks in the United States, infiltrate cells, and disrupt conspiracies, investigators need analytical support. This is important because agents themselves do not have time, specialized knowledge, or skills to assemble all the scraps of information available to the FBI into a coherent narrative. This can be done well only by analysts with good language skills, a deep understanding of the way the enemy thinks and operates, and close ties to analysts in other agencies, especially the CIA, with whom they can compare notes and "hand off" targets. The FBI has had a hard time attracting and keeping such analysts, however, because they are not law enforcement officers. John Gannon, an experienced CIA officer who was the head of the National Intelligence Council from 1996 to 2001, puts it this way: "If you're not an agent, you are furniture." He told the successor body to the 9/11 Commission in June 2005 that the FBI "has not made an adequate investment" in a cadre of analysts who would have equal stature within the bureau.

This is not merely the impression of one respected senior intelligence official. In May 2005, the FBI inspector general released a report on the treatment of analysts that verged on satire. Analysts, according to the report, were made to spend much of their time on "escort, trash and watch duty... as the name implies, escort duty is following visitors, such as contractors, around the office to ensure that they do not compromise security. Trash duty involves collecting all 'official trash' to be incinerated. Watch duty involves answering phones." ...

Director Mueller has boasted about the 380 analysts the bureau has hired since 2001 ... but neglected to mention that 291 abandoned their positions during that period and most left the Bureau.
posted by russilwvong at 2:45 PM on June 28, 2006


You know, we opened this door when we re-instated capital punishment. 2006-era Americans are a bloodthirsty lot, for the most part.
posted by lilboo at 3:43 PM on June 28, 2006


Most Americans-- even the highly and roundly educated-- have absolutely no realistic understanding of what torture is.

Indeed, the majority are so far removed from what is taking place both at home and abroad as to be maddening. I'm reminded of a Colin Wilson quote, in that "The average man is a conformist, accepting miseries and disasters with the stoicism of a cow standing in the rain. "

Many have mentioned hope w/in this thread...hope this, hope that...Hope that America will change...


"The more I understand hope, the more I realize that all along it deserved to be in the box with the plagues, sorrow, and mischief; that it serves the needs of those in power as surely as belief in a distant heaven; that hope is really nothing more than a secular way of keeping us in line.

Hope is, in fact, a curse, a bane. I say this not only because of the lovely Buddhist saying "Hope and fear chase each other's tails," not only because hope leads us away from the present, away from who and where we are right now and toward some imaginary future state. I say this because of what hope is."

I have sd, before and I say again, "It feels like America is unraveling"...


Human nature, being what it is, is prone to delusions and self-righteousness. The Federal Transportation and Safety Administation once commissioned forensic anthropologist Clyde Snow to perform a study of how to improve airline safety by examining the behaviour of passengers during airplane crashes. What he found and reported was that a grown man in a burning room consistently demonstrates no compunction about stepping on the face of an infant that blocks his access to an exit. The FTSA refused to publish the report or to believe that human beings would act that way.


The essay's and links and responses you guys have linked to come from the results of people who are not currently suffering from deprivation in any physical sense. They are people whose self-worth and lives are based upon abstractions such as the accumulation of capital or "family values" and are, therefore, meaningless if stripped of an imagined nobility.

Arguments will not tear down that construct and they will fight tooth and nail (on paper) to rationalise how they are above such baseness as survival. Console yourself with the fact that reality has more powerful tools than rhetoric at its disposal to tear down delusions and for all of their self-congratulations, those people are one crisis away from becoming those unfortunates that they look down upon.

not everyone reverted to Hobbesian behaviours when the ordure hit the fan on 911.
posted by Unregistered User at 3:44 PM on June 28, 2006 [2 favorites]


Susan R Matthews is ahead of her time.
posted by yeolcoatl at 6:55 PM on June 28, 2006


Unregistered User, you have much good food for thought. Especially the part about 'hope'. Much to think about and ponder.
posted by mk1gti at 10:03 PM on June 28, 2006


Yeolcoatl, even though the entire weight of law and tradition support torture in Susan R. Matthews books, the central character is always a reluctant (although frighteningly effective) participant.

Also, unlike our current "unofficial" torture system, her military/judicial system codifies torture as only being acceptable after proving the suspect guilty of a certain kind of crime.
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:31 AM on June 29, 2006


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