Friday, May 8, 2009

The US has used torture for decades.

All that's new is the openness about it
By ignoring past abuses, opponents of torture are in danger of pushing it back into the shadows instead of abolishing it

Naomi Klein, The Guardian: The US military ran the notorious School of the Americas from 1946 to 1984, a sinister educational institution that, if it had a motto, might have been 'We do torture.'...

CIA-funded experiments on psychiatric patients and prisoners in the 1950s turned into a template for 'no-touch torture,' based on sensory deprivation and self-inflicted pain... These methods were field-tested by CIA agents in Vietnam as part of the Phoenix programme and then imported to Latin America and Asia under the guise of police training...

Past administrations kept their 'black ops' secret, the crimes were sanctioned but they were committed in the shadows, officially denied and condemned. The Bush administration has broken this deal: post-9/11, it demanded the right to torture without shame, legitimised by new definitions and new laws...

The real innovation has been in-sourcing, with prisoners being abused by US citizens in US-run prisons and transported to third countries in US planes. It is this departure from clandestine etiquette that has so much of the military and intelligence community up in arms: Bush has robbed everyone of plausible deniability...

Since the US has never had truth commissions, the memory of its complicity in far-away crimes has always been fragile. Now these memories are fading further, and the disappeared are disappearing again.

CNN: A new national poll indicates that most Americans don't want to see an investigation of Bush administration officials who authorized harsh interrogation techniques on suspected terrorists, even though most people think such procedures were forms of torture.

Six in ten people questioned... believe that some of the procedures, such as water boarding, were a form of torture, with 36 percent disagreeing.

But half the public approves of the Bush administration's decision to use of those techniques during the questioning of suspected terrorists, with 50 percent in approval and 45 percent opposed.

Paul Woodward, War in Context: Investigate torture? Heck no! That's the past and the past is the stuff we leave behind. We live in the future -- haven't got there yet, but it's sure to be good. Mustn't let anything spoil the American dream.
Image source here.