Wednesday, June 10, 2009
US still outsourcing torture?
Back to the Future in
Alfred McCoy, TomDispatch: With the departure of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney from Washington and the arrival of Barack Obama, it may just be back to the future when it comes to policy, a turn away from a dark, do-it-yourself ethos and a return to the outsourcing of torture that went on, with the support of both Democrats and Republicans, in the Cold War years...
This time around, however, a long-distance policy may not provide the same insulation as in the past for Washington. Any retreat into torture by remote-control is only likely to produce the next scandal that will do yet more damage to America's international standing.
Over a 40-year period, Americans have found themselves mired in this same moral quagmire on six separate occasions: following exposés of CIA-sponsored torture in South Vietnam (1970), Brazil (1974), Iran (1978), Honduras (1988), and then throughout Latin America (1997). After each exposé, the public's shock soon faded, allowing the Agency to resume its dirty work in the shadows...
No matter how twisted the process, impunity usually passes through three stages:
1. Blame the supposed 'bad apples.'
2. Invoke the security argument. ('It protected us.')
3. Appeal to national unity. ('We need to move forward together.')
Unless some formal inquiry is convened to look into a sordid history that reached its depths in the Bush era, and so begins to break this cycle of deceit, exposé, and paralysis followed by more of the same, we're likely, a few years hence, to find ourselves right back where we are now. We'll be confronted with the next American torture scandal from some future iconic dungeon, part of a dismal, ever lengthening procession that has led from the tiger cages of South Vietnam through Iran's prison cells in Tehran to Abu Ghraib and the prison at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.
The next time, however, the world will not have forgotten those photos from Abu Ghraib. The next time, the damage to [the US] will be nothing short of devastating.
Image source here.