Friday, April 28, 2006


Touch-free torture: America becomes the USSR

Professor Alfred McCoy, writing in Amnesty International Magazine: After CBS broadcast those notorious photos from Abu Ghraib prison in the April 2004, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld dismissed them as unrepresentative acts "by a small number of U.S. military," whom the conservative New York Times columnist William Safire branded "creeps." If, however, we read these prison photos carefully, they reveal CIA torture techniques that have metastasized like an undetected cancer inside the U.S. intelligence community over the past half-century. That iconic photo of a hooded Iraqi with fake electrical wires hanging from his arms shows, not the sadism of a few “creeps,” but the telltale signs of sophisticated torture. The prisoner is hooded for sensory deprivation. His arms are extended for self-inflicted pain. These are the key components of the CIA’s psychological paradigm, first developed during the Cold War and then disseminated within the U.S. intelligence community and among allied agencies around the world. Indeed, over the past 40 years, psychological torture, as practiced by US intelligence community, has proven destructive, elusive, and adaptable. Although seemingly less brutal than physical methods, this "no touch" torture is highly destructive of the human psyche, leaving searing psychological scars experts consider more crippling than physical pain. And the lack of visible physical evidence eludes detection, greatly complicating attempts at investigation, prosecution, or prohibition.
In the 1950's, Americans were considerably lathered up by Arthur Koestler's Darkness at Noon. The book accused the Soviet Union of employing various kinds of psychological torture techniques, such as sleep deprivation, hooding, placing a bucket over the head of a prisoner and then beating the bucket with sticks, etc. We were bolstered by our smug assumption that our nation would never do such things.
NJ, thanks for mentioning this.

For those of us who were interested in human rights before that became the excuse to invade countries, it is very bitter to see the people who used the HR movement against the Soviets use their same methods.

McCoy has laid out the evidence that methods as innocuous-seeming as sleep deprivation or even forcing people to stand for extended periods of time cause fatalities. It's then written off to renal failure or a coronary and the general public imagines that the death was an unforeseeable accident.

This is the face of evil: calculating how to injure, torture, and kill while convincing people that it is benign. People who can do this believe they are beyond the reach of judgment. Unlike atheists and pagans, who may do good believing they will receive no reward, those who harm under the guise of innocence are truly beyond the mercy of God.
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