Tag Archives | Torture

Obama’s Support of Torture

Norman Pollack writes at CounterPunch:

And we thought the cold-blooded planning and execution of armed drone assassination vitiated any claim to moral character, a POTUS swaggering around on Air Force One methodically using drones and air power to destroy civilian targets and, as in the recent attacks on UN schools/shelters in Gaza, countenance—if not encourage-the same among friends and allies (Israel), now it is revealed by Charlie Savage of the New York Times, in an article, “Obama Could Reaffirm a Bush-Era Reading of a Treaty on Torture,” (Oct. 19), that our Nobelist Warrior is exquisitely parsing international treaties to allow for US TORTURE abroad, so long as not on the Homeland. Whether the program of torture or the rationale for its authorization is the greater Evil I leave to the professional philosophers to determine. But from here, America’s vanguard role, already the purveyor of global counterrevolution by all means possible, in this latest chapter of structural-political sadism, smells to high heavens.

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Guantanamo Force-Feeding Trial is a Breakthrough

Interrogation still 2Accountability for those responsible for the post 9/11 US torture program is a very slow process, but a new federal trial is a major step forward.

Judge Gladys Kessler of the DC District Court is hearing a case brought by Guantanamo detainee Abu Wa’el Dhiab and his lawyers against the very brutal method of force feeding used on the hunger strikers. Mr. Dhiab has been on hunger strike for over six years and was cleared for release in 2009, but is still in Guantanamo.

The case is about the method itself. Riot squads violently “extract” the detainee from his cell, strap him in a chair with five-point restraints and insert the tube in especially painful ways. (This procedure was shown in Doctors of the Dark Side with a description by a lawyer who succeeded in getting a more humane force feeding method for his client in a 2008 case.)

Judge Kessler recently ruled that videotapes of the force feeding procedure must be made public.… Read the rest

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When is torture okay?

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

via Psychology Today:

Imagine that someone close to you was in imminent danger and the only solution involved having police use torture to extract information from a suspect in custody. Would you agree or not?

While torture remains a divisive topic with many countries around the world authorizing its use,  international human rights codes and the legal codes of most countries provide comprehensive legal protections against torture under any circumstances. Public opinion polls tend to be consistent in showing that only 34 percent of people worldwide actual endorse the use of torture though the numbers vary from country to country.  Still, despite the consensus that torture is both immoral and ineffective, both as a means of punishment and as a way of gaining information, controversy still surrounds its use. Issues such as  renditionwaterboarding, and the very definition of torture continue to influence international relations, especially given the current “War on Terror”  that shows no sign of ending.

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The CIA is getting away with keeping every important secret about torture

“A definitive Senate report about one of America’s darkest periods continues to be withheld – precisely because the agency behind it refuses to come clean,” writes Trevor Timm at The Guardian:

At this point, is there anything the Central Intelligence Agency thinks it can’t get away with?

To recap: the CIA systematically tortured people, then lied about it. Destroyed evidence of it, then lied about that. Spied on the US Senate staffers investigating the agency for torture, then lied about that. Now, after somehow being put in charge of deciding what parts of the Senate’s final report on that torture should be redacted, the CIA has predictively censored the key evidence of the litany of all of those transgressions.

The agency’s black marker has reportedly censored – at different points in the report – already-public, embarrassing and criminally culpable information. By doing so, the CIA has rendered it, as one Senator noted, “incomprehensible”.

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Obama Admits That CIA Tortured ‘Some Folks’

Still from "Doctors of the Dark Side"

Still from “Doctors of the Dark Side

Many Americans have called foul over the CIA torture program but up till now the US Government has steadfastly denied using interrogation techniques that were really torture. The documentary film Doctors of the Dark Side, for one, horrifyingly showed the complicity of American doctors and medical professionals in designing these torture techniques for the CIA and military. Now President Obama is finally admitting that it truly was torture, reports ABC News:

President Obama today admitted the CIA tortured al Qaeda detainees after the 9/11 attacks, saying “we did some things that were contrary to our values.”

“We tortured some folks,” the president told reporters at the White House, ahead of the release of a Senate report on enhanced interrogation techniques.

In a rare reflection on the practices that he banned after taking office, the president said, “I understand why it happened” and underscored the tremendous pressure that national security officials were under in the aftermath of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

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Torture Okayed Through Pop Culture

Diverse torture instruments.

Diverse torture instruments.

Noah Berlatsky analyzes how pop culture (movies, comic books, television) makes torture “ok.” He writes that “Torture, pop culture says, is effective, fun, and even funny.”

Noah Berlatsky writes at Splice Today:

In Frank Miller’s influential 1986 series The Dark Knight Returns, Batman drags an unconscious perpetrator up to a rooftop, and hangs him upside down with his eyes covered. When the bad guy wakes up, Batman begins to question him, and then uncovers the guy’s eyes. Hundreds of feet above the city, the bad guy starts to scream in terror, prompting our hero to ruminate smugly about how much fun he’s having.

Last year, in the film Olympus Has Fallen, the American agent played by Gerard Butler stabbed a North Korean bad guy in the knee to get him to talk. The audience at the preview I attended cheered enthusiastically.

Last weekend at the annual meeting of the National Rifle Association, Sarah Palin declared to an enthusiastic audience that the current administration is too nice to jihadists.

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How to Forgive Your Torturer

Goya_-_La_seguridad_de_un_reo_no_exige_tormento_(The_Custody_of_a_Criminal_Does_Not_Call_for_Torture)Ariel Dorfman writes at Tomgram:

What a way to celebrate Torture Awareness Month!

According to an Amnesty International Poll released in May, 45% of Americans believe that torture is “sometimes necessary and acceptable” in order to “gain information that may protect the public.” Twenty-nine percent of Britons “strongly or somewhat agreed” that torture was justified when asked the same question.

For someone like me, who has been haunted by the daily existence of torture since the September 11, 1973 coup that overthrew Chilean President Salvador Allende, such percentages couldn’t be more depressing, but perhaps not that surprising. I now live, after all, in the America where Dick Cheney, instead of being indicted as a war criminal, sneeringly (and falsely) claims to anyone who asks him — and he is trotted out over and over again as the resident expert on the subject — that  “enhanced interrogations” have been and still are absolutely necessary to keep Americans safe.

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The Case of the Dead Brazilian Torturer Gets Murkier

PIC: Keith Schengili-Roberts (CC)

PIC: Keith Schengili-Roberts (CC)

Michael Uhl writes at CounterPunch:

They haven’t killed him yet.

Paulo Malhaes, the confessed Brazilian torturer whose death I recently reported on this site may not have been murdered after all. At least that’s what police investigating the case have been loudly proclaiming for the past week.

The former Army officer who had been an active agent of repression during Brazil’s military dictatorship in the nineteen seventies was found dead in his home on April 25th. It was immediately and widely assumed that Malhaes had been assassinated by former comrades disturbed by his recent testimony before the Brazilian Truth Commission. But the police in Nova Iguacu, a commuter city on the periphery of Rio de Janeiro, are saying that Malhaes died of a heart attack while being restrained during a routine house robbery gone wrong.

Based on what’s being reported in Brazil and via international wire services, however, the line of inquiry being pursued by the police is so rife with contradictory evidence and unanswered questions that the case is already showing all the earmarks of a cover up, if not a full blown conspiracy.

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The Road From Abu Ghraib: A Torture Story Without a Hero or an Ending

Goya_-_La_seguridad_de_un_reo_no_exige_tormento_(The_Custody_of_a_Criminal_Does_Not_Call_for_Torture)Karen J. Greenberg writes at TomDispatch:

It’s mind-boggling. Torture is still up for grabs in America. No one questions anymore whether the CIA waterboarded one individual 83 times or another 186 times. The basic facts are no longer in dispute either by those who champion torture or those who, like myself, despise the very idea of it. No one questions whether some individuals died being tortured in American custody.  (They did.) No one questions that it was a national policy devised by those at the very highest levels of government. (It was.) But many, it seems, still believe that the torture policy, politely renamed in its heyday “the enhanced interrogation program,” was a good thing for the country.

Now, the nation awaits the newest chapter in the torture debate without having any idea whether it will close the book on American torture or open a path of pain and shame into the distant future.

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Priest Charged with Raping and Torturing Schoolteachers During ‘Exorcisms’

Pic: Seal of the SSPX (PD)

Pic: Seal of the SSPX (PD)

An unnamed priest affiliated with the breakaway Catholic sect The Society of St. Pius X has been charged with the 2010 rape and torture of three French schoolteachers during an “exorcism”. Authorities will not name the priest’s name for fear that doing so may identify the victims.

The Society of St. Pius X is a radical traditionalist Catholic splinter group and is not recognized by the Roman Catholic Church. Its members, in turn, reject the authority of the Pope. The Society has faced much criticism over the years from people who consider its teachings anti-Semitic and reactionary: Founder Marcel Lefebvre was vocal in his praise of France’s Vichy government and advocacy for the return of absolute monarchy.

Via RT:

Police say the priest raped three women in the autumn of 2010 after he met them at the private religious school Ecole Notre-Dame-de-la Sablonniere in Goussonville, west of Paris, which he was running at the time, according to French media reports.

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