The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'torture'
Two academics from Victoria's Deakin University have published a paper calling for torture to be legalised to help fight terrorism. Not that there's much new in this (celebrated US lawyer Alan Dershowitz argued a similar point in his call for "torture warrants" some years ago), except perhaps for the extreme utilitarian stance they take, advocating even the torturing to death of innocents if the ends justify it:
Asked if he believed interrogators should be able to legally torture an innocent person to death if they had evidence the person knew about a major public threat, such as the September 11 attacks, Professor Bagaric replied: "Yes, you could."
Applying utilitarian cost-benefit calculations to matters of human lives is tricky; taking the strict numerical approach, it should be OK to kill an innocent person to harvest their kidneys if it would save the lives of two terminally ill patients; after all, the net gain is one life. Of course, Bagaric and Clarke are not asserting such an absolute a-life-for-a-life arithmetic, though by allowing the killing of the innocent to save others, they are crossing a line towards it. And that is not even looking at the question of whether torture works (the value of testimony obtained under torture has been somewhat dubious).
Anyway, I suspect that Bagaric and Clarke's law lectures are probably going to become a lot less quiet.
More allegations of abuse in US-controlled military prisons, this time in Guantánamo, have emerged, with recently released British suspects claiming that they were interrogated at gunpoint and forced to pose naked.
In the dossier the Britons say the level of mental illness among detainees is higher than admitted by the US. The Tipton Three say guards told them that a fellow British detainee, Moazzam Begg, still imprisoned in Guantánamo, had been kept in isolation and "was in a very bad way". They say that Jamil el-Banna, of London, was so traumatised that "mentally, basically, he's finished".
(Forced to pose naked? Can you see the pattern? I wonder how long until there are Guantanamo-themed pr0n sites, only with naked women playing the parts of the detainees ("AlQaedaBabes.com", where you can vote for your favourite bikini-clad she-terrorist to be sexually tortured on camera (all major credit cards accepted)?); or perhaps an "Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS"-style exploitation film about Lynndie England? The possibilities for bad taste are limitless.)
In the global war for truth, justice and the American way, sometimes our boys in Iraq have to make some tough decisions, like whether to rape young boys in the name of liberty:
The women were passing messages saying "Please come and kill me, because of what's happened". Basically what happened is that those women who were arrested with young boys/children in cases that have been recorded. The boys were sodomized with the cameras rolling. The worst about all of them is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking that your government has. They are in total terror it's going to come out.
And here is salon.com's take on this.
So when exactly is it morally acceptable to rape children for a greater good?
In case you thought Donald Rumsfeld wouldn't do anything about the Iraqi torture scandal, he has just banned digital cameras in US military facilities. The happy citizens of McWorld no longer have to be troubled by images of brutality, and can go back to believing that everything's going well.
Meanwhile, the US's immunity from international war crimes prosecution is about to expire; given the recent situation, they are more likely to have problems getting a renewal, and, not surprisingly, aggressively lobbying for a renewal. Chances are, if it is not renewed and US troops are arrested, some sort of behind-the-scenes deal will be done to keep them out of The Hague; given that the option is a US invasion of The Hague to liberate them, and a possible US-European war; though, if anything, the lack of an exemption will put pressure on the US to more aggressively prosecute any war criminals in their ranks, at least whilst the media are watching.
Mashups of Iraq torture photos and iPod advertisements have started appearing in New York. The posters take off the iPod ads' distinctive silhouette format, and bear the subtitle "10,000 volts in your pocket, guilty or innocent". (via Gizmodo)
Out of work? Got a Top Secret clearance and a sadistic streak? US military contractors are looking for an Interrogator/Intel Analyst Team Lead in Baghdad, to assist in interrogating recalcitrant Iraqis, under minimal supervision. Since the applicant will not be a US military officer, military codes of conduct do not apply.
Meanwhile, how much do you want to bet that Arab-torturing good-ol'-girl Lynndie England will be getting lots of marriage proposals from Little Green Footballs readers and the like? Step aside Lara Croft and Sigourney Weaver; there's a butt-kicking heroine for the Bush Era.
"To the country boys here, if you're a different nationality, a different race, you're sub-human. That's the way girls like Lynndie are raised. Tormenting Iraqis, in her mind, would be no different from shooting a turkey. Every season here you're hunting something. Over there, they're hunting Iraqis."
And Charlie Stross has weighed in on the Iraqi torture controversy. (Sorry, did I say torture? I meant abuse. Torture, like terrorism, is something only the bad guys can do.) Apparently the British did similar things in Northern Ireland in the 1970s, and the results weren't pretty.
Which is to say: I think the torture is symptomatic of a much deeper malaise at the heart of the neoconservative program to restructure the Middle East. It's the same disease that enabled another cultured, well-educated western society two thirds of a century ago to efficiently and systematically brutalize half a continent: the conviction that the Other is backward, ill-educated, unworthy of tolerance, brutish, must needs be governed for their own good and punished for rebellion against the self-evidently correct policies of the superpower ... you can't justify the invasion and occupation of other nations these days without espousing a belief that their citizens are morally, intellectually, or ideologically inferior. To view someone as inferior in one of these ways is to dehumanize them. And, once dehumanized, they become fair game for the most odious of practices: collective punishment, suspension of civil rights, torture, and finally mass murder of civilians -- whether by gas chamber or cluster bomb makes no difference.
This is a wake-up call. We aren't just on the slippery slope, we're two-thirds of the way down it and trying on the jackboots for fit.
Gee, it's a lucky thing that the US isn't bound by the Geneva convention; otherwise they may be guilty of war crimes.
During the Spanish civil war, anarchists inspired by surrealist and abstract art developed torture cells based on non-figurative art and the psychological properties of shapes and colours:
Beds were placed at a 20 degree angle, making them near-impossible to sleep on, and the floors of the 6ft by 3ft cells was scattered with bricks and other geometric blocks to prevent prisoners from walking backwards and forwards, according to the account of Laurencic's trial. The only option left to prisoners was staring at the walls, which were curved and covered with mind-altering patterns of cubes, squares, straight lines and spirals which utilised tricks of colour, perspective and scale to cause mental confusion and distress. Lighting effects gave the impression that the dizzying patterns on the wall were moving.
The surrealistic cells were used to torture Francoist Fascists, as well as (of course) members of rival leftist factions and splinter groups. (via Charlie's Diary)
(If they built something like that these days, mind you, they could probably pass it off as the latest clubbing sensation and charge admission for it.)
A number of young idealists are on their way to Baghdad to act as "human shields", lending their moral authority to defend the peaceful Iraqi state against US imperialist aggression. As one guitar-wielding peacenik says, "Baghdad is probably the most peaceful, mellow place I've ever been in my life. Everybody is so laid-back it's unbelievable." Though this neglects the fact that Saddam Hussein's regime is monstrously brutal, with a shocking record of torture and murder.
According to Amnesty International the regime was busily torturing and executing various enemies, real and imagined. Eyes were being gouged, tongues ripped out and heads cut off. The torture of political detainees, said Amnesty, "generally takes place in the headquarters of the General Security Directorate in Baghdad or in its branches in Baghdad".
Now it could well be that Amnesty International has been infiltrated by Dubya's disinformation operatives (perhaps via Phony Blair's "Nu Labour" government) and turned into a pro-US propaganda engine, with their strident denunciations of US capital punishment and racism merely acting to lull bleeding-hearted Guardian readers into a false sense of trust and get them to swallow the bigger lie; it could be, but I doubt it.
This Iraq war is a sordid affair. On one hand, Saddam Hussein is a monster. (Not even the most delusional Marxist could argue that he's the leader of a liberation movement... well, maybe the Spartacists could, but everybody knows they're barking mad.) I doubt that there's much support given to him by the Iraqi people that's not the result of blind fear of what happens if they don't. On the other hand, the Saudis are just as bad, by all accounts, but they're Our Allies so it's OK. And pretending that the US invasion of Iraq will be all about giving a helping hand to the poor downtrodden Iraqi people (who happen to be sitting on one of the biggest, and most strategically important, oil fields in the world) stinks of hypocrisy. Given that the US is reportedly considering pocketing Iraqi oil to pay for its occupation (how fortunate that those poor Iraqis have this means of repaying their benefactors!) adds to suspicions that it's all about oil.
OTOH, the "peace activists" who plan to go to Baghdad to act as human shields for a murderous regime just because it opposes the US don't seem to be the sharpest knives in the drawer. In fact, they make student-newspaper pro-Cuban apologists (whose ability to excuse away the apparatus of totalitarianism as a higher form of freedom never fails to amaze) look like mature and well-reasoned political commentators.
Proof that Australia's foreign policy isn't just about sucking up to Uncle George: Australia votes against UN anti-torture protocol, joining an elite club of such esteemed defenders of human rights as China, Cuba, Libya and Nigeria. (The US, incidentally, abstained.) I've no idea why Australia rejected the protocol; perhaps supporting such bleeding-heart initiatives would make Australia look temptingly humane to refugees, undoing all the work of setting up draconian detention camps? Or perhaps because such naïve concerns have no place in the grim, warlike post-9/11 world?