News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: Totrture: The Ugly Face In the Mirror

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Totrture: The Ugly Face In the Mirror

My daughter is becoming more politicized by the day. After recently proclaiming that Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations is globalization and neoliberal manifesto, she has expressed some surprise at the facts as I related them to her about the torture of so-called enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay.

While I have yet to express my concerns about her interpretation of Smith, I will set down some links to the torture machine set up by the Bush admin for her further research.

Most recently, Psyche, Science, and Society has provided some reading material on the famous Stanford Prison Experiment studies, which seemed to conclude that many people--from all walks of life--can turn from baby-faced boy/girl next door to concentration camp guard days.

From the Associated Press (via Psyche):

Past president of the American Psychology Association, Zimbardo is best known as the author of 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment, in which 24 male college students assumed the roles of prison guards and prisoners for $15 per day.

Participants — who had no criminal records and seemed psychologically “normal” when selected — flipped coins to determine who would be a guard and who’d be a prisoner. By day two, guards were going far beyond keeping prisoners behind bars: They stripped prisoners naked, cloaked their heads with paper bags, shaved prisoners’ hair and dressed them in frilly smocks.

The two-week experiment had to be canceled after six days because the guards became dangerously sadistic. At least five prisoners had nervous breakdowns — crying, screaming, begging for release from the makeshift dungeon on campus.
Even more germane to our discussion, the following report shows how clinical psychiatrists tortured inmates at Guantanamo. Many of the men at this facility were turned in for a ransom far from the battlefield and they are suspected of having no links to organized terror groups.

For a taste of what this torture entails, consider the following from an article by Steven Mile published in The American Journal of Bioethics:
According to the Army investigation, the log covers a period in the middle of al-Qahtani’s interrogation that began in the summer of 2002 and continued into 2003. For eleven days, beginning November 23, al-Qahtani was interrogated for twenty hours each day by interrogators working in shifts. He was kept awake with music, yelling, loud white noise or brief opportunities to stand. He then was subjected to eighty hours of nearly continuous interrogation until what was intended to be a 24-hour “recuperation.” This recuperation was entirely occupied by a hospitalization for hypothermia that had resulted from deliberately abusive use of an air conditioner. Army investigators reported that al-Qahtani’s body temperature had been cooled to 95 to 97 degrees Fahrenheit (35 to 36.1 degrees Celsius) and that his heart rate had slowed to thirty-five beats per minute. While hospitalized, his electrolytes were corrected and an ultrasound did not find venous thrombosis as a cause for the swelling of his leg. The prisoner slept through most of the 42-hour hospitalization after which he was hooded, shackled, put on a litter and taken by ambulance to an interrogation roomfor twelve more days of interrogation, punctuated by a few brief naps. He was then allowed to sleep for four hours before being interrogated for ten more days, except for naps of up to an hour. He was allowed 12 hours of sleep on January 1, but for the next eleven days, the exhausted and increasingly non-communicative prisoner was only allowed naps of one to four hours as he was interrogated. The log ends with a discharge for another “sleep period.”
The effects of this form of psychological torture are devastating. Reports that I have linked to before show that many of those released after this torture suffer from permanent personality disorders. Click on the label for torture to see several of these articles.

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