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Thursday, December 02, 2004

Torture: The Bad News, the Really Bad News, and Some Hope

Torture is in the news again. So which do want hear first, the good or the bad news?

Ok, the bad news is that the International Red Cross finds that the US endorses a policy which is tantamount to torture:
A confidential Red Cross report detailing interrogation techniques "tantamount to torture" at the United States-run prisoner camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, offers the latest evidence that the Bush administration is systematically flouting international law as it battles the war on terrorism, says one legal expert. "All of this looks pretty clearly like a deliberate policy to create prisons at which all kinds of interrogation techniques can be used and remain unfettered by law," says Leila Sadat, law professor at Washington University in St. Louis and vice-president of the American branch of the International Law Association.

This is really bad because it harms our reputation and will lead to reprisals againtst our troops who might find themselves captured by people who believe in returning the favor.

Now for the really bad news.Everyone is a potential torturer:
All humans are capable of committing torture and other “acts of great evil”. That is the unhappy conclusion drawn from an analysis of psychological studies.

Over 25,000 psychological studies involving eight million participants support this finding, say Susan Fiske and colleagues at Princeton University in New York, US.

The researchers considered the circumstances surrounding how individuals committed seemingly inexplicable acts of abuse in the midst of the US military’s torture of Iraqi inmates at the Abu Ghraib prison in 2003 and 2004.

“Could any average 18-year-old have tortured these prisoners? I would have to answer: ‘Yes, just about anyone could have.’”, Fiske says.

Many forms of behaviour, including acts of cruelty, are influenced as much by authority figures, peer pressure and other social interactions as by the psychology of the individual, she says.

“If we don’t understand the importance of social context and accept that almost anybody could commit acts of torture under certain circumstances, then we are setting ourselves up for situations where Abu Ghraib [atrocities] will occur again,” Fiske warns.

Mankind is capable of truly despiccable acts as history will tell us. But we also have the ability to chain, or restrain that part of our nature and achieve some truly enlightening progress over our darker ambitions. Now the people engaged in acts of torture will have to deal with themselves and the harm done to their souls. Yet some will rationalize their behaviour and someday they might come home and be your neighbors.

However, there is some hope when people organize and push for action like, for a start, theUK urged not to use 'Evidence' obtained by Torture:
UN Committee calls for effective safeguards against torture.

The United Kingdom Government should make a formal undertaking that it will not rely on, or present "evidence" obtained through torture in any proceedings, the UN Committee against Torture (CAT) recommended today.

"The Committee's conclusion on the need for a clear and definitive statement from the UK authorities that they will abide by the international ban on the introduction of 'evidence' obtained through torture is welcome," said Amnesty International.

Well it's a start. We need that kind of call to action here in the US because of taint thta torture give us, and our children, if it continues. I would like to see the Democratic Party take up the banner of anti-torture in fighting the direction Gerge W. Bush is taking our country. It should've never been allowed in the first place but it must stop, here and now, before we are all awash with this blood guilt...