This Week In Torture

by dday

Just because there are other things happening in the world today, I wanted to highlight some recent developments in the moral outrage that is this Administration's practice of torture.

Today an appeals court ordered the Defense Department to release all known photos depicting detainee abuse by US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. Seymour Hersh and others have noted for years that the images from Abu Ghraib are just a sampling of the evidence that the military has in their possession, and now the government must release them. Kudos to the ACLU for having the persistence to uncover what has been done in America's name; this ruling is significant for the future of Freedom of Information Act requests in general as well as revealing the truth about torture in particular.

A few days back, the American Psychological Association prohibited its members from participating in any detention facility that requires them to operate in violation of international law. This is a major ruling from the APA, and it came from a vote of its membership. They had been at the forefront of

The APA was the focus of attention when it was revealed during military commission hearings in Guantanamo this summer that military psychologists belonging to Behavioral Science Consultation Teams (BSCTs), known as "Biscuit teams," took part in crafting the techniques used to torture and mistreat prisoners there.

The ACLU’s Jennifer Turner, who observed Mohammed Jawad’s hearing, where much of this information about the role of military psychologists was revealed, wrote in August:

Since 2002 BSCT psychologists have evaluated prisoners’ fears and psychological weaknesses to craft individualized blueprints for torture and other mistreatment, which they passed on to the interrogators. For instance, a Guantánamo psychiatrist advised interrogators to exploit one detainee’s severe phobia of the dark by deliberately keeping him almost totally in the dark.

Of course, those psychiatrists who have resigned from the APA will continue to staff the BSCT teams at Guantanamo and elsewhere. And I'm sure the military is paying handsomely for them.

This is of course supposed to be John McCain's major break with George Bush. The old warrior, his body broken from torture at the hands of the Viet Cong, stood up and said no to his party and extracted major concessions from the President. Except it's all bullshit.

McCain served four years in the House and has been in the Senate almost 22 so far. But he, too, has authored fewer than a half-dozen major laws. Trying to fix immigration counts for something, but nothing passed. So while McCain deserves credit for the landmark 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign-finance reform bill, the only other major law on which his office says his "name appears" (Palin's standard) is the "McCain Amendment" prohibiting torture in the armed forces. But that has little meaning because of a bill this year, supported by McCain, that allows torture by the CIA. Under longstanding government practice, military intelligence officers can be temporarily designated as CIA officers ("sheep-dipped" is the bureaucratic lingo) when they want to go off the Army field manual. In other words, the government can still torture anyone, any time. McCain caved on an issue he insists is a matter of principle.

It's the ultimate act of dishonor for McCain to knowingly allow Americans to do unto others what was done unto him.