Saturday, June 2, 2007

Quick QUIT Posting

What a beautiful, serene campus, here at Guilford College!

Last evening we heard a lecture by Alfred McCoy, author of A Question of Torture. McCoy is a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He researched the history of the development of psychological torture, which he calls a uniquely American phenomenon, since the end of WWII. Indeed, the CIA contracted out research on the topic to universities in the US, Canada, and Gt. Britain.

The hallmarks of the psychological torture techniques are illustrated in the iconic photo from Abu Ghraib ... the photo with the hooded prisoner standing on a box, with outstretched arms. The hood is a form of technique #1 - sensory deprivation or disorientation...the outstretched arms are a stress position, indicative of #2 -- self-inflicted pain (as opposed to lashes with a whip or some other means of inflicting pain from outside the victim's body).

You no doubt rejoice, gentle reader, to know that since the war on terror a 3rd technique has been added: exploitation of the Arab cultural sensitivity (use of guard dogs, nakedness, sexual humiliation)...

Someone asked an excellent question last evening: If these methods are known to be ineffective, as they do NOT produce reliable information, why does our government insist on using them?

Dr. McCoy offered the following three reasons:
-- the legacy of the research and implementation of this type of torture, now deeply embedded in the structure of the CIA

-- a "political elite" that believes that this torture is useful
-- a time of great insecurity (=not knowing how to deal with terrorism), which causes our leader to resort to this overcompensating, macho type of response

Got to run to today's session.

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