Torture Update – Jack Bauer

There’s a moral in this story somewhere…

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Green Shoots of Justice


Is it just me or has anyone else noticed some small ripples of social justice lapping on the shore of oft-deserted Humanitarian Beach in the last couple of weeks? Continue reading

Careers Day at the C.I.A.

Where am I? Is there anyone there?I just visited the CIA’s website. I’ve been considering a change in career and I thought I might be quite good as a torturer or enhanced interrogator because this looks like the sort of stuff I used to do to my little brother. Problem is they don’t seem to be offering those positions any more.

I always get my timing wrong.

The Lighter Side of Torture

John Yoo was part of the White House Legal Counsel under George W. Bush. Yoo was instrumental in producing the infamous legal memo that legitimated the use of torture by the CIA. If I didn’t find him so loathsome, I would feel a little sorry for John Yoo.  As with the likes of Henry Kissinger and Robert McNamara, the bad decisions he made will Continue reading

Right-Wing Torture Enablers

The Wall Street Journal, reporting on the US Inspector General’s just released report on CIA interrogation techniques under the Bush administration, still refuses to call it torture, but why break with eight years of tradition, right? Have a look at some of the language used below in a couple of extracts taken from yesterday’s WSJ editorial and compare them to John Conroy’s list  (from a previous post) of the excuses that torturers and their enablers use to ‘justify’ torture (bold and italics added for emphasis):

Interrogations were carefully limited, briefed on Capitol Hill, and yielded information that saved innocent lives. (respectively, see #8 and #4 on Conroy’s list)

The enhanced interrogation techniques (EITs) “would be used on ‘an as needed basis’ and all would not necessarily be used. Further, the EITs were expected to be used ‘in some sort of escalating fashion’ ….” The agency had psychologists evaluate al Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah, to ensure he would not suffer physical or long-term mental harm. (see #2 and #10).

We should not be surprised that the right-wing WSJ continues to act as a mouthpiece for the justification of torture. Human rights and conservatives, it seems, have never been easy bedfellows.  Even when torture was being publically condemned as an ‘atrocity’ by the likes of Voltaire back in the 1700s, it was right-wing traditionalists who were producing pamphlets and treatises arguing for its retention.

The abolition of torture across Europe by the end of the 18th century was fundamentally necessary for the concept of universal human rights to take hold, which in turn provided the bases for modern democracies to emerge. Refusing to go quietly into this new day, conservative politicians and philosophers, including Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) and Edmund Burke (1729-1797), would continue to argue for a more religiously-oriented, hierarchical society predicated on existing social inequalities.

How far have we truly come since then?

When Democracies Torture

Take a look at the following list. Check off how many of the these you have heard from the U.S. Government in the last eight years in response to accusations of torture: Continue reading

Hillary Clinton’s Human Rights Doublespeak

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is now most of the way through her finger-wagging African safari. Kenya and Angola have already received her lecture on improving their human rights records. The Wall Street Journal details Clinton’s criticism of  Kenya:

“The absence of strong and effective democratic institutions has permitted ongoing corruption, impunity, politically motivated violence, human-rights abuses, and a lack of respect for the rule of law.” Continue reading