The Normalization of Torture and the Impact on the Collective Consciousness

In December, the CIA torture report became available.  Jack Daniels and I spent time pouring over the contents of the long redacted senate report over Christmas  chrome-extension://oemmndcbldboiebfnladdacbdfmadadm/http://www.intelligence.senate.gov/study2014/sscistudy1.pdf  I read it because I have been interested in the study of torture and justice since childhood and because I have a very unique insight into this world, having survived a marriage in which the abuse was by UN definition, actual torture.  Aside from getting extremely drunk, I learned a lot about torture — from the perception of the public, actually.  The idea that dehumanization, severe physical, mental, and spiritual degredation and pain as a method for meting out punishment has never really made any sense to me personally, but the public spirit when the report came out — particularly with the clamour that the war drums of the Daesch are making — really opened my eyes.

There are several issues that I have with the senate torture report.  One of them is that it does not at all address the use of Mefloquine on the prisoners in CIA custody at Guatanomo Bay http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1846784.  This is of special interest to me for a few reasons – one because it is a clear indication that the government was well aware of the more questionable aspects of this drug and has been for a very long time.  Then there’s the issue of learned helplnessness and the fact that psychologists from the American Psychology Association were involved in the development of the interrogation and detainment protocols in use at Guatanamo Bay despite there being almost no peer review on its actual efficiacy in acquiring pertinent and useful information (as opposed to just breaking someone).  But even that fails to move me as much as these two simple points.

First, the acceptance of torture by the government following 9/11 by the public needs to be addressed.  It must be addressed that the majority of the American people were by their own silence or by their vocal approval, complicit in these acts.  The government never tried to pretend they didn’t exist or weren’t happening; people chose not to care.

Secondly, the fact that torture is never a one-way issue has yet to be addressed.  The long-term physical and mental consequences of torture leave their endilble mark on both the interrogator and the prisoner.  The prisoner may actually have things easier than the torturer, as they KNOW they didn’t possibly do anything to deserve what is being done to them, while the interrogator must believe that they are justified in their beliefs and behaviour.  This toxic psychology is never limited to a site, either, because in order for torture to become socially justified and accepted, we must as a society accept the toxic mentality that it’s perfectly okay to watch someone being rendered helpless and abused in a cage.

I find there to be absolutely no difference between the treatment of the Gitmo Bay Six and say, autistic children being forced to drink bleach and locked in metal rooms.

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