Monday, June 05, 2006

Roundup and milblogger

I have spent an enjoyable few hours reading posts from Bloggers Against Torture. It's wonderful to see so many well-informed, passionate bloggers, and I'll be highlighting them in the coming weeks.

Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying has a very informative post on John Yoo and the legal justifications the Administration developed to support their torture policy. He also has a round-up of posts from other Bloggers Against Torture, including Donkephant's refresher course on torture in the WOT.

A special welcome goes out to military blogger, The Man from Missouri. I emailed The Man asking what the main issue most non-military people would miss in considering torture. He sent me the the following post, and this message

... we should think of how torture effects the torturers as well as the tortured. These are people who we expect to follow the most heinous of orders and then return to normal lives as our neighbors, co-workers, and friends.

To me, that is the point that we miss. That when we accept sending Americans to do these things for a year or two, they carry those marks with them - secretly - every day for the rest of their lives. Not everyone is changed in the same way, but many are.

Blogger Round Table discusses what the Stanley Milgram experiment revealed about the effects of torture on the torturer: One experimental subject said
he felt like a "basket case" and an "emotional wreck" which continued afterward when he realized "that somebody could get me to do that stuff".

Aunty Ism picks up a similar theme:

What better way to create a platoon of terrorists than by addicting them to adrenalin, and setting them loose after years of panic induced delirium to get their fix by enacting revenge on their captors.

What better way to train a platoon of soldiers capable of torturing what is perceived to be a group of dehumanized objects. They then return home to walk the civlian streets of America. Who would be better able to enforce Martial Law: someone trained to respect the Geneva Convention and Human Rights Laws, or, someone who has experienced the power of unrestrained authority over a objectified prisoner, treated as less than human, with no rights. Once one has treated another human as an object, it is easier to do it again. We are all capable of training; some resist, but some succumb.

The Lady Speaks reiterates what's becoming a theme this week: that all people can be made into torturers. Again, the tools are: dehumanisation, racism, othering, willingness to exclude the victim from the protection under a moral code (can anyone say "unlawful combatant"?), gradual escalation, and a power differential between perp and victim.

Despite the fact that these contributors have been known for some time, the policy makers are not only neglecting to address the cultural and situational factors that could promote detainee abuse, but are actively fostering them. Lasting News has a pretty significant post called US Army Bans Geneva Convention from its Manuals. From the article

"The overall thinking," said the participant familiar with the defense debate, "is that they need the flexibility to apply cruel techniques if military necessity requires it."

UPDATES: A few follow-ups from around the blogroll.

Blogroll psychologist Dr James says

As I've mentioned elsewhere [ed: see here] this is precisely the sort of distal influence that makes atrocities such as torture more likely.

The Nether-World and Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying also give their perspective.


Blogger Nell said...

Just to let you know that Jonathan Schwarz posted about BAT at This Modern World and at his own blog, A Tiny Revolution.

10:43 AM  
Blogger Davide Simonetti said...

I've been a bit slow posting today but I've put a post up about the Pentagon omitting article 3 of the Geneva Convention in its new guidelines in the army manual. So much for "ethical training".

11:34 AM  
Blogger elendil said...

Great work Nell. Thanks for the pointer, Davide. It may take a while for a post to be created with a link to your post, because I'm trying to organise them around themes.

3:43 PM  
Blogger Dr. Strangelove said...

Ok, you can say the Pentagon made me do it. I have a new post up about the abandonment of parts of Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions in the new Army Field Manual. My post concentrates on what I think is the cleverly disguised, and not yet talked about, side of this decision - the torture side, not the "humiliating and degrading" side.

I am not sure I can handle any more Torture Awareness coming from the Pentagon this month! :)

11:54 PM  
Blogger Cyberotter said...

Is anyone else posting a new story each day? I've tried to let others know if they need material they can cross-post off my site.


1:26 PM  
Blogger Dr. Strangelove said...

cyberotter, so far I've had two posts this month on torture. I expect I will have more, although probably not everyday (although Rumsfeld might allow me to post more often than I anticipate). If you are posting everyday, I'd be happy to crosspost on those days when I don't have a torture post.

Always feel free to crosspost any of mine if you find them of value.

3:25 PM  
Blogger elendil said...

You guys will have to forgive me if I don't get to your posts quickly. Going through 100 blogs a day is hard work, and the darn thing keeps growing :-) I like how Mash did his own blog-round up. Cross-posting each other is a good idea.

4:19 PM  
Blogger Dr. Strangelove said...

elendil, I don't envy you when this roll hits a thousand :)

Thanks for the great work and for starting this alliance. I've been introduced to a lot of great blogs since this roll started, and I see this alliance gaining momentum.

9:23 PM  
Blogger : smintheus :: said...

I've got a new post up about the story in tomorrow's Guardian on the Council of Europe's forthcoming report about CIA secret rendition flights. It's a pretty important break, and will put the CIA on the defensive again. Here is my post at Inconvenient News.

Great work elendil.

9:24 PM  
Blogger Cyberotter said...


I post a new story everyday. Going to do that for 22 (working) days. Everyone PLEASE let me know when you post new stuff. I will most definatly want to cross post. My e-mail addy is listed on my website.

elendil - If you need any help with something mundane or important I'm your man.

1:22 PM  
Blogger De said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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12:28 AM  

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