Guantánamo guards suffer psychological trauma

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by geese, Feb 25, 2008.

  1. geese macrumors 6502a

    geese

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    #1
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2008/feb/25/guantanamo.guards

    Interesting- not sure how anyone can say torture isnt happening when the guards are also getting sick.
     
  2. Much Ado macrumors 68000

    Much Ado

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    #2
    Cui bono?

    The place serves utterly no purpose. Why is it still there?
     
  3. Qoxiivi macrumors regular

    Qoxiivi

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    #3
    A good article from New Scientist on the subject:

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    WE USUALLY think of harsh interrogation and torture as exclusive to dictatorships or hard-line regimes. Not so. Such practices are shockingly common in many democracies - we just don't notice because under the spotlight of human rights monitors, torturers have refined their techniques so victims have no visible scars. For military and civilian interrogators in many places, "clean" techniques such as electro-torture, forced standing and water-boarding (which simulates drowning) have become the norm.

    This revelation comes from Darius Rejali, who has spent the past 20 years researching modern torture around the world. It is especially pertinent since the decision last week by the US government to try six of its Guantanamo Bay detainees in military courts. Prosecutors will be able to use evidence obtained by methods such as water-boarding. President Bush has also promised to veto a bill that would bar the CIA from using techniques such as sensory deprivation, water-boarding and temperature extremes, arguing they are needed to gain information that protects the public from terrorists.

    Such an "end justifies the means" argument might sound persuasive to some, but it is worthless unless such techniques actually work. A report on this subject was released last year by the Intelligence Science Board, an advisory panel to the US intelligence services. The message it repeated over and over was that there is virtually no evidence to show the effectiveness of any of the interrogation techniques used by the US. The authors expressed "surprise and concern over the lack of rigorous scientific examination" and concluded that "the effectiveness of existing interrogation techniques has been accepted without sufficient scrutiny... we do not know what methods or processes of interrogation best protect the nation's security". “There is no evidence to show the effectiveness of any of the interrogation techniques used by the US”.

    Rejali knows more about this than most. His conclusion after trawling through thousands of pages of records is that although it is in governments' interests to say their techniques produce valuable information, there are few if any clear instances where this is the case. In cases where torture has been cited as successful, such as the Algerian war in the 1950s, France's crucial information actually came from informants. If anything, using torture was counterproductive because it undermined the trust and cooperation of the public.

    Despite the lack of direct studies, there are a few things research can tell us about torture. First, it gives the lie to the idea that techniques which don't permanently scar victims are any less brutal or damaging. People subjected to "clean" torture, including psychological methods, report as much mental anguish as the victims of other techniques. In one study, nearly 300 survivors of torture from the former Yugoslavia were interviewed about their experiences. Asked to rate their distress at the time on a scale of 0 to 4, those subjected to techniques such as electro-torture, sham executions or suffocation gave scores as high as those who suffered beating, forced extraction of teeth or burning - all between 3.4 and 3.8. These people also showed equally high levels of post-traumatic stress disorder (Archives of General Psychiatry, vol 64, p 277).

    Second, what research is available suggests that coercion and pressure may actually increase a person's resistance and determination not to comply. We also know that people who are damaged or sleep-deprived are less able to recall information accurately, even if they want to.

    Finally, there is no sense in which torture - of any kind - can ever be carried out in anything approaching a "scientific" or "professional" manner, for example, by minimising the level of pain. As Rejali points out, pain perception is complex and varies widely between individuals. The technology of torture might be evolving but interrogators can never predict how much pain will break someone and inevitably take a crude, scattershot approach. We also know from decades of psychology research that inflicting suffering on others corrupts the perpetrator. Official sanction for even strictly controlled torture is the start of a slippery slope that historically has led to ubiquitous abuse.

    "Clean" methods of interrogation might appear more sanitised and therefore more acceptable than those that leave physical scars. But don't be fooled. They are just as brutal, crude - and pointless - as ever.
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  4. Qoxiivi macrumors regular

    Qoxiivi

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    #4
    Also, here's an interview which some people may be interested to read with Darius Rejali himself about the barbarity, attempted sanitisation and ubiquitous futility of torture.

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    After a career studying how and why people torture prisoners, Darius Rejali says he is left with a "deep, haunted feeling". He tells Michael Bond how torture is thriving in modern democracies, and how the rise of human rights monitoring has forced interrogators to refine their techniques to make it harder to spot

    You grew up in Iran. Was torture common there?
    Iran has a long history of torture. It was never discussed, but everybody knew it happened. The Shah wanted people to know that bad things would happen to them if they opposed him. My father was involved in politics; some of his friends were interrogated by the secret police and others died mysteriously.

    Were any of your family involved in torture?
    My great-grandfather, who was governor-general of the province of Khorasan, didn't hesitate to torture people or turn cannons on crowds. This was part of his way of defending his world. I think there are many like me with ancestors who were involved in heinous acts of violence, and it's important that we come forward and talk about it.

    Did growing up with that proximity to violence influence what you do now?
    It did make me feel I was different in some respects. I remember learning in high school about an Iranian king who had conquered a city and then removed 10,000 eyes from his enemies. The other students were horrified but I was interested in why he chose eyes. He could have chosen hands or noses or heads. As I grew up, I realised I could go to dark places that nobody else wanted to go to and come back with relatively coherent stories to tell.

    You are concerned with "clean torture". What is it?
    These are techniques that involve intense pain but leave little in the way of bruises or other telltale signs. For example, if you hit someone with a whip, there will always be a scar, but if you hit them with the flat of the hand the bruise will clear in one or two weeks. After that it is very difficult to prove that the victim has been beaten.

    What kind of techniques are you talking about?
    The most famous is electro-torture. What makes it horrible is that electricity seizes you from within; it feels as if it's attacking your mind. When used properly it will leave very few marks. Other clean methods include beating with instruments such as sand-filled piping. Water tortures such as water-boarding - there's no question that this has happened in the US. Positional tortures such as forced standing. Choking. The use of drugs. Sleep deprivation. And the use of loud noise.

    How common are these methods today?
    They have become much more common in democracies since the start of the 1970s with the rise of a human rights monitoring regime. When people are watching, police get sneaky. Electro-torture was relatively rare, then from the 1960s the number of countries using it doubled almost every decade. Once you have a free press, a government that depends on the consent of the people cannot afford to have the kind of bad publicity that comes from scarred victims. It turns to clean techniques.

    Where do they come from?
    The techniques migrate. Every time Americans have been involved in a war where there has been torture, those techniques have come back to local or private policing, since that is where military policemen get jobs. There is migration the other way too: techniques used by US military policemen in Iraq had been recorded in immigration and naturalisation prisons in Miami in the 1990s. Most often, torture techniques originate not in some deep vault in the CIA but in dark parts of our society where they are tolerated. They live in barracks and fraternities and university pranks and movies. Hence most torture is not sophisticated: electricity is about as sophisticated as it gets.

    Why is torture so hard to control?
    Usually the top authorises it and the bottom delivers. Then it's a slippery slope as torturers quickly become less responsive to centralised authority. One reason is competition between interrogators. When policemen track down information, they cooperate. In torture it's different. The guy who breaks the prisoner gets the reward. If you were the guy softening him up, would you hand him over for the next guy to get all the glory? Torturers adopt new techniques and become more vicious in the hope they can break their prisoner. Torturers also suffer traumatic stress themselves. It screws everybody up and it takes a long time to undo that damage. I fear the US is well on that path.

    Is there such a thing as a science of torture?
    If there were, then torture should be producing accurate information regularly. Each interrogator would know exactly how much pain to apply to get a person to break. But pain cannot be measured in the way people think. Typically interrogators know two things about pain. The first is that people have different sensitivities to different kinds of pain, and it is unpredictable which kind they are more sensitive to. The second is that over time a person becomes desensitised to pain. Sooner or later they don't feel anything. So torturers take a scatter-shot approach, try a wide variety of techniques, then ratchet it up as fast and early as they can, hoping to overtake the pain threshold of their victim. You wouldn't have to do that if there were a science of torture.

    How often do interrogators obtain useful information or truthful confessions using torture?
    The few statistical studies on this suggest the return is incredibly poor. There are several reasons. How do you know you have the right person? And even if you do, how do you know they're telling the truth? Third, torture can damage the brain, and anything that affects the brain's capacity to withhold information also affects its capacity to retrieve it.

    If it doesn't work, why does it persist?
    Myths and rumours. There is a perception that democracy makes us weak and only "real men" know how to do this stuff. People think torture worked for the Gestapo, for example. It didn't. What made the Gestapo so scarily efficient was its dependence on public cooperation. Informers betrayed the resistance repeatedly in Europe, and everyone knew this, but it was more convenient to say the Gestapo got the truth by beating it out of us. Public cooperation is the best way to gather information. After the failed bomb attacks in London in 2005, the British police found every one of the gang within a week. One was caught after his parents turned him in. They would not have done that if they'd thought he'd be tortured.

    How would you stop torture?
    If you have strong leadership and clear punishment for infractions and good protection for whistle-blowers, you can get rid of most organised torture. The problem is when the government turns a blind eye.

    You study a dark subject. How do you manage not to be dragged down by it?
    I have a vast support system. I also do things outside my work, such as music, sports and travel. Anybody who puts cruelty first in their lives is open to misanthropy. They can become frustrated with how stupid other people can be. To protect yourself against that, you have to learn to be dependent, to be vulnerable, because the tendency is to want to withdraw. I wouldn't want to suggest that I don't get any ill effects from writing about torture. I have had many dreams about the things I had to encounter in writing this book. I walk in ghosts and shadows. I have this deep, haunted feeling all the time. It never leaves me, but it's a good thing to have those feelings.

    Darius Rejali is professor of political science at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, and one of the world's leading experts on modern torture and interrogation. His latest book, Torture and Democracy, was published in December 2007 by Princeton University Press.
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  5. stevegmu macrumors regular

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    #5
    http://www.amnesty.org/en/library


    How dare the English keep Belmarsh open. It serves no purpose.

    http://www.lutonmuslims.co.uk/letteraburdh.htm

    http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4161/is_20050327/ai_n13484474/print
     
  6. Queso macrumors G4

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    #6
    Nice diversion attempt (again), but no dice....again.

    If you think for one second any sensible thinking Brit is going to defend the actions of the Blair/Brown government on this one you are madder than Reagan during his second Presidency.

    However, back on topic there's no way to paint Gitmo as anything other than something that brings shame on the USA. Bush and Cheney should stand trial for their actions. The Hague awaits, if only the next American President is brave enough to do what needs to be done.
     
  7. stevegmu macrumors regular

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    #7

    No, they just turn a blind eye to the torture going on in England, and cry a river over alleged torture at GTMO.


    I don't see you calling for your boy T. Blair to stand trial. After all, he was Bush's lapdog, and sanctioned the torture rooms in Uzbekistan.

    If only G. Brown would do something, instead of just going around picking his nose in public.


    http://www.wrp.org.uk/news/2195

    Shame on England.
     
  8. Queso macrumors G4

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    #8
    Take five minutes to go through my post history, and you'll see I frequently did call for just that. I still think he should stand trial for war crimes, since I feel he is guilty of them, and I would like nothing better than to see him sent down and spend the rest of his life rotting in gaol dwelling upon where his crusading got him.

    Anyway, Gitmo. I take it you think it's an American achievement then?
     
  9. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

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    #9
    Yes, Belmarsh is as much a stain on our country as Guantanamo is on yours.
    I know you're new here, so you wouldn't necessarily have noticed, but I have called several times on this forum for Bush and Blair and their respective henchmen to be tried at the Hague for War Crimes.
     
  10. stevegmu macrumors regular

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    #10

    It is a necessary tool. With all the controversy surrounding the facility, I imagine the conditions there are far better than at any US or English prison.

    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1421406/posts


    
     
  11. Queso macrumors G4

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    #11
    One of stevegmu's biggest weaknesses is he believes we criticise Guantanamo because it's the Americans doing it, rather than the ideology it betrays.

    Note to Steve : It's not UK UK RaRaRa!! the way I see it. Any torture going on here brings shame on Britain, and will do for decades to come. I wish you could realise that's exactly what Gitmo is doing to your own country.
     
  12. Qoxiivi macrumors regular

    Qoxiivi

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    #12
    If you're trying to illicit a response based purely on some basal patriotic defence mechanism you may be operating under the flawed assumption that I, or other people (especially the more intelligent, honest, well-read and least indoctrinated members of this forum), think the way you do. Again, if you think that I'll resort to jingoistic apologetics you're sorely mistaken - and I'd be as eager as anyone to criticise and condemn anyone indulging in such myopic self-serving idiocy; an indulgence you seem particularly well acquainted with.

    I'm the first to admit that Britain has a horrific record of international barbarity in the pursuit of global hegemony. The only reason the USA and its activities are being singled out here (and so consistently in recent times) is that nowadays it happens to be (for numerous reasons) the state best disposed and more than willing to assume this unfortunate imperialistic mantle. The only difference is that today's America is more powerful both economically and militarily than 'Great Britain' ever was. And given that both those traits correlate fairly consistently with the brutality almost any given state descends to participate in, the USA's unparalleled strength could well, ultimately, be its own downfall.
     
  13. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

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    #13
    In view of the utter ineffectiveness of torture, how can it be "necessary"?
    In view of the accounts posted above, not least the one you posted about Belmarsh (to which you presumably give some credence), how can you possibly make such a stupid assertion?
     
  14. zioxide macrumors 603

    zioxide

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    #14
    Guantanamo needs to be shut down immediately. Either put the inmates on trial or release them. Holding them indefinitely is ****ing ********.
     
  15. stevegmu macrumors regular

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    #15
    I do find it interesting when people from other countries complain about the US, while those same problems exist in their own countries- even worse.

    Would England take all the GTMO detainees off our hands, and ensure they stay in England?
     
  16. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

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    #16
    As does Belmarsh, and the torture prisons in Poland, Romania, Egypt, Syria, Uzbekistan, Diego Garcia and Jordan. Have I missed any?
     
  17. Queso macrumors G4

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    #17
    As I've said above it's the ideology that's being criticised. The fact it happens to be on your country's territory is your problem, what happens there is the world's.
     
  18. stevegmu macrumors regular

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    #18
    They are being put on trial.
     
  19. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

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    #19
    Due process. That is what is needed. None of the people at Guantanamo is any more than a suspect, as you or I might be also.
     
  20. Queso macrumors G4

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    #20
    No they are not. They are being given a behind closed door military tribunal.

    Not the same thing at all, but of course you already know that.
     
  21. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

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    #21
    They are being tried before a military kangaroo court which will not even uphold the most basic of your country's obligations under UN, Human Rights or the Geneva Conventions. "Evidence" obtained under torture is neither reliable nor admissible.
     
  22. zioxide macrumors 603

    zioxide

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    #22
    Probably. There are probably ones that nobody even knows about.
     
  23. stevegmu macrumors regular

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    #23
    They are being tried for war crimes. US Federal Court wouldn't have jurisdiction.
     
  24. Qoxiivi macrumors regular

    Qoxiivi

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    #24
    Donald Rumsfeld can probably tell you - he is, after all, an expert on known unknowns ;)
     
  25. Queso macrumors G4

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    #25
    They aren't war criminals, they are suspected terrorists.
     

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