Results 1 to 2 of 2

Thread: The USA Does & Has Always Tortured - McCoy

  1. #1

    Default The USA Does & Has Always Tortured - McCoy

    AMY GOODMAN: Juan, our final topic today is the issue of torture.
    [from www.democracynow.org May 1, 2009]

    JUAN GONZALEZ: Yes. Well, sixty-two people were arrested Thursday outside the White House protesting US torture policies. Dressed in orange jumpsuits and black hoods, the activists were calling for President Obama to close Guantanamo and end Americaís policies of torture and indefinite detention. The activists criticized Obama for refusing to investigate or prosecute crimes committed by the Bush administration.

    On Wednesday night, President Obama said waterboarding was torture, but he gave no indication that he planned to hold anyone from the Bush administration accountable for authorizing torture.


    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I believe that waterboarding was torture. And I think that theówhatever legal rationales were used, it was a mistake.



    AMY GOODMAN: To talk more about the latest developments on the issue of torture, weíre joined here in Madison, Wisconsin, by Alfred McCoy. Heís a professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, author of several books, including A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation, from the Cold War to the War on Terror.

    Itís great to have you here, Professor McCoy. We last saw you in New York when your book first came out. A lot of things have happened since then, especially just in the last week: the issuing of, or the making public the so-called torture memos. Your response?


    ALFRED McCOY: Weíre at a critical moment in the debate about torture. Weíre at the exact moment historically weíve been at six times over the past forty years. Whatís happened since really 1970, right up to the present, because weíve been engaged in torture continuously throughout this entire period, is that Congress and the press will conduct a major exposť of torture; the public will be momentarily aroused; there will be no sustained investigation, no prosecution, no penalty; the practice will continue. A few more years later, another revelation, another round of debate, discussion, nothing done, and then it emerges again.

    So I think whatís fairly certain to say, that if the past teaches us anything, that unless there is serious prosecution and something beyond simply a legislative investigation, something more binding, something more permanent, that within five or six years, weíll be faced with another major torture scandal just like this one, except it will be worse, because the world will remember this exposť. Theyíll think that we tried to correct, and we didnít correct, and theyíll realize that this is in fact American state policy, that torture is part of the apparatus of American power.


    AMY GOODMAN: Well, talk about President Obamaís approach, on the one hand, releasing the torture memosóand Iíd like you to respond to specifically whatís in those torture memosó


    ALFRED McCOY: Sure.


    AMY GOODMAN: óbut then saying he will not be holding the interrogators responsible, people involved with it; we have to move forward, not move back.


    ALFRED McCOY: Right. Thatís exactly how you get impunity. Thatís whatís happened every single time in the past. For example, in 1970, the House and Senate of the United States discovered that the Phoenix Program had been engaged in systematic torture, that they had killed through extraditial executions 46,000 South Vietnamese. Thatís about the same number of American combat deaths in South Vietnam. Nothing was done. There was no punishment, and the policy of torture continued.

    In 1994, for example, the US ratified the Convention Against Torture. There was no investigation of past practice. So, when that ratification went through, it was done in a way that in fact legalized psychological torture, because when we ratified that convention, we also, if you will, passed a reservation, which then got codified into US federal law, Section 2340 of the US Federal Code. In that code, we said that psychological torture, which is actually the main form of torture practiced by the United States since the 1950s, is basically not torture.

    And we defined, very cleverly, under that code, what psychological torture is. We simply said itís four things. Itís extreme physical pain, forced injection of drugs, threats against another, or doing that to a third party. OK? Thatís all that psychological torture is. In other words, everything in those torture memos, all those techniques of belly slaps, face slaps, face grabbing, waterboarding, is, under US law, supposedly not torture, because when weóPresident Clinton ratified the UN Convention Against Torture, he didnít look into the past, he didnít discover what the nature of American torture was. And so, weíre now at a moment where if we donít prosecute or donít punish or donít seriously investigate, that this will be repeated again.

    Another thing that emerges from the memos is, in fact, that the Bush Justice Department is very well aware. If you read the May 2005 memo by the head of the Office of Legal Counsel, Steven Bradbury, he says, ďLook, I canít assure you that waterboarding is not torture. You know, the courts may find that it is torture. But donít worry about it. Because you know what? The courts arenít going to rule on this.Ē So in other words, donít worry about the law, because the law doesnít apply to you. The law will not be brought to bear. And thatís the problem of President Obamaís procedure. The men were assured that they could torture, because it wouldnít come before the courts.

    Thereís another problem with those memos, as well. Those memos argue again and again that the most extreme of all the authorized CIA techniques, waterboarding, is not torture, because it does not violate that same Section 2340 of US Federal Code. But it does. Waterboarding is the most cruel, the most extremely cruel form of torture known to man, very simply because of thisóand people donít understand, I think, waterboarding. Amy, if you and I were riding in a car, and we went off a bridge in January here in Wisconsin and crashed through the ice and went down to the bottom of the Ohio River, within three minutes you and I would be dead from drowning. If there were an infant in a car seat behind us, that infant could survive for twenty minutes under water. A weak, fragile three-month-old infant could survive twenty minutes under water, be plucked by the rescue crew from the waters and suffer no brain damage, be perfectly fine. Alright? How can this happen? Itís the mammalian diving reflex. The human being is so afraid of death by drowning that we are hardwired into our biology, into ourÖ


    JUAN GONZALEZ: I want toó


    ALFRED McCOY: óbrains with this bizarre mammalian diving reflex. So, therefore, waterboarding, which induces this primal fear of death by drowning, is the most painful form of torture you can concoct. Thatís why itís existed for 500 years.


    AMY GOODMAN: Juan, you have a question?


    JUAN GONZALEZ: Yeah. Professor McCoy, in terms of waterboarding, the revelations of the number of times that some of the detainees, and into the hundreds, were waterboarded, and yet the administration continues to say that itóapparently that itís not going to pursue prosecutions of this. Your reaction?


    ALFRED McCOY: Yes. The number of timesóone of the al-Qaeda suspects was waterboarded eighty-three times. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the 9/11 attack, was waterboarded 183 times. This is extraordinary. This is beyond the idea of sort of clinical, scientific, dispassionate torture. Thatís pure sadism. Pure sadism. And thatís another problem of torture, OK?


    AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to go to a comment of, well, former Secretary of State and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice publicly defending the Bush administrationís interrogation techniques, including the use of waterboarding. Rice made the comments while visiting with students in a dormitory at Stanford University, where she teaches political science. Her comments were posted on YouTube.


    CONDOLEEZZA RICE: In terms of enhanced interrogation and rendition and all the issues around the detainees, Abu Ghraib isóand everyone said, Abu Ghraib was not policy. Abu Ghraib was wrong. And nobody would argue with [inaudible].


    STANFORD STUDENT: Except that information thatís come out since then speaks against that.


    CONDOLEEZZA RICE: No, no, no. The information that comes out since then continues to say that Abu Ghraib was wrong. Abu Ghraib was. But in terms of the enhanced interrogation and so forth, anything that was legal and was going to make this country safer, the President wanted to do, nothing that was illegal and nothing that was going to make the country less safe. And Iíll tell you something, unless you were there in a position of responsibility after September 11, you cannot possibly imagine the dilemmas that you faced in trying to protect Americans.


    STANFORD STUDENT: Is waterboarding torture?


    CONDOLEEZZA RICE: The President instructed us that nothing we would do would be outside of our obligations, legal obligations, under the Convention Against Torture. So thatísóand by the way, I didnít authorize anything. I conveyed the authorization of the administration to the agency, that they had policy authorization subject to the Justice Departmentís clearance.


    STANFORD STUDENT: OK.


    CONDOLEEZZA RICE: Thatís what I did.


    STANFORD STUDENT: Is waterboarding torture, in your opinion?


    CONDOLEEZZA RICE: And I just said, the United States was told, we were told, nothing that violates our obligations under the Convention Against Torture. And so, by definition, if it was authorized by the President, it did not violate our obligations under the Convention Against Torture.


    AMY GOODMAN: That was Condoleezza Rice. She was taped at a Stanford University dorm. Your response, Professor McCoy?


    ALFRED McCOY: Two points. First of all, waterboarding is torture under US law, because it constitutes a death threat. OK? Itís a threat to die by drowning. Alright? So, one, waterboarding is torture. President Obama is correct. Itís a violation of law, and all of those that ordered it should be prosecuted for violations of federal statutes.

    Second point, her argument that you had to be there, because the nation was at risk, thatís the argument that every Latin American military dictator made for brutal torture and summary executions, arguing that the communists, the barbarians were at the gate, and therefore extreme measures were qualified. Thatís impunity. Every Latin American dictatorship, every Latin American nation that emerges from dictatorship finds the same argument: we had to do it because the nation was at risk. Thatís how you get impunity.


    AMY GOODMAN: Professor McCoy, I want to thank you very much for being with us. His latest book is called A Question of Torture .
    ‚ÄúIf there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.‚ÄĚ - Frederick Douglass
    "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
    "Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn

  2. #2

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Lemkin View Post


    ALFRED McCOY: Yes. The number of timesóone of the al-Qaeda suspects was waterboarded eighty-three times. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the 9/11 attack, was waterboarded 183 times. This is extraordinary. This is beyond the idea of sort of clinical, scientific, dispassionate torture. Thatís pure sadism. Pure sadism. And thatís another problem of torture, OK?
    183 times. McCoy's right. that's not torture but sadism.

    ALFRED McCOY: Two points. First of all, waterboarding is torture under US law, because it constitutes a death threat. OK? Itís a threat to die by drowning. Alright? So, one, waterboarding is torture. President Obama is correct. Itís a violation of law, and all of those that ordered it should be prosecuted for violations of federal statutes.

    Second point, her argument that you had to be there, because the nation was at risk, thatís the argument that every Latin American military dictator made for brutal torture and summary executions, arguing that the communists, the barbarians were at the gate, and therefore extreme measures were qualified. Thatís impunity. Every Latin American dictatorship, every Latin American nation that emerges from dictatorship finds the same argument: we had to do it because the nation was at risk. Thatís how you get impunity.
    The self justification cum legal-speak used by Rice reminds me of the Nazi excuses at the Nuremburg trails that they were "only following orders".
    The shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality, for no one can become conscious of the shadow without considerable moral effort. To become conscious of it involves recognizing the dark aspects of the personality as present and real. This act is the essential condition for any kind of self-knowledge.
    Carl Jung - Aion (1951). CW 9, Part II: P.14

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •