Monday, December 12, 2005

As The Nation's editors have written in the lead editorial of this special edition on torture, there is no longer any point in arguing whether US policy condones cruel, degrading and torturous treatment of prisoners.

Practices authorized by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on a small scale in Afghanistan have now metastasized to a worldwide network of prisons and detention centers and surrogates ranging from private contractors to foreign authoritarian governments. This wide-ranging conspiracy to facilitate torture has depended on the collusion or complacency of many sectors of American society. [more]

More important articles at the Nation:

The Torture Administration
When the Nazis came to power in Germany in 1933 and proceeded to carry out their savagery, many in the outside world asked how this could have happened in the land of Goethe and Beethoven. Would the people of other societies as readily accept tyranny? Sinclair Lewis, in 1935, imagined Americans turning to dictatorship under the pressures of economic distress in the Depression. He called his novel, ironically, It Can't Happen Here.

Torture is about acts: the blow to the head, the scream in the ear, the scar-free injuries whose diagnosis has become an international medical subspecialty. But torture is also very much about words: the whispered or shouted questions of the interrogator; the muddled confession of the prisoner; the too rarely tested language of laws protecting prisoners from "cruel, inhuman or degrading" treatment.

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