Monday, 26 January 2009

The Torture Ban that Doesn't Ban Torture

When President Obama declared flatly this week that "the United States will not torture" many people wrongly believed that he'd shut the practice down, when in fact he'd merely repositioned it.

Obama's Executive Order bans some -- not all -- US officials from torturing but it does not ban any of them, himself included, from sponsoring torture overseas.
This is a return to the status quo ante, the torture regime of Ford through Clinton, which, year by year, often produced more US-backed strapped-down agony than was produced during the Bush/Cheney years.

Under the old -- now new again -- proxy regime Americans would, say, teach interrogation/torture, then stand in the next room as the victims screamed, feeding questions to their foreign pupils. That's the way the US did it in El Salvador under JFK through Bush Sr.

[Posted at the SpookyWeather blog, January 26th, 2009.]


steven andresen said...


what do you think is the practical lesson of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ?

I am not wanting here to try to get you to be concerned about your religious status.

I want to just point out that the crucifixion is the story about how little anyone can do to change city hall. Jesus the son of God the creator of the Universe comes to earth to change city hall. For his troubles they nail him to some timbers and leave him out in the open until he bleeds to death. So, the lesson is, even God himself gets nowhere, resistance is futile.

All I'm saying is, isn't your strategy much like the one that Jesus the son of the Almighty tried. See where it got him.

...You get frustrated by the way I rain on your argument. I'm sorry that it seems to you that I might hinder your effectiveness. And, it might seem to you that I'm trying to make you depressed about it all.

I actually don't think that you are doing such a bad job. I like all the presntations, the reportage, and the effort.

I just think that the Jesus story is another false flag operation. It is intended to get you to beat your head against a wall.

You challanged me to come up with a better alternative. That is not easy from my point of view.

I can suggest the alternative involves rejecting the metaphors that we use to understand ourselves, first. And then prioritize the resolution of our conflicts higher than it has been.

The practical recommendations are more difficult to come by.

SpookyPunkos said...

In response to your question about Jesus Christ, I'd like you to consider historical people like Nelson Mandela, Ghandi or Martin Luther. I'm sure you can think of other examples of people who had a big impact on the existing system.

Although they did not end corruption they did manage, as individuals, to have a dramatic effect on the status quo. In reference to your Jesus example, I could ask whether God really did mean for Jesus to change city hall or was it a lesson pointing out that we ourselves should act to change it ?

Nevertheless, some good will come of some individual actions or causes pertinent to each existing situation. It all depends on the mission and the "battlefield" at hand.

In the 911 case, there is a good chance of bringing a revolution in people's perceptions vs the government/corporate/intel system- I think as much as Martin Luther had in undermining the power of the Catholic Church.

These things do not happen overnight, and the road is rough, BUT it's a funny old world and sometimes, rarely, you will be surprised by certain outcomes.

Although I appreciate your desire to transcend the current thinking and usher in a new, more reasonable society, I think that we can do much of this through a process that uses 911 as the lever.

I think that opening up public awareness, via trials and investigations, will go a long way in reshaping our society into one that is more reflective, transparent and accountable. I'm sure that most people, if aware of the corruption, and realising the consequences, won't put up with it. Education is the key.