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April 22, 2009

Re: Scarborough falsely compared harsh interrogations to military training programs

This is a key point that is too often overlooked: there is a world of difference between SERE voluntary sampling of some torture techniques by you and your peers, where you know it can and will stop soon, and being held indefinitely with no contact, no one knowing where you are or if you are anymore, with no end way to stop it.  Think about the 183 waterboardings in a month: that is six times a day every day.  And this is after they claimed he confessed the first time after 90 seconds.

The legal memos essentially acknowledge the whole regimen is designed to increase the amount, frequency and types of pain inflicted over time.  You have no control.  No out.  No one can ever come to save you.  They get worse and worse over time.  It seems to go on forever.  And for no reason.  This breaks down your personality.

The other bizarre elements of the legal justifications are (1) the unwillingness to define mental pain or mental suffering as anything other than the experience of physical pain and (2) the definition of "suffering", as distinct from pain except for "connotation of a protracted period" of physical pain.

(1) Mental: The entire point of Jose Padilla's incarceration, and it appears for many of the others, was to break down his personality.  To produce a helplessness so complete that they ceased to be who they were; to remove choice.  That doesn't happen without severe mental pain and suffering.  It is not something you choose.  It is forced on you.

(2) Suffering: While suffering has a connotation of duration, it isn't the main element, in fact, it would be silly to have our phrase "long-suffering" if that was the real sense because that would be redundant.  The real issue in the definition of suffering is that you have to endure it -- you have to put up with it,  you have no choice, you are forced to experience it. 

And that is essentially what the legal memos describe. Not how to avoid causing mental suffering in detainees but in fact how to create excruciating mental suffering through an ever increasing intensity and variety of painful experiences with no hope of you or anyone else stopping it, for years on end if not to the end of your life, even if they leave carefully leave no lasting physical scars.

Torture is terrorism of the individual.

Scarborough falsely compared  harsh interrogations to military training programs:

During the April 22 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe, host Joe Scarborough asserted that, with the exception of waterboarding, interrogation techniques, such as "sleep deprivation and working on phobias," used against detainees, are no different from those used in U.S. military training programs. However, as Media Matters for America has noted, officials familiar with both the techniques used in harsh interrogations and those used in military training programs have said that such a comparison is false; those who undergo certain interrogation techniques in such training programs are aware that there are safeguards, and know they can stop the training immediately if necessary.


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