Friday, November 5, 2010

UPDATED: The Long Shadow of Torture: An Audio and Interview

Here's a helpful AUDIO without stridency: here

UPDATES: 16 November 2010

PRESS RELEASE: Shaker Aamer still in Guantanamo Bay despite UK government compensation - After years of suffering during their kidnap, rendition and detention in Guantanamo Bay and other prisons around the world, the former Guantanamo detainees released to the UK are finally being paid compensation for the UK’s role in their incarceration...Despite this welcome news, one of the individuals who has a strong case against the UK’s complicity in his torture, still remains in Guantanamo Bay. Shaker Aamer has now been detained without charge or trial for the last nine years and despite for strong calls for his release, he continues to languish to this day. Cageprisoners Director and former Guantanamo Bay detainee, Moazzam
Begg, said of his case,

“Shaker Aamer must now become a priority for this current
government. The compensation paid to the former Guantanamo detainees
is a welcome departure from the policies of the previous
administration but in order to truly resolve the errors that have been
made, Shaker Aamer must be returned back home to his family. We will
do everything in our power to help this government achieve their goal
of helping his return.” (Cageprisoners is a human rights NGO that exists to raise awareness of the plight of the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and other detainees held
as part of the War on Terror. We aim to give a voice to the voiceless.)

False Confessions and the Norfolk Four (Which we know goes on often in alleged "terrorist" cases as well as in US in general here

BBC report on Stephen Soldz' top site on Britain's decision to compensate torture victims here

Recent example of US gov's hiding of crucial documents which would give many clues as to the unreliability of the CIA in our wars and detention machinery here Yet who's prosecuting the ongoing criminality at the top including the CIA?

Watch for more additions in the Comments below and add your own.


Here's a RE-Play of an earlier interview given recent revelations. One of the most interesting comments is Dr. Rejali's comment that we must ask the question related to torture "From where comes the demand and from where comes the supply?" and that torture "creates a very non-professional atmosphere" among doctors, journalists and lawyers and that 48 hours of sleep deprivation can create deep muscular pains in many of your muscles and joints - so many kinds of torture leaves no marks...and that slippery slopes involving group process and doing a little evil leads to more and more. Rejali calls this "fuzzy" thinking.

He says that once you give power to individuals to use torture you give one individual absolute power over another individual. You train a group of people to torture and afterward where to these people go? That which was international becomes domestic...these folk become police officers at home (torture has been documented in Chicago from 73-93 and water-boarding has been common and documented in the deep south after Vietnam)...Little to none of this long effect is calculated. This interview also includes an excerpt from the Stanley Milgram experiment***.

Toward the end of this interview is a mention that to begin with the Iranian Revolution was a revolution against torture although the follow-up was somewhat problematic.

Iranian-American political scientist Dr. Darius Rejali is one of the world's leading experts on torture, and in particular on how democracies change torture and are changed by it.

In the wake of Wikileaks revelations about torture in U.S.-occupied Iraq, we explore how his knowledge might deepen our public discourse about such practices — and inform our collective reckoning with consequences yet to unfold.

Krista Tippett, host of Being"Facing the Malleability of Human Nature:

"In the post-September 11th era, torture became an aspect of U.S. identity, a defining part of our national repertoire of intelligence gathering and military detention.

This is something we knew on some level long before April 2009, when the Obama administration released memos from the Bush administration that functionally sanctioned it.Those memos semantically parse just how far an interrogator could go, how much lasting psychological or physical pain he or she must inflict, to breach international definitions of "torture."

Without stridency, Darius Rejali's knowledge sets such parsing in human and historical context. Most importantly, he helps us understand the damage such calibrations — and the policies they engender on a slippery slope of rationalization — did to the soldiers who received the orders and to the nation that now carries this legacy. What it does, in other words, to us.We started talking years ago as a production team about how we could approach the subject of torture and contribute to public reflection on it.

In Darius Rejali, we finally found a distinctive, helpful, edifying way in. He brings a unique practical and moral authority to this conversation on several levels. He was raised in pre-revolutionary Iran with, as he tells it, an Iranian Shiite father and a Calvinist American mother. He grew up with an awareness that a long line of his aristocratic Iranian forebears, including his great grandfather, had used torture against opponents. Torture was also a known tool of the state apparatus of the king, or Shah, who ruled Iran during Darius Rejali's childhood in the 1960s and 70s.

Darius Rejali says there is no question that authoritarian states have practiced torture most viciously. But, he points out, torture is also not incompatible with modernity, culture, and education, nor is it a stranger to democracy. Major media reports of the story behind "enhanced interrogation," after its details were declassified in April 2009, suggested that U.S. officials had to learn about torture techniques used by the former Soviet Union.

But one of most disturbing — and important — revelations Darius Rejali makes in this conversation is that democracies have made their distinctive mark on the history of torture, including the United States.Torture is a part of the history of human cruelty, Darius Rejali clarifies. It is distinguished by the fact that it is applied by officials of a state, claiming public trust. Rejali finds echoes of torture not only on the Iranian side of his family lineage but also in that of his maternal ancestors who held slaves in the American South. Interrogation using electricity was innovated in U.S. prisons in the early 20th century. Even "waterboarding," or simulated drowning, — the most notorious and controversial method of interrogation to enter our public vocabulary — appeared domestically, inside U.S. prisons, early in the last century. In the 1980s, a Texas sheriff and his deputies were convicted of using waterboarding to extract confessions from prisoners.

This is not a new or foreign invention.It is, rather, a prime example of the "long shadow" of torture that this conversation attempts to trace as a foundation for collective reckoning and healing. Waterboarding first took root in local police forces, mostly in the American South, after U.S. soldiers were exposed to it in the Philippines during the Spanish-American War. Its impact becomes manifest in the inner trauma, the family lives, and the future work in security firms and prisons of soldiers who were ordered to do something — as Rejali sees it — that no human being should ever be ordered to do.

Rejali's immersion in 40 years of social scientific research also yields the plain, unsettling message that these men and women who have perpetrated torture were probably not sadists, not just a "few bad apples" who defied the norm. The demonstrated if shocking norm of human behavior is that at least half of us are capable of inflicting harm on another human being under orders, in the right circumstances with the right kind of authority behind the orders. I'm reminded here of a similar observation made to me, and discerned in killing fields the world over, by the forensic anthropologist Mercedes Doretti.

The upside of facing this malleability of human nature, however, is that the right systems of accountability and reckoning can make a profound and immediate difference moving forward. Darius Rejali also proposes some very practical steps for lawmakers and citizens as we reckon with the unfolding consequences of what has been done in our name in recent years. This reckoning is in all of our interest, whatever side of the political divide we are on, and whether photographs are released or some individuals brought to trial.Whether you call it "enhanced interrogation" or "torture," it profoundly traumatizes the lives and societies of those who experienced it and those who perpetrated it. Coming to terms with these human consequences will be the work not of days but of years and generations.

For we know that in our lives, both individual and collective, traumas that we do not face will continue not merely to haunt but to define us.

Krista Tippett says: I Recommend Reading: Torture and Democracy by Darius Rejali --
Rejali's latest book on torture, violence, and its role in democratic countries is a sweeping, definitive narrative. His comprehensive history of torture and its techniques shines a clarifying, expansive light on modern debates, with both moral and practical implications for us as individuals and as members of a broader culture.

Pertinent Posts from the Being Blog include the following - find these at or click here

Sgt. Joseph Darby» Whistleblowers, Resistors, and Defectors: Two examples of individuals who confronted the status quo, and were ultimately vindicated.

"Violence pretty much forces a silence on people." We talk about torture in the abstract, but do we consider the actual acts of torture and the violence that they are?

"Torture" vs. "Enhanced Interrogation" What should be the role of public media in labeling interrogation behavior as torture?

Rejali Reprise and Why Resistors Resist - Hear an excerpt of an American RadioWorks interview with Rejali about those who resist the pressure of group-think in a "torture bureaucracy."

"All Words Have Connotations" - A New York Times editorial sheds light on the difficulties of covering torture and interrogation.

A Guest with a Personal Interest in the Torture Debate - A passage from Torture and Democracy with a view of Rejali's personal stake in this subject.


News Digest for November 8, 2010

11/08 / Lt. Col. Barry Wingard / The Public Record / Nine Years Too Long

11/08 / David S. Cloud / Los Angeles Times / White House considers Yemen drone strikes, officials say

11/08 / Marc and Craig Kielburger / Edmonton Journal (Canada) / Khadr deserves rehabilitation

11/08 / U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia / November 5 Ruling, Salaha v. Obama

11/08 / Mary Shaw / OpEd News / The Child Soldier and Gitmo's Kangaroo Court

11/08 / Brian Bennett / St. Louis Today (Missouri) / National Former Guantanamo detainees active in Yemen

11/08 / Lucile Malandain / Agence France Presse / Yemenis at Guantanamo remain in limbo

11/07 / Lyle Denniston / ScotusBlog / New test of Munaf filed

11/07 / John Feffer / Foreign Policy In Focus / The Lies of Islamophobia

More news at



  1. Jonathan Schell here with "What we learned from Wikileaks" - Schell, like Schahill writes for The Nation and they both are two of our most effective and unique writers today: Jonathan Schell

  2. Jeremy Scahill on supporting Wikileaks as a way to become/remain transparent

  3. JUST IN:, November 14, 2010 Torture in US PrisonsTorture in US Prisons - by Stephen Lendman

  4. This Comment posted Tues Nov 16 2010
    BBC report on Stephen Soldz' site

    And you probably saw the NYTimes and other reports linking CIA to older protection of Nazis?

  5. News Digest for November 17, 2010 from an important site for daily news on detainees, rendition, torture and intimidation:

    GO to for the links

    Grassroots News:
    11/16 / North Carolina Stop Torture Now / Press Release: 800 North Carolinians Apologize to Victims and Survivors of Torture and Indefinite Detention Other U.S. and International News:
    PLS help collect signatures

    11/17 / Richard Norton-Taylor and Ian Cobain / Guardian (U.K.) / Guantánamo: security services must be protected, says Ken Clarke

    11/17 / Kenneth Roth / Guardian (U.K.) / 9/11 justice for New Yorkers

    11/17 / Editorial / New York Times / Accountability for Torture (in Britain)

    11/17 / Carol Rosenberg and Margaret Talev / Miami Herald / U.S. shows no sign of emulating UK payoff to Guantánamo prisoners

    11/17 / Andy Worthington / Who Are the Remaining Prisoners in Guantánamo? Part Eight: Captured in Afghanistan (2002-07)

    11/17 / Eleanor Hall, Michael Otterman (interview) / ABC News / Did Obama pressure UK to settle Guantanamo case?

    11/17 / Kevin Core / Daily Examiner (UK) / Former Huddersfield University student Omar Deghayes: Has Guantanamo Bay payout bought silence?

    11/17 / Adam Klasfeld / Courthouse News Service / Ghailani Jurors Question Burden of Proof in Terrorism Trial

    11/16 / Al Jazeera / US urged to probe torture claims

    11/16 / Scott Horton / Harper's Magazine / Interrogation Nation

    11/16 / Andy Worthington / On Guantánamo, Obama Hits Rock Bottom

    11/16 / Editorial / Washington Post / Damn Wrong

    More news at