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Obama Plays Hamlet; Shredders Hum

By       Message Ray McGovern     Permalink
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 Flickr Phoo by florriebassingbourn

 

Well, well.  The New York Times has finally put a story together on the key role played by two faux psychologists in helping the Bush administration devise ways to torture people.  We should, I suppose, be thankful for small favors.

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Apparently, a NY Times exposé requires a 21-month gestation period.  The substance of the Wednesday’s lead story on torture had already appeared in an article in the July 2007 issue of Vanity Fair.

Katherine Eban, a Brooklyn-based journalist who writes about public health, authored that article and titled it  “Rorschach and Awe.”  It was the result of a careful effort to understand the role of psychologists in the torture of detainees in Guantanamo.

She identified the two psychologists as James Elmer Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, who she reported were inexperienced in interrogations and “had no proof of their tactics’ effectiveness” but nevertheless sold the Bush administration on a plan to subject detainees to “psychic demolition”—essentially severing them from their personalities and scaring them “almost to death.”

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"The aim of torture is to destroy a person as a human being, to destroy their identity and soul. It is more evil than murder... " -- Inge Genefke - (1938-)  Danish Doctor & Human Rights Activist
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In Wednesday’s Times, reporters Scott Shane and Mark Mazzetti plow much of the same ground.  Please don’t misunderstand.  They deserve considerable praise for finally pushing their article past the Times’ timorous censors, but let’s not pretend the startling revelations are new.

The Times ought to allow the likes of Shane and Mazzetti to publish these stories when they are fresh.  Alternatively, the once-known-as “newspaper of record” might at least report the findings of the likes of Eban, rather than ignoring them for nearly two years.

It’s pretty much all out there now, isn’t it?  Not only the Times’ better-late-than-never exposé, but also:

-The (leaked) text of the report of the International Committee of the Red Cross on the torture of “high-value” detainees;

-The too-slick-by-half “legal opinions” under Department of Justice letterhead;

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-The findings of the 18-month investigation by the Senate Armed Services Committee highlighting that it was President George W. Bush’s dismissal of Geneva (in his executive order of February 7, 2002) that “opened the door” to abuse of detainees.

The North/Gonzales Memorial Shredder

One issue of some urgency has been overlooked in the media, but probably not by those complicit in torture by the CIA and other parts of the government.  That issue is the need to protect evidence from being shredded.  There has been no sign that either Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair or CIA Director Leon Panetta has proscribed the destruction of documents/tapes/etc. relating to torture, while decisions on if and how to proceed are being worked out.

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Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He was an Army infantry/intelligence officer and then a CIA analyst for 27 years, and is now on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS). His (more...)
 

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