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Democratizing the World:

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Analysis of the Long, Repulsive History of the United States Inflicting Torture on Its "Suspected Enemies" (in Conjunction with a Review of A Question of Torture by Alfred W. McCoy)

Psychological torture, sleep deprivation, brutality, severe sexual humiliation, and murder summon visions of a dank dungeon in a remote region of pre-invasion Iraq, Iran, or North Korea, replete with evil inquisitors and hooded executioners. However, those manifestations of horror did not spring forth from the Axis of Evil. They are actually drawn from official post-9/11 US policy. Despite its fabled commitment to human rights, the United States government has been committing and enabling acts of torture for half a century. Not even Superman had the power to snatch “Truth, Justice and the American Way” from the crushing jaws of imperialistic ambition and avarice.

Ironically titled, Albert McCoy’s A Question of Torture probes and exposes the extent of “the Land of the Free’s” involvement in human torture over the years. Only a mainstream media 90% controlled by five major corporations (whose executives and major stockholders are amongst the de facto rulers of the America’s so-called republic) could so effectively maintain the illusion that the United States is the world leader in protecting human rights. Somewhere out there, David Copperfield is burning with envy. Rest easy, David. They are running out of magic. Destroying our Constitution and reversing the humanitarian gains achieved by millions of Americans with a social conscience throughout our nation’s history, the Bush Regime is extinguishing the candle of hope America once offered to humanity. Despite the exhaustive efforts of the media handmaidens, people are taking notice.

Painstakingly slow ascent....high velocity decline

From our nation’s birth, many fine Americans labored vigorously to attain a higher moral plane by ending slavery and advancing the rights of children, minorities, women, and workers. Contrary to the fairy tale of America’s benevolent government “of the people”, many amongst the plutocracy and emerging corporatocracy fought the American evolution of human rights tooth and nail. Rumsfeld, Gonzales, and company have taken that resistance to new heights and are plunging the United States into an abyss of evil, at home and abroad. Minority Americans, Native Americans, and citizens of other nations have been aware of this descent for years, even before the Neocon catalyzed acceleration. However, as the ruthlessly brazen disciples of Strauss have fervently attacked human rights, many amongst America's indoctrinated White working class are smelling the coffee, and it is not the best part of waking up.

On March 8, 2006, the US State Department released its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2005, in which it detailed human rights abuses occurring in over 190 nations. In an act of supreme hypocrisy, they excluded themselves. As one can readily discern simply from reading McCoy's expose' of human torture committed by the United States since 1950, the United States is far from being a bastion of "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness".

"Torture is evil, pure and simple," is the powerful lesson Peggy Piel imparted to her son, Alfred McCoy. Having spent a year of her childhood in Nazi Germany, this erudite Jewish American knew a bit about the subject of torture. Despite his mother's moralistic viewpoint, McCoy penned his examination of the history of torture committed and facilitated by the United States in a detached, analytical manner, without imposing a moral judgment. Noting over 30 pages of sources, McCoy meticulously researched his chilling glimpse into America's Heart of Darkness, yet still maintained relative objectivity. No easy task in light of the virtually countless egregious violations of human rights and acts of murder committed by the American Empire and its proxies.

Abu Gharib was simply a sign of a "few bad apples"....or was it?

In 1950, the intelligence organization of the “leader of the free world” began to take a strong interest in research involving psychological torture.

McCoy summarizes:

“From 1950 to 1962, the CIA became involved in torture through a massive mind-control effort, with psychological warfare and secret research into human consciousness that reached a cost of a billion dollars annually—a veritable Manhattan Project of the mind.”

While the United States was trumpeting its deep devotion to universal human rights, the CIA was busily developing and funding research to yield “new and improved” torture tactics with which they could extract information from Cold War enemies. Utilizing its unique capacity to wield tremendous power clandestinely, the United States’ intelligence juggernaut infiltrated and exploited hospitals, divisions of the military, and universities to enable its research.

Many of the nauseating acts of inhumanity depicted in the Abu Gharib photos reflect the rotten fruits of CIA labors. Years of study and experimentation determined that torture involving physical pain lacked efficacy. The CIA found that strong subjects usually responded by stiffening their resistance and weaker ones often gave false information just to end the pain. Psychological torture, including sensory deprivation, sensory disorientation, assault on personal identity and self-inflicted pain appeared to provide a much richer yield of information. The Abu Gharib photos are a window through which one can view the CIA-created world of psychological torture. Hooding, stress positions, extreme intimidation with ferocious dogs (for which a soldier was convicted on 3/21), and sexual humiliation are recurring images in the Abu Gharib pictures and are powerful examples of CIA torture protocol. Other techniques of psychological torture the US military and CIA have used on detained suspects in the “War on Terror” are sleep deprivation, isolation, and dietary manipulation. As the Command Responsibility report by Human Rights First indicates, 45 detainees in the US “War on Terror” have been murdered or have died as a result of physical abuse. As McCoy argues, there is a fine line between psychological torture and physical torture, and as the American Gulag has demonstrated, torturers usually cross that line.

As an aside, it is important to remember that there are currently over 14,000 “suspected terrorists” or “enemy combatants” in US custody. These individuals have been charged with no crime and have been denied due process. Guilty until proven innocent. Now that is justice the American way. Abu Gharib is only an aberration because the torturers were caught. Inflicting severe psychological and mental anguish on suspected enemies of the Empire is now official policy and has taken place at Bagram Air Base, Camp Cropper, Guantanamo Bay and throughout the American Gulag. As for the McCain Anti-Torture Law, Bush and his fellow war criminals are already inventing ways to circumvent it.

Abu Gharib is simply a public display of the psychological and physical torture the CIA has been implementing and practicing for years. From 1962 to 1974, the CIA sharpened its talons through a federal entity called the Office of Public Safety, a branch of US AID. According to McCoy, the OPS trained one million police officers in 47 countries. Not surprisingly, it was not long before these same law enforcement entities began committing severe human right rights abuses and acts of torture.

"Practice makes perfect"

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Jason Miller, Senior Editor and Founder of TPC, is a tenacious forty something vegan straight edge activist who lives in Kansas and who has a boundless passion for animal liberation and anti-capitalism. Addicted to reading and learning, he is mostly (more...)
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