Tag: Alfred McCoy

Starvation, Suicide, Torture, Not Terrorism, Is Guantanamo Legacy

From almost the moment that Camp X-Ray opened, prisoners embarked on hunger strikes as the only means available to protest about the conditions of their detention: specifically, their day-to-day treatment, the treatment of the Koran, and the crushing uncertainty of their fate, as they remained imprisoned without charge and without trial, with the ever-present possibility that they would be held for the rest of their lives.

Andy Worthington has released the results of an important investigation he undertook on treatment of prisoners at Guantánamo, Guantanamo’s Hidden History: Shocking Statistics Of Starvation (PDF) (his article introducing it is here).

AIG Scandal: America Wakes Up To Extent of Capitalist Thievery

The news that AIG executives were to receive hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses (maybe as high as $450 million!), even after a $170 billion dollar bailout, has fueled a populist revolt not seen since the initial shock of the economic crisis hit Americans last October. When Obama Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told American Insurance Group CEO, Edward M. Liddy, that government loans to AIG might be renegotiated as a result, Liddy responded with “grave concern” over the firm’s ability to retain “talented staff.”

Talented in rip-off, that is. But former New York governor and supposed scourge of Wall Street, Elliot Spitzer, is reporting over at Slate that the outrage in the media over the bonuses is a diversion. (H/T Inky99 at Daily Kos.) Not that they aren’t an outrage, the scandal misses the larger crime: the siphoning off of billions of taxpayer dollars to a handful of companies, who insured their highly risky investments with AIG. These companies have received hundreds of billions of dollars in bailout money. Now they are to receive 100% on the dollar reimbursement for their losses from AIG. Spitzer comments:

Some Thoughts on Utilitarian Arguments Against Torture

The following represent some preliminary thoughts I have had on the question often asked, does torture work?

It depends what you are trying to accomplish with it.

Does it yield reliable information? No.

Does it ever give anything other than desperate fictions from the tortured? Yes

Alfred McCoy explains how torture used on the individual is unreliable, yet perpetrated upon thousands it can supply a small amount of real information. (In my work with torture victims, I certainly have personal knowledge of individuals who have broken under torture and revealed information or given up names to their captors.) But the latter technique is very expensive, especially from a moral/political point of view. It turns the population against you, and degrades the country that uses it. The use of torture always blows back into the society that uses it.

Torture Amnesia – Shame on America

There are some things one never forgets. I’ll never forget my brief encounter with torture 40 years ago. Our patrol engaged some VC hidden in a tree-line and a firefight ensued. The tree-line held a small hamlet. Predictably the village people fled in our direction. They fled because they knew their village would most likely be shelled, strafed or bombed. It was.

Our Viet counterparts detained a young lady they suspected of being a VC, a nurse they claimed. We brought her back to our dilapidated compound where they bound her, stripped off her shirt and attached wires to her nipples and proceed to use a crank operated electrical device to shock her. Needless to say it was thoroughly disgusting. Through it all she refused to talk. I admired her courage. I don’t know where they sent her but I hope she survived.

In April 2004, Americans were stunned when CBS broadcast those now-notorious photographs from Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison, showing hooded Iraqis stripped naked while U.S. soldiers stood by smiling. As this scandal grabbed headlines around the globe, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld insisted that the abuses were “perpetrated by a small number of U.S. military personnel”…