Category Archives: torture

Torture and Dick Cheney’s Moral Calculations…

I just purchased Michael J. Sandel’s Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do?  On an NPR program today, Sandel had some interesting comments on  Dick Cheney’s moral calculations on torture and the limits of the same.  Before discussing those comments, let me first set the stage for them.

Sandel is a philosphy professor at Harvard University.  He specializes in Moral Philosphy AKA Ethics.  Dick Cheney is a policitian.

In Dick Cheney’s moral calculation if torture “saves lives” torture is not just permissible, it is a moral imperitive.  Like really good teachers, Sandel asks questions that helps one understand the limitations of one’s argument.  His question was, “if torture is good and the only way to get our Arab captive to tell us where the bombs are, it is necessary to torture his 12 year daughter – be aware, she has no idea where the bombs are located, but torturing her will have an impact on our captive – in this case, is torture permissible?”  Sandel believes that even Cheney might blanch at that thought (I’m not so sure, however).

This link is to a lecture series done by Sandel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kBdfcR-8hEY .  An interesting detail:  supposedly some of the writers for The Simpsons took Sandel’s class – Sandel is the model for the character Mr. Burns.  I am assuming that Mr. Burns is Sandel’s evil twin – they do look, at least a little, alike.

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Filed under torture

Bush-era Intelligence Issues: Moving On?

President Obama has been clear that he wishes to look to the future and pursue an active domestic agenda, rather than dwelling on the mistakes of the prior administration.  Unfortunately, revelations like the recent report that Vice President Cheney ordered the CIA to not  reveal to Congress a program designed to assasinate Al Qaeda leaders, make this desire more difficult.  See this very good Question and Answer article on this subject.

Will we really be able to move on from the Bush-era controvesies if we don’t confront them? I am of the opinion we cannot.  What do you bloggers think?

Iggy Donnelly

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Filed under Cheney, Enhanced Interrogations, Political Reform, Republicans, The Economy, torture, Wingnuts!, World Politics

Cheney’s Secret Al Qaeda Plans

P1-AQ645_Cheney_G_20090712184300According to an article in The Wall Street Journal the mysterious program Cheney kept hidden from Congress involved an executive order to capture or kill Al Qaeda leaders.  It appears that the CIA recognized that parts of the plan, which involved targeted assassinations, were not feasible.

So far, the controversy surrounding the ultra-secret plan is focused on the decision to not inform Congress, but as details unfold it seems more serious investigations will be warranted.

The Journal cites an unnamed source who described the plan’s ambition: “It was straight out of the movies. It was like: Let’s kill them all.”

fnord

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Filed under Cheney, torture, WAR

The American Psychological Association and Bush Era “Torture”

This is an open letter to the membership of the American Psychological Association from the Board of Directors.  It is quite interesting.

June 22, 2009

An Open Letter from the Board of Directors

Dear Colleague,

As a psychologist and member of the American Psychological Association (APA), you no doubt share our serious concerns about reports regarding the involvement of psychologists in torture and abusive interrogations as part of the Bush administration’s “war on terror.” We recognize that the issue of psychologist involvement in national security-related investigations has been an extremely difficult and divisive one for our association. We also understand that some of our members continue to be disappointed and others angered by the association’s actions in this regard. Although APA has had a longstanding policy against psychologist involvement in torture, many members wanted the association to take a strong stand against any involvement of psychologists in national security interrogations during the Bush administration.

Information has emerged in the public record confirming that, as committed as some psychologists were to ensuring that interrogations were conducted in a safe and ethical manner, other psychologists were not. Although there are countless psychologists in the military and intelligence community who acted ethically and responsibly during the post-9/11 era, it is now clear that some psychologists did not abide by their ethical obligations to never engage in torture or other forms of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment. The involvement of psychologists, no matter how small the number, in the torture of detainees is reprehensible and casts a shadow over our entire profession. APA expresses its profound regret that any psychologist has been involved in the abuse of detainees.

This has been a painful time for the association and one that offers an opportunity to reflect and learn from our experiences over the last five years. APA will continue to speak forcefully in further communicating our policies against torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment to our members, the Obama administration, Congress, and the general public. In so doing, we will continue to highlight our 2008 petition resolution policy, Psychologists and Unlawful Detention Settings with a Focus on National Security. APA will ensure that association communications convey clearly that the petition resolution is official association policy and must be central to psychologists’ assessment of the appropriateness of their roles in specific work settings related to national security. Our association’s governing body, the Council of Representatives, will soon be receiving guidance from various governance groups regarding further steps to implement this resolution. The history of APA positions and actions related to detainee welfare and professional ethics can be found at http://www.apa.org/releases/timeline.html.

On a closely related matter, the Ethics Committee and APA governance as a whole are focused intently on Ethics Code Standards 1.02 and 1.03, which address conflicts between ethics and law and between ethics and organizational demands, respectively. In light of Bush administration interrogation policies and uncertainty among our membership, the Ethics Committee has issued the attached statement, “No defense to torture under the APA Ethics Code.” Invoking language from the U.N. Convention Against Torture, this statement clarifies that the Ethics Committee “will not accept any defense to torture in its adjudication of ethics complaints.” APA will continue to monitor material in official reports related to psychologist mistreatment of national security detainees, will investigate reports of unethical conduct by APA members, and will adjudicate cases in keeping with our Code of Ethics. The association’s focus on these ethical standards is consistent with its position that no psychologist involved in detainee abuse should escape accountability.

In conclusion, as part of APA’s elected leadership, we have an obligation to protect and further psychology’s longstanding commitment to the highest standards of professional ethics—including, and especially, the protection of human welfare.

Respectfully,

American Psychological Association 2009 Board of Directors

James H. Bray, PhD
Carol D. Goodheart, EdD
Alan E. Kazdin, Ph.D
Barry S. Anton, PhD
Paul L. Craig, PhD
Norman B. Anderson, PhD
Rosie Phillips Bingham, PhD
Jean A. Carter, PhD
Armand R. Cerbone, PhD
Suzanne Bennett Johnson, PhD
Melba J.T. Vasquez, PhD
Michael Wertheimer, PhD
Konjit V. Page, MS

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Filed under Cheney, Enhanced Interrogations, Psychology Ramblings..., Republicans, torture, Wingnuts!

Mohammed Jawad: A Huge Injustice

Mohamed Jawad

Mohammed Jawad was taken into U.S. custody during our war in Afghanistan. He confessed to throwing a hand grenade that injured U.S. soldiers. It was later revealed that this confession was obtained with torture. He is from a poor Afghan family where exact dates of birth are not known. It is probable that he was born in 1991 based upon his mother’s recollection of significant events – this in turn means that in 2003 when Jawad was captured that he was 12 years old. The official U.S. documents contend that he was age 18 when he was transferred to the U.S. detention center in Guantanamo Bay – this is unlikely.

The U.S. Army officer assigned to conduct Jawad’s military tribunal removed himself from the case due to his inability to “in good conscience” complete this assignment.

Read the accounts here and here of this shameful case. It is way past time to free Jawad.

The photo above was taken three months before Jawad was captured.

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Filed under Crimes, Enhanced Interrogations, History, Republicans, torture, WAR, World Politics

INFOTAINMENT SOCIETY: JUNK FOOD NEWS – 2008/2009 by Peter Phillips and Mickey Huff

Does my ass look big?

Does my ass look big?

The late New York University media scholar Neil Postman once said about America, “We are the best entertained least informed society in the world.” From Jessica Simpson’s weight and Brangelina’s escapades, to Britney Spears’ sister and the Obamas’ First Puppy, Americans are fed a steady “news” diet of useless information laden with personal anecdotes, scandals, and gossip. 

Since the middle of the 1980’s, Project Censored at Sonoma State University has annually researched this phenomenon. We have found that topics and in-depth reports that matter little to anyone in any meaningful way are given massive amounts of media coverage in the corporate media. In recent years, this has only become more obvious. 

For instance, CNN’s coverage of celebrity Anna Nicole Smith’s untimely death in early 2007 is arguably one of the most egregious examples of an over abused news story. The magnitude of corporate media attention paid to the event were clearly out of synch with the coverage the story deserved, which was at most a simple passing mention. Instead, CNN broadcast “breaking” stories of the event uninterrupted, without commercials, for almost two hours, with commentary by lead anchors and journalists. This marked among the longest uninterrupted “news” broadcasts at CNN since the tragic events of September 11, 2001. Anna Nicole Smith and 9/11 are now strange bedfellows, milestone bookends of corporate news culture.  Continue reading

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Filed under Humor, Media, Psychological Disorders, Research, torture, Weird news, Wingnuts!

“The Decider” Has Determined Obama’s Policies Lacking

In a speech in Erie, Pennsylvania, former president George W. Bush was critical of a number of decisions and approachs adopted by Obama.

* Waterboarding helped get information and protected American lives

*Closing the Guantanamo Bay detention center is a bad idea

*Government should stay out of healthcare

*”You can spend your money better than the government can spend your money.”

I was starting to have my doubts about Obama, so thanks George for straightening me out.  Read the entire Washington Post article.

iggy donnelly

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Filed under Economics, Enhanced Interrogations, Obama, Political Reform, Religion, Republicans, torture, Wingnuts!