An blog by a member of the Catholic peace movement, Pax Christi, to explore the nexus between contemplation and resistance. "The Christian must discover in contemplation, and in the giving of his life, those symbolic actions which will ignite the people's faith to resist injustice with their whole lives, lives coming together as a united force of truth and thus releasing the liberating power of the God within them." - James Douglass, Contemplation and Resistance.
Monday, December 12, 2005
Torture and Truth
Jesus Falls for the First Time
See the complete set of paintings at Church's "Anti-War" Paintings Draw Fire
"Torture not only degrades the victim, it also ultimately degrades the torturer," said Kimball, who served in Iraq and now teaches history at West Point. "We already have enough soldiers dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder after legitimate combat experiences. But now you're talking about adding the burden of willfully inflicting wanton pain on another human being. You tell a soldier to go out there and 'waterboard' someone" - strap a prisoner to a board, bind his face in cloth, and pour water over his face until he fears death by drowning - "or mock-execute someone, but nobody is thinking about what that's going to do to that soldier months or years later, when it comes to dealing with the rationalizations and internal consequences. We're talking about serious psychic trauma."On Torture, III: Brutality and Sadism as National Policy, and the Monsters of Our Time”, Once Upon a Time, Dec. 11, 2005.
“[Bush Administration] officials said the captive, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, provided his most specific and elaborate accounts about ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda only after he was secretly handed over to Egypt by the United States in January 2002, in a process known as rendition.
The new disclosure provides the first public evidence that bad intelligence on Iraq may have resulted partly from the administration's heavy reliance on third countries to carry out interrogations of Qaeda members and others detained as part of American counterterrorism efforts. The Bush administration used Mr. Libi's accounts as the basis for its prewar claims, now discredited, that ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda included training in explosives and chemical weapons.” “Qaeda-Iraq Link U.S. Cited Is Tied to Coercion Claim”, New York Times, Dec. 9, 2005.
Though Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice denies rendition for the purpose of torture, “The State Department's 2004 human rights report on Egypt said that despite legal safeguards, there were numerous, credible reports that security forces tortured and mistreated detainees.” William P. Strobel, “Rice defends U.S. handling of terror suspects”, Knight-Ridder, Dec. 5, 2005. According to Human Rights Watch, “The notion that the Syrians won't torture some one because they (the United States) get a promise from the Syrian secret police is laughable," he continued. ‘They know perfectly well what is going on.’ (from the same article).
According to the Independent, “The rationale behind Washington's ‘rendition’ of terror suspects has been called into question by a senior al-Qa'ida operative, who says he made false claims to Egyptian interrogators about the group's links with Iraq in order to escape being tortured.” “Al-Qa'ida operative lied about links with Iraq to avoid torture”, The Independent, Dec. 10, 2005.
New revelations about extraordinary rendition continue to emerge: “Binyam Mohammed, 27, says he spent nearly three years in the CIA's network of 'black sites'. In Morocco he claims he underwent the strappado torture of being hung for hours from his wrists, and scalpel cuts to his chest and penis and that a CIA officer was a regular interrogator…A senior US intelligence official told The Observer that the CIA is now in 'deep crisis' following last week's international political storm over the agency's practice of 'extraordinary rendition' - transporting suspects to countries where they face torture. 'The smarter people in the Directorate of Operations [the CIA's clandestine operational arm] know that one day, if they do this stuff, they are going to face indictment,' he said. 'They are simply refusing to participate in these operations, and if they don't have big mortgage or tuition fees to pay they're thinking about trying to resign altogether.’” “MI6 and CIA 'sent student to Morocco to be tortured”, Guardian, Dec. 11, 2005.
International law is quite clear and specific about such activities. The Convention Against Torture, signed by the United States 21 years ago to this day, on December 10, 1984 states that “no exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.” Convention Against Torture And Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, United Nations, Dec. 10, 1984.
Codicil for Christians: “Anyone with knowledge of illegal activity and an opportunity to do something about it is a potential criminal under international law unless the person takes affirmative measures to prevent the commission of the crimes.” Brecher, Cutler, and Smith, In the Name of Democracy: American War Crimes in Iraq and Beyond, New York: Henry Holt, 2005. p. 13. Our silence in the face of this monstrosity makes us complicit in the crimes of this administration.
I end with the words of a mother explaining to her children that the U.S. does not torture: “Everything is connected, and each time I turn on a light switch, I need to think about where that energy comes from and if the way it was produced hurts or benefits life. If I extend that question to everything I consume, it won’t be possible to use plastic without knowing the consequence might be the murder or mutilation of a child in Iraq to protect my “right” as an American to petroleum products…There is no path, no blueprint, no road map to peace; the path is peace. Act peace, be peace, buy peace.” “How Can I Tell My Children the U.S. Doesn't Torture?” BuzzFlash, Nov. 30, 2005.