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Snake oil salesmen selling torture

Excellent critique of the CIA torture program from a scientific point of view.

Mind Hacks

The US Government has just released its report on the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program, aptly branded the “torture report”, which is available online as a pdf.

It makes for appalling reading but sheds light on the role of two psychologists in the creation and running of what turned out to be genuinely counter-productive ‘enhanced interrogations’ that were used in preference to already productive non-abusive interrogations.

In the report the psychologists are given the codenames Grayson SWIGERT and Hammond DUNBAR but these refer to James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen who have been widely identified byothersources in the preceding years.

Mitchell and Jessen were both contractors, who, according to the new report, arrived at detention centres to direct CIA interrogations, despite having no interrogation experience, and in face of sometimes severe reservations of regular CIA staff.

Later, Mitchell and Jessen formed a company, Mitchell Jessen and Associates –…

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The Ticking-Time-Bomb Argument

A couple of points about the ticking-time-bomb argument used to promote torture:

1. As Alfred McCoy wrote in Alternet:

Number one: In the real world, the probability that a terrorist might be captured after concealing a ticking nuclear bomb in Times Square and that his captors would somehow recognize his significance is phenomenally slender. The scenario assumes a highly improbable array of variables that runs something like this:

–First, FBI or CIA agents apprehend a terrorist at the precise moment between timer’s first tick and bomb’s burst.

–Second, the interrogators somehow have sufficiently detailed foreknowledge of the plot to know they must interrogate this very person and do it right now.

–Third, these same officers, for some unexplained reason, are missing just a few critical details that only this captive can divulge.

–Fourth, the biggest leap of all, these officers with just one shot to get the information that only this captive can divulge are best advised to try torture, as if beating him is the way to assure his wholehearted cooperation.

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TV Makes the Case for Torture

Quoting Alexis de Tocqueville, “In a Democracy, the people get the government they deserve.” So considering the newest poll numbers, it seems that Americans deserve (and are in the process of getting) a government that supports torture:

Fifty-eight percent (58%) of U.S. voters say waterboarding and other aggressive interrogation techniques should be used to gain information from the terrorist who attempted to bomb an airliner on Christmas Day.

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Huffington Post, Torture and Christmas

Huffington Post posted a promotional video called A “24” Christmas: Jack Bauer Tortures Santa Claus.

In it, Santa Claus has been apprehended by the CIA, and Jack Bauer is sent in to torture and interrogate him. Of course, almost everyone is going to click on the video to see if Jack Bauer really does torture Santa Claus.

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They Voted for Torture

Regarding the shocking Pro-torture bill just passed
by the senate, here is an overview by Glenn Greenwald:

Alternet also did article on this bill. And here are my comments:

Public Support for Torture

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