Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Spiral of Violence: Facing the American Contribution to the Spiral

As Scott Shane reports yesterday for the New York Times, an exhaustive nonpartisan review of the evidence commissioned by the Constitution Project has just come to the unambiguous conclusion that the U.S. practiced torture following 9/11, and our top officials knew this and blessed the torture:

A nonpartisan, independent review of interrogation and detention programs in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks concludes that “it is indisputable that the United States engaged in the practice of torture” and that the nation’s highest officials bore ultimate responsibility for it.

As Charles Pierce observes at Common Dreams about the torture report,

The United States Of America tortured people. It tortured a lot of people. It lied about torturing people. It lied about torturing a lot of people. It tortured on its own, and it subcontracted the job to countries with more experience at it, since the United States never had made torture a policy before. Within the government, the theory and practiced of torture was discussed by a bunch of bloodthirsty legal aesthetes the banality of whom would have shocked Hannah Arendt. 

Meanwhile, in National Catholic Reporter, Fr. John Dear reminds us of the large number of people the U.S. continues to hold in illegal custody at Guantanamo, denying them the most basic of human rights, who are now on a hunger strike to remind the world that they exist:

On Saturday, U.S. military prison guards at Guantanamo fired rubber bullets at prisoners to try and stop their ongoing hunger strike. The prison reaction only exacerbates the situation. Reports indicate that many of the 166 prisoners at Guantanamo have been on a hunger strike since Feb. 6. (Although the U.S. military acknowledges 43 strikers, lawyers say the number is well above 100.) At least 13 are so thin and weak that they are being painfully force-fed. The United Nations Human Rights Commission has declared force-feeding prisoners "a form of torture," so one could argue the U.S. torture at Guantanamo continues at this very moment.

And here's Glenn Greenwald in the Guardian on how many of us in the U.S. react to incidents of violence on our own doorstep like the atrocious events that occurred in Boston this week:

There's nothing wrong per se with paying more attention to tragedy and violence that happens relatively nearby and in familiar places. Whether wrong or not, it's probably human nature, or at least human instinct, to do that, and that happens all over the world. I'm not criticizing that. But one wishes that the empathy for victims and outrage over the ending of innocent human life that instantly arises when the US is targeted by this sort of violence would at least translate into similar concern when the US is perpetrating it, as it so often does (far, far more often than it is targeted by such violence).

Smart moral people saying smart moral things. And wouldn't it be grand if the nation with the soul of a church grew some ears to hear those things?

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