This is a rather timely interview given the Obama administration’s decision to keep some of the Guantanamo detainees indefinitely. According to McClintock, only 8% of the detainees at Guantanamo have even been accused of being linked to Al Qaeda! The vast majority of detainees are neither terrorists nor enemy combatants; many of them are innocent; some of them are family members of Al Qaeda members held in violation of the Geneva Convention.
McClintock argues that the combination of power with fear created an atmosphere of paranoia that lead to two wars and the acceptance, even encouragement of torture. She gives as one example Dick Cheney who was one of the most powerful VPs in US history. Yet after 9/11, he was convinced that more attacks would be imminent; he saw threats of attacks everywhere. What happened on 9/11 tremendously fueled the paranoia. Here we were, the only superpower, and a handful of men with boxcutters were able to shut down the whole country. Congress was evacuated. The airlines were grounded. Everything had come to a halt. Yet, the men who brought us to our knees had evaporated. They went up in the same flames as the towers. So there was no one left to publicly force to answer for the crimes committed. We needed to show that we were still strong by humiliating someone else: Osama Bin Laden. Since we failed to get our hands on him – probably due to incompetence – others had to stand in as those to be blamed. Torture victims are a result of this desperate attempt to regain the power we felt we had lost on 9/11. This was (is?) the overarching climate. On the ground level, at Abu Ghraib, torture was enabled by a similar power-fear mixture. Although McClintock stresses that it is vital not to forget that the torture happened because it was encouraged by the Bush administration without this mixture it might not have been carried out. Normal prisoner to guard ratios are around 4 to 1; at Guantanamo, they are almost 1 to 1; at Abu Ghraib they were 75 to 1! Here is a prison in the heart of hostile territory, exposed to attacks, and the guards are far outnumbered. A recipe for fear! Yet, the guards are part of an elite military from the most powerful nation. Power. Fear. Leads to paranoia. Torture has been used by empires past – from the Spanish Inquisition to Hitler – to disempower the torture victims, to put them back into their place.
There are two arguments presented to counter the claims for responsibility by the leaders of the US government for the torture. The first is the “few bad apples” argument debunked by Philip Zimbardo among many. The second I hadn’t heard before: The torture was a result of the influence of pornography. This was automatically disarming the torture because it becomes harmless, almost playful, like pornography. It also removes any responsibility from the higher-ups after all pornography did it. Now I wish I could refresh my memory with the article! Unfortunately, it costs $15, which is a bit too steep of a price… Well, let’s switch gears a bit. I’ll add more if I can get the article through a library.
The Alternatives to Marriage Project blog is sporting two interesting posts that I’d like to share to finish up this week’s uphill battle post. The first note brings together voices that are calling to move away from the single focus on same-sex marriage. The other describes a recent action alert that went to AtMP members asking Obama to go beyond supporting couples by stating that
All federal employees should be allowed to put one adult on their health plan along with their children. At a minimum, benefits should go to both different-sex and same-sex partners of government employees.
Of course the truly couplemania-free health care solution is universal health care but this 1+ option would allow singles by choice (like me) to add another adult, like a good friend or relative, to our health insurance. That certainly would be a step in the right direction!
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