Sunday, March 14, 2010

The United States and torture

This is what the United States is today:
The agency used so much water there was also another risk: pneumonia resulting from detainees inhaling the fluid forced into their mouths and noses. Saline, the CIA argued, might reduce the risk of pneumonia when this occurred.

"The detainee might aspirate some of the water, and the resulting water in the lungs might lead to pneumonia," Bradbury noted in the same memo. "To mitigate this risk, a potable saline solution is used in the procedure."
The United States applies technological advances to the art of torture and possibly, by now, is the most scientifically proficient torture organization that has ever existed.
The doctors were also present to monitor the detainee "to ensure that he does not develop respiratory distress." A leaked 2007 report from the International Committee of the Red Cross says that meant the detainee's finger was fixed with a pulse oxymeter, a device that measures the oxygen saturation level in the blood during the procedure. Doctors like Allen say this would allow interrogators to push a detainee close to death – but help them from crossing the line. "It is measuring in real time the oxygen content in the blood second by second," Allen explained about the pulse oxymeter. "It basically allows them to push these prisoners more to the edge. With that, you can keep going. This is calibration of harm by health professionals."

One of the weirdest details in the documents is the revelation that the agency placed detainees on liquid diets prior to the use of waterboarding. That's because during waterboarding, "a detainee might vomit and then aspirate the emesis," Bradbury wrote. In other words, breathe in his own vomit. The CIA recommended the use of Ensure Plus for the liquid diet.
I'm not sure there's anything to add. US torture did not start with the war it is currently fighting over Israel's legitimacy, but that is the premier application of it today. It remains true that there is a direct connection between the idea - widely held without examination in US decision-making circles, that it is anti-Semitic to challenge the idea that there must be a Jewish state - and the US torture of Muslims who do challenge that idea.

It is not a purely academic matter of discussion. The consequences go beyond the fact that Juan Cole is willing to go far out of his way, and out of the way of any actual words, to align his opinion that Ahmadinejad is anti-Semitic with the feelings of his colleagues who are threatened by Ahmadinejad's actual position that Palestinians should be able to vote Israel's Jewish majority status out of existence. The consequences go beyond the pressure that causes Flynt Leverett to hold Egypt under Sadat and Mubarak as a positive model for Iran's future.

A further consequence is that the United States can no longer claim that Nazi Germany was unique or unsurpassed in its application of industrial and technological methods to apply pain to individuals.

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