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31 January 2009

Torture 101

For over 20 years, I have supported the campaign to close the School of the Americas in south Georgia. All the while, there was this other military academy of torture that was even worse, that was probably the source of much of SOA's curriculum and that I had never even heard of. The author of this article, himself a "graduate" of the SERE, surmises that military interrogators would think something along the lines of "I survived waterboarding, so it's OK to do it to this guy". Well, I remember a top Pentagon / DOD official actually articulating that argument, with no apparent recognition of the essential sickness of what he was saying.
The thing is, both SERE and SOA, and also the "hazing" in military academies (not just in the US, despite what David Morris thinks - there is an ongoing scandal in the British Armed forces involving suspicious deaths of young recruits in training) are symptoms of the whole military culture that allows them to happen. That is not going to change by closing the schools, by presidential edict or by legislation. Not that I know how it can be changed. I thought bringing women into the military might help, over 30 years ago when I still had my idealism, but that theory has been quashed by the evidence at Abu Ghraib.

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