The startling pictures of naked prisoners piled on top of one another at Abu Ghraib prison was a frequently seen image on the news. After investigation, seven soldiers and two officers were convicted on charges of cruel and abusive interrogation techniques. While pictures provide visible evidence of these allegations, it remains unclear as to who, if anyone, ordered this type of unlawful behavior. However, the recent release of memos ordering harsh interrogation techniques by former President Bush shed light onto the reality of the situation.
Doesn’t feel particularly good to think about in the abstract, let alone face as a reality. But, that’s what the United States has done, torture. We’ve probably done it for a long while.
Writing this blog, I saw two options as to how to handle the issue. I could just talk about how we justified torture in several ways, ranging from the “greater good” argument to avoiding the issue on technicalities (e.g.
President Obama’s decision to release internal CIA documents detailing interrogation techniques represents a fundamental contradiction in his policy towards torture and transparency. President Obama has vehemently expressed his opposition to anything that can be construed as torture (rightly so) and one of his first actions as President was to close down Guantanamo Bay. However, President Obama has decided to “move forward” by releasing these torture memos, yet maintains the same state secret arguments that President Bush utilized. President Obama cannot have it both ways.
Last night, Cornell students, staff, faculty and Ithaca locals came together in Kaufmann Auditorium for a panel discussion that featured doctors from the Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture. The program provides comprehensive care for victims of torture and aspires to raise public consciousness about such issues. The Campus Anti-War Network, the Committee on U.S.-Latin American Relations and Amnesty International sponsored the event.
The panel included Dr. Allen Keller, who oversees and coordinates medical programs for Survivors of Torture, Dr. Samantha Stewart, the program’s psychiatrist and Dr. Homer Venters, the attending physician of the program.