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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Torture, Abuse, and the Judicial Abyss: The Treatment of Terrorist Suspects in the U.S.

     A post on the blog TruthDig, written by Pulitzer-prize winning journalist and war correspondent Christ Hedges, expresses outrage over the reality whereby Muslim terrorist suspects "caught up in Article III Courts are denied the opportunity to confront their accusers and to have their religious and political associations protected, and they rarely find a judge courageous enough to protect their rights." Per Hedges, "These violations of fundamental civil liberties will not, in the end, be reserved exclusively for Muslims once the corporate state feels under siege. What is happening to them will happen to the rest of us."
     Hedges goes on to criticize the abhorrent treatment of Muslims in U.S. Federal prisons, which he likens to torture. He quotes Jeanne Theoharis, a professor of political science at Brooklyn College, who asserts, quite unambiguously, "torture is legal in the United States in the form of years of solitary confinement and the use of special administrative measures."
     Hedges also quotes Craig Haney, a psychologist at the University of California at Santa Cruz who has studied the effects of solitary confinement, who asserts that prolonged isolation eventually includes  "appetite and sleep disturbances, anxiety, panic, rage, loss of control, paranoia, hallucinations and self-mutilations" as well as "cognitive dysfunction ... hopelessness, a sense of emotional breakdown ... and suicidal ideation and behavior." Haney found that "many of the negative effects of solitary confinement are analogous to the acute reactions suffered by torture and trauma victims."     
     As per the title of his post, Hedges takes care to highlight the slippery slope that will soon blur the lines between the treatment of terrorism suspects and suspects more generally, but also points out the depressingly well-known fact (to those who pay attention) that the 25,000 prisoners in Federal prisons "are disproportionately Muslims and people of color."
         The more things change, as the saying goes, the more they stay the same.

1 comment:

  1. This is frightening - to say the least. This reminds me of the famous saying during the holocaust by a priest:

    "First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out--
    Because I was not a Socialist.

    Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out--
    Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out--
    Because I was not a Jew.

    Then they came for me--and there was no one left to speak for me."