Torture is never about information, but social control

10.12.2014 - Silvia Swinden

Torture is never about information, but social control
(Image by Wikimedia Commons: Map of the world with parties to the Convention against Torture shaded dark green, states that have signed but not ratified the treaty in light green, and non-parties in gray)

On International Human Rights Day, the situation is dire.

Surprise! The Report on torture by the CIA has revealed torture does not work!

According to Democracy Now!Senate Report Details U.S. Torture at Secret Prisons; Embassy Security Heightened Ahead of Release

“The Senate Intelligence Committee is releasing today portions of its long-awaited report on the CIA torture and extraordinary rendition program under President George W. Bush. The report marks the first public account of how the CIA abused foreign prisoners at secret prisons overseas. The United States has heightened security at embassies worldwide in anticipation of blowback over its findings…

“…The report out today summarizes the investigation’s findings in 480 heavily redacted pages. The full 6,200-page report remains classified. The conclusions include finding the CIA issued incorrect claims about how many prisoners it held and subjected to torture; actively avoided or impeded congressional and federal oversight, even by lying; ignored internal critiques; and misled the public on the extent of its abuses and the intelligence gained as a result. The report also exposes previously undisclosed torture tactics, including repeatedly dunking prisoners in tanks of ice water, and threatening them in one case with a buzzing power drill and in another with a broom stick to be used for sexual assault. The report concludes the torture techniques provided no major intelligence gains.”

From Wikipedia: “…torture in the 21st century is prohibited under international law and the domestic laws of most countries. It is considered to be a violation of human rights, and is declared to be unacceptable by Article 5 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Signatories of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the Additional Protocols I and II of 8 June 1977 officially agree not to torture captured persons in armed conflicts, whether international or internal. Torture is also prohibited by the United Nations Convention Against Torture, which has been ratified by 156 countries.”

Craig Murray, former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan denounced (and most probably lost his job over) British Intelligence involvement in torture. Here we can see him in Video 1 of 7:

His quest was to find out how much “information” obtained under torture –albeit by other parties– had been deemed acceptable by the Foreign Office. His point always was that torture was not only immoral but that extensive research had always shown that the information thus obtained is unreliable and his stand against it was a matter of basic human decency (From a speech at the UK Forum for Nonviolence organised by World without Wars and Violence)

 So, what’s the point of torture?

The most clearly established interpretation is that torture is an instrument of social control. It is the unprovable or unchallengeable secret that everyone knows, so that fear will stifle any thoughts of rebellion against the established order but also if anybody dares rebel then their terrified neighbours and friends will immediately denounce their activities.

It also fulfils the desire for revenge by the State on behalf of the population. Revenge is the cultural default for most of the world with some exceptions (Ubuntu in South Africa, ancient practices of the Aymara en Bolivia, and some tribes in Papua New Guinea). Justice is based on revenge, Hollywood feeds revenge and anybody who has been wronged is expected to obtain revenge: “don’t get mad, get even”. It is the vicious circle so famously denounced by Gandhi in his “an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind”.

If conspiracy theorists are looking at the report on torture they may even think that the Twin Towers attack was taken not only as an excuse to seek revenge on Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden but also to justify any level of mistreatment and abuse on those the public imagined (with a little help from a manipulative media) to be responsible.

There cannot be a true culture of Human Rights if there is no shift in human consciousness towards Reconciliation and reparative justice, as well as Donald Duck and Dirty Harry publicly renouncing revenge.

 

Categories: Human Rights, International
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