Oct. 9th, 2010 01:44 pm
tevere: Jihae, solemn with hint of smile (Default)
I just saw someone on my network page express the wish that a particular convicted criminal spend the rest of his life in solitary confinement.

While not endorsing the intended actions of that criminal in any way, I admit to unease at the condemnation of any human being to a prolonged period of solitary confinement. I believe that solitary confinement can be, and is often employed as, a form of torture. I think many people wouldn't accept a similar statement where the proposed punishment was constant sessions of waterboarding, or subjection to extreme heat and cold, or being beaten, or being hung in a stress position. Just because prolonged solitary confinement doesn't leave marks, and is accepted as a legal method of punishment in many countries, doesn't mean it isn't torture.
tevere: Jihae, solemn with hint of smile (Default)
New York Times: Court Dismisses a Case Asserting Torture by CIA (the full ruling is here).

Yesterday, the US's 9th Circuit Court ruled against five victims of the US's extraordinary renditions program in their case against a CIA transport and logistics contractor (Jeppesen Dataplan), on grounds that Jeppesen would be unable to mount a defence without drawing on state secrets -- the release of which could potentially damage US national security interests.

I can't say I'm surprised, but it still pisses me the fuck off for a variety of reasons.
tevere: girl in gloomy cityscape (city girl)
I think people at my book club must secretly groan when they see me there, because I'm always bringing along cheery histories of genocide and international wrongdoing instead of, say, the latest Margaret Atwood. Having read Philip Gourevitch and Alison des Forges earlier this year, I'm looking forward to eventually getting started on Gerard Prunier's epic Africa's World War: Congo, the Rwandan Genocide, and the Making of a Continental Catastrophe. (I nearly offered Hotel Rwanda in Yuletide this year, but was too afraid of what prompt I might get. Besides, what I'm really interested in is the woefully underreported story of Captain Mbaye Diagne, the Senagalese UNAMIR military observer who saved a huge number of civilians -- in defiance of the UNAMIR mandate -- before being killed by a RPF mortar.)

But at the moment I'm currently absolutely absorbed in Jane Mayer's The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals. I have a lot of time for Mayer, who writes for the New Yorker (you can find her reporting on the War on Terror here). Like Gourevitch's The Ballad of Abu Ghraib (known in Australia as 'Standard Operating Procedure'), it deals with the US government's practice of illegally rendering, detaining and torturing terror suspects -- and the top-down policies that prompted and supported these activities. Whereas Gourevitch looked at how these policies affected the low-level soldiers asked to implement them, Mayer looks in detail at the Bush Administration's politically-driven development of top-level policy. It is a stunning book: thorough, well-researched and gripping like a political thriller. I can't recommend it enough.

tl;dr )


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