Allowing Human Experimentation under the War Crimes Act

I felt like they were experimenting and trying out techniques to be used later on other people. — Abu Zubaydah to the Red Cross

Physicians for Human Rights just released a report documenting what Jeff Kaye and more recently Jason Leopold have been discussing for years: America’s torturers were conducting a kind of human experimentation on the earliest detainees. PHR is calling on Attorney General Holder to investigate whether CIA’s medical personnel committed the war crime of human experimentation.

Most of the contents of the report will be familiar to readers of this blog. I find the following detail the most interesting new observation.

As part of the 2006 Military Commissions Act, the WCA was amended to delineate the specific violations of Common Article 3 that would be punishable. Among those violations is “performing biological experiments.” The amended language prohibits:

The act of a person who subjects, or conspires or attempts to subject, one or more persons within his custody or physical control to biological experiments without a legitimate medical or dental purpose and in so doing endangers the body or health of such person or persons.61

While this language maintains the existing prohibition on biological experiments contained in the previous version of the WCA, the effect of this amendment appears to weaken the prohibition by moving away from the type of strict language found in the Geneva Conventions (Third Geneva Convention, Article 13), which states:

No prisoner of war may be subjected to physical mutilation or to medical or scientific experiments of any kind which are not justified by the medical, dental, or hospital treatment of the prisoner concerned and carried out in his interest.

The new language of the WCA added two qualifications that appear to have lowered the bar on biological experimentation on prisoners. That language requires that the experiment have a “legitimate” purpose, but does not require that it be carried out in the interest of the subject. It also adds the requirement that the experiment not “endanger” the subject, which appears to raise the threshold for what will be considered illegal biological experimentation.

That is, one of the things the Bush Administration did with the Military Commissions Act was retroactively change the law on human experimentation such that experimentation no longer needed to have a personal benefit to the research subject, and could instead be justified because of a “legitimate” interest.

You know, like the “legitimate” interest of knowing how long a human could be subject to sleep deprivation before they started hallucinating?

Which suggests to me that someone in government recognized the risk CIA’s torturers faced.

136 replies
  1. tjbs says:

    Torture / Murder / Treason all the same.

    Is this traitor really going on the road with his ” Tricks of a good torturer”book tour?

    You are a light year ahead on torture and as the worm turns we , at this site knew the details, thanks to you and the support staff.

  2. BayStateLibrul says:

    Obama, don’t get mad, get even, get justice

    The sins of 43 and 44.

    “Bush’s statement amounts to an admission of his role in a serious crime. He can speak and act without concern because the Obama White House has announced its intention not to enforce American domestic law, under which this conduct was a felony, and not to comply with the unequivocal treaty commitments of the Convention Against Torture, under which the United States is unconditionally obligated to undertake a criminal investigation. In this way, the sins of one regime have been assumed by its successor.”
    — Scott Horton

  3. JamesJoyce says:

    Americans or “Silent Germans?”

    So all those American who made the sacrifices required for freedom….. just piss on their graves?

    Fuck the corporate bean counters, oil whores and political enablers more concerned with “profit” and protecting cash cows, than country or life. Fuck them!

  4. wavpeac says:

    Anti social sociopaths…Screw the rules…make up your own, cover your tracks and stand tall. Minimize, deny and blame.

    It’s like waking up and finding out that your Dad is a serial killer, that the murders happened in your basement while you were sleeping, and finally, that the bodies are buried in your back yard.

    And Obama is the wife, who heard the strange noises during the night, who saw the tell tale signs of blood on his clothes. One night she was even convinced that the work of her serial killer spouse was righteous and so she helped him bury a few of the bodies.

    • Leen says:

      That about covers it.

      Then the perpetrators (Cheney, Feith, Cambone, Addington, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz etc) and the complicit (congress) keep telling Americans and the rest of the world “move on, turn the page, next chapter” don’t be about “vengeance, retribution, witch hunts” And by the way “no one is above the law”

      Utter perverted horseshit!

  5. Leen says:

    ew “You know, like the “legitimate” interest of knowing how long a human could be subject to sleep deprivation before they started hallucinating?”


    “chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor” while they shit and pissed on themselves

    “Captives at Guantánamo Bay were chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor for 18 hours or more, urinating and defecating on themselves,” an FBI report has revealed.

    The accounts of mistreatment were contained in FBI documents released yesterday (pdf) as part of a lawsuit involving the American Civil Liberties Union, a civil liberties group.

    “”There was an unknown bearded longhaired d (detainee) gagged w/duct tape that had covered much of his head,” the FBI document said.

    When the FBI officer asked if the detainee had spit at interrogators, the “contractor laughingly replied that d had been chanting the Qur’an non-stop. No answer how they planned to remove the duct tape,” the report said.

    After an erroneous report of Qur’an abuse prompted deadly protests overseas in 2005, the US military conducted an investigation that confirmed five incidents of intentional and unintentional mishandling of the book at the detention facility.

    It acknowledged that soldiers and interrogators had kicked the Qur’an, had stood on it and, in one case, had inadvertently sprayed urine on a copy.

    An FBI agent called W also heard that female interrogators would sometimes wet their hands and touch detainees’ faces in order to disrupt their prayers. Such actions would make some Muslims consider themselves unclean so they would stop praying.”

  6. klynn says:

    When I think of all the individuals who sacrificed so much during WWII to end such inhumane actions, it is infuriating to know our leaders have just destroyed all the humanitarian good they fought.

    We need to not be the WWII German citizens.

    • Bluetoe2 says:

      What options did the Germans have? What options does the U.S. public have? In both cases they are limited if not non existent. Letter writing campaigns? More petitions to sign? More phone calls & emails to unresponsive, complicit and corrupt politicians? Turning off the Sunday talk shows? More blogging? The U.S., for whatever reason (lack of principled leaders, fear, ignorance) refuses to do the one thing the plutocracy fears more than anything. Organized disparate groups and individuals marching and directly confronting the plutocracy.

      • klynn says:

        You responded to the granddaughter of a member of the German resistance. Had the Resistance movement been larger in Germany, it would have had a better chance of success.

        There is much we can do. There are many options.

        • Bluetoe2 says:

          And if large segments of the German public had not been completely indoctrinated and accepting of Nazi ideology and if an even larger segment of the German public had not feared for their lives the resistance might have had a better chance of success as well. What are the options you propose for the U.S. public many of whom are thoroughly indoctrinated and many of whom fear for their livelihoods if not their lives?

            • Bluetoe2 says:

              I fear the U.S. public is no different from the German public who felt it was best to go along to get along.

              • klynn says:

                Then we share the same fear. That is why I wrote that we need to not be the German public. Currently, as you have written, we very much appear no different right now.

                There are a few differences. Many youth have had access to information which is helping them to question authority without fear. Firedoglake has been a great resource for that. Additonally, there are youth movements working to create corporations and new technologies which will bring jobs to the US; however, embedded in the movements is a commitment to justice and to counter the the current power movements which crave injustice. This will allow for those with a voice to not fear losing their job for protesting these evils.

                Once a public exercises self-censorship it is no longer a democracy.

                And JamesJoyce @ 20. Thank you.

                • Bluetoe2 says:

                  I’m not particularly impressed with the thought of young people forming new “innovative” “corporations.” If they were forming collectives and coops and worker owned enterprises that might be a sign of progress. I’m equally not convinced of their commitment to the notion of “justice.” I agree with your comment, however, that once a society imposes self-censorship it is no longer a democracy. Unfortunately, U.S. institutions, whether they be unions, government, the media etc. have been self-censoring for quite some time. FDL is certainly an exception where individuals can express their opinions openly but then the blogs are merely safety valves that the plutocracy tolerates.

                  • klynn says:

                    They are worker owned corps and being developed through non-profits. Their focus is sustainability. Regret your lack of being”impressed”.

                    Many of these students are working very hard to help bring facts to their uninformed peers. It has been amazing to watch the awareness grow. FDL has been a great help and not just a safety valve.

                    I’ll take these small steps towards justice. It is not easy work to learn how to grow a new generation with sustainable financial security who will also not fear censorship and can work toward change.

              • Leen says:

                No different.

                The majority of Americans do not give a rats ass about the death and destruction that has been done and continues to be done in our name.

                I always used to wonder about that question. Why so many sat back and did nothing as millions of Jews, Poles, gypsies, etc were slaughtered. The death and destruction in Iraq and most Americans silence about what their government and military are doing has helped me understand the apathy and complicity during WWII. Sickening

                • JTMinIA says:

                  Full circle time.

                  The Milgram “obedience to authority” experiments were motivated by the question of why people – in that case, German soldiers – would do horrendous things when ordered to do so. One aspect of the findings that upset people a lot is how Americans would continue to shock a now-silent/after-screaming person when told to do so by a guy in a white lab coat. I.e., doing horrendous things when ordered to do so is not in any way unique to Germans, in contrast to what we were told before then.

                  The Milgram studies also led to some of the first rules on psychological experimentation. (The other psych study that triggered rules was Zimbardo’s “Stanford Prison Experiment”; this study became highly relevant again after Abu Graib.)

                  As to why people do nothing when they hear about things (which is, IMO, an order of magnitude less surprising than people actually doing things, themselves, when ordered), there isn’t one famous study to point to. But what seems warped to me is how it would be very difficult these days to get IRB approval to conduct such a study.

      • JamesJoyce says:

        Rights, duties and obligations? Germans died fighting Nazis. Germans immigrated to US and fought Nazis in every way possible. Some Germans committed suicide rather than partake in in the Nazi scourge! One of the first things the Nazis did was to disarm the public and prevent self defense and of course there where the “Brownshirts!”

        That’s what some Germans did! America prefers to watch “American Idol” as they are insidiously sodomized. Only when they are bleeding will they react. By then the cancer has spread and is terminal!

        The sound of silence is a cancer and inaction is a death sentence.

        Watch “Band of Brothers,” these Americans acted for the love of family and country. Not for some corporate fucking PIG!!!!!!!!!!!

        • Bluetoe2 says:

          All Republicans and many, if not most, now celebrate the PIG and demonize those who would resist. The U.S. plutocracy has fashioned a more efficient and more palatable form of fascism.

        • AppleCanyon2 says:

          “the sound of silence is a cancer and inaction is a death sentence”
          You are truly a “wordsmith”. That statement is worth remembering.
          Thank you!

      • Bilbo says:

        What options does the U.S. public have?

        From a Fred Branfman article published this morning at Truthdig: A Warning From Noam Chomsky on the Threat of Elites

        I recently sat with [Noam] Chomsky, an intellectually uncompromising but personally kind, gentle and mild-mannered man, in his kitchen discussing such new U.S. elite horrors as the trend toward “1984”-like automated warfare, when it suddenly hit me.

        What is it like, I found myself thinking, to know more than any other human being on Earth about the state-sponsored lies to which Americans are so constantly subjected? What is it like to so feel in your bones, hour after hour, day after day, the pain of millions of “unpeople” suffering hunger, poverty and death caused by U.S. elites who today also threaten both their own nation and all humanity? And what is it like, even though your writings are published, to have their lessons ignored by society at large, as the killing continues and U.S. war-making “on the vague frontiers whose whereabouts the average man can only guess at” has now become permanent?

        “Noam,” I said, “I’ve just realized who you really represent to me. Do you remember how Winston Smith [the “1984” character] realized that his highest obligation to humanity and himself was just to try and remain sane, to somehow commit the truth to paper, and to hope against rational hope that somewhere, some time, future humans might come to understand and act on it? To me, at this point in time, you’re Winston Smith.”

        I will never forget his reaction.

        He just looked back at me.

        And smiled sadly.

        The entire article is well worth reading and reflection.

    • Leen says:

      With all the time I am spending in several nursing homes in the Dayton Ohio region very close to Wright Patterson Air Force Base I spend a great deal of time talking with WWII Vets and many who were engineers, pilots, mechanics etc.
      When these guys get into the particulars of their personal stories most of them begin to cry some of them literally weep. Often after they share their memories I ask them about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? What they think? The majority of them get rather upset about the lies that were told to the American public before those unnecessary wars. Those guys know up close and personal the seriousness of being in a war.

      Anyway on Memorial day rolled three of these guys (including my WWII Vet dad) over to a beautiful War memorial on Fairfield road dedicated to all branches of the military. One of the old gents I rolled over there can tell you war story after story (naming particular guns etc) with such clarity that my mind is blown, because at times he can’t remember his name.

      I put him in a spot in his wheelchair with a birds eye view of the speakers, slathered his arms neck and face with sun screen, put an umbrella over him gave him some water and went back for the other Vets. Asking other younger Vets in the park to watch over him.

      Anyway during the ceremony he looked a bit dazed and I kept whispering into his ear where we were and why we were there and asking if he wanted to leave? (it was hot as hell out) He insisted on staying for the whole event even though he looked confused. As people began to sing “America the Beautiful” Warren’s eyes popped open and he quietly sang every single word of that song. Every single word. While I am one of the many who protested Vietnam and had stood outside of WPAFB during that war with protest signs etc while many of my family members (4 uncles who were engineers there) drove into WPAFB. When this old fella (89) and the other older Vets start singing like I start quietly weeping. Thank goodness I had sun glasses on.

      I feel privileged and honored to spend time with these old honorable Vets and to hear their stories. Can’t encourage folks enough to go into these places and honor our Vets by hearing their stories.

    • DWBartoo says:

      Everyone in America considers themselves and their friends to be the “good” Germans …

      And, just like Germany, the rest of the world will have to stop us … because we cannot, we will not, stop ourselves, klynn.


      • klynn says:

        I am not going to disagree with you. However, my personal history does play a huge role in “who” and “what” has gone on in life.

        My grandmother’s example has been a driving life force.

        Just because you think everyone “thinks they are the good Germans” does not mean that those who are working for change should just stop working because it will take the rest of the world to stop us.

        Resistance movements help tell the world what is going on.

        • DWBartoo says:

          klynn, I quite agree with you, my point is that complacency and the sturdy belief in the destructive “beliefs” and myths of our culture has produced a society of timid and fearful beings who admire those who “keep their noses clean”, “know their ‘place'”, and will not challenge much of any thing around themselves because our “democracy” (“the greatest in the world”) has provided a class of people, the political class (which includes the media) who do all the “thinking” and an corporate class who do all the “doing”.

          I have almost fifty years “invested” in standing against and speaking against what has brought “us” to this point. I have no intention of not continuing in the manner to which I have become accustomed. However, in those few years, this collection of thoughtful and compassionate human beings, here at FDL are the best gathering of like-minded souls I’ve
          ever been privileged to encounter.

          For what it is worth, I have NEVER seen anti-war sentiment as widespread in our society as it now is, even including Vietnam, yet the policies of “our” government apparently do not reflect this reality. One does wonder, if that might once have been true in Germany as well?

          America rules the world, not by principled example, but by fear and violence. Even many American children realize this. If the sociopaths may make the law their lackey, then it becomes a part of the tyranny.

          “We” are already “there”.

          And our greatest weakness, and a fatal weakness it is, is that we cannot stop.


          • JamesJoyce says:

            “And our greatest weakness, and a fatal weakness it is, is that we cannot stop.”

            Sobriety is a wonderful thing. America is a like a crack addict who cannot stop. The inevitable outcome is premature death absent intervention. Corporations are drug dealers and the American people are the “ADDICTS,” who enjoy the short term “highs” while the liver rots compromising the ability to make rational choices and defend ones self, when you are all fucked up! A consumer driven economy! Yes, Morlocks and Eloi…… that Time Machine theme!

          • TalkingStick says:

            The Germans believed they were an “exceptional” culture, nation, race. Many became convinced they were under siege by “terrorists” called Communists and Jews. Personally I don’t believe their trust in and compliance with authority was all that different than any other people. Even many of the Jews complied with their deportation to the concentration camps.

            • DWBartoo says:

              Along with wapeac, you are getting to the nitty-gritty of a substantial group of human “proclivities” that must needs be examined, considered, and acted upon, if our potentially amazing species is to survive, in a humanly worthwhile fashion, or even, at all … TalkingStick.

              My sincere appreciations.


                • DWBartoo says:

                  Respect and appreciation where it is due, TS.

                  There is little enough of that, sadly, and we are all greatly diminished, as beings, as a result.


      • JamesJoyce says:

        We are in a repeat of history folks…. The question is will America effect a war on the correct enemy? As we piss away our industrial might for return on corporate investments America is creating new bogymen to side track America’s real War, which is life’s war…. “Energy”

        Corporate Servitude is the enemy from within. LOOK AT THE GULF????

        What more does one need to see reality, concentration camps????

        • Bluetoe2 says:

          The U.S. public will learn to swim through and enjoy the Gulf oil. They could easily be convinced of the need for concentrations camps in order to protect their “freedom” and “way of life.” A nation that tolerates torture, unjust wars and now ecocide is not deserving of democracy but is in need of liberation.

          • JamesJoyce says:

            As Jefferson warned “corporate servitude!” Yes we are in need of liberation from corporate slime who place more value on profit than life while brainwashing and conditioning minds like Pavlov’s Dog!

            Fuck American Idol watch C-span!

  7. kindGSL says:

    Which suggests to me that someone in government recognized the risk CIA’s torturers faced.

    I would say absolutely! It seemed to me every time I would complain about it or strategize a way to beat it, they would pass another law to make it legal or find a way to stop me. Remember how media was granted immunity?

    Others kept telling me I was insane, but I knew better. I knew I was hot on the trail of a group of killers.

  8. Margaret says:

    Their misuse of the term “witch hunts” infuriates me. We KNOW there were no actual witches to hunt and we further KNOW that these people did commit acts of torture. How exactly does “witch hunt” apply?

  9. perrylogan says:

    Speaking of human experimentation–what about the “Greatest Generation,” who experimented with raising their kids on chemicals and Wonder Bread?

  10. Jim White says:

    does not require that it be carried out in the interest of the subject

    Which means that Cheney and his minions knew that what they were doing was directly against the interests of the prisoners and at least one of these criminals read enough of the law to know that they had to fix this part. It appears that they didn’t trust Yoo to write their way out of this one; it would take a legislative fix. It seems to me that they felt this might be their biggest exposure to criminal charges.

    Hooray for PHR picking this up and running with it. I’m not holding my breath that network media will be hitting this one…

  11. dick c says:

    … qualifications that appear to have lowered the bar

    … until we can descend no further. Obama , Emanuel, and Holder are perfect for the job. Gesturing upwards, dragging us down.

  12. bgrothus says:

    And of course there were those who “failed the experiments,” the ones who died.

    I hope this report gets wide coverage and leads to convictions.

    You may say I’m a dreamer. . .

  13. phred says:

    one of the things the Bush Administration did with the Military Commissions Act was retroactively change the law

    An argument could be made that this was the point of the MCA in its entirety and not just in reference to this particular aspect of the law.

    What is the public supposed to do when two branches of the federal government actively engage in criminal activity, while the third branch whistles the cheery tune “There’s No Standing On State Secrets” as they blithely stroll past the graveyard?

    How can the public enforce the law upon government officials, when those officials refuse to acknowledge they are bound by any laws?

    I fail to see how we can solve this domestically. The international community will have to rise to the occasion if there is ever to be any accountability for the crimes of our political “leaders”.

  14. Kassandra says:

    My question is : how do you stay sane, Marcy, knowing all this stuff? I read your post yesterday on our black ops world war and it really threw me for a loop…now this!
    I was posting on a prominent blog yesterday when this guy comes out of the woodwork with a wonderful fairy tale of how “we are an adult civilization” and our “thirst for knowledge” is catapulting to species to greatness…blah, blah, blah and we could NEVER,EVER have another Dark Ages as we have evolved so much… blah, blah, blah. His post didn’t even make sense in response to what I written and then…it got favorited by the site!
    I’ve got to admit I didn’t handle that very well emotionally…..but maybe it’s like what James Joyce at #3 sez.
    Are we the silent Germans? Do enough of us know enough to even BE the silent Germans?
    Just how many more fairy tales will we swallow as we watch the world descend into Gulf oil tar pits and chaos rule the world? OY!

  15. Kassandra says:

    Yeah, it’s “for the good” of the nation and you “won’t have a job for years” as this is “the new normal”.
    Now…on to eliminating any safety net you suckers! Because, after all, we want you to be “competitive” with Chinese workers

  16. TalkingStick says:

    I think the people did speak in the 2008 elections and have been betrayed by the Obama administration doing what governments do with power, once appropriated; hold on to it. The work you and others are doing Marcy is critical in order to give the people another chance in electing those who will reverse it. We cannot let Obama slide by because we believe his heart is in the right place. It has to be an election issue until change is forced.

    I am also terribly concerned at the expansion of the term “terrorist” to include US citizens among those whose human rights can be violated. Next there will be more expansion of the term to encompass anyone who may be deemed to advocate dissent from government policy in any variety of arenas. I am in particular concerned for environmentalism.

    • bobschacht says:

      the expansion of the term “terrorist”

      began to happen in January 2002, I think. Now just about the only thing it means is “people we don’t like.”

      Bob in AZ

  17. peakdavid says:

    Eric Holder conduct an investigation of war crimes??


    Chances of that happening? Slightly less than abduction by aliens.

  18. JTMinIA says:

    One other difference between the GC wording and the MCA wording jumps out to me (and forgive me if this has already been noted elsewhere): The GC says “medical or scientific experiments” while the MCA (now) says only “biological experiments.” Therefore, while the GC says you can’t conduct psychological experiments, the MCA doesn’t cover these.

    • Jeff Kaye says:

      You are right, but even more, it’s because they can then say medical observations done to collect info and generalize knowledge is not “research”, but only medical activities in the course of the day. It’s all “junk science” anyway, as what they are looking for is impossible, i.e., a “safe” way to conduct torture. But you’re correct to look at the fine print, that’s where you’ll find the footprints of their intent.

        • Jeff Kaye says:

          No, I don’t know that. I just got off a conf. call with them, and wish I’d known your question. I’ll try and look into it. I know they will be soon filing a formal complaint with the appropriate govt agency on the experimentation.

          They have worked with a number of legal experts on this. Also experts in the field, beyond the report writers. Apparently, for instance, Robert Jay Lifton pre-reviewed their report.

  19. JamesJoyce says:

    “You responded to the granddaughter of a member of the German resistance.”


    God bless him and all Nazi resistance fighters! :)

    • klynn says:

      You are so kind. Actually, I am the great granddaughter as well as granddaughter of members of the Nazi Resistance. My grandmother and her father were members.

        • klynn says:

          Hey Leen,

          I responded to your question yesterday but it did not post for some reason.

          Yes, I have some wonderful stories from my grandmother and my relatives in Germany. My great grandfather was evidently a master undercover photographer and got many up close pics of Hitler in order to discover weaknesses in his security team. I would share all the other stories but I have been working on a book about them.

          My son was doing a report a few years ago and was reading the book, Killing Rommel. The book referenced a group of resistance fighters from my grandmother’s home town (my great grandfather). It was the first WWII book we have read to document their work in Bavaria.

  20. Bluetoe2 says:

    The U.S. public has been sold the lie that democracy and capitalism are one and the same. The corporations have the public just where they want them and Obama is their facilitator in chief.

    • hotdog says:

      But the “American way of life” is not negotiable. That’s why we’re suspending the Constitution, torturing people, and engaging in illegal occupations, don’tcha know.

  21. JamesJoyce says:

    Many WWII vets deplore the loss of American life to protect corporate interests. Sure they secured the future so Corporate horseshit can fuck America and whoever else can be exploited for profit at the expense of life? BP Iran, Iraq, The Gulf, America……… WTF!

    Lets experiment and perfect torture so we can use it on Americans who refuse to kowtow to the junta? “”Smedley Butler”” America needs you!!!

    • Leen says:

      audio taped many Vets before the invasion. Many were shaken to their core by the thought of sending young men and women into harms way based on questionable intelligence but then the Bush administration did their murderous best to confuse anyone who questioned that intelligence.

      Witnessed many of an older Vet weep about the thought. Pushed one WWII Vet (92) in a wheelchair in the anti invasion march in New York City Feb 2003. Ten of thousands of Vets marched against that invasion. Sure did not see Katie Couric, Chris Matthews, Wolf Blitzer etc interview these Vets before that invasion.

      • fatster says:

        Leen, your anecdotes are very moving. I do hope, if you haven’t already, that you will put them together in a collection. And if you have already done that, please advise where I can access it. These people are very special to me, too. As are you. Thnx.

  22. Bluetoe2 says:

    Does anyone have any information on the Justice Dept. dropping it’s criminal investigation of Massey Mining?

  23. Mary says:

    This is something that has been under-discussed on the MCA. It has a slew of things in it other than the attempted (and with Bagram, now successful) destruction of habeas.

    With less analysis than Jeff, who has been looking more at the scientific experimentation angle and record keeping and structuring – i.e, doctors monitoring what happens if you do this, or that; I’ve called what was being done to detainees human experimentation for a long time, because the descriptions have always read like frat boys turned loose with a hapless frog or cat or puppy – what if we break its legs then hang it by the neck so it has to try to stand on them or strangle, what if we put a dog collar on a detainee and make them bark, etc.

    The whole Haynes memo is a list of freelancing human experiments that interrogators were green lighted to try. There have been discussions about Exec Order 12333 and rumors of non-transparent modifications of it. That order had provided:

    2.10 Human Experimentation. No agency within the Intelligence Community
    shall sponsor, contract for or conduct research on human subjects except
    in accordance with guidelines issued by the Department of Health and Human
    Services. The subject’s informed consent shall be documented as required
    by those guidelines.

    2.11 Prohibition on Assassination. No person employed by or acting on
    behalf of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to
    engage in, assassination.

    2.12 Indirect Participation. No agency of the Intelligence Community
    shall participate in or request any person to Undertake activities
    forbidden by this Order.

    OTOH, if you are using contractors, rather than agencies, etc. you can drive trucks through loopholes as well as actually revise.

    Oh well, back to the original point. The MCA has several of these kinds of changes. Another one would be to change the definitions of War Crimes and references to the Gen COnv breeaches to now exclude all the shipment to GITMO of innocent protected persons from the defintion scope under the war crimes act. And there are more.

    The MCA was actually the first good “legal work” (if you were working for torturers and torture murders and human experimenters etc. and were given carte blanche to write a cover for them) product from the Exec branch I saw. While the memos and DTA etc. were all riddled with holes in the torturers protections, the MCA was tight and laser focused drafting.

    I’ve always wondered who worked on the real drafting of it. It was directed from the WH, but I know Graham was very involved as well and he’s always seemed to me to be much more cognizant of the problems for the Exec than the OLC denizens. Whoever was involved really knew the kinds of things they had to protect against. Whoever was involved was a very not good person and probably was chucklingly pleased with all the focus on “habeas rights for terrorists” while they slipped so much more filth through.

    • klynn says:

      I’ve always wondered who worked on the real drafting of it. It was directed from the WH, but I know Graham was very involved as well and he’s always seemed to me to be much more cognizant of the problems for the Exec than the OLC denizens. Whoever was involved really knew the kinds of things they had to protect against. Whoever was involved was a very not good person and probably was chucklingly pleased with all the focus on “habeas rights for terrorists” while they slipped so much more filth through.

      Getting the “who” would be vital.

      Thanks for your post.

    • Jeff Kaye says:

      Excellent points, Mary. In coming days, we’ll look at other, sloppy ways they tried to protect and/or cover themselves on precisely this issue. I think everyone will be quite surprised.

      • DWBartoo says:

        Most excellent, Jeff.

        I sincerely hope you shall be paying particular attention to Mary’s last paragraph @ 53, as “we” seem to have no shortage of such “persons”.

        Looking forward (to coin a “fraze” commensurate with our current daze), with considerable appreciation and much anticipation … of being surprised.


    • powwow says:

      While the memos and DTA etc. were all riddled with holes in the torturers protections, the MCA [2006 Military Commissions Act, enacted in response to the 2006 Supreme Court decision in Hamdan] was tight and laser focused drafting.

      I’ve always wondered who worked on the real drafting of it. It was directed from the WH, but I know Graham was very involved as well and he’s always seemed to me to be much more cognizant of the problems for the Exec than the OLC denizens. Whoever was involved really knew the kinds of things they had to protect against. Whoever was involved was a very not good person and probably was chucklingly pleased with all the focus on “habeas rights for terrorists” while they slipped so much more filth through.

      From one of the barely-scratching-the-surface Senate Armed Services Committee hearings under Chairman John Warner, held in early August, 2006, just before the month-long August recess, and a couple of months before the 2006 Military Commissions Act was quickly shoved through Congress as it prepared to adjourn to campaign for the 2006 elections:

      ATTY GEN. GONZALES: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Senator Levin and members of the committee.

      I am pleased to appear today on behalf of the administration to discuss the elements of the legislation that we believe Congress should put in place to respond to the Supreme Court’s decision in Hamdan versus Rumsfeld.

      Let me say a word about process first. As this committee knows, the administration has been working hard on a legislative proposal that reflects extensive interagency deliberations as well as numerous consultations with members of Congress. Our deliberations have included detailed discussion with members of the JAG corps, and I personally met twice with the judge advocates general. They have provided multiple rounds of comments, and those comments will be reflected in the legislative package that we plan to offer for Congress’ consideration.


      SEN. WARNER: All right. At the moment, I share those views. We want to establish the four corners, and the Constitution is very clear that the president is the commander in chief. Yet there is other provision, we make the rules with regard to the men and women of the armed forces.

      So somewhere in between those two constitutional provisions is our challenge.

      But I’m enormously pleased with this hearing. I think we’ve made great progress, and I commend both of you.

      And I wonder if you’d like, for purposes of the record, to have the names of those individuals who accompanied you here today and who presumably have worked hard on this included in this record.

      ATTY GEN. GONZALES: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I’m accompanied — you well Mr. Steve Bradbury, who’s the acting assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel. And he and his team — and he’s got a strong, able team — have been really at the forefront of the drafting and negotiation.

      SEN. WARNER: Around the clock, seven days a week.

      ATTY GEN. GONZALES: I’m also here with Kyle Sampson, my chief of staff, and Will Moschella, who is my legislative director, as well as Tasia Scolinos — I don’t know if she’s still here — who is head of my Public Affairs Office.

      SEN. WARNER: (Inaudible.) That’s true.

      ATTY GEN. GONZALES: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

      SEN. WARNER: Thank you very much.

      And Secretary England.

      MR. ENGLAND: Who’s been working all the hard work every day and literally eery night and every weekend is Mr. Dan Dell’Orto, who has been working with all the folks in the Department of Justice but also all the people in the Department of Defense.

      I do want to comment, Mr. Chairman, that we have had the general counsels from all of our services. We’ve had the JAGs. We’ve had our service chiefs. We’ve had our service secretaries. We’ve had staff within the department, the General Counsel’s Office. And Mr. Dan Dell’Orto has been coordinating all of that, along with — by the way, all of our combatant commanders have been involved in all this. So we have been fully vetting and coordinating all these discussions, all these iterations as we have gone along. And Mr. Dan Dell’Orto’s been doing a wonderful job in the Department of Defense, and I do thank him and his team for that great effort.

      That’s excerpted from the hearing transcript, that’s attached in full as Exhibit I to the 9/1/2009 Brief on Behalf of Appellant ALI HAMZA AHMAD SULIMAN AL BAHLUL in the Court of Military Commission Review [appealing Al Bahlul’s military commission conviction; oral arguments were held in January this year; a vitally-important ruling is pending from the three members of that Court, in response to the weighty Constitutional issues raised in the appeal. I highly recommend reading the appellate brief in its entirety].

      A couple of other telling hearing excerpts:

      SEN. COLLINS: And I applaud you for doing that and taking action quickly to comply with the Supreme Court’s decision.

      Now, Mr. Attorney General, in your testimony today, you say that some of the terms in Common Article 3 are too vague. You, for example, cite “humiliating and degrading treatment,” “outrages upon personal dignity.” If it’s too vague, how is it that Secretary England is able to apply those same standards to the treatment of detainees?

      ATTY GEN. GONZALES: Well, I think that even though the secretary’s actions were the correct actions, even the JAGs believe that because now we’re talking about prosecution for commission of a felony, there does need to be absolute certainty — or as much certainty as we can get in defining what it is — what would constitute a violation of Common Article 3. It’s one thing to engage in conduct that may violate the UCMJ, it’s another thing if that same conduct all of a sudden becomes a felony offense in which the Department of Justice is now involved in. And I think we all agree, there’s universal agreement that if there’s uncertainty, if there’s risk, we need to try to eliminate that uncertainty, we need to try to eliminate that risk.

      I think that there are certain actions that we all agree would violate Common Article 3: murder, rape, maiming, mutilation. No question about it.

      But there are some foreign decisions that provide a source of concern. And the Supreme Court has said, in interpreting our obligations under the treaty, we are to give respectful consideration to the interpretation by courts overseas, and also to give weighty — to give respectful consideration to the adaptation or the interpretation by other state parties to those words.

      And so, what we’re trying to do here, again, working with the JAGs, is trying to provide as much certainty as we can so that people are not prosecuted by the Department of Justice for actions that they didn’t realize constituted a war crime.

      SEN. COLLINS: Secretary England?

      MR. ENGLAND: Senator, this has been a significant issue for the Department of Defense. As a matter of fact, it was part of the discussion of the field manual in eight months, and part of that’s all part of this discussion in terms of trying to define these terms. And now it is very important, because while we have complied in the past and trained to it, it is now a matter of law. And as a matter of law, there’s consequences, because —

      (To Att’y Gen. Gonzales) Is it the War Crimes Act, Mr. Attorney General?

      ATTY GEN. GONZALES: Right.

      MR. ENGLAND: The War Crimes Act now makes U.S. personnel — they can be prosecuted if they don’t comply with Common Article 3. So those words now become very, very important. So, degrading treatment, humiliating treatment, that’s culturally sensitive terms. I mean, what is degrading in one society may not be degrading in another, or it may be degrading in one religion, not in another religion. So — and since it does have an international interpretation, which is generally frankly different than our own, it becomes very, very relevant. So, it’s vitally important to the Department of Defense that we have legislation now and clarify this matter, because now that it is, indeed, a matter of law, it has legal consequences for our men and women and civilians who serve the United States government.


      SEN. NELSON: Okay.

      Mr. Secretary, does your memo on Common Article 3 extend to contractors who are performing interrogations, as opposed to just simply members of the military who might perform interrogations of enemy combatants or people who are suspected of being enemy combatants? In other — outside contractors —

      MR. ENGLAND: Yeah —

      SEN. NELSON: — non-uniformed individuals — do they fall under Common Article 3 as well?

      MR. ENGLAND: Senator, I will have to get back with you. I mean, frankly, at the time I put out the memo, I wasn’t thinking of contractors. I was thinking people in the Department of Defense. So —

      SEN. NELSON: And there wouldn’t be any question about a translator, for example, but there could be a question about contractors, because wasn’t that one of the questions in Abu Ghraib and other circumstances where there were others performing interrogations?

      MR. ENGLAND: So, Senator, I will need to get back with that.

      SEN. NELSON: Okay. And then if we turn over any detainees to other governments — let’s say Pakistan or Afghanistan — are they subject to Common Article 3, for their protection?

      ATTY GEN. GONZALES: Well, sir, we have an obligation not to turn them over to a country where we believe they’re going to be tortured. And we seek assurances, whenever we transfer someone, that in fact that they will not be tortured.

      SEN. NELSON: So are we fairly clear or crystal-clear that in cases of rendition, that hasn’t happened?

      ATTY GEN. GONZALES: Well, of course, Senator, rendition is something that is not unique to this conflict —

      SEN. NELSON: Oh, no, I know.

      ATTY GEN. GONZALES: — not to — (inaudible) — this administration or this country.

      SEN. NELSON: No, no, I’m not trying to suggest that. I’m just trying to get clear —

      ATTY GEN. GONZALES: I cannot — you know, we are not there — (chuckles) — in the jail cell in foreign countries where we render someone. But I do know we do take steps to ensure that we are meeting our legal obligation under the Convention against Torture and that we don’t render someone to a country where we believe they’re going to be tortured.

      SEN. NELSON: So we would want to see Common Article 3 applied in every situation where we may turn a detainee over to another country. We would take every action we could be expected to take to see that they — that that was complied with, or is that expecting more than we can commit to?

      ATTY GEN. GONZALES: Well, sir — I mean, the Supreme Court made no distinction in terms of military contractors or military soldiers. The determination was that Common Article 3 applies to our conflict with al Qaeda.

      A statement that Senator Warner made, shortly after the opening statements of that August 2, 2006 hearing, telegraphed the lay of the land on this legislation, long before Pat Leahy, Barack Obama, Arlen Specter, and others publicly expressed deep dismay about this legislation’s treatment of habeas corpus, without, however, actually acting on their dismay by using their power as Senators to merely “object” to unanimous consent requests to waive regular order for consideration of this legislation in the closing weeks of the session, which would have at least delayed passage of the MCA into the next calendar year, after the Democrats had regained control of Congress:

      SEN. WARNER: I think it does require further discussion and consideration because I anticipate that at some point in time — and let’s work back from the fact that we’re out of here on the 30th of September. And it’s the desire of this committee, and we’re supported by the bipartisan leadership of the Senate, to get this bill enacted by the Senate and hopefully over to the House such that it can become law.

      • Mary says:

        Way epu’d, but I’m glad I came back and saw this. Thank you for all the work that went into this. I’m not surprised to see the specific reference to Bradbury. His faults are many, but his workproduct that I’ve seen is drafted more tightly than Yoo, Philbin etc.

        I so very much agree with you on the Democratic party fix being in on the MCA. Let’s face it, if Obama, Dodd and Clinton had all been really and truly against it (and I think Dodd was) in a concerted, coordinated way – it never would have eeked through.

        • bmaz says:

          Ya think? I actually would say Clinton was much more significant at that point than Obama, much to her discredit.

  24. Mary says:

    OT – Egypt is calling the blockade a failure and saying its boarder will stay open for the foreseeable future

    The Burge “can’t prosecute for torture bc we let the state exec cover it up for too long, but let’s try prosecuting for lies about torture” trial continues and this piece indicates that the torture legacy lives, even in a generation to whom Burge’s name means nothing.

    Seventeen years after Mr. Burge was fired by the police board, there are lingering suspicions between the area’s residents and the police. Many residents fear that a legacy of mistrust is undermining efforts to stop the violent crime that still plagues the area.

    The case remains a hot issue for Antonio Berry, 39. “I can’t imagine what those people went through,” Mr. Berry said. “It’s unspeakable.”

    [a 21 yo man] said he did not understand why people like Ms. Latiker were making such a fuss about Mr. Burge, even if he did torture suspects more than 30 years ago and then lied about it under oath.

    “Wasn’t he just trying to get the thugs off the street?” the man said. “With all this killing going on, what’s wrong with that?”

    “You can’t just turn a blind eye to stuff like that,” Mr. Mitchell said. “It shouldn’t have taken this long to bring him to justice.”

    The Burge trial, which begins its third week on Monday, is not the justice Mr. Mitchell and many others had hoped for. Mr. Burge is not being tried for torturing suspects: The statute of limitations ran out years ago without any torture-related criminal charges brought against him.

    • fatster says:

      Bit of trivia that made me grit my teeth.

      At least $500 million has been spent since 9/11 on renovating Guantanamo Bay


      • Mary says:

        I really liked how they were willing to spend millions on court drapings to turn a kangaroo into a … kangaroo in a courtroom. Just nothing much for things like competent translation or return of innocent torture victims.

        But a really nice, albeit unnatural, setting for the kangaroos.

        • phred says:

          Now Mary, you know that the important thing was to make the world safe for KFC/Taco Bell. That and to make sure a nice hefty chunk of the federal budget got diverted to military contractors.

            • phred says:

              Please tell me you are kidding. You live close enough to Mexico to get decent Mexican food, unlike those of us who pine for it from a great distance ; )

  25. wavpeac says:

    This may be a simplification, but one of my pet theories is that the act of “invalidation” by our parents, our culture and our environment is one of the mechanisms that leads to violence. (I’ve shared this many times…so ignore if you have read this before). When we internalize minimize, deny and blame, it creates blind spots. It creates areas of reality that we cannot see because these realities have never been validated. (or made real)

    This invalidation also means that we do not develop the coping to deal with the valid emotions that result from the truths that are experienced. We learn instead, how to sweep them under the surface of our consciousness through food, drink, sex, and other intense actions.

    Corporal punishment was the dominate mode of child rearing at the turn of the century. It requires invalidation of the child’s personal experiences. It causes us to doubt our personal reaction to what is in front of us. Instead of using our emotion to inform our next move, invalidation causes us to doubt our experience. The more invalidation that exists the more the doubt grows and also the more we are forced to passively tolerate and push the emotions under the surface. On the continuum, more authoritarian environments actually reinforce and reward “passivity”. In turn a whole culture can vacillate between “active passivity” and “criminal acting out”. Both of which protect the authority in charge.

    My humble opinion is that Hitler could have just as easily occurred in the U.S as it did in Germany. When we collectively “blamed” Germans for their reaction to authority, we were blind to our own behavior in this regard. Invalidation “trains” us to ignore our personal experiences and replace them with an “external view” that dominates, and triggers passivity. It encourages dichotomous thinking to regulate reality and mood. It interferes with compassion. It interferes with the ability to regulate instead of subjugating emotions that would urge us to do something different. And it replaces accountability with minimize, deny and blame.

    I also believe this is in part, why the right wing finds the liberal view so threatening. The far right defends strongly the right and need to use corporal punishment in child rearing. The African American family also tends to rely on corporal punishment. A liberal view says all experiences are valid and that truth can be found in all of us. Even the child who is crying while receiving a spanking. The natural response of an authoritarian who has internalized minimize, deny and blame, is to do the same in regard to their beloved child. “This hurts me, more than it hurts you”.

    War cannot exist without the mechanism of invalidation.

    For me, this leads to a solution, one found here in these blogs. Validation. Our greatest weapon is in telling the truth.

      • TalkingStick says:

        This is interesting. In my opinion the correlation with expansive use of mind altering substances will be found to be the strongest.

        • JThomason says:

          Could it be that the turn to mind-expansive substances is correlated directly in compensation to oppressive social/political forms and the experimentation gave rise to an insoluble conundrum requiring extraordinary skills and blessings to transcend? I am just asking.

          • wavpeac says:

            Substance abuse is the ultimate invalidation. In fact, the connection between substance abuse and trauma is very high. (and where we find trauma we often find invalidation in large quantities in a culture that mandates that we “pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and keep moving no matter what”). This idea gets too big for me sometimes, however, we are an addicted nation and world. The whole war on drugs has it’s place here. If we started to see drug addiction and terrorism not as unexplained crazy behavior but as having a “valid” cause, then we would have to stop the behaviors that cause it. In my view, the war on drugs, perpetuates an invalidating environment with the idea that substance abuse is just crazy headed people and drug lords. The drugs actually perpetuate the invalidation, keeps us from the truth. In fact the intro to AA says that the alcoholic has is constitutionally incapable of truth.

            I do believe there is a link, between authoritarian personalities, invalidation, drug abuse, trauma and invalidation.

          • TalkingStick says:

            To be honest the notion of making one’s brain sick as recreation has always been a mystery to me. But I think there is much to be said for seeking “reality,” validity of self, in the face of an irrational world.

            In a broader cultural context. The infallibility of science and reason itself was put to flight by the German experience. Germany had been in the forefront of science, especially in the medical sciences and physics as well. (Eugenics which really arose in this country became the high science of the pre-war II era. in many nations)

            And of course as the consequences of the wars, including violence took hold there were a lot of traditional ideas that were turned upside down. All invalidating for the parents of Boomers as well as their children.

            So it would make some sense to seek comfort however it could be delivered.

            • JThomason says:

              You do know that etymologically “psychedelic” is constructed to mean “mind manifesting”. Many of the visions and emotional states accessed through these substances are identical to the visions and emotional states accessed through ecstatic trance brought on by breathing, rhythm, dance and posture from time immemorial without the use of substances. This is what the Czech psychiatrist Stan Grof was able to demonstrate in his development of holotropic breathwork. Still these experiences have always been constrained to a sacred (more or less regulated then) space.

              This is not to advocated for psychedelics. Even Leary I would think would understand that the public promotion of these substances was a mistake and Albert Hoffman the synthesizer of LSD called in his “problem” child. I am merely suggesting that maybe more is going on than mere toxicity.

              • wavpeac says:

                sorry for hijacking the thread. I do think these discussions speak to the societal apathy toward torture…which was my interest in this diary. I get it…we tortured, we experimented…and Obama is doing nothing about it. (and even worse we are not “collectively” ready to do something about it).

                Leen and Mary your shares were awesome. Leen, I found your share about the vets very moving.

                • JThomason says:

                  You raised medical, psychological and cultural concerns which are rightly the context of a discussion of forced human experimentation. I won’t go on and on.

                  The most important work in this realm today in my view is a kind of post Jungian work directed at individuals finding and owning their shadow projections. It is a kind of work that is a direct off-shoot of movements directed at the expansion of consciousness which in my view is crucial processing trauma in a health way and not recapitulating it socially, culturally and familially.

              • TalkingStick says:

                Organic changes in the brain from whatever cause chemicals, hyperventilation, hypo-ventilation, starvation, exercise etc are just that. And they make for sick bran functioning. I don’t like to get into debating the religious spiritual enlightenment claims.

                Drug use early in life is often as not a peer experience but as we know with compulsive use it leads to profound self-absorption.

                To follow your basic premise invalidation and abuse in childhood lay down the persistence of narcissism and failure to connect to the world outside self. One could suggest the average drug user begins in efforts to make peer connections and ends in the opposite.

                Also we must be careful of hazard of attempting to apply individual psychology too directly to group psychology.

                • JThomason says:

                  I hear you and I agree that mythic group psychological inflation is an adequate way to describe fascist and totalitarian political phenomenon.

                  The irony is that this kind of inflation may be a useful path to wholeness in the spheres of the individual if it is instilled with a kind of ecology that self-consciously limits its realizations from spilling over into the group/political realm.

                  Thanks for the heads up on toning it down.

                • DWBartoo says:

                  TS, everything we eat, breathe, or touch, even stray “cosmic rays” affect us as organisms, indeed, our very thought “patterns” affects the most subtle of our chemistry, anger, fear, joy and exultation …

                  I understand where you are coming from, but would suggest that “distinctions” regarding the “legitimacy” of consciousness is a seriously (if not frivolously) fraught endeavor.


                  • TalkingStick says:

                    As I said, I am not into entering the maze of discussing personal spirituality and the various routes folks take.

                    I was just issuing the caveat that not all the principles of personal psychological life are applicable to how groups behave.

                    • DWBartoo says:

                      Especially if the group “psychology” in question is comprised of a group of individuals who do not consider that their personal “growth” is worth pursuing or even necessary.

                      Behavior is as often determined by “outside’ influence as by conscious, internal consideration, in fact, if we are to be honest, every personal gestalt is premised on societal “norms” which “validate” or diminish the “value” of individual “enlightenment” or “understanding” according to popular “dictates” as to what is “permissible” and what is not.

                      Thus war is seen as more “real” or “meaningful” than peace, which is reflective and quiet.

                      Sometimes, among the infantile, it simply comes down to how much noise, havoc, and destruction can be caused. The “Shock Doctrine”, if you will.


                    • DWBartoo says:

                      Well, it is a “fabulous thread”, Petro, without a doubt.

                      As to the worth of my “contributions”, which are, more often than not, in the nature of asking for “more”, I hope you might forgive MY doubts?


                  • wavpeac says:

                    It’s very helpful to look at the distinction between self and other from a dialectical approach…and same to the polarity of individual and group. It does not have to be a focus on one OR the other, but the two polarities have truth, validity and purpose in this context. My original interest in all of this came from my work with people who have Borderline personality disorder, Domestic violence, High conflict families, and my studies in intercultural communication.

                    • DWBartoo says:

                      I do like you “approach” (and philosophy) very much, wavpeac.

                      Your research and the considerations which arise therefrom, are, as I hope you realize, not merely of moment, but crucial, from my perspective, to the human survival of our species.

                      Now, when psychology is in well-deserved disrepute among those who understand its value (and that of the other “social” sciences, as well), your words and the notions which they articulate, are most welcome.

                      When encountering your work, I am always, and inevitably, left with but one thought.

                      More please.


                    • TalkingStick says:

                      I don’t see such a polarity or dichotomy. Individuals serve in several roles through out life, or hopefully so.

                      Some of those roles are as a member of variously artificially designated groups which by definition have their own dynamics.

                      I don’t by any means disrespect the individual experience and am a great admirer of Eliz. Cady Stanton and her Solitude of Self. However I guess I do hope my legacy will be more than that I had perfected myself.

                      Anecdotally I am struck with how many of the people I come in contact with appear to be incapable of forming or flourishing in group endeavors, or on the grand scale; they done’t seem to have a sense of kinship with other life.

                    • JThomason says:

                      I agree it has been an interesting thread. It reminded me again of the laws of psychic ecology which call for limiting the individual mythic life from the public realms where reasonable, even rational discourse, is called for which in the end is the force that evokes the need for a rule of law based on factual considerations.

                      Realistically in the post-modern context there is nothing else that can hold individual subjectivity and the ever increasing necessity of political consideration in balance with the instinct for justice and fairness. The rampant, acontextual, ahistorical, brutal, condescending mythic inflation of the Bush doctrine is indeed an aberration against international law, against convention and requiring a questionable ex post facto legitimation in the nature of rationalizing psychological defense instilled in legitimacy to defer accountability. If we can look closely enough we can see these kinds of defenses at work at less consequential levels in our own discourses.

                      The other side of the necessity for coming to terms with the effect in personality and behavior arising of social, political, economic and cultural abuses is the maintenance of a rational structure of governance.

                      I had posted this lecture by Jurgen Habermas a couple of years ago and to me it reminds me of the need for gratitude for the folks here who do the heavy lifting, day in day out, putting forth the facts behind the misdirections of so much of the larger public discourse in these areas. It just seems timely to post it again here now.

                      So like others have done elsewhere I have taken a tone of knowing something in this comment, but this framework is the one that continues to hold meaning for me. The reasonable continues to stand as something that calls for collective informed agreement. Hopefully the opportunity is not passed. And nothing really can advance the common need for such standards as the “feeling” of kinship of which you speak.

                    • DWBartoo says:

                      I’m not certain “perfection” is the goal, simply understanding enough to know “who” one is.

                      At which point, as Mason said a moon or so ago, “When we know who we are, then we will know what to do.”

                      I suspect that true individually AND collectively.

                      My experience quite agrees with your concern about group or “community” endeavors, but think that most such failures come down to individual dis-ease, the lack of good example and social pressures which too easily tear apart possibility on the basis of exclusive “belief” patterns which those who possess such patterns are unable to recognize, motivated, generally, by fear and small-mindedness.


      • wavpeac says:

        The concept of an invalidating environment playing a role in the creation of “pathology” was taken from Marsha Linehan who developed one of the most effective treatments for Borderline Personality Disorder, (called DBT) for a disordered marked by self harming (violent) behavior and para-suicidal behavior (multiple suicide attempts that do not result in death). Most Borderlines are women (although that dx is being expanded to more men…and is changing as we speak).

        Donald Dutton, ,a Canadian researcher in domestic violence theorized that roughly a third of the men who are violent meet criteria for Borderline Personality Disorder and depression. (these are the guys most likely to kill family and self). Linehan says that 87% of all Borderlines have been physically abused and that 77% have been sexually abused. She says that sexual abuse is a better predictor of the disorder and theorizes that the invalidation of sexual abuse is greater than that of physical abuse today. (since we discuss this problem even less than that of child abuse).

        Suicide has been a tremendous problem to the military in the current war in Iraq. (pretty invalidating war, I must say…as was Vietnam). And my theory is that men are even more invalidated emotionally than women are. Perhaps this is part of the violent acting out, where women more likely would “act in”. Questions, questions. This concept could also explain the link between violent video games, t.v and youth. The images on screen are not “valid” depictions of violence. Yes they desensitize but even more important is that these images portray a “lie” or an “invalid” picture of the violence. (micro, in the moment, not long term, not emotional).

        DW…I have done some diaries at the Seminal. I did one recently on the role of Trauma in the Israeli Palestinian conflict. Thank you for all of your encouragement and support. Will continue to explore more diary ideas.

        • JThomason says:

          You know Wilhelm Reich of course attempted to deconstruct the psycho-biological dynamics of fascism. It was not a particularly welcome effort once he began this research in the United States.

          Thank you for your expertise in advancing these correlations which at this point are fairly well scientifically validated. I miss the reasonable humane science of men like Stan Grof, M.D. and John C. Lilly, M.D. even if the Lilly’s forays into the ketamine frontier were ill-advised and his understanding of the evolutionary place of silicon was not welcome in the White House. At least these men had and have the decency to understand that their work stood in the context of history and that norms of human psychological health exist in states of psycho/emotional thriving.

          This work stands in stark contrast to the mechanical behaviorism that emerged in attempting to shape social compliance after WWII. And of course the fruit of a kind of pharmacological mechanism is well entrenched now.

          • wavpeac says:

            I remember reading Alice Walker’s description of a parent eating an ice cream cone and understanding for the first time, where and how the seeds of narcissism are planted. And how invalidation plays a role in the scenario that does not “make real” a child’s hunger or want of ice cream. In fact, the idea that we had the humane society protecting animals from abuse before we protected children speaks to the degree to which we invalidated children in our society. What an interesting irony that the only child that deserves legal protection is the fetus according to the far right. (who abhor the idea that the state can tell you how to raise your children even if it requires abuse or neglect).

    • DWBartoo says:

      Another superb reflection, wavpeac.

      I think you have a series of critically important diaries, which deserve stand-alone opportunities at the Seminal,as the entire FDL community needs access to your insights and understandings.


    • TalkingStick says:

      Though I might formulate it differently, I think there is a lot of truth in what you say.

      A large segment US was intellectually and culturally very close to Germany at the time WWII was building. Had they not invaded Poland at the time they did we might have gone along with them. There was a huge “Red Fear’ movement.The great Republican Senator Borah lamented he had not had a chance to dissuade his friend Hitler from the invasion. As late as Nov. 1941 the Congress passed the renewal of the draft by one vote.

      Anecdote. On Dec. 7th 1941, my father, once convinced Pearl Harbor really was not in the Philippines, believed the attack must have come from the Communists.

    • JTMinIA says:

      I tried to get on Iowa Public Radio last week to answer the question posed by the host: “how could someone drive a nail through a cat’s head?” (Maybe you heard about the cat; it seemed to go national.) I wished to suggest that this wasn’t all that surprising in a country that not only tortures, but has ex-preznits who say they would do it again even knowing that it didn’t do anything useful for anyone other than recruiters of terr’sts. I was not allowed on. (They didn’t say whether it was because my tinfoil hat was interfering with my cell phone or what; they left that implied.)

      Invalidation… Dehumanization… Whatever label you wish. Same thing.

      • JThomason says:

        The most fascinating work on the transference of abuse in the context of scientific expertise in my view is Alice Miller’s work entitled The Drama of the Gifted Child. It was the prevalence of this kind of transference that led Dr. Miller to eschew psycho-analysis and her work on the psychological character of Hitler is spot-on.

        The practical social problem associated with embodying this kind of knowledge is that the holistic perspectives advocated are learned and require a neutral nurturing environment to emerge. Each generation is called to find its own humanity though the way may be well charted.

      • wavpeac says:

        totally agree…and yes, I heard about the cat. There was an interesting study a while back in which a researcher interviewed people on death row for murder. The standard statistic is that 50% of the inmates in prison were abused as children. However, in her study, she did not accept the answer of the inmates to the question of whether or not they were abused. Instead she interviewed friends and family and looked at records collected by social workers and state agencies. What she found was that those who reported that they had never been abused, had actually been abused in “more severely” than those who reported abuse. (not sure how it was categorized as to severity). Will search for link, but couldn’t find it on first go around. I know it exists cause I used it in my Master’s thesis.

  26. TalkingStick says:

    I fear our search for “wholeness”through changing the brain chemistry and navel gazing may have lured us into disconnecting from other life and our environment.

    The only true wholeness is in kinship and is derived from comprehension of reality and the ability to discriminate self from other. When one feels kinship with another human being, Muslim or Monk the reality of the effect of the torture and atrocity is most clearly understood.

    We have to have the pictures. tapes and documents but we must also nurture a culture of kinship before the inhumanities will be stopped and prevented..

  27. harpie says:

    Is it just me?
    I can’t seem to get the report through the link above or the one at Jeff Kaye’s article of Jason Leopold’s.

  28. TalkingStick says:

    Kinship and I think the reality of who man is and what he should do comes through service to others. We endure as a species because we are a social species which encompasses degrees of service to each other. We are not just a collection of different colored marbles.

  29. bobschacht says:

    Related topic:
    Parade Magazine, the Sunday supplement thing, has a current poll going, “Where should terror suspects be tried?” The options are civilian courts vs. military courts. The voting is still going on. It apparently started on April 18. After I voted, the poll was going 63% for Civilian Courts, and 37% for Military Commissions. They don’t say how many have voted, but this vote deserves to be publicized.

    Bob in AZ

  30. jackie says:

    I think President Obama is going to allow all the stuff about the ‘possible War crimes’ to be given to the UNs investigation…
    There is a lot of criminal investigations going on/starting up and, although the disaster in Gulf is unbelievably bad, it has opened the door into BP and other connected businesses/political connections etc..Haliburton is one of those connections.. Lots of nasty stuff there.. It would be interesting to see who else is having to lawyer-up
    (including the!!)

Comments are closed.