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Author Rebecca Gordon appeared 7-29-2014 at Porter Square Books, Cambridge, MA, to talk about her new book, Mainstreaming Torture: Ethical Approaches in the Post-9/11 United States. Truth and Justice Radio was there, recording.
For broadcasters' convenience, we broke this recording up into Quick Intro (0:44), Main Body (58:09), Formal Q&A (17:14), and Truth and Justice Radio's last-minute informal Gaza question at the end (1:51).
The description that follows was drafted by Truth and Justice Radio, and we hope the author finds it faithful to her intent.
Gordon provided quite a lot of factual information that you would never know by watching, listening to, or reading mainstream sources. We all recommend finding and reading her book. The book's website is mainstreamingtorture.org.
Institutionalized State Torture is wrong, even more so than torture by individuals. This moral principal has been formally agreed to by governments around the world under UN auspices. It's acknowledged even by some of the world's most vicious torture enablers and promoters, for example Obama and Netanyahu. The U.S. Government tries to welch its way around this agreement using the so-called Torture Memo, courtesy of John Yoo, Jay Bybee, et al. The practice of torture by U.S. officials continues apace, despite their lies and coverups. Perhaps the most common form is with today's treatment of prisoners.
The goal and/or results of torture for its practitioners is misrepresented throughout the world as gaining essential information. In fact, even the torturers know that they can't rely on information forced out of their victims. Their actual goal is to obtain total submission, thus elimination of resistance to tyranny. Orwell's classic book 1984 provides a fictional illustration, in which Winston Smith is tortured into believing 2+2=5, and worst of all, betraying the most important person in his life, violating his pledge to never do so. Broken, he becomes an enthusiastic supporter of Big Brother.
Frequently one hears the voices of today's fascists, and even self-proclaimed "liberals" (for example Jonathan Alter) calling for torture as revenge for some presumed crime. But just imagine the indignation if the people decided to torture Bush, Cheney et al (the list goes on) for their beyond-incredible crimes against humanity!
Gordon also spells out some of the profound results of torture for its victims. With pain, it shrinks his/her world. All sense of the passage of time can be destroyed. It eliminates the victim's social world by stopping all contact.
Finally, Gordon explains how state actors in the United States have relied on torture throughout its entire history, NOT just after 9/11. (Presumably in order to avoid stirring up a different controversy, Gordon apparently adopts the mainstream assumption that the 9/11 attacks were the work of bona fide foreign terrorists, despite TJR's awareness of vast quantities of evidence to the contrary.) In any case, the U.S. wasn't the first nation to practice torture as state policy. It learned from history and from the dictators it has propped up over the years.