Southern Religion

NRCAT video on U.S. torture/experimentation

The National Religious Campaign Against Torture video on torture/experimentation contains decidedly graphic and disturbing imagery:

June 8, 2010 Posted by | Politics | | 2 Comments

Disregard for the Nuremberg Code

Torture is a moral issue, argues the National Religious Campaign against Torture. It has come back home again in a corruption of medical practice and scientific research, as the Physicians for Human Rights materials demonstrate.

Meredith Wadman of Nature writes:

According to Nancy Berlinger, a research scholar who studies clinical ethics at The Hastings Center in Garrison, New York, the report is distressing in part because it reveals a complete disregard for the Nuremberg Code. The 1947 code was created in response to evidence of Nazi-era experimentation and forms the basis for subsequent US regulations governing research. “To see evidence of experimentation on detainees in US custody feels like a body blow to people who care about research ethics,” says Berlinger.

June 8, 2010 Posted by | Law, Politics | | Comments Off on Disregard for the Nuremberg Code

Torture talk from a serial commuter

Past Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee, whose many prison pardons and commutations while governor of Arkansas are well documented, showed his national security credentials by talking tough about how Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab should be treated.

Huckabee, a former Southern Baptist pastor who now has a Fox News talk show, suggested on a recent show that Abdulmutallab be tortured. Specifically, Huckabee mentioned putting the explosives back into Abdulmutallab’s underwear, where he reportedly had them on an airline flight when he was captured, and detonated if that was required to make him talk.

Huckabee later said he was being facetious. Someone should tell him that sadistic levity about a deadly serious topic hardly befits a president, a presidential candidate, a former presidential hopeful or even a television talk show host who may or may not seek his party’s nomination for the office again. For that matter, neither is blaming others for gubernatorial pardon and commutation mistakes.

[H/T: Ambassador Gwen]

January 20, 2010 Posted by | Politics | , , | Comments Off on Torture talk from a serial commuter

Interrogation at Guantanamo

Three of four prisoners died at Guantanamo Bay detention camp during or after interrogation on the night of June 9, 2006. Although they were officially declared “suicides.” And this was generally accepted until Joe Hickman, who was a sergeant and on duty at the time, stepped forward.

This we learn from Scott Horton’s Harper’s Magazine Jan. 18 account of events leading to the death of the three.

A fourth survived. He was, Horton wrote, “a forty-two-year-old Saudi Arabian named Shaker Aamer” who “is married to a British woman and was in the process of becoming a British subject when he was captured in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, in 2001:

United States authorities insist that he carried a gun and served Osama bin Laden as an interpreter. Aamer denies this. At Guantánamo, Aamer’s fluency in English soon allowed him to play an important role in camp politics. According to both Aamer’s attorney and press accounts furnished by Army Colonel Michael Bumgarner, the Camp America commander, Aamer cooperated closely with Bumgarner in efforts to bring a 2005 hunger strike to an end. He persuaded several prisoners to break their strike for a while, but the settlement collapsed and soon afterward Aamer was sent to solitary confinement. Then, on the night of June 9, 2006, Aamer says he was the victim of an act of striking brutality.

Amer described it all to his lawyer, Zachary Katznelson, some weeks later. Katznelson “filed an affidavit with the federal district court in Washington, setting it out:”

On June 9th, 2006, [Aamer] was beaten for two and a half hours straight. Seven naval military police participated in his beating. Mr. Aamer stated he had refused to provide a retina scan and fingerprints. He reported to me that he was strapped to a chair, fully restrained at the head, arms and legs. The MPs inflicted so much pain, Mr. Aamer said he thought he was going to die. The MPs pressed on pressure points all over his body: his temples, just under his jawline, in the hollow beneath his ears. They choked him. They bent his nose repeatedly so hard to the side he thought it would break. They pinched his thighs and feet constantly. They gouged his eyes. They held his eyes open and shined a mag-lite in them for minutes on end, generating intense heat. They bent his fingers until he screamed. When he screamed, they cut off his airway, then put a mask on him so he could not cry out.

Horton goes on to explain:

The treatment Aamer describes is noteworthy because it produces excruciating pain without leaving lasting marks. Still, the fact that Aamer had his airway cut off and a mask put over his face “so he could not cry out” is an alarming fact. This is the same technique that appears to have been used on the three deceased prisoners.

The possibility of this kind of action is part of what Evangelicals for Human Rights and other people of faith called out against during the Bush administration. And have since asked to have thoroughly investigated. With good cause, it seems.

[H/T: The Daily Dish]

January 18, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Comments Off on Interrogation at Guantanamo

Presbyterian leader calls for review of post-9/11 interrogations

The chief ecclesiastical administrator of the Presbyterian Church(USA) General Assembly has called for President Obama to create a nonpartisan commission of inquiry into the Bush administration’s post-9/11 use of torture.

Stated Clerk Gradye Parsons based his April 23rd letter [.pdf] on the 217th General Assembly’s declaration that Congress should:

. . . convene an investigative body with the independence, stature, and broad investigative powers of the September 11th Commission to inquire into whether any official or officer of the United States government bears direct or command responsibility for having ordered or participated in violations of law in the mistreatment of persons detained by the government of the United States at Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib Prison, or elsewhere or in transporting persons into detention in nations with known records of brutality and torture; to publish its findings and, if appropriate, to recommend the appointment of a special prosecutor if one has not been previously appointed.

Parsons argues the necessity of public accountability before God and man, writing:

If those responsible are not held accountable, there is nothing beyond wishful thinking and admonitions to compel future leaders to resist the temptation to torture in times of fear or threat.

His position is rooted in the fundamental Presbyterian precept that “The Church is called to be Christ’s faithful evangelist . . . engaging in the struggle to free people from sin, fear, oppression, hunger, and injustice” (Book of Order, G-3.0300c(3)(c)).

The Stated Clerk is elected for four years and it is among his responsibilities to interpret General Assembly’s actions, as he has here. More generally, he is “responsible for the Office of the General Assembly, which conducts the ecclesiastical work of the church.”

In keeping with its history of support of human rights, the PC(USA) is a member of the National Religious Coalition Against Torture, whose online site offers visitors the opportunity to join in the call for a commission of inquiry.

April 30, 2009 Posted by | Churches, PC(USA), Politics, Presbyterian, Religion | , , , , | Comments Off on Presbyterian leader calls for review of post-9/11 interrogations

Religious torture’s backlash


Use of the Qur’an as an instrument of torture is a Guantánamo mistake that may rebound on the United States for generations, warns Michael Peppard in the Catholic magazine Commonweal.

Peppard says:

Religious torture generates determined resistance and long-lasting resentments. What has been a mere footnote for us may be the main story for the Muslim world. The U.S. military knows that desecration of the Qur’an leads to hunger strikes and suicide attempts, that playing “The Star-Spangled Banner” over the call to prayer is demoralizing. But they seem not to have considered the long-term effects of such tactics.

Principal among those long-term effects is creation of a stream if new enemies, as a former Special Operations interrogator warns today in the Washington Post. President-elect Obama has promised to outlaw that torture and close Guantanamo.

December 1, 2008 Posted by | Religion | , , , | 1 Comment