Thursday, June 07, 2007

Torture Begets Torture

There was an article in Monday's WaPo that everyone should take a moment to read. I apologize for not getting it online to you earlier - been a busy week. It is a study of a young American whose job was to get information, pretty much anyway he could. And what those acts have cost him mentally and emotionally. The article, by Laura Blumenfeld, is titled "The Tortured Lives of Interrogators.

Here is a sample.

The American interrogator was afraid. Of what and why, he couldn't say. He was riding the L train in Chicago and his throat was closing.

In Iraq, when Tony Lagouranis interrogated suspects, fear was his friend, his weapon. He saw it seep, dark and shameful, through the crotch of a man's pants as a dog closed in, barking. He smelled it in prisoners' sweat, a smoky odor, like a pot of lentils burning. He had touched fear, too, felt it in their fingers, their chilled skin trembling.

But on this evening, Lagouranis was back in Illinois, taking the train to a bar. His girlfriend thought he was a hero. His best friend hung out with him, watching reruns of "Hawaii Five-O." And yet he felt afraid.

"I tortured people," said Lagouranis, 37, who was a military intelligence specialist in Iraq from January 2004 until January 2005. "You have to twist your mind up so much to justify doing that."

What is interesting is that Blumenfeld also speaks with veteran interrogators who have found ways to find their "moral balance" using "denial, humor and indignation." What does torture beget in the torturer? Provided that soul is not lost already. As she quotes political scientist Darius Rejali, "Nothing is more toxic than guilt, which is typical with democratic interrogators. Nazis, on the other hand, don't have these problems."


Blogger moville said...

good article. torture is very corrosive and damaging to the individual who inflicts it...and to the nation that sponsors it. it's awfully tough to remonstrate with people like putin about human rights, when a lot of the interrogation techniques used by our people at gitmo and elsewhere come straight from the NKVD/KGB playbook.
but the republican prez candidates rather like torture...they're positively gleeful when they talk about it.

6:12 PM  
Blogger TomCat said...

...Nazis, on the other hand, don't have these problems

In that case, Bush must sleep well at night.

2:33 PM  

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