August 23, 2005
Torture, and the American Way : The History and Consequences of
U.S. Involvement in Torture (Paperback)
When it comes to torture, Jennifer Harbury knows of what she speaks. A Harvard educated attorney, she fell in love with a Guatemalan man, Everado, who was leading an uprising of the poor against the oligarchy and military in his native country. In Central and South America, speaking out on behalf of the poor -- and fighting for economic justice -- is considered a crime of subversion.
The punishment for such crimes is either death or torture. And as Harbury reveals in this follow-up to her moving book, "Searching for Everardo: A Story of Love, War, and the CIA in Guatemala," the torture is often done with the knowledge of the CIA, people trained by the CIA, and graduates of "The School of Americas" in Benning, Georgia.
This are not radical, fringe political accusations. This is fact.
The torture her husband endured before he died was horrifying and ghastly. A doctor was on hand to make sure he didn't die until the Guatemalan military felt that he was no longer useful. Harbury publicly battled on his behalf in Guatemala and the U.S., but she was unable to save him. She did, however, achieve one goal, an admission by the U.S. Government that they were aware of his detention and torture.
The above information provides you with some background on how Harbury was introduced to torture that was sanctioned and promoted by the United States Government, in our name.
In her latest book, "Truth, Torture and the American Way," Harbury takes the reader on a journey as to how we arrived at Abu Ghraib. As BuzzFlash readers know, what did and is happening at Bush Administration "detention centers" around the world is not an isolated "lower-level" series of incidents. The authorization and history of experience of torturing captives is a long-standing covert U.S. policy, according to Harbury. Abu Ghraib is merely the latest manifestation of that policy -- and only became known due to the modern technology of digital photographs, which can be so easily transmitted over the Internet.
But the torture sanctioned by the CIA and successive U.S. administrations has thrived over decades, even if it we did not see photographs of the ghastly results.
Harbury, in her book, also makes the arguments that not only is torture morally reprehensible for a nation that considers itself the "Northern Star" of democracy and morality, she also cogently presents the case why torture is not generally effective. People under torture will start telling the torturers what they want to hear, rather than the truth, if there is even anything of value that they have to tell in the first place.
Furthermore, Harbury argues, the now official Bush policy of using torture puts our American troops at risk. This is because their captors can argue that they have a right to do to American soldiers what the Bush Administration is doing to followers of Islam, whether they are guilty or not. So much of the Bush Administration torture appears to just fishing expeditions. Half the time, they don't even know if the people they are torturing have any knowledge to impart or are even of any importance in the Islamic terrorist movement.
This book makes an excellent companion piece to "Hidden in Plain Sight," the DVD documentary that provides an eye-opening introduction to the infamous "School of the Americas."
We were recently in Caracas, Venezuela, and were waiting in line to return to Miami, when we struck up a conversation with a nice, affable upper class Venezuelan. He was as friendly as could be, but quickly denounced the Chavez government as disastrous. "Why," we asked, "is he corrupt?" "No," the Venezuelan responded, "All the leaders in South America are corrupt. That's nothing special." "Then why is he disastrous?" we asked. "Because he gets the poor people all riled up," he responded. "About what?" we asked. "About being poor," he responded, "Chavez gets them all upset about being poor."
Yes, in Latin and South America, the U.S. considers it a crime if poor people get upset about being poor. That's why we have the School of the Americas and the CIA condoning torture. The poor must accept their poverty -- or be tortured.
Because the natural resources and hemispheric market franchises of American companies are too valuable to be trusted to the whims of REAL democracies.