Steven Reisner and Kathy Roberts write: In the history of state-sponsored torture, a rarely acknowledged truth is that accountability only takes place in countries where the torturing government has fallen from power. Victors tend neither to acknowledge nor to hold themselves accountable for torture.
In the United States, apparently we are no different. Recently, Attorney General Holder dismissed the final two of 100 cases of alleged torture under investigation. But, as the recent death of Adnan Latif reminds us, our nation’s struggle with torture is far from resolved. During his years at Guantánamo, Mr. Latif was subjected to extensive solitary confinement, often with his hands in cuffs and his arms pinned. Because of his suicide attempts and hunger strikes, he was also housed in a psychiatric ward and force-fed through tubes in his nose. Since 2002, at least six detainees have successfully committed suicide, and hundreds have tried. Thus, while abusive interrogations may have stopped, their effects continue to reverberate in the lives of those subjected to them. Like the majority of the 167 men who remain in indefinite detention at Guantánamo, Mr. Latif was never charged with any crime. His freedom was taken from him; his mind was broken, and he never saw justice.
Much has been written about the lawyers and CIA personnel involved in water-boarding and other cruel punishment of detainees. There is less public awareness of the prominent role that medical professionals and in particular psychologists played at every stage of the development and implementation of the abusive interrogation techniques and detention conditions. And this, sadly, is not unusual. We know from trials in other countries where torture is practiced that medical professionals, including psychologists, frequently play a role in attempting to extract information from prisoners because torture is at its core a psychological process. In fact, the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims reports that a health professional was involved in 50% of the cases they’ve seen. [Continue reading…]