[Marxism] ARTICLE: Naomi Klein: 'Torture is used by US mainly for social control'

Ralph Johansen michele at maui.net
Sun May 15 15:15:34 MDT 2005


[Instilling fear in the hearts and minds - if you can't join them beat them]

<Klein reports that people - and especially Muslims - in the United 
States now often avoid taking any political or social stand and seek not 
to draw attention to themselves. This is torture's true purpose, she 
continues, to not only terrorize those who are caged up in Guantánamo 
but also, and more important, "the broader community that hears about 
these abuses. Torture is a machine designed to break the will to 
resist--the individual prisoner's will and the collective will.">

Article in The Nation Describes US Use of Torture as Tool to Control 
Society

New York, May 14 (RHC)--The current issue of The Nation magazine carries 
an article by writer Naomi Klein in which she discusses the true reasons 
for torture, saying that rather than extract information it is designed 
to cower entire societies and not just the direct victim.

One of the ways that the US government maintains the control it does 
over its population is through blatant fear. By passing laws that affect 
the very freedoms that the United States is supposed to be fighting for 
across the globe, US authorities have instilled such fear of reprisal 
that few have the courage to speak out - especially if they are Muslims.

Why, asks Klein, is the Pentagon willing to release photos of Guantánamo 
prisoners living like beasts in cages? Fear needs to be finely 
calibrated, she says, "people being intimidated need to know enough to 
be afraid but not so much that they demand justice. This helps explain 
why the Defense Department will release certain kinds of seemingly 
incriminating information about Guantánamo."

There is a careful strategic leaking of information that is combined 
with official denials of the worst cases of torture making it appear as 
if the authorities are dealing with the rogue elements of its security 
forces by its willingness to publish their mishandling of prisoners.

Jameel Jaffer from the American Civil Liberties Union comments that 
intelligence services have an incentive to hide the worst uses of 
unlawful interrogation methods, but at the same time "it's undeniable 
that they benefit, in some sense, from the fact that people know that 
intelligence agents are willing to act unlawfully. They benefit from the 
fact that people understand the threat and believe it to be credible."

One of the most effective ways of instilling this fear in the hearts and 
minds of the population - especially foreign immigrants who have the 
most to lose - is through the existence of what is called "rendition" 
which, as Naomi Klein succinctly describes is "the process by which US 
officials outsource torture to foreign countries." Individuals arrested 
as suspects may be shipped off to their country of origin or outside the 
realm of US judicial control to be tortured. Cases have occurred in the 
US involving people stopped at airports on connecting flights and 
bundled onto aircraft for other parts of the world where they are 
imprisoned and tortured in places with fewer laws against such 
treatment. Their torture might be overseen by a US agent far from the 
prying eyes of US watchdog groups. The actual torture details are 
besides the point - the fear of rendition is what makes it work as a 
tool for control.

The US Patriot Act gives US authorities the power to raid any mosque 
they please based on a hunch. It only needs some disaffected person to 
call in an anonymous report that someone had made some unguarded remark 
and police and anti-terrorism units can be all over any school, library 
or community group on mere suspicion of terrorist links, which in the US 
these days means having a Muslim name or looking Arab.

Klein reports that people - and especially Muslims - in the United 
States now often avoid taking any political or social stand and seek not 
to draw attention to themselves. This is torture's true purpose, she 
continues, to not only terrorize those who are caged up in Guantánamo 
but also, and more important, "the broader community that hears about 
these abuses. Torture is a machine designed to break the will to 
resist--the individual prisoner's will and the collective will."

A 2001 manual on torture published by a US non government organization 
called Physicians for Human Rights noted that "perpetrators often 
attempt to justify their acts of torture and ill treatment by the need 
to gather information. Such conceptualizations obscure the purpose of 
torture....The aim of torture is to dehumanize the victim, break his/her 
will, and at the same time, set horrific examples for those who come in 
contact with the victim. In this way, torture can break or damage the 
will and coherence of entire communities."

Naomi Klein ends her article in The Nation by saying that the US 
Pentagon and other authorities on the subject of torture all agree that 
as a tool to extract information it is useless as prisoners will often 
say anything to avoid pain and mental angusih. Investigators using 
simple detective work find out more information that the torturers in 
the dungeons of Abu Grahib.

"As an interrogation tool," ends Klein, "torture is a bust. But when it 
comes to social control, nothing works quite like torture."

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