Torture, Law, and War: Torture and Society

Torture, Law, and War: Torture and Society


– Hello. Good afternoon. I’m Susan Gzesh. I’m director of the
Human Rights Program here at the
University of Chicago. Before we start with
our two speakers– and we’re going to
reverse the order; first we will hear
from Scott Horton, because he had some video
he was going to show us, and then we will
hear from Mary Anne Case– I’m going to take
the chair’s prerogative to do two very quick things. First of all, I would like to
remember Dr. Robert Kirschner, who was a world-renowned
forensic pathologist– one of the founders of
the Human Rights Program here at the University
of Chicago– who died four years ago. Who worked on everything
from the El Mozote massacre to the Southside
police torture cases that Lieutenant Jon
Burge perpetrated, and was really an advocate
of the cooperation between the Academy and
advocacy communities. And he would have been
delighted with this conference, and we’re very sorry
he’s no longer with us. One of the civil rights
lawyers in Chicago asked me at Dr.
Kirschner’s funeral, did we have any other forensic
pathologists like that at the University of Chicago? And I said unfortunately no. So I wanted to note
his contributions to the field which included
being a founder of Physicians for Human Rights and one
of the original authors of the Istanbul Accords, which
brought science to human rights by developing medical standards
for the diagnosis of torture. So I just wanted
to say something about Dr. Kirschner in the
context of this conference. I wouldn’t be here if it
weren’t for Bob Kirschner and the other people who founded
the Human Rights Program here. The second thing I
want to do, since we’re talking about the media
and social discourse, and because I was
told we have 10 minutes more than the other
panels, is tell a joke. And it’s a very fast joke. And I think it will give us
a little bit– when things are very grim, sometimes
it’s a good idea to have something to laugh at. So this is a story of
three police departments, and you could pick pretty
much any three countries in the world. The third one is always
whoever the sort of low guy is in a particular region. If it were Scandinavian,
it would be the Norwegians. But the context I
heard this in was from some lawyer
colleagues of mine in Mexico, so I’ll
proceed with that. It’s a contest
among police forces to find a rabbit in
an acre of woods. And the first police force
to compete are the Germans. And they come in and they
have the entire forest mapped. They know where every
tree is; every branch. They know how fast rabbits run. They have everything calculated
down to the minutest detail. And they go into the
forest– the German police– and about 45 minutes later,
they come out with a rabbit. The judges tell them very good. And then the Americans come in. The Americans have every
technological device you can imagine. They have night sensors. They have motion detectors. They have infrared cameras. They go into the forest,
and 40 minutes later they come out with a rabbit. Show it to the judges. Very good. Then the Mexicans show up. They don’t have very many
technological devices. They go into the forest. Two hours later, they come
out dragging an elephant. The elephant is streaming
water from his trunk. He’s got cigarette
burns all over his hide. And the chief of police drags
him up in front of the judges. And the judges are
looking rather puzzled. And the Mexican chief of
police smacks the elephant across the face and he says,
“tell them who you really are.” [LAUGHTER] So popular culture
includes jokes. It also includes media. And Scott Horton– who has
left the practice of law to work full-time as a writer
and teacher, because he has gotten very involved in these
issues over the last number of years– is going
to start us out by looking at some of
what’s in the media about the topic of torture. – We’re going to start
with a clip that’s going to have some very, very
brief interview segments, and then we’re going to
see some key passages from FOX News’ 24, which has
been referred to repeatedly. Because I think it’s very
important for all of us to have a very clear
idea visually of what’s presented in these programs. So let’s go to the video. [VIDEO PLAYBACK] – And you see
Americans torturing. And the Americans who torture
are seen as patriotic. They’re seen as effective. They’re seen as heroic. – I think the interrogators–
they wanted to see themselves as these rough, tough action
heroes that you see on TV. The kind of interrogator
like Kiefer Sutherland. – It used to be that only
villains tortured people, and they tortured good guys. Today, you have Americans
doing the torturing. – Those men will
kill your family if you don’t tell me
where the bomb is now. – How would I characterize
television and techniques? They’re using techniques
that really don’t work, but on television they make
you think that they worked. – I can’t wait any longer. Tell me where the bomb is
or I will kill [INAUDIBLE]. – If you are bombarded
with thousands of hours of television where all you
see is these extraordinary techniques– you’re
a young person, maybe you haven’t received a
lot of training, and you say, well I’ve seen this,
surely it must work. I’ve seen it 20
times on television. Tell me where the bomb is! Tell me where the bomb is! Fine. Do it! [SCREAMS] [SOUNDS OF GUNSHOTS] – No! No! – There have been
many an individual who has been willing to die and
not reveal the information they know, especially
when we’re dealing with these true believers. – You’re running out of time! I will tell these men
to kill your last son! – No! – Where is the bomb? – No! – That’s it. Take him out! – No! I’ll tell you. – Tell me now. What’s the plan? – In fact, what it does
is it pisses them off– – I want you to know we
didn’t kill your son. We staged it. – And it makes
them more resolute. – Obviously, if people are
talking about beating someone with a phone book because
it doesn’t leave marks, or they’re talking about using
the Fuel phone as a generator to create electric
shock, these aren’t the things they
followed themselves, they are things that
they got from television. – I think you’ve never actually
tortured anybody in your life. – Unfortunately for
us both, you’re wrong. – I think that TV shows and
movies really misrepresent the way interrogation works. It always seems that
the interrogator on TV leans in on the subject and
then the subject clearly breaks, and this happens in
less than five minutes. – Perhaps losing an eye
will loosen your tongue. – OK! – And then once the subject
is broken, he’s broken, and he’ll tell anything that
the interrogator wants him to. The few times that I
saw prisoners actually break in Iraq, that wasn’t
the way it happened. It happened very
slowly, by building a relationship between the
interrogator and the subject. – We don’t want anything
to be less compelling. We don’t want to undermine
the entertainment value, which is what these shows’ very
purpose is, is entertainment. But we do want
screenwriters to understand that there’s a consequence to
some of this in today’s world. Torture used to be
seen by Americans as absolutely unacceptable. Americans did not torture. And the depiction of
torture on television, and the idea that torture is
OK in certain circumstances, has become more commonplace. – The Parents
Television Council has seen a huge spike in
depictions of torture on television,
especially after 2001. From 1995 until 2001, we found
minimal depictions of torture. Post-2001, there
was a huge spike. It topped off in 2003 at
over 200 instances per year. – It was constantly before
us– the notion that we needed to get information
to save lives. – Tell me what you know
about the Helix protocol. – Everything became a
different timeline scenario. – It’s too late. You can’t stop this. – People believed that every
Iraqi had something to tell us. Every Iraqi knew something
about the insurgency. And if they told us they
didn’t know anything, you could assume they’re
lying, and you just want to keep pushing and pushing. – And so with unclear
guidelines, with confusion, with people doing jobs
they weren’t trained for, soldiers are feeling
this pressure and they’re resorting to
techniques they’ve seen on TV. – I’m actually hoping you don’t
tell us what we need to know. – We’ve encouraged
screenwriters to think about the impact of these
scenes when viewed over scenes– – Wait! – And to think about that
this culture gets exported. And if there are
ways for Hollywood to have a more nuanced
view of torture– – White– Tell her to
cut the white wire. [SOUND OF GUNSHOT] – We would really
welcome the chance to talk to Hollywood about that,
and to have them take that on. [END VIDEO PLAYBACK] – Give us just a– – Is that piece from
Human Rights Group? – Yes this is
principle– yeah in fact, this is an excerpt I took out
of a longer DVD which runs about 25 minutes, which has a great
deal more narration and many more segments from
several different shows– principally 24, but a
number of others as well. If you want to get
a copy, contact me. I’d be happy to get
one to you right. So I want to talk. I want to bring the
focus to the media now. And maybe I should just start
by asking what sort of impact does this have–
programs like 24? I’m going to come back at the
end and talk about the effects. But I want to start
with just one, and that is something I think of
concern to law students and law school professors. Antonin Scalia– certainly an
intellectually powerful member of the Supreme Court– in the
course of the last 18 months, two times has made
public statements, once in Canada, once in
an interview with the BBC, in which he has stated
that his attitudes towards the torture issue are
strongly influenced by Jack Bauer, who he cites by name. In fact, he says it creates a
clear paradigm for addressing the issue, and he says what
prosecutor– in this BBC interview– what
prosecutor would ever dare to bring charges
against Jack Bauer? I think it shows how
really remarkably powerful this has been. Most of our
discussion on torture is focused on policy
formation and debate. And we’ve seen
the issues tackled from the perspective of law, of
ethics, the utilitarian stance. We really– and I think the
focus of that discussion has really been on Washington,
and the Congress, the think tanks, academia of the courts,
the administration itself internally. And then this process
we’re ignoring– what is at least as important
an alternate forum– and that is the
media itself, which shapes public opinion on these
issues in a very dramatic way. And I want to start by
talking just a little bit about the news sector. And I would obviously
break this into two parts. There’s news and then
there is entertainment. Most of my remarks are going
to be focused on entertainment. It’s astonishing, frankly, that
we’re talking about torture in the context of entertainment. But that is– that’s
the case ultimately. Well let’s start
with the news sector. And news coverage of torture
as an identifiable issue, of course, it stretches way
back in the United States. People who have
looked at it have documented lots of discussion
in American newspapers at the end of the Civil War. Around 1902, 1903, there
was a great deal of it. But more recently, it’s
been after the publication of the Abu Ghraib
photographs in April 2004. They were published
originally in The New Yorker and on CBS’ 60 Minutes. There are a handful of
reports that predated that. They really didn’t get
a lot of attention. And at the time the
Abu Ghraib images broke onto the public scene, I
had completed a major study by the New York
City Bar Association looking into the legal standards
governing highly coercive interrogation practices. And we had taken up that study
because the bar association had been contacted by very senior
officers of the JAG Corps, and we had been told that there
was no question about it that torture techniques
were in fact being used by the administration,
which was misleading the public about
what was being done. They were aware of it. In fact, they described how JAG
officers have been consciously circumvented in this process
because of the objections they raised to it. And as a result of
that, we undertook and we did about a 300-page
study of the legal rules on these cores of techniques. And I spoke out frequently. I was interviewed by
all the networks– by Bill Moyers, a
number of others. And one thing I kept noticing
when I would talk about this is whenever I used the word
torture, I would be cautioned. “Well you realize, of course,
we can’t use that segment.” Why? Or I was told by one of the
cable news networks, “well we could only put that into
the international feed; it’s not for domestic
consumption.” And then I was told that, “well
if you want to discuss this, you have to use other words; you
cannot use the word torture.” So highly coercive
techniques, yes that’s fine, something of that sort,
but not the word torture. Why? In fact, I kept pressing that
question over and over again. Why? Because the
administration– of course, the mantra that was coming from
President Bush at this time was “we do not torture.” And of course anyone
saying the contrary was directly contradicting the
President of the United States. And as one executive
told me, that’s a gutsy thing for us to
do, because we don’t do it. So I think this had a
really remarkable impact on the way the news coverage
of this issue occurred, particularly in the
first half-year, that is to the end of 2004 and
the beginning of 2005. Now torture. Of course, I don’t think
that all the techniques that were used constitute torture. But I’ll pull out
the ones that we at the bar association
focused on that we believe are torture– waterboarding,
longtime standing, hypothermia, sleep deprivation in
excess of two days, the use of
psychotropic drugs, and the sensory deprivation-sensory
overload techniques that were first developed for the
CIA at McGill University. We’ve concluded legally all
those things are torture. And our study– we
went back and we started looking at
American legal assessments of the use of these
techniques by other nations. The US had no
compunctions saying these things were torture. It did repeatedly. Waterboarding, by the way–
my former law partner Michael Mukasey, of course, has
testified several times before Congress saying
that he’s not sure if waterboarding is torture. I am sure that
waterboarding is torture. In fact, we have court
martials of people who use the waterboarding
technique going back to 1902, 1903. And indeed we can look to
highly progressive liberal jurisdictions like the
Supreme Court of Mississippi, which in 1926 handed
down an opinion saying that waterboarding was torture. So there’s really, excuse me,
no issue whatsoever about it. And I think we only
get these conclusions from the Office of Legal
Counsel by a failure to examine dispositive
authority, which is something they
been quite expert at for the last several years. And I think of course
the use of the word torture to refer
to those techniques in particular is appropriate. Now when we go back and
look at print media– I think in 2005 I
sat down one weekend and I went through
The New York Times over a period of four
months to see how the word torture had been used. And I found it was used
to describe accessorizing clothing that clashed. It was used to describe a
neighbor’s excessively loud stereo music. But when we came to look at
torture techniques being used at that point at Abu
Ghraib and Guantanamo, the word torture
would never appear. At most in scare quotes, but
even that’s quite infrequently. Usually you would see the
words highly coercive. I mean this is, in my mind,
a rather stunning example of the process that
George Orwell referred to in Politics and the
English Language in 1946, where words are stripped
of their real meaning– they’re given a
false meaning– and I think we see that very,
very clearly here. Now in early 2005, I
also had several meetings with Alex Gibney, who
was working on a project to do a documentary about this. And I worked with him
for the last two years on that project,
which ultimately produced the documentary
Taxi to the Dark Side. And when we looked at it,
I told him immediately let’s not do a documentary
about Abu Ghraib. The whole tactic that the
administration has taken has been this is an
Abu Ghraib problem. It is the Abu Ghraib problem. It’s Animal House
on the night shift– the phrase that got memorialized
as a result of that. I said let’s look
at something else. We focused in this
documentary on a death that occurred at Bagram Air
Force Base in Afghanistan– in fact, one of the first
reported deaths in detention. And we were able to
show in this process that there was a
conscious decision to lie about what occurred. False certificates were issued. But we were able to unturn–
mostly due to fantastic investigative work by The
New York Times’ Carlotta Gall and Tim Golden–
exactly what happened; how this death occurred;
and link it directly back to decisions that were
made in Washington; that the chain is
amazingly clear. And one of the real
bombshells in the documentary is we have a secret
video that was taken of a group of senior commanders
conferring in Bagram Air Force Base, in which they’re
talking about the fact that the Pentagon has directed
the use of these techniques and we are supposed
to lie about it; we’re not supposed
to allow people to know that this is going on. Of course, I think
that’s all abundantly clear as a result of documents
that subsequently came up. Well response to the
Abu Ghraib scandal can be really summarized as
let’s scapegoat the grunts. So unnamed Defense
Department spokesmen spoke on not for attribution
basis to Pentagon reporters in the weeks right after The
New Yorker and 60 Minutes aired. And they gave the same
sort of background briefing over and over
again: “Well this is a particular unit that came from
the foothills of Appalachia. They were all hillbillies. A number of them had
criminal records. Sorry, we really can’t manage
the level of quality control we need for today’s Army. But that’s it; it was
these bad apples.” And then secretary James
Schlesinger, former Department of Defense Secretary, led a
study– high-level study– he came out with it. And he then made the rounds
all around the country summarizing his
report, saying again, “this was Animal House
on the night shift. There was absolutely
no connection to decisions that were
made in the Pentagon.” That was a conscious lie. And in fact, when
we subsequently got the classified
portions of his own report, we discovered it
didn’t say that. It said that, of course, there
was a very clear connection between techniques that
been approved and authorized for use in Guantanamo
and other places, and the things that were
being done at Abu Ghraib. So of course, there
was a policy which was fairly successfully
implemented of conscious deceit. It wasn’t totally
successful, because I think within the months
after Abu Ghraib, a majority of the American
public was not buying the line. But the administration
was able to hold on to roughly 40% to 45% public
acceptance of its line. And I think a lot of that
has to do with the media not pushing things as
aggressively as it should have. Well when we completed Taxi, it
was shown at the Tribeca Film Festival. It got Best Documentary there. It’s a spectacular film. If you haven’t seen
it, you really need to. It’s two hours. It’s grueling. It will not be
pleasant, but you will learn more than you could
learn at this entire conference in this film. And it got very, very wide
critical acclaim immediately– – You couldn’t wait to tell us. [LAUGHTER] – But I said it was unpleasant. [LAUGHTER] But we got overtures
from Discovery Channel, which said we love it. We really would like to get
this work and put it on TV. We concluded the
deal with Discovery, and we were told this is
going to show in the spring. Then about two months
ago, strange things started happening. First the Motion Picture
Academy notified us that they disapproved the
artwork for the documentary, because it showed a
man wearing a hood. And that in their mind was
associated with torture, and they certainly
couldn’t allow images associated with
torture to appear on a poster. Well there was actually
quite an explosion, even within the
Academy, about that and after a month and
a half they pulled back and that was OK. But then we started
hearing from Discovery that they were feeling strong
blowback from sources that they didn’t want to identify. And they decided it would
be imprudent to show this documentary. So we were notified that it was
going to be put on the shelf, and it might be shown sometime
after the elections, maybe in early 2009. It’s pretty clear that there
was political pressure brought to bear on them. And when that news
came out, there was also quite an
explosion publicly. And just 48 hours before
the Academy Awards at which Alex got the Oscar for
Best Documentary, of course, Discovery flipped this to HBO. But I think this shows
you pretty clearly the sorts of things have been
going on in the news side. Now I want to flip over
to the entertainment area, and I want to talk about
what’s happened there. You remember the Parents
Television Council with the statistics on the
number of torture incidents that have occurred,
where we saw basically very, very few incidents
of torture after 9/11. It begins to mushroom. It peaked in 2003. It’s been dropping a little bit. Actually we’re seeing
in 2006 and 2007– we’re seeing it
crest back up again, so it’s no longer trending down. But the most disturbing
thing is that there is a rather dramatic shift in
the nature of torture incidents that are portrayed. So if we go back and we look
at the historical Hollywood take on torture, great example
is 13 Rue Madeleine– a film that came out in 1947; one
of maybe two dozen films made in the World War
II era that show torture quite typical
of what happens. Torture is the
tool of the enemy. Indeed there was a
propaganda poster issued by the US government
during the war that says, “Torture Tool of the Enemy.” It was used to
identify the enemy. The victims: Americans and
allies of the Americans. Does torture work? Torture never works. Torture shows the
weakness of our enemy, and we will be resolute
in opposing it. We will gain strength from
it, and we will overcome them. This is the subtext that
appears in that movie and a series of others. Now when we jump forward
to the modern treatment– particularly 24–
what do we see? Well we see a reality show
that has remarkably little to do with reality. It grossly simplifies
complex facts. It pares away critical factors,
which a responsible citizen should be thinking about. And more importantly, it really
constitutes a head-on attack on morality and ethics. In fact, I had a meeting just
in the last couple of weeks with the leaders of two
major churches who told me that they were contemplating
a campaign against FOX and 24, as one of them told me
this is a direct assault on the religious
teachings of our church. They constantly
present those teachings in terms of political
figures who are naive, arrogant liberals, but
in fact, of course, these may very well
be religious teachings that are common to most faiths’
practice in the United States. And key to 24’s success is
a ticking bomb scenario. You hear it everywhere. It’s in the lead-ins; it’s
in the commercial breaks. All the time, that
pulsating sound. It’s adrenaline-pumping. And that tells us, of course,
the myth of the ticking bomb is the core of the program. It’s built completely
around that. Torture always works. Torture always saves the day. Torture is an ultimate
act of heroism. It is an act of defiance; of
pointy-headed liberal morality in favor of service to the
greater good to the country and to the many. So first question I
want to ask is has this been done for a
political purpose? Has it been done to create a
more receptive public audience for the administration’s
torture policies? And I think we have a
pretty clear answer to that, and the answer is yes,
quite consciously. And I want to refer you
to “Whatever it Takes,” an article by Jane Mayer. One of the best pieces of expose
journalism published last year, in which she looked
at the process that led to the evolution
of 24 and discovered it involved the
interaction– surprisingly or not surprisingly– of
a large number of people from the staff of Vice
President Richard Cheney. Now when we study the evolution
of this policy within the Bush administration, very,
very clear where the impetus, where the
force for the introduction of these policies came. We took the words “dark side”
and “taxi to the dark side” from remarks that Dick Cheney
made before Meet the Press, in an interview. We know that during
this period he was very aggressively
pushing the introduction of these techniques in the CIA. They were actually
resisting, I think, as Eric pointed out
a little bit earlier. Resisting very strongly the
use of these techniques. They had to be crammed
down to bring them in. And the producer Mr.
Surnow is proud of the fact that he’s building popular
support for the administration and what must be its single
most controversial policy. And I think what he’s
doing essentially is he’s building off
of a Hollywood legacy– what I call the Rambo legacy–
and the Rambo legacy again it focuses on a big
gap between reality and this fictitious world in
which superheroes accomplish good things frequently
using terrible techniques. So I think the
obvious criticisms that need to be made–
we discussed most of them in the conference so far–
and the first one is, is the ticking bomb scenario real? Does it reflect something
that actually occurs in life? I believe it’s a
malicious fiction. I don’t think it’s
ever occurred. I think it’s highly
improbable it ever would occur, particularly when
you think of all the facts that people would know
absolutely that there is this bomb and that this
person has the answer, and then that the
application of torture is going to get you the answer
and allow you to save a city or save humanity. Moreover, when we
look the next step, this technique–
this scenario– is being used to
justify application of torture techniques in
a far broader situation. Look at the testimony
just a couple of weeks ago by Steven Bradbury before
the House Judiciary Committee, when he described
three instances in which waterboarding
had in fact been applied. In none of these cases did we
see a ticking bomb scenario or anything like it. Next the reliability of torture. Eric’s saying we
really don’t know. Does it work or
does it not work? That’s a convenient
argument to make. However, this issue has been
studied for many, many years by experts, and I would
submit Eric is not an expert. Is Eric here? Eric is not an expert,
and Eric has not taken the time to examine
the expert materials that have been presented. – [INAUDIBLE]? Well let me tell you. The Intelligence Science
Board looked at this question extensively in 2006 and referred
to the ticking bomb scenario in 24 and essentially
said what I said, that this is not realistic. And that even if such a
scenario were to occur, the idea that torture
techniques would produce correct answers
to resolve the situation is not realistic. So I think a good
example, if we look at what’s happened in
the last five years, is Colin Powell and the speech
he made before the Security Council. Momentous event. He justified the
invasion of Iraq. He justified it relying,
in substantial part, on evidence that was taken
by a man named al-Libi, who had been tortured; who
said that Iraq was busily at work on a weapons of
mass destruction program. And this information was totally
incorrect, and Powell, in fact, subsequently said this was
the most embarrassing day of his life. So that I think
is the consequence of relying on
torture-extracted evidence. There tends to be a rush
to believe that it’s true because torture was applied. And it’s certainly
no more likely to be true than interrogation
without torture. Containment is another issue. Can you introduce
torture and use it only in a very narrowly-defined
set of circumstances like the ticking bomb,
or does it not, in fact, metastasize and spread
far more widely? And I think Darius Rejali
has researched this extensively and
quite brilliantly in a number of cases. I mean going back from antiquity
to the French experience in Algeria and so forth. The historical
experience on this is quite clear, that
containment is not likely; that it’s highly corrosive. I think we also have
to consider what is the effect of use of these
techniques on a nation’s reputation in the world? And what consequences
does that have for your national security? Generations of Americans
fought and bled to build a system of alliances
around the world that are critical to our
national security. And what we’ve seen in the
course of the last five, six, seven years is a
very dramatic erosion of that network of support. I could give you a
number of examples. One of them that really
strikes me is Turkey, frankly. In the Middle East, it
was a cornerstone ally for the United States. 1999, I was in Istanbul
working on the transaction. The NATO Summit was going on. President Clinton came. There were crowds swarming in
the streets screaming his name. Popular support for
the United States crested over 80% amongst
the Turkish people. Today, most recently
conducted poll shows that support for
the Bush administration is within the margin of error. That’s right: support
might actually be zero. And then we go on and we look at
Italy, Spain, Germany, France, Britain, Japan. We’re seeing the same– these
have been key strategic allies for the United States. We’re seeing the
same phenomenon. And each of these
cases very, very clear that the US’s reputation
for using torture techniques has played a very important
role in the dramatic collapse of popular support
for the United States. The US is not
viewed as a leader. The US is barely
viewed as an ally. In fact, in many of these
polls, you look at the US side by side with the world’s
last Stalinist power China, and the Chinese beat
us out time and again. Distressing. And does this have effects–
practical effects– in the conduct of
the war on terror? I’ve looked at this question
in detail in connection with security planning
in Afghanistan, and what I found was NATO allies
who we brought into Afghanistan have great reservations about
cooperating with the United States, particularly in the
area of detention policy and sharing information and
sharing prisoners because of this reputation. So we see very, very
strong and clear harm. Damage to military
morale and discipline. Something not discussed here. Actually Jane Mayer notes that
the dean of West Point, Patrick Finnegan, made a trip
out to Los Angeles to talk to the writers
of 24, telling them you don’t seem to
understand what you are doing to the Army right now. We have soldiers all over
the place– in Afghanistan and Iraq– they sit in their
rec centers, they watch this, and they think, “Jack Bauer
does it; it must be OK.” So there are now a long
series of instances where we can directly link
torture incidents to people having watched 24. It’s not really refutable;
it’s very, very clear. The Army has repeatedly
appealed to 24 to back off of this; to make
clear that this is fictitious; that these things
are not authorized. Unfortunately, we’re not seeing
much of a response from 24 on that. But I’m going to
go back and talk a little bit about military
morale and discipline. George Washington– not
an inconsiderable figure in American history– was
very famous for his opposition to torture. He came to opposing torture
as a military leader. He had been involved in
the French and Indian Wars in the wilderness. He records seeing
brutal treatment of soldiers on both
sides repeatedly, and instances of torture. And he found
repeatedly soldiers who used these techniques
were bad soldiers. They were disorderly. They were poorly disciplined. They couldn’t be controlled. He didn’t want them. So for him, exclusion of
torture was an imperative to maintain discipline
and morale of the Army. That was a rule that
he introduced in 1776 at the Battle of Trenton. Seems to have disappeared
a few years ago. But I think the weightiest
link in this entire chain goes back to something that
my friend Mark Dana wrote and that is, if you assemble
a team of Madison Avenue’s best in a room and you
ask them to concoct a plan– a recruitment
plan– for Al Qaeda, could they possibly, possibly
have come up with anything as effective as what this did? And I think the answer is
no, they couldn’t have. In fact, the National
Intelligence Estimate released last year
tells us that Al Qaeda is back up to or has
exceeded the strength it achieved in 9/11. My belief is that the use and
reliance on torture techniques plays a major role. It is used aggressively
for recruitment. This much we have
very well established. So the current season of 24,
which is set to begin shortly, features a Senate investigation
looking into Jack Bauer. The senator is named Blaine
Mayer, by the way– Jane Mayer. And he’s out after the
hero, but Jack Bauer is going to defend
himself brilliantly and is going to show up
the investigating committee from the Senate in the end. At least that’s the brief script
we see from the FOX network. Well I think what we’re seeing
going on in America today in many respects is an
echo of the experience that France had during
the Algerian conflict. It’s not as severe as
what France went through. But it has a lot
of the same traits. And I recently read the
Algerian Chronicles– Chroniques Algeriennes by Albert Camus– in
which he’s talking about this. He really has a
very strong focus throughout his
chronicles on torture and the torture narrative. And he saw a society
in France that was polarized
between conservatives and traditional
liberals in the left. And there was really
no constituency to oppose terror– to
oppose torture, excuse me. The right had embraced
the cause of the colonials and they justified their
reach to harsh tactics. This was first
justified by arguments that the barbarity of
the people in Algeria justified treating them
in ways that, well we wouldn’t use this in Europe, but
for these barbarians it’s OK. By the way that’s almost
exactly the same thing that de Tocqueville
wrote in 1840, talking about the Algerian Wars–
the same argument– and he exposes it and discusses it. But then that was really
not very satisfying. I mean for a society
that embraces liberty, equality
and fraternity, hard argument to make I think. And what happened is,
of course, France turned to the ticking bomb scenario. We see it developed
and we see it spread throughout in the
late ’50s and early ’60s. And Camus notes
that the left is not able to muster arguments
against terror either. They are, after
all, very largely in the embrace of
the Stalinists, which are using the
same techniques. I mean literally many
of the same techniques that we’re talking
about using right now. But Camus himself really musters
powerful arguments about this. I’m really impressed
with the end of his book where he says, “though it
may be true that at least in history values,
be they of a nation or of humanity as a
whole, do not survive unless we fight for them. Neither combat nor force can
alone suffice to justify them. Rather it must be the other way. The fight must be justified
and guided by those values. We must fight for the
truth, and we must take care not to kill it with the very
weapons we use in its defense. It is at this
doubled price that we must pay in order
that our words assume once more their proper power.” And I think that’s the
fundamental dilemma that 24 dodges. I’m not in favor of censorship. I don’t want to see 24
driven from the air. I would like to see
it portray this issue in a realistic and fair way that
develops all the issues that need to be explored by society. That’s what we really
should be demanding. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] – Scott, do you want
questions now or? – I’m happy– whatever you
want to do is fine with me. – Well we’ll take– – Turn that mic
around to face you. – OK. – We’ll take some questions
now for Scott Horton. Yes. – I have a question which is
about the depiction of– do you know anything about the
depiction of arguments against torture? Because my observations
goes to Jeff’s point in a way is that in
fiction to the extent you see the argument
against torture, it’s always the
absolutest argument– or it’s almost always
the absolutest argument. And if you– and I
guess I take it away– you just laid out a bunch
of pragmatic arguments. And I guess I think that part
of what’s doing the damage is not just showing that
cases were occurring, but [INAUDIBLE] against it
being the absolutest argument. And I think for a lot
of people they think, well in the ticking
time bomb scenario, I would be in favor of torture,
so if the only argument is the absolutest argument,
I’m against it, and then they see
no other argument. – Well I had– about little
less than a month ago– I had a meeting with a group
of Catholic bishops and with the senior leadership of
the Presbyterian Church USA. And they’ve been looking at
this issue for quite some time, each thinking independently
of acting on this. And this is the major
objection that they raise. I mean it was not so
much the torture scenes, it was the denigration
and ridicule of the arguments against torture
they found extremely offensive. Because what you saw were
liberal political figures being presented as
appealing for some sort of mercenary political reason. And a failure to recognize– I
mean in the case of the chur– I mean, for instance, one
Catholic bishop told me the teachings of the church are
not at all ambiguous on this. This is intrinsic evil. There are not a lot of
things in Catholic doctrine that are intrinsic evil. This is. The Presbyterians
have a different way of approaching it, but
they come to pretty much the same conclusion. And I think they really want
to see the objections presented in a way that’s fair and broad. Now I focus mostly
on what I call questions of efficacy and
policy, rather than morality. I think they’re more
focused on morality. But I think that is
the key failing of 24, is that it doesn’t present
the criticism in a fair way. – Yes. – It’s a minor point
to make, I think, but hoping it’s
not horribly minor. Which is the TV show Lost
actually is very complicated on this count. It embraces all of the
objections, I think, and in particular it
raises the objection Mary Anne raised about
the effect of torture on the personality
of the torturer. So Sayid is actually
treated as a damaged person by virtue of his actions. And what I’m wondering
is whether this might be the larger point
about fictional depictions of torture. Even cases in which
there’s some sort of macho enthusiasm for it. I don’t know the
[INAUDIBLE] for it, but as I’m going over
the cases in fiction and in television and
movies with evidence, actually it’s very ambivalent,
and the negative arguments are present. – Well if you look at
the statements that have been issued by
the National Religious Coalition Against Torture,
they’re pretty clear. And then you look
at the letter that was issued by the National
Council on Catholic Bishops about three weeks ago. They’re very clear every time
saying every act of torture has two victims: the person
against who it’s perpetrated; the person– – Well I would say is the
picture you give them– the entertainment of it–
not sure it’s accurate. Might be accurate
about one TV show– 24. But Lost– which I think is
the other very prominent one on torture– I think
it’s [INAUDIBLE] is cutting in your direction. It’s the damage done. It’s the accuracy
of the disclosure. It kind of builds a real
consequentialist argument against it, and
that’s the outcome. – Well again my
point is not to say that these programs should
be driven off the air; they have no role. I think it’s a critical
debate in our society. What’s needed is
an expansion of– – I’m not being clear. I’m not being clear at all. I’m not saying that
you’re saying they should be driven off the air. I’m saying that your depiction
of the entertainment market is incomplete, because
one of your examples goes the other way. Unless my interpretation
of the show is wrong. And since I’m obsessed
with the show– – Alias you mean. – Lost. Lost. Lost. – Oh Lost OK. No in fact I don’t
think– I think Lost has done a much better job on this. I also think Alias is better. I really focused my remarks
on one particular show– 24. – Yes. Oh sorry. – About these– I think that
24 is particularly interest– and yet I remember the
other shows so [INAUDIBLE]. I think that 24 is
particularly tricky exactly because there are also needs. There are some steps in
the direction of greater complexity, and I think this
is why the show is actually a good TV product,
because it’s not simply [INAUDIBLE] you know, clear
[INAUDIBLE] the bad guys are really just bad guys, and the
good guys are just good guys. It’s more complex than this. But I think the best for
me– from a moral point of view– it’s way
more adventurous, because clear
[INAUDIBLE] products are easier to identificate
and discard. [INAUDIBLE] people who have higher
intellectual instruments and to [INAUDIBLE] product and when
some ambiguities are depicted and not really turn away. Can’t really themselves
from this kind of logic. And so I think it’s actually
worse in the longer term. – Darius. – I’ve just got two things. One is that, if
I’m not mistaken, some of the reports of
movies that went into this weren’t just these
cop true-drama movies. That the range of
entertainment movies– again I know we’re talking
about 24 and we all take that everybody’s looking at
24– but the guys up in Mosul, their inspiration was the
Captain Picard-Romulan torture scene from Next Generation. And so I think we
need to understand that the entertainment
thing goes considerably broader than just
these true-crime shows, and I wonder if you
could comment on that. The second one is we
usually talk about the news. I know you pushed that one off;
you wanted to talk about this. But I wanted to kind of
look at– there’s something that’s been puzzling me, and
now that you’re here I’m asking. You know, the last two
or three years, the Army keeps on announcing finding Al
Qaeda torture chambers in Iraq. And you’d think that they
would be playing that one up, but it never gets
into the media. And I’m just curious
what their reticence is, because if all this stuff is
happening, why not like not [INAUDIBLE]. – Well the first one’s a
lot easier to deal with. I mean that is of course–
I focus on 24 here for obvious reasons. I mean, to me it seems to
sort of sum up lots of evils. And whereas I think the
Romulan torture process is like a little bit harder
to take on, but also police drama– I mean police
drama and police fiction is a very important source
here of this sort of violence. And the council statistics
that we used here were focused much more
on the war setting, so it was sort of reality-type
war reporting, which is then very, very close. And if you look
at these– if you look at the totals that were
in that graph– 67 of the total come from 24, so it
was coming up close to 30% of the total
number of incidents. Pretty astonishing frankly. So it’s much more intense
in 24 than anything else. Now what was the other? Oh yeah. But we get different–
I mean I spent the spring of 2006– I spent
most of the spring in Baghdad. And I spent some time
looking at this issue. And actually you get different
public affairs officers taking different attitudes. So Brigadier General
Horst, who discovered a Ministry of the
Interior torture facility, turned this into a big deal
and it did get media coverage. It’s really pretty much
the battlefield commander’s decision whether they
want to do it or not. Now I talked to General
Horst about this afterwards, and he told me he got intense
grief from the Pentagon about having done that. Because of course, the
Ministry of the Interior is under development contracts
with the Department of Defense, and there may have
been money that came from the US taxpayers
that was used to set up these torture facilities,
so the Pentagon didn’t like that being covered. I mean I think their sit–
but I think, by the way, Horst is a absolutely
fabulous officer. I think he’s one of the
best guys in Baghdad, and very conscientious and very
concerned about this issue. And I think he’s not alone. There are an awful lot
of senior officers– I think General Petraeus
actually in this issue was terrific– number of the
other commanders are as well. But public affairs policy
is fixed more than anything by the Pentagon
Public Affairs office. And they seem to have made
the decision that we just don’t want talk about
torture coming out of Iraq. – We can take one or
two more questions. And if we don’t have
any, oh ah Scott. – I mean I relied on this
one thought in my talk, but unempirically perhaps. But do you have a sense
as to why people– say in Turkey– care about
whether the US tortures to the extent that
the US tortures, and at war, the other
sorts of things. What is it that you have a
sense as to how this pertains as to the United States? – I’ve spent a lot of time
looking at that question. I mean I interviewed a
bunch of newspaper reporters in Istanbul about this, and you
get very emotional reactions. I mean they’ll tell you we
looked to the United States, and we respected
the United States. You brought us Midnight
Express, which exposed torture in American prisons. It was a traumatic thing– – Turkish prisons. – For the Turks. Excuse me, the Turkish
prisons, right. Sorry about that. It was a traumatic
thing for the Turks, and there was this
immediate sort of patriotic rejection of it. But over time, they absorbed
it and they recognized that this criticism was
right, and it was good for us, and there was tremendous
reform in the Turkish prison system– mostly a result of
that movie and the criticism that was directed at them. So they viewed America’s
conduct, frankly, as a betrayal. Here you are holding
up this banner, and now we see that
you’re really bad guys. And also that it was being
done to Muslims frankly, is a terrible thing for them. I mean I think they had
under Clinton– Clinton had intervened in the Balkans
in favor of the Kosovar minority and the Bosnians, which
were, of course, previously part of the Turkish empire–
very tight connections. So I think he was viewed really
as a heroic figure because of that. And now they saw
this happening, where Muslims are being tortured. I think it produced a very
dramatic negative reaction. – Well we want to
thank Scott very much– [APPLAUSE] And now we have Mary Anne Case,
who flew on a red-eye from Utah to be here with us today. – And endured from the kind of
participants I left in Utah. Infinite torture,
torture jokes about how the red-eye was going to
prepare me for this conference. – Push your laptop to the side
there so the microphone is– just don’t block the mic is all. – OK so I actually think that
Scott’s and my presentation are beautiful bookends
of one another, because of the two iconic
entertainment images that most often get invoked in these
debates recently– one is 24– I am going to embrace in a way
not usually done by the people I think of as my side of the
torture debate the other one, Animal House, and not just in
its double secret probation aspect. And I should say, by
way of background, that this paper that
I’m delivering here I originally prepared
and presented for a conference at
the Netherlands Defense Academy on sexual
abuse and exploitation of women in violent conflict. And it’s one of the
few papers that I’ve started and come out very
differently in the end than where I started. So let me first set forth
what I said in my abstract in that conference I was going
to do– which I’m still going to do– and then talk about
how the research caused me to change my conclusions. What I said I was
going to be doing– and that my topic then and
now is “Gender Performance Requirements of the US
Military in the War on Islamic Terrorism”– was to be examining
the fact that among the many disturbing reports emerging from
a variety of venues at which the US military has conducted
interrogation of Islamic male detainees since December
2001, are those detailing exploitation of sexual and
gender stereotypes and taboos as a central part of efforts
to humiliate and degrade detainees. It appears from reports that
female US military personnel are often deliberately
used in this process. The American military women
in the Abu Ghraib photographs, especially Lynndie
England, beating a naked Iraqi male detainee on
a leash are the most [INAUDIBLE] examples, but there are
others– particularly in the interrogation
process– that are less photogenic but
perhaps equally damaging. Army linguist Kyla
Williams, for example, reports being told to say
sexually humiliating things in Arabic to naked
male prisoners. Other female military
personnel at Guantanamo, perhaps also in
Afghanistan and Iraq, were allegedly encouraged
to degrade Muslim prisoners through forced
cross-sex contact, through the exposure
of their own– that is to say the female
interrogators’ naked bodies– or of the naked bodies
of the detainees, or through touching of prisoners
with items apparently soaked in menstrual blood. There have also
clearly been attempts made to feminize the detainees
themselves, for example, by keeping them
naked, by forcing them to sexualized performance
and positions, through threats of rape,
simulated and actual rape with objects and perhaps
also with penises, through use of
women’s underwear, including pink women’s underwear
being placed on detainees heads at Abu Ghraib, and
bras and other items of women’s underwear
being placed in their normal position
on male detainees’ bodies at Guantanamo. And what I was
interested in doing is to consider ways in
which these practices do gender-based harm not
only to the men who were their alleged targets,
but to the military women involved– voluntarily or not–
in carrying them out, as well as to women generally. And I’m using the
term gender here to describe characteristics
coded masculine or feminine, sometimes irrespective of and
sometimes inflected by the sex that is the male-ness
or female-ness of the person displaying
those characteristics. Now I should say at the outset,
since the technical definition of torture has
been an issue here, that the practices I’ve just
described are by and large not technically, legally torture. What they are
technically and legally is degrading treatment,
which is prohibited in literally the same
breath as torture in a bunch of
laws– for example, the European Convention
on Human Rights. And I should also say,
that as you’ll see, the analysis I came to
develop applies well to actual things
that are squarely within the definition
of torture. I should say a couple
of things by caveat. First is I have done no original
empirical work on this subject. I’m relying entirely
on what has appeared in public sources, which
are sketchy and incomplete, and which also suffer from a
sort of echo-chamber effect– in that one instance
gets repeated through a variety of sources
without it being made clear whether this is a unique
or representative example. And most of these
sources are reporting second- or third-hand,
including the reports of the various
military commissions, of inquiry reports
by journalists, by expert witnesses
and lawyers for both the military perpetrators
of alleged abuses and for the detainees. I have consulted as many
first-person reports by military participants
as I could find, including autobiographies by
Janis Karpinski, by a female nurse at Abu
Ghraib, by female soldier Kyla Williams– it’s a book
called I Love My Rifle More Than You, and the source of that
title I can talk about later; it’s relevant–
and autobiographies by three male
interrogators, one each from Guantanamo,
Afghanistan and Iraq. You saw one of them on
Scott’s video excerpt. I’ve already– I have also read
available first-person accounts by detainees. And in the end, as
you’ll see, my analysis came to be structured around
three direct quotations from first-person accounts– two
by interrogators and the third by a detainee. The second caveat
I should say is that neither torture–
or violent conflict– nor interrogation is
my area of expertise. I have, however,
had long expertise in the research of gender norms,
including norms of masculinity. And it’s this cause
of the many causes that Elizabeth
Wood, for example, identifies– norms
of masculinity– that’s going to be at the
core of my discussion. And my expertise there includes
being an official observer of the integration of women
at VMI, the Virginia Military Institute, a state-sponsored
military academy whose purpose was not to train
professional soldiers, but to train citizens
using military techniques. And these experiences came
to see much more relevant than I would have
predicted in advance when I started this topic. I thought that I would
be focusing– more than in the end, I’m going to be
certainly in this presentation, although when I deliver
a version of the paper at a critical race theory
conference in a week from now, the balance will shift a bit. Thought I would be focusing–
more than in the end, I will– on two things,
both of which have to do with the othering of the
detainees, and a view of them as inferior and different. The first is that
some similar practices have been reported in state
prisons in the United States, including the use of
pink women’s underwear to punish prisoners, to
prevent theft of underwear, to single out detainees
who were thought to be guilty of activities
such as masturbation and the harassment of
female prison guards. And among the many reasons
to find prison practices particularly relevant
is that it was reported that ringleaders among
the soldiers at Abu Ghraib had prison guard experience. I also thought I would
view as much more determinative and
central than I now do the stereotyping of Muslims. Much of the reporting
that has been done suggests that books
such as one called The Arab Mind, written by
cultural anthropologist Raphael Patai in 1976 and
prominent on both the shelves and the reading
lists of the US military, had led to
assumptions concerning how Muslims– Muslim
men in particular– would react to
contact with women, to impugning of
their sexual honor, to disgrace
associated with nudity and to challenges
to masculinity. I’m not suggesting
that these sources of models and how to treat
the other are not relevant. But I came gradually
and somewhat reluctantly to the conclusion
that, in a sense, conservative commentators
in the United States, such as Rush Limbaugh or
Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, had an underappreciated
point when they repeatedly said of what was
reported to be happening at Abu Ghraib embracing the line
from the Schlesinger report, that this was “Animal
House on the night shift.” What these
conservatives said this is the sort of thing
that happens all the time at fraternity hazing. It’s the sort of thing
that happens regularly in male-on-male contact
in the United States. In other words, it’s not simply
about treating the prisoners as the other; it is doing
to them what was done to us. Now let me be clear
about one thing: my agreement with
Limbaugh and others is descriptive
and not normative. Descriptive facts
that the practices were common to frat hazing and
to detainee treatment causes Limbaugh, for example, to think
the treatment of detainees is nothing to worry about. But it confirms in
me the conviction that we’re worrying much more
than we now do about hazing. And something that runs
through my analysis is that practice after practice,
especially the practices that males impose
on other males, were the sort I was familiar
with in my study of VMI and that not only go
on in frat hazing, but in boot camp and military
academies and in the military to this day in
the United States. Now let me read very
quickly– if partly so quickly because I fear a lot of
the people in the room can almost recite
these by heart– the complete list
of findings of abuse from the start of the Taguba
report about Abu Ghraib. It says, “the intentional abuse
of detainees by military police personnel included the following
acts: punching, slapping and kicking detainees;
jumping on their naked feet; videotaping and photographing
naked male and female detainees; forcibly
arranging detainees in various sexually explicit
positions for photographing; forcing detainees to
remove their clothing and keeping them naked; forcing
naked male detainees to wear women’s underwear; forcing
groups of male detainees to masturbate themselves
while being photographed and videotaped; arranging
naked male detainees in a pile and jumping on them; positioning
a naked detainee on a box and attaching wires to his
fingers, toes and penis to simulate electric torture;
writing ‘I am a rapist’ on the leg of a detainee; alleged to have forcibly
raped a 15-year-old detainee and then photographing
him naked; placing a dog chain or strap
around a naked detainee’s neck and having a female
soldier pose for a picture; a male MP guard having sex
with a female detainee; using military working
dogs without muzzles; and taking photographs
of dead detainees. There’s a subsequent list of
less well-documented abuse. But let me just say,
every single one of the sexualized practices–
as well as nearly all of the others; the exceptions
being the threats with dogs– is documented by such
chroniclers of hazing, for example, Hank Nuwer,
who’s the leading– I’m not sure I’m pronouncing
his name correctly– but he was one of the leading
chroniclers of hazing. Now the quote that sums up
this part of my analysis is from the words of one of
the military interrogators in Afghanistan, a guy
named Cavanaugh, reported in Chris Mackey’s book. He says– and that’s the
title of my presentation– “you’re telling me
it’s wrong to do to the prisoners what the army
does to its own soldiers?” Now there’s a couple of
elements of this analysis. First– and this is I think
much more relevant to the law conference than to the gender
and critical race theory conference– this is partly a
self-justificatory lawyering practice right? So one of the things that Chris
Mackey the author of the book from which the quote is taken,
said in a somewhat different context– he’s talking
about sleep deprivation– he says quote, “I never
wavered in my commitment to the conventions,
but I did begin to say, ‘how can we justify this?’ It was like confronting a
tax question in the office back home. This is what we want
the answer to be. The abiding theme
of the convention is that you can never
treat prisoners worse than you treat your own men. And it was in that
interpretation that I saw some
wiggle room for us.” And this is exactly what
Cavanaugh says in this context. He says– the context in
which he made the quote, he says– “prisoner
was being a cocky fuck, so I put him in a
stress position. And the commanding officer
says ‘get him out of the stress position.’ Cavanaugh protests saying
he had put the prisoner in exact same position
that army drill sergeants put young troops in
when somebody screws up in boot camp. The same position drill
sergeants had put him in.” And then he said the quote. And so some of the practices
to which this analysis applies we’re already seeing are
not gender practices. Cavanaugh was protesting
stress positions. It also applies to forms
of laborous punishment. For example, Tara McKelvey
has gotten a lot of attention recently in, among other
things, publicizing claims by a female Muslim
detainee in Iraq that she was forced to burn
large buckets of excrement; that this made her ill and
made her feel degraded. But the burning of excrement
is, in the first place, a necessary task for
the army in the field. And secondly, one
that is described as being assigned in that
way– in the way that KP was in World War II–
to men in the army as a routine low-level
punishment for members of the military themselves. This is also interestingly
true of a lot of the sexualized violence. So compare, for
example, recent accounts by and about Muslim detainees in
the last few years with Anthony Swofford’s
autobiographical Jarhead, a Marine’s chronicle
of the Gulf War and other battles– referring
to the first Gulf War. Not only is Swofford,
by his own account, punished with the task
of burning excrement– threatened with branding while
forcibly restrained by his fellow soldiers– he also goes
into great detail concerning an activity for which
he uses the term of art “field-fucking,” which he
defines as simulated sodomy perpetrated on someone in
the unit who has transgressed in some way, or was thought
to be getting above himself. The victim of
field-fucking is held down. Sometimes, as at Abu Ghraib,
things are painted on his body. Fellow members of the
unit proceeds to– it seems to only pretend, but
pretend fairly convincingly, effectively, and dramatically–
to subject him to anal rape. And the field-fucking incident
that Swofford describes is performed in the
presence of journalists during the first Gulf War. Similarly, Specialist Darby,
who worked at Abu Ghraib, explained to reporter
Anderson Cooper why he initially laughed
when he saw a screensaver photograph of a pyramid
of stacked naked men on a prison computer. He thought the naked men
were fellow soldiers. Quote, “I didn’t realize
it was Iraqis, because we lived in prison cells too. I laughed and then I
realized it was prisoners. They were forced to do it.” Now I should note
here that several of those who have criticized
the use of the practices on detainees– which
they still defend when used on fellow soldiers–
have relied on the distinction that the detainees quote,
“were forced to do it.” This seems to me to overstate
the freedom of the soldiers. Scholars of hazing have
demonstrated exactly how rarely even participants
in fraternity hazing feel free to leave. And soldiers are faced not
only with physical retaliation from their comrades, but
with legal retaliation, including imprisonment, for
crimes from insubordination to desertion if they seek
to act on the assumption that they are free to leave
or to demand that abuse perpetrated on them be stopped. On the other hand,
a surprising number of sexualized practices
inflicted on detainees were also engaged in
by soldiers themselves in circumstances that do
not seem at all coercive. Even such things as
using fluorescent lights to threaten prisoners
with genital mutilation are things that some of the
US soldiers did to themselves. For example, Charles
Graner, reportedly one of the ringleaders of the
sexualized abuse at Abu Ghraib, reportedly poured
fluorescent fluid from a broken light
bulb on his own penis, as well as on
those of detainees; exhibited himself, as well as
detainees, nude and glowing; and photographed himself,
as well as the detainees, in sexually explicit positions. So I think Susan
Sontag is right when she says, quote, it
is surely revealing, as more Abu Ghraib photographs
enter public view, that torture photographs are interleaved
with pornographic images of American soldiers having sex
with one another, end quote. But it’s not just revealing of
the pornographic imagination. To me, it also reveals
that treating the other like the self doesn’t
always translate into treating the other well. [LAUGHTER] Rather than needing to imagine
or learn from anthropologists of the Arab mind how
sexualized abuse might make the detainees
feel, soldiers could recollate how
it made them feel. And the use of feminization
as a means of disciplining, establishing rank, and
breaking individuals down, is something that’s staggeringly
common throughout the military. This brings me to the second
of the three quotations around which I’m
organizing my analysis, and this is from a detainee. He said of his treatment, and
I’ll give you a longer quote and the punchline
comes at the end, “they were trying to humiliate
us; to break our pride. It’s OK if they beat me. Beatings don’t hurt
us; it’s just a blow. But no one would want their
manhood to be shattered. They wanted us to feel
as though we were women; the way women feel. And this is the worst insult,
to feel like a woman.” Now I have to say when I
gave this in Amsterdam, this was the comment that
caused the gasp in the audience. This was the one I
expected, frankly. Most of the commentator–
not the gasp, this was not a surprise to me–
most of the commentators who focused on this
comment have said that this reaction is
particularly true of Muslims in the Arab world. But anyone who has
looked at the way single-sex military academies
in the US traditionally treats recruits– regularly
comparing them to women as a means of
denigrating them– knows that being made to
feel like a woman can also seem
insulting and degrading to conventional American males. Indeed, a serious
argument made by opponents of integrating women into the
federal military academies, and later into the Citadel
and the Virginia Military Institute, was that as a
result of co-education, these sorts of successful
degradation practices would either be off-limits or
would cease to be effective. As Christine Littleton put
it in her critique of the VMI adversative methods
reliance on gender, quote, “gender-based and
misogynistic epithets,” quote, “pity the poor drill instructor
who screams ‘what are you, a woman?’ at a female rat.” Now I should say that the
politically correct term that VMI is now applying to
its cadets– the politically correct degradation–
is maggots. It’s politically acceptable
because it’s not gendered. I want to point out though
that maggots is one letter off from faggots, a
gendered epithets; it’s something that
people are often called by way of degradation. And I will also say that
the conference in Amsterdam had military from
all over the world. And one of the
questions I said I was really interested
in hearing about is how universal a practice
it is among military to use comparisons to women
as a form of denigration. And one of my fellow American
academic participants reports to me that
she was– when I asked this question
sitting in the midst of the Dutch contingent, cadets
and faculty from the academy– and she says that they
immediately said “oh no, no, no, we do not denigrate people
by comparing them to women. We denigrate them by comparing
them to homosexuals.” [LAUGHTER] I subsequently had discussions
with Dutch gay activist friends who say that this
may have something to do with the prevalence
in Dutch of the slang term michel, which comes
from sodomite, but has become deracinated in
the way that things like geek have become. So that he says even my
perfectly gay-friendly nephews will say in front of me, that
makes me look like michel, not realizing the connection. But OK so the denigration
of soldiers themselves by comparison with
women is something I think all of these men have
experienced in their training and may be carrying
over, even something such as the suggestion given to
female linguist Kyla Williams that she critique the
detainees’ sexual organs and sexual
performance apparently comes out of SERE– Survival,
Evasion, Resistance and Escape training– that is to say
the training given to the US soldiers themselves. Now one question I have
is what difference does it make if women participate
in sexual humiliation? And on one level
some of the critics suggest it doesn’t
make much difference. So the title of one of the first
collections of academic essays analyzing what’s going on here
is quote, One of the Guys, unquote. So when women are
engaged in behavior like Lynndie England’s, it does
not make that much difference to their behavior. I’ll talk a little bit later
about the ways in which does make a difference. But first let me
consider not simply how abuse techniques are sexed,
but how they’re gendered. What both the communist block
interrogation techniques– which SERE was
originally designed to enable US
soldiers to resist– in the adversative
training techniques prevalent in boot camp
and military academies have in common, is the purpose,
in effect, of breaking down the person subjected to them. This is seen to be useful in
producing the abject submission that is a common goal of
both Cold War communist interrogation and
military unit cohesion, and for both, a
prelude to rebuilding a new man along new lines. But breaking down
detainees is not or should not be the
goal of interrogation on the War on Terror. Unlike prisoners of
the North Koreans, of Stalin, or the Viet Cong,
persons detained by the US in the War on Terror
serve no useful purpose when they make a
false confession. What we want or
should want from them is first and foremost reliable
information, not submission. And those who have made the most
detailed and systematic studies of the effectiveness of
interrogation techniques seem to be in basic
agreement that it’s not the harshest techniques,
but the gentler ones, that have the best track record of
producing reliable information. What emerges both from published
first-person narratives from the interrogators
in Abu Ghraib, Afghanistan and
Guantanamo bears out the commentators on effective
interrogation techniques. Harsh techniques
maybe more tempting; they certainly may
be more masculine; but the gentler techniques–
fear-down and ego-up are terms of art
for two of them– have been shown to be much
more effective in eliciting accurate, useful information. And women are shown to be among
the particular interrogators credited in each of
these three situations with effective use
of those techniques. Nevertheless, harsh
techniques are in favor both among policymakers,
those handling detainees, and even over time
among interrogators, including female
interrogators who began by using gentler
techniques effectively. The best explanation why is the
third of the three quotations around which I have organized
this analysis– also from an interrogator. Quote, they’ll think
we’re fucking pussies. We can’t let them fuck
us every time, unquote. And this is the flip
side of feminization. Just as it is important to make
the detainees feel like women, it is the worst thing in
the world to feel or look like a woman yourself. On this the Arab
Muslim detainees and the American
soldiers can agree. The statement, by
the way, was made by an interrogator in
Afghanistan in response to his superior
officer’s insistence that the interrogator
stop imposing harsh stress positions on a detainee who
had voiced hatred for America. Consistent with my argument that
US military personnel are using their own treatment as a
model for their treatment of the prisoners,
the interrogator’s first line of defense when told
you can’t discipline prisoners for being glib is that
the officer says– he says to the person
reprimanding him– you yourself made Carlson
carry a pallet of water to the break room because
he rolls his eyes at you at morning meetings. Only when the officer
responds that quote, as the asshole
sergeant, unquote, he can impose
discipline on his men that interrogators may
not on the detainees does the interrogator
make explicit his fear of feminization in
the quote I just gave you. Now the flip side of
the problematic– the need to be perceived
as masculine even at the cost of being
effective; to value the appearance of strength
over the reality– is also one that
I’m familiar with; my long study of gender
in the United States. One of the things
I looked at long ago in a study of the
gendering of professions such as the police
was the report of the Christopher
Commission, whose purpose was to investigate and fix,
not sex and gender inequality, but violence in the LAPD in the
aftermath of the Rodney King incident in which, I’m sure you
all recall, members of the LAPD very severely beat
a black suspect. Without having as their
mandate either sex or gender, the Christopher
Commission came back with a series of reports
and recommendations that said, in effect,
we have in the past constructed the role
of police officer in a thoroughly masculine way. We seek to hire people
who are aggressive. What we should want
is good communicators. We seek them from
the armed forces. We should seek them from
among social workers. So the whole model of policing
has been gendered masculine and it might be more effective
to have it gendered feminine. The very interesting response of
the LA City Council was great, let’s hire more women. Let’s have a goal or quota
of 43% women on the force. But, of course, the message
of the Christopher Commission is not so much hire more women
as value effective techniques gendered feminism– feminine–
and do not confuse masculinity with effectiveness. The lessons of the
Christopher Commission have been lost in the
War on Terror, however. Ironically, the War on
Terror has taken a toll on the use of effective
policing methods perceived to be feminine, not
only in the Middle East, but in the domestic
policing context as well. So Susan Faludi reports,
quote, “Penny Harrington, the first female police
chief of Portland, Oregon, heard a
recurring refrain as she made the
rounds as a consultant to regional police departments.” The following quote is from
an internal quote from Penny Harrington, “there is this
attitude of ‘oh we don’t need the woman anymore.'” Among the
repeat emotions she witnessed was quote, rage in any woman
who spoke out, unquote. Law enforcement
agencies, she noted, were also increasingly
shifting funds from community policing– where many female
officers had distinguished themselves– to the
all-male counterterrorist squads strapped with absurd
amounts of firepower financed by the Department of
Homeland Security. Similarly, the favored
interrogation technique is not fear-down or
ego-up, but a new technique called fear-up harsh, with
harsh being the operative word. Now this leads me to
the most disturbing of the interrogation
techniques to me as a theorist of sex and gender. There’s a new technique
developed apparently to exploit what were thought
to be Muslim stereotypes. Term of art developed for it
was quote, invasion of space by female, unquote. In another Jane Mayer
piece called “The Memo,” also from the New Yorker, she
reports, for example, quote, “a Saudi detainee,
Mohammed al-Qahtani, whom an FBI agent had identified
as the missing 20th hijacker, had been stripped naked,
straddled by taunting female guards in an exercise
called invasion of space by female, forced to wear
women’s underwear on his head, to put on a bra, threatened
by dogs, placed on a leash, and told that his
mother was a whore.” This technique– invasion
of space by female– is the technique that
the female interrogators who more explicitly
sexualized their performance were engaging in. And what disturbs me is that
this actually reinforces rather than undercuts what I understand
to be Muslim stereotypes of women and of the West. That is to say, women are in the
Muslim world already associated with fitna– with disorder–
and Western women in particular are thought to behave
like wanton prostitutes. As reporter Seymour
Hersh put it, quote, they see us as a sexually
perverse society, unquote. Even if the military
is going to focus on exploiting
Muslim stereotypes, whether true or false,
invasion of space by female is a bizarre way to engage
with those stereotypes, reinforcing rather than
undercutting or disturbing the detainees’ view of
women and of the West. I have to say also the
feminizing– the making them feel like women–
is also likely to have counterproductive effects. The best example of this I
have is so far just fictional, from The Yacoubian Building. The Egyptian novel The
Yacoubian Building contains an example of an
Egyptian– of someone detained by– an
Egyptian detained by the Egyptians, who
is forced to behave like a woman while in prison. A victim of police torture
says, quote, “I’m dead now. They killed me in detention. When they trespass
on your honor, laughing when they give
you a woman’s name, and make you answer
with your new name because you have to because of
the savagery of the torture. They called me faziwa. Every day they used to beat me
and make me say “I am a woman and my name is faziwa.” You want me to forget all
that and go on living? I’m not afraid of death anymore. I’ve made up my mind
to be a martyr.” Now this is– again
it’s a novel– but note that in the novel,
far from breaking the victim, the sexualized, feminizing
torture described transforms him from a peaceful
participant in protests to a violent revolutionary. Quote, “after this a desire so
burning that his body almost shuddered with the pressure
that would sweep over him as he hankered for
revenge and pictured himself exacting
exemplary punishment from those who tortured
and violated him.” Now the last thing I
want to leave you with is a dramatic contrast. I’ve previously done work on the
way another gender performance requirement of the US military–
in some ways very different; in other ways eerily
similar– when promulgated before the official
pronouncement of the war on Islamic terrorism. And this is the case of
Lieutenant Colonel Martha McSally, who while she was a
US Air Force pilot stationed in Saudi Arabia around the
turn of the Millennium, brought a constitutional
lawsuit against the US military. But it required her while
off base in Saudi Arabia to veil fully in an abaya, which
is the all-encompassing garment that’s the Saudi
instantiation of hijab– or a modest covering
of women’s bodies– to be accompanied at all
times by a male, whom she was instructed to say
falsely was her husband. To be clear, this
was not a requirement of the Saudi government. It’s also not a
requirement imposed on non-military US
female personnel, such as State Department
women, who satisfied the Saudis with a small headscarf. And no comparable
requirement was imposed on US military
men, who were prohibited from wearing local
dress, whereas McSally was required to. McSally ultimately got the
US Congress by voice vote to overturn the policy largely
out of sympathy for her as a poor Christian woman
forced to present herself in Muslim dress. Very little attention
or vocal sympathy was given by
members of Congress. Her equally heartfelt,
equally strong, claim that the US military’s
requirements violated her US constitutional rights to equal
protection on grounds of sex because it not only
treated her differently but it did so in a way that was
going to undermine her command authority. I think the contrast–
which is in some ways not so great a contrast, between
respecting and accommodating Muslim sensibilities concerning
the proper behavior of women in the one case,
and deliberately exploiting and violating those
sensibilities in the other– adds up to a systematic
subordination of women by the US military,
as well as, again, to a reinforcement rather
than an undercutting of stereotypical Muslim
assumptions about women and about their place. Thanks. [APPLAUSE] – Very front. – Yeah I thought
this was wonderful. And I guess what I think is so
difficult and troubling about these cases is that the
humiliation and the whatever might be close to torture is
mediated by stereotypes that we might think are, on balance,
mistaken and very pernicious. So let me give you– I mean
sometimes the question is how to bring out what’s
wrong, if anything, about being made to put on
some women’s underwear– so just focusing on that thing. So let me give
you some parallels that all involve a
Brahmin man being asked to clean the toilet OK? So first case, Gandhi
says to this man, OK unless you clean the toilet,
you can’t be in my movement. That man, or woman, would feel
that’s profoundly humiliating. And we know his wife
did feel it that way, and it will be a torture. But nonetheless it seems
like a very productive humanitarian act. Second case, like in
today’s Indian prisons, Brahmin men are told
clean your toilet; have to do it like anyone else. Once again, that seems like a
pretty good egalitarian act; untouchability is illegal under
the constitution and so on. So then, a third case, the
jailer is actually [INAUDIBLE] and says, I really
don’t like Brahmas. I’m going to really
humiliate you by making sure that
you clean more toilets. Well I guess even
there, I think well there’s this added
increment of revenge, but still what
he’s making him do is connect with his common
humanity and accept that. And so it doesn’t seem like
even the intent to humiliate makes it bad. And so I guess I’m left with
thinking what makes it bad– so here would be a case where
we say, you clean that toilet and we’re doing that
because we think people who clean toilets
are just like animals and they’re lower
than other people– so it’s that way of representing
the act of toilet cleaning, that’s what makes it bad. But if that’s what makes the
[INAUDIBLE], namely the way it’s represented, as
something low or bad, then that suffuses
the whole society. It doesn’t comment
to these practices; it’s like everywhere. And so then what’s
especially wrong about being made to do it in this
particular social context? It’s really the whole society
that we need to be attacking. – I don’t disagree that
it’s the whole society we need to be attacking. So I– but I also
wanted to distin– and I thought you
were going to take me in a somewhat different
direction in your question, which is a direction I
haven’t really addressed here. So another set of
distinctions– or distinction between the practices
I did discuss, which come from frat hazing and
are about deliberately making people feel– making men
feel degraded because they are being feminized right? That seems to me is something
that on the one hand we as a society, as a matter of
constitutional law, repudiate. On the other hand,
it does not depend on the special difference
of Muslims right? American men feel this way in
the same way as Muslim men do. What I find actually complicated
in different kind of way and haven’t talked about here
because I haven’t thought through as thoroughly, is what
about examples of practices that particularly Muslim
men would find degrading, but to accommodate
them in this would be a huge setback for our
commitment to sex equality, at least in my view. So as you know I’ve just
written a paper critiquing our colleague Dick
Posner’s claim that it constitutes–
in a dissenting opinion I’m happy to say– that
it would constitute cruel and unusual
punishment to subject a inmate in an American prison–
not a Muslim inmate; actually a Christian inmate in
an American prison– to the possibility
that women might see him naked on the
toilet or in a shower. And I say that
very bad idea of– and I agree with our other
colleague Frank Easterbrook– that if the alternative
as it’s conceded to be would be that these people
would have no contact with women whatsoever, that not
only would be worse for women’s equal
opportunities but, in my view, worse for– it would be more
treating them like animals, which is what Posner says
happens, to isolate them from women entirely than to
put them at risk of women seeing them naked. Now if the prisoner
had been a Muslim, the existing law would actually
have given more support to the cruel and unusual
punishment claim, because, as I understand
the law of cruel and unusual punishment, singling people
out for their particular vulnerabilities. But are you singling them out
for their vulnerabilities, or are you simply imposing
a practice on them that you impose on everyone? And part of the problem
is that in Abu Ghraib it seems that the intent
was to single them out some of the time at least. And some of the rest of the
time it wasn’t, that is to say– – Thought that religiously-based
accommodations. I was trying to
stay away from that, and just think of a practice
that because of social mores is felt to be humiliating,
but the nation has already committed itself to
saying that’s not humiliating, so then what’s wrong
with doing that? That’s the really– – Well but I think that there
the case law of humiliation in the European
Court of Human Rights has a fairly rich
description of that. We’ll work with that
difficulty reasonably well, so that the case is
about whether it’s humiliating to be beaten
in a British school right? So there’s a whole lot of
debate among the judges about whether it is or isn’t
humiliating to be beaten in a British school,
but ultimately the court says we’re not going to get into
that level of cultural nicety. We’re going to take as a
given that this practice is humiliating and
categorically ban it. And I don’t think that there
is a problem with acknowledging the– especially
since for me; the sort of consequentialist way–
the argument that it’s humiliating to the
men, and the argument that it’s destructive
of sex equality, dovetail in the result that
the practice is banned. It would be a more complicated
situation than– if the humiliation–
if acknowledging that it was humiliating would
not lead to the same result as acknowledging that it’s
denigrating to sex equality to think of it as humiliating. Yeah I would love to do that. – So see one, two, three. In the back. – Yeah I think this
is a great paper, and I would summarize it
as like reverse Geneva– [LAUGHTER] Which is that mentions that
the way we treat them as well as your own soldiers [INAUDIBLE]
it’s kind of a reverse Geneva. But I’m also really
troubled by this, because it does seem
different and it does seem to be intended
to be different in the way that some [INAUDIBLE] folks
at Abu Ghraib might think. As for the Christians,
what’s different about it is the actual
conduct is the same. And this is where it’s
sort of useful to look at the resistance of
Soviet dissidents. So after the Breshnev
Constitution went into effect in 1977, there are all these
public displays of support for the Constitution. So the dissidents got this
idea that what they should do is stand in public squares and
read the Constitution aloud OK? Now it was really– it messed up
Soviet disciplinary practices. You can’t arrest someone
for being [INAUDIBLE]. On the other hand, [INAUDIBLE]
these particular people who get it, right; that
it meant something else. And I’m wondering if that
isn’t the kind of [INAUDIBLE] the same, which is why it
looks like you couldn’t punish these soldiers for doing that. But everyone knows that
it means something else when done to those
people like this right? So in other words,
in some ways, either intentionally by these
soldiers or, in your analysis, that these are the actions,
where the actions are formally the same across
different status quos. But I think there are lots
of cases like this where, in some ways, doing it
to– or having someone do something themselves– comes
to me as opposite or something different, even though
it’s formally the same. – No I don’t disagree with that. And I’m sort of
intending this paper not to be a refutation but
a supplement to that line of analysis, which is the more
customary line of analysis, and to do a couple
of things here right? Both to stress that it’s
not just about the other, and that oversimplifies it. Another, which I
did not actually mention in the paper I
delivered– but in light of the work that Darius
has done, for example, I think also worth
mentioning– it shows the limits of the
torturer’s imagination right? So where do you
get things right? Both the limits of the
torturer’s imagination as to practices, and
perhaps also the limits of the torturer’s imagination
as to reactions to practices. So it’s not
hypothetically imagining how someone very
different from you is going to feel about something
that if it were done to you, it wouldn’t bother
you in the least. It’s– you know
it’s going to work. Why do you know
it’s going to work? Not because you’ve
read the Arab mind, but because you’ve
experienced it. [INAUDIBLE]
compliments, I really appreciated, because
I was waiting for someone who could bring
in the respective gender roles in this issue, because
it seems to me quite relevant. And I listened two ways, because
in your analysis, it shows not only the intent of
humiliating the detainees, but I think that it
fits well with the idea that torture is about
dehumanizing, or at least rendering different,
lower, alien from me, the person you torture. So [INAUDIBLE] how these two
purposes reinforce each other. So you can torture–
humanly better someone who is conceived as different,
and you humanly [INAUDIBLE] matter of fact, [INAUDIBLE]. And some things–
I think this also fits well– [INAUDIBLE]
that this is also– this has been a bit broad [INAUDIBLE]
that if there’s this torture, we’re tough. So like torture is a
matter for tough men. People who do them are tough. And the few who can resist
are tough, and they’re manly. And it is also
like interest like and highlights one of the
many means of torture, because it seems that there
is one thing that women are good at, is resisting pain,
and so that should be actually [INAUDIBLE] feminine
feature, at least in which they are
equally good, so I think that this
[INAUDIBLE] of gender roles is really very telling. – Thank you. – Well I wanted to get
a little bit into sort of the formal path for these
techniques and how that came about– – I’m sorry, I
didn’t catch that. – Into the formal path
of the techniques; how they came about. Because, of course, I guess
the public sort of saw them in Abu Ghraib first and was
told, you know Animal House; you know Rush Limbaugh
talking about frats. And then I think the
next really shocker was when Mark Schmidt issued
his report about Guantanamo, and we saw photographs of
exactly the same techniques and the report says no, this
is a fully authorized practice under pride and ego Type 2 down. So suddenly people
went like what? So that suggests– I guess it
suggests that there clearly was a process of formally
elaborating and developing these techniques, and
training people to use them. And then there
was also an aspect of the free-form
about it; that people were told feel free to improvise
and modify a little bit here and there to produce
something that’s effective. So I guess I’m getting down to
where was this laboratory where they came up with these things? – You would know
better than I do. – But they really obscured that. – My sense is that
there isn’t one right? So you’ve read, I’m sure,
the same first-person accounts of the interrogators. And the feel I get
from there is the feel of– again consistent
with what Darius is saying– it’s improvisation. I mean it’s not even
at the level of craft; it’s improvisation by
people who were untrained, and some of them know
it and some of them imagine that they’re more
trained than they are. But I don’t think
it’s as systematic. And I do think– – But there is sort of a broad
guidelined authorization. – But there is a directive
from the very top: be harsh. We like harsh. – Take the gloves off. – Is there, in fact, a
distinction at Abu Ghraib, for example, that one group of
people was supposed to break them down, but the other–
somebody else is actually asking the questions? And how does that work? – That’s General
Taguba’s report. I mean General
Taguba’s report said that the role of the police was
to break down and prepare them for the interrogators. – And then the interrogators,
it’s a whole different set of– – Yeah but then there’s also
this dynamic– which again, Scott probably knows more than
I do because I’m still lost in the echo-chamber of the
hall of mirrors right– is that there were two
different lines of thought among interrogators that may
have divided in terms of their institutional
affiliation. And there’s account
after account where there’s a tension between
one group of interrogators who say we were getting
really far with the– – Traditional stuff. – Feminine methods. We might call them
traditional, but I’m going to call them feminine,
again that in the sense. And then there was some
decision to go harsh, and our progress was thwarted
by this other group who came in and was harsh and
then took credit for stuff that we did and got
nothing themselves, and spoiled what
good we were doing. – I’ve been told
by our organizer we have to stop at
this point, but I know that both Mary Anne Case
and Scott Horton are going to be here during the break. We will take a break until– – 10 Minutes. – 10 Minutes. We’ll get 10 minutes. Thank you.

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