Holding the Line on Torture

Yves here. This post isn’t quite a victory lap, since as Rebecca Gordon recounts, the vote by the American Psychological Association to reaffirm its policy of not allowing members to visit the Guantanamo detention center was by a less resounding margin than in the past. However, Gordon has been a front-line player in the fight to keep mental health professionals out of the business of advising on torture. She and her colleagues deserve to call attention to the progress they have made.

By Rebecca Gordon, who teaches at the University of San Francisco. She is the author of American Nuremberg: The U.S. Officials Who Should Stand Trial for Post-9/11 War Crimes. Her previous books include Mainstreaming Torture: Ethical Approaches in the Post-9/11 United States and Letters from Nicaragua. Originally published at TomDispatch

Sometimes the good guys do win. That’s what happened on August 8th in San Francisco when the Council of Representatives of the American Psychological Association (APA) decided to extend a policy keeping its members out of the U.S. detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

The APA’s decision is important — and not just symbolically. Today we have a president who has promised to bring back torture and “load up” Guantánamo “with some bad dudes.” When healing professionals refuse to work there, they are standing up for human rights and against torture.

It wasn’t always so. In the early days of Guantánamo, military psychologists contributed to detainee interrogations there. It was for Guantánamo that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld approved multiple torture methods, including among others excruciating stress positions, prolonged isolation, sensory deprivation, and enforced nudity. Military psychologists advised on which techniques would take advantage of the weaknesses of individual detainees. And it was two psychologists, one an APA member, who designed the CIA’s whole “enhanced interrogation program.”

Here’s a disclaimer of sorts: ever since I witnessed the effects of U.S. torture policy firsthand in Central America in the 1980s, I’ve had a deep personal interest in American torture practices. In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, I wrote two books focused on the subject, the latest being American Nuremberg: The U.S. Officials Who Should Stand Trial for Post-9/11 War Crimes.

For a year and a half, I also served on a special ethics commission established by the APA after ugly revelations came out about how that organization’s officials had, in the Bush years, maneuvered to allow its members to collude with the U.S. government in settings where torture was used. In fact, an independent review it commissioned in 2015 concluded that “some of the association’s top officials, including its ethics director, sought to curry favor with Pentagon officials by seeking to keep the association’s ethics policies in line with the Defense Department’s interrogation policies.” Indeed, those leaders colluded “with important DoD officials to have [the] APA issue loose, high-level ethical guidelines that did not constrain [the] DoD in any greater fashion than existing DoD interrogation guidelines.”

In the wake of that independent review, the APA’s Council of Representatives voted that same year to keep psychologists out of national security interrogation settings.

It’s modestly encouraging that this August two-thirds of its governing body voted against a resolution that would have returned psychologists to sites like Gitmo.

What makes the new vote less than completely satisfying, however, is this: the 2015 vote establishing that policy was 157-to-1. This year, a third of the council was ready to send psychologists back to Guantánamo. Like much of the rest of Donald Trump’s United States, the APA seems to be in the process of backsliding on torture.

The details of the parliamentary wrangling at the August meeting are undoubtedly of little interest to outsiders. The actual motion under consideration was important, however, because it would have rescinded part of the organization’s historic 2015 decision, prohibiting its members from providing psychological treatment, as it put it,

“at the Guantánamo Bay detention facility, ‘black sites,’ vessels in international waters, or sites where detainees are interrogated under foreign jurisdiction unless they are working directly for the persons being detained or for an independent third party working to protect human rights or providing treatment to military personnel.”

Proponents of the new motion argued that keeping psychologists out of places like Guantánamo deprives detainees of much needed psychological treatment. If the association really cared about detainees, they claimed, it would not deny them the treatment they need.

Opponents argued that allowing psychologists to work at Guantánamo gives ethical cover to an illegal detention site where detainees are still being tortured with painful forced feedings, solitary confinement, and the hopelessness induced by indefinite detention without charges. It’s worth noting that the military still refuses to allow the U.N.’s special rapporteur on torture to speak privately with detainees at Gitmo. In addition, at such a detention and interrogation site, any psychologist who was a member of, or employed by, the U.S. military would face an inevitable conflict of interest between the desires of his or her employers and the needs of detainee clients.

The 2015 resolution also prevented APA members from participating in national security interrogations, declaring that they

“shall not conduct, supervise, be in the presence of, or otherwise assist any national security interrogations for any military or intelligence entities, including private contractors working on their behalf, nor advise on conditions of confinement insofar as these might facilitate such an interrogation.”

Military psychologists within the APA were not happy in 2015 about being shut out of national security interrogations and they’d still like to see psychologists back in the interrogation business. This time around, they strategically chose to focus their rhetoric on treatment rather than interrogation. However, the long-term goals are clear. Indeed, in response to a request from those military psychologists, the APA’s Committee on Legal Issues recommended to the board of directors “broadening” the resolution “to allow psychologists to be involved in the practice and policy of humane interrogation.” The board declined — this time, anyway.

Here’s the problem with “humane interrogation”: no one ever admits to using inhumane methods. Unfortunately, there’s a recent and sordid history of U.S. officials claiming that torture is actually humane — albeit “enhanced” — interrogation. In the George W. Bush administration, John Woo and Jay Bybee, who worked in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, were among those who wrote memos justifying torture. As Bybee explained in an August 2002 memo to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, “real” physical torture must involve pain similar to that experienced during “serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death.” And the effects of psychological interrogation must last “months or even years” to constitute mental torture — obviously an impossible standard to meet, since no one knows for sure what will happen in the future. In that way, they essentially redefined any form of cruelty, including waterboarding, in any of the CIA’s black sites then scattered around the world or at Guantánamo, as anything but torture.

As it happened, even as defined by the Bush administration, much of what was done in those years would have qualified as torture. Certainly, isolating people, depriving them of sleep, bombarding them with heat, cold, light, and endless loud noise, beating them, and providing them with no hope of eventual release were not exactly acts conducive to long-term mental health. In fact, in 2016 the New York Times interviewed several freed Guantánamo detainees, who reported that the effects of their abuse had indeed lasted “months or even years.”

A Bit of History

The role of American psychologists in designing torture programs goes back at least to the 1950s, as historian Alfred McCoy documented so graphically in his book A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation from the Cold War to the War on Terror. At that time, research psychologists at elite universities in the U.S. and Canada experimented on unwitting subjects — including mental patients — in an effort to develop techniques to produce a condition of compliancy in future prisoners, a condition that the CIA called “DDD” (for debility, dependency, and dread).

Much of this research culminated in that Agency’s now-infamous 1963 KUBARK manual on interrogation, which the United States used to train the police and military forces of client states. That manual would be resurrected in 1983 and used in the CIA’s training of the U.S.-backed Contras in Nicaragua’s civil war. Many of the “enhanced interrogation techniques” that became so familiar to us in the George W. Bush years — sensory bombardment, sleep deprivation, exposure to extremes of heat and cold, sexual humiliation — were first laid out in that manual. But the CIA evidently misplaced it somewhere in their voluminous files because, after 9/11, instead of hauling it out yet again, they paid $80 million to two psychologists to reinvent the torture wheel. Those two, James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, repackaged DDD as “learned helplessness” (borrowing a concept developed by another psychologist, Martin Seligman).

Seligman’s role in developing the CIA torture program has been in dispute ever since. At most, he seems to have willingly discussed his theories with CIA personnel. In December 2001, he met at his home with both James Mitchell and Kirk Hubbard, who was then the chief of research and analysis in the CIA’s Operational Division, among others. In 2002, at the invitation of CIA personnel, he lectured on learned helplessness at the Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape school where U.S. military are trained to resist torture. Seligman claims he had no idea how his work was being used until “years later,” when he read a New Yorker article by Jane Mayer (perhaps this one) about CIA torture practices in the post-9/11 era. “If I had known about the methods employed,” says Seligman, “I would not have discussed learned helplessness with” Agency officials.

Mitchell and Jessen, however, had no such compunctions. They cheerfully designed an interrogation program for the CIA that included such “enhanced techniques” as slamming detainees against walls and locking them in tiny boxes.  As no one is likely to forget, they also retrieved waterboarding from history. This practice had bluntly been called “the water torture” in Medieval Europe and American soldiers were using it in the Philippines, where it was referred to ironically as “the water cure,” as the twentieth century began. To waterboard is essentially to drown a prisoner to the point of unconsciousness, a “technique” the CIA used 83 times on one man (who didn’t even turn out to be an al-Qaeda leader). The whole program was implemented at CIA black sites in Afghanistan, Thailand, Poland, and Romania, among other places.

For part of this time, Mitchell was a member of the APA and so presumably subject to its code of ethics, which, theoretically at least, prohibited involvement in interrogations involving torture. When concerned APA members tried to bring an ethics claim against him to the group (whose only real sanction would have been to publicly expel him), they got nowhere. Eventually, Mitchell quietly resigned from the association.

Meanwhile, military psychologists were also working on interrogation matters for the Department of Defense. At Guantánamo, they participated in behavioral science control teams (BSCTs, pronounced “biscuits”). Despite the homey-sounding name, those BSCTs were anything but benign. Staffed by psychologists and psychiatrists, the teams, according to a 2005 New England Journal of Medicine op-ed by knowledgeable insiders, “prepared psychological profiles for use by interrogators; they also sat in on some interrogations, observed others from behind one-way mirrors, and offered feedback to interrogators.” 

Guantánamo’s BSCTs, the Journal piece continues, favored an approach to behavioral control taught at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center, which “builds on the premise that acute, uncontrollable stress erodes established behavior (e.g., resistance to questioning), creating opportunities to reshape behavior.” This was to be achieved by introducing “stressors tailored to the psychological and cultural vulnerabilities of individual detainees (e.g., phobias, personality features, and religious beliefs).”

But where did the BSCTs get their information about the vulnerabilities of those individual detainees? The International Committee of the Red Cross discovered that it came from their medical records at the detention center, which, according to general medical ethics and the Geneva Conventions, are supposed to be kept confidential.

Those APA members who continue to argue for bringing military psychologists back to Guantánamo insist that it’s possible to keep a firewall between their work as clinicians and the role of interrogator. But how realistic is this, especially within an organization like the military, where obedience and hierarchical loyalty are key values? As the New England Journal of Medicine concludes,

“[The] proximity of health professionals to interrogation settings, even when they act as caregivers, carries risk. It may invite interrogators to be more aggressive, because they imagine that these professionals will set needed limits. The logic of caregiver involvement as a safeguard also risks pulling health professionals in ever more deeply. Once caregivers share information with interrogators, why should they refrain from giving advice about how to best use the data? Won’t such advice better protect detainees, while furthering the intelligence-gathering mission? And if so, why not oversee isolation and sleep deprivation or monitor beatings to make sure nothing terrible happens?”

Who Cares What the American Psychological Association Does?

When it comes to torture, why should the internal politics of one professional association with relatively little power matter? The answer is: because what happens there offers a vivid illustration of how organizations (or even entire nations) can be deformed once torture gains an institutional home.

And as in the APA, in the United States, too, the fight over torture has not ended. On the first day of his presidency, Barack Obama issued two executive orders. One de-authorized the use of those “enhanced interrogation techniques,” and closed the CIA’s black sites. The other was meant to shut Guantánamo as well (but the fervent opposition of most congressional Republicans ultimately prevented this).

Obama also argued that nothing would be “gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past.” He couldn’t have been more mistaken. Had America’s elected officials spent their time and energy that way, those in George W. Bush’s administration who authorized widespread acts of torture and those who committed them might have been held legally responsible — which is exactly what the U.N. Convention Against Torture (of which the U.S. is a signatory) requires. As a nation, minimally we would have gotten a much fuller accounting of the many cruel and illegal acts committed in our names by top officials, intelligence agencies, and the military after September 11, 2001.

And had all of that happened, we might not be backsliding on torture the way we are. It’s just possible that this country might not have elected a man who campaigned on the promise that he would bring back “waterboarding and a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding” and who, on entering the Oval Office, signed an executive order keeping Guantánamo open.

In addition, the Senate would probably not have approved Gina Haspel who oversaw a CIA black site in Thailand (where acts of torture did take place) to run the Agency. She might have been prosecuted, not promoted to CIA director. And perhaps the president wouldn’t have nominated a Supreme Court justice, Brett Kavanaugh, who worked as staff secretary in the George W. Bush White House and was involved in detainee policy. The Washington Post reports that he attended more than one meeting on the treatment of detainees, suggested that they weren’t entitled to legal counsel and strategized about how to keep the Supreme Court from granting them habeas corpus rights. Now, President Trump, citing “executive privilege,” is even withholding 100,000 pages of records from Kavanaugh’s service in the Bush White House — and who knows what they might contain on the subject.

How Did They Do It?

What happened at the APA convention recently also matters because it illustrates the power of organized ethical action. Association members who were determined to keep psychologists out of the torture business formed the APA Watch: Alliance for an Ethical APA. They consulted thoughtfully with each other and allies (including Veterans for Peace), developed and distributed materials aimed at persuading APA members in general, and made personal phone calls to most of the 170 members of the association’s governing Council of Representatives. They combined the wisdom and values of their profession — including the all-important Hippocratic injunction not to harm one’s patients — with energetic, organized action.

It’s an encouraging example for the rest of us, as we enter this crucial election cycle. When we’re smart, committed, and organized, the good guys can win.

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  1. pretzelattack

    re obama, i remember some articles by glenn greenwald in which he argues that obama just wanted to move the guantanomo program to a supermax prison in the u.s., but without significantly changing it.

    1. JBird4049

      I also remembered that he wanted to move the prisoners to the mainland after he had closed the site at Guantanamo, but that Congress flipped out on the super dangerous, ultra bad “terrorists” being in the States because they would somehow escape the ultramax prison and start slaughtering Americans.

      1. Hepativore

        Hypothetically, could he not have closed Guatanamo with an executive order since Bush II set up these indefinite detention centers with an executive order? However, I realize that Obama largely agreed with the direction our foreign policy went during the reign of “W” or did not care enough to want to make any sort of significant deviation. Still, previous presidents have shown that they can largely do whatever the hell they want though an executive order and nobody can or will stop them.

        1. JBird

          Congressional legislation and budget appropriations over-ride an executive order; it is Congress that holds the stringpurse and makes the law on who can or cannot come here. So legislation could be passed saying no immate from Guantanamo can come to actual American territories and/or deny funding just for the care and transportation of them.

          There is also the absolutely fantastic campaign ads that would have been done. “The Democrats are bringing the terrorists to where the children are!!!!! And grandma too!”

          President Obama could have tried to do it anyways, but I don’t see any Supreme Court left, right, or center allowing it if asked.

          Congress, in theory, is the most powerful branch of government. The Constitution was written to that and it actually was functionally so. Look at the first 150 years of the American Republic and the center was Congress. Slavery, Reconstruction, the expansion of empire (including the Mexican-American War) all were handled by Congress, often in ways whatever President was against.

          It has only been in the past thirty or forty that it has discarded it responsibilities and destroyed the supporting agencies, general staff, and personal staff needed for members of Congress to do their jobs. Add the daily four hours of calling for donations, while in session, and the fear of doing anything that might be possibly, maybe, controversial or worse, offend the 1% or really the 0.01%. We haven’t really had a functioning Congress since at least the 90s.

          Despite all that Congress could tell the President what to do with Gitmo. They just chose not to. Except to not have them moved to a supermax prison. It could end all the fighting by the American military tomorrow. It won’t but it could.

          What a bunch of cowardly, narcissistic weasels we have running the place.

  2. The Rev Kev

    I’d like to the think that the vote of the American Psychological Association was a result of so many of those members trying to do the right thing but I am not so sure. The thing is, so many members voted to go along with its members helping with the U.S. detention center at Guantánamo Bay. They may have good reason here in that they know that the US government will have their backs in case of legal trouble.
    If any of these members were caught up with the International Criminal Court for example, the US has already announced that they will not only not go along with any legal proceedings, but that they will punish those who cooperate (https://www.rt.com/usa/438023-icc-dead-war-crimes-bolton/) with war-crime investigations. If push come to shove, there is also the 2002 American Service-Members’ Protection Act,also know as the “Hague Invasion Act”, as in if any US citizens are caught up with war crimes, including torture, the US is enabled to free them via military action.
    It is things like this that is leading the US legal system to become a bit of an international legal backwater.

    1. Brooklin Bridge

      Psychologists that I’ve met are subject to much the same “social logic” as the general population. They do not even hew consistently to scientific principles of evaluation. They are thus subject to the same influence of mass propaganda as everyone else and often have what they perceive as an ‘adult in the room’ attitude towards torture such as wrapping it in terms of ‘enhanced interrogation’ rather than what it is. They are hardly “bad people,” but they are certainly not as qualified to make judgements on the subject as they imagine they are.

    2. Synoia

      No, no. The US is a nation of laws!! /s

      Waterbording is inhumane?

      The prison cell is dusty, and the dust a natural effect of the climate.. The water is humane. The board is humane. Pouring the water is humane. The strops are humane, to prevent the prisoner for hurting himself. The cloth over the face of the prisoner is to keep dust out of the prisoner’s mouth and eyes.

      Only when a few drops of water, released to wash off the dust, hit the prisoner’s face by mistake, could it possibly become uncomfortable. /s

  3. pretzelattack

    the two main recent culprits made a lot of money, and if i read the article correctly only one had to resign from the apa–and all for scamming the pentagon. as the author points out, this was just a rehash of the earlier kubark manual. but the pentagon is used to being scammed; that’s it’s comfort zone. and i wonder how many kickbacks of one sort or another were involved.

    1. precariat

      Allowing themselves to be scammed. More likely is that ‘contracting out’ functions of mil/gov is part of the neoliberal ethos of government. With the added benefit of distribution of accountability/deniability and at the least the illusion of ‘public-private’ co-option.

  4. DJG

    Professor Gordon is a diplomat:

    Here’s a disclaimer of sorts: ever since I witnessed the effects of U.S. torture policy firsthand in Central America in the 1980s, I’ve had a deep personal interest in American torture practices.

    What she is talking about is the horrors in places like Guatemala and El Salvador, which, by the way, helped to produce refugees. And if she had traveled farther south, there were the events in Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay. Yes, the U.S. even had to help subvert the government of Uruguay. Whenever Americans try to pretend that torture is just some little misunderstanding about the severity of an interrogation, I will remind them of the Argentines who were tortured, drugged, and dropped out of airplanes into the ocean. Their children had already been stolen. Several attendees of the Beatification of Saint John McCain knew all about it, too.

    One of the things most notable about this article, though, is the impunity of the white-collar classes. Hey, APA, try lifting their licenses. But the U.S. upper-middle class must never be inconvenienced. So you have torturing, looting, pillaging, and hand wringing. The only way to stop torture is to put people in prison for having done it. Murder is a capital crime.

  5. Wukchumni

    I’m all for torturing words, but must draw the line on consonantly being reminded of those disemvoweled, by having to read them.

  6. anon

    Very sorry for the duplicate, my last post was missing an “end quote” arrow (>).

    More on the inhumane piece of work, Dr. Martin Seligman (referred to above), who apparently refers to himself as The Father of Positive Psychology:

    By Maria Konnikova Trying to Cure Depression, but Inspiring Torture

    In a series of [Learned Helplessness™ – anon] experiments, Seligman and Maier first attached dogs to a harness, a kind of rubberized cloth hammock, with holes for the dogs’ legs to dangle free. As the dogs hung, their heads were kept in place by two panels, which they could easily press with their heads. At random intervals, coming between sixty and ninety seconds apart, they would receive a series of shocks to their hind feet. Some of the dogs could control the shocks with a simple press of the head against either of the panels; for others, the head-pressing did nothing. The moment the dogs with the functional panels touched either one, the shock ended. Otherwise, it lasted for thirty seconds to begin with, and for increasingly shorter durations thereafter.

    Isn’t a more fitting definition of the above torture, Enforced Helplessness???

    Last paragraph:

    Seligman says that he isn’t the father of learned helplessness. He’s the father of positive psychology: the study of how to go about identifying and nurturing positive emotion, and using it to withstand the negative. Learned helplessness, at the end, isn’t about helplessness at all—it’s about empowerment and control.

    And more on Dr. Martin Seligman as The GoodFather of Positive Psychology™:

    By Ruth Whippman You Can’t Always Make Yourself Happy

    Happiness studies, or positive psychology as it’s called in academic circles, is a relatively new field of research. In 1998, the American Psychological Association appointed a new president, Dr. Martin Seligman of the University of Pennsylvania. Up until this point, Seligman was best known for his work in the 1960s administering electric shocks to captive dogs, but in his new role as president, he was now changing tack. Seligman used his inaugural speech to the association to declare the grand opening of a whole new branch of psychology, to be known as “positive psychology.”

    In a Developed Country world where, for well over a decade, even the average non prisoner citizen or resident has been subjected to — lethal, large, and the thousand cuts type—Law Enforcement™; Corporate Technocracy; and Government crimes for which they cannot afford, or find, justice and recourse, this is absolutely venal:

    This deft rebranding of actual problems into “problematic ways of thinking” is a common theme in the happiness industry. Martin Seligman himself has done much to promote this neoliberal view that circumstances don’t matter to happiness. “In general, when things go wrong we now have a culture which supports the belief that this was done to you by some larger force, as opposed to, you brought it on yourself by your character or decisions,” he claimed in one interview in the early years of the positive psychology movement. “The problem about that is it’s a recipe for passivity… . A lot of your troubles were brought on by yourself. You are responsible for them.”

    Puerto Rico is a massive, ongoing example of LearnedEnforced Helplessness. Craig Murray’s experience is an example, for which he had to be hospitalized:

    When They Decide to Get You

    As with Alex Salmond, some of the accusations against me were hideous – offering visas in exchange for sex, for example. They were so hideous that the mental anguish of not being permitted to take any normal steps to defend myself caused me a mental breakdown. I know what Salmond must be feeling. I received psychiatric treatment in St Thomas’ Hospital for a condition called “learnt helplessness” – meaning it was the dreadful experience of having things done to me which I was not permitted to take any normal steps to counter, which caused my clinical depression.

    The charges against me were entirely fake and entirely vexatious, even malicious, issued after I had objected to British complicity in torture in the “War on Terror”, which the government denied at the time, calling me a liar, though now admits. The charges were designed to destroy my reputation. You can read the full story in my book “Murder in Samarkand”, widely available in libraries. I believe it conveys the anguish that “learnt helplessness” can cause.

    To be plain, I was told not to reveal the existence of the charges to anybody at all and specifically forbidden from contacting witnesses. Nevertheless the charges were such obvious nonsense they eventually collapsed and I was found not guilty of all eighteen charges – but found guilty of breaking the order to keep the charges secret, in organising my defence. Not keeping the charges secret is the only disciplinary offence of which I was ever convicted.

    And Gary Webb’s worse fate is certainly another, earlier decade example. I believe there’s a widespread epidemic of Enforced Helplessness being perpetrated on the populace at large, by the powers that be. It’s certainly reflected in the current Alcohol, Opioid and Suicide epidemic — and it hardly matters whether it’s being enforced wittingly, or unwittingly (AI, for a perfect example), it’s ghastly and lethal.

  7. Wukchumni

    Saw our 7th black bear of the summer, a greyish-black model about a mile from our home. By coincidence i’m sure, approx 15 Empire & 25 Red Fuji apples went missing from their respective trees, a clean sweep on both.

    The suspect bruin is savvy to when they’re ripe, as I was getting ready to do so myself.

    I hope my pride & joy, a Sundowner with about 40 apples and more vibrant and lively than any other in the malus palace, doesn’t get pillaged, but i’m in a hurry up & wait position, as the fruit won’t ripen for another month.

  8. Jeremy Grimm

    “In the wake of that independent review, the APA’s Council of Representatives voted that same year to keep psychologists out of national security interrogation settings.” How is this not a version of ‘see no evil’? Why should we applaud this action of the APA Council of Representatives? Where was the APA Council of Representatives when some of their members gave well-paid blessings and gowns of tortured words to cover over ‘refined’ tortures developed through the centuries by true masters who could truly enjoy the work and refine the art of it. I doubt these practitioners of the ancient arts of torture are especially concerned or affected by the proximity or lack of proximity of ‘health professionals’ any more than they seem concerned by the lack of useful information their techniques yield, especially when applied to the many innocent and the ignorant they are given to work on. I suppose they know their good works well serve other purposes of the State that so kindly let them practice their darkest desires otherwise not so well tolerated outside their special State provided playgrounds.

  9. precariat

    Thanks to Yves. All citizens should read this, the ‘systems’ developed and implemented by our government and contractors. These ‘systems’ produce frameworks of thinking, of law and of criminal action that left unchecked will trickle into our lives and culture. Shall we define down the meaning of ‘assault’ to only extreme bodily injury and organ damage? Society and justice would break down; but if done covertly to implement ‘DDD’ — well, that is a compliant populace.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Hey, the “trickling down” has already happened, long since.

      As to professional “codes of ethics,” any dope with the desire can find holes big enough to drive a missing conscience through. The one for lawyers, both the ABA “Model Rules” and the various state “rules” and “codes,” are such structures.

      For those following the antics and abuses of the CALpers scalpers, one might keep this in mind as we ponder why there have not been more actions against the lawyers who write and sign off on the various frauds and scams. From the Wiki entry on that fraud of frauds, the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct “The rules are merely recommendations, or models, (hence the name “Model Rules”) and are not themselves binding.” And substantively, on how the “models” are applied in CA, this:


      California still has its own set of unique rules governing professional attorney conduct. Although many of the rules are similar and sometimes identical to the ABA Model Rules, the California rules differ markedly from the ABA models in both format, scope and content. For example, under the ABA Model Rules, an attorney may be disciplined for the appearance of impropriety, regardless whether any actual impropriety occurred; whereas the California rules permit discipline for only actual impropriety. This reflects the nature of California law. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Bar_Association_Model_Rules_of_Professional_Conduct

      And as I often say, “you only have the rights that you can enforce.” People “rendered” for “extreme interrogation” are defined to have neither rights nor human existence. No effective and enforced remedy, no rights. “Rule of Law” is just a nice notion and mostly a joke for the people who suffer the worst and the creatures that prey on them.

      And but for the exposure and shaming and naming being conducted by Yves et al., and the public outcry that has been generated, there would be no more “enforcement” or corrective action than there is for most of the cop-kills-mope events around Our Great Nation…

  10. timotheus

    Never bought the “my hands are tied” excuse re Guantánamo. Trump doesn’t seem to suffer from that malady with both houses controlled by his party–just as Obama had in 2009-10.

  11. RBHoughton

    The duty of an administration to make law for the regulation and well being of society is basic. The failure of the representatives to hold successive administrations to this constitutional duty is sufficient grounds to throw them all out – congressmen and officials.

    The existence of torture sites operated by the deep state in many countries and on the high seas is evidence that the country is not governed. It has become a despotism determined by any means to cling to power even as it is cut away from under it by the flow of history. What foolishness is this. What rewards are these people accumulating on their slates. Do they suppose they are patriotic? There will be consequences for the country if not for them individually.

    What a great pleasure to read Rebecca Gordon’s facts and opinions. Congratulations to USFCA for retaining her services. She is not beholden to the government or the Congress whose failure she details and laments. She speaks for humanity. We should listen.

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