Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Guantanamo Bay and the Science of Torture.

The official word on Guantanamo is they are interrogating "enemy combatants" for information to stop the "terrorists." Most have been there for 6 or 7 years now, so after years of torture, what more could they possible reveal? Nothing. I don't think they are looking for information any more. Guantanamo is an experiment. An experiment in brainwashing. Through the use of shock, isolation, and torture, this is a major effort to erase the minds of these men to a blank slate, where upon they can begin to rebuild them to the governments liking.

The methods they use there were developed by two doctors the CIA funded in Montreal in the 1950's, Dr. Donald Hebb and Dr. Ewen Cameron. The work of these two psychiatrists was the foundation for the infamous CIA torture handbook the KUBARK manual. They took patients, often students, and under the guise of attempting to heal problems like schizophrenia or anxiety, subjected them to hardcore punishment and torture. The whole "blank slate" idea was Cameron's. To erase ones mind he used a variety of methods: Lots of electroshock. Extreme isolation. Lots of LSD and PCP. Usually all three together. One experiment went like this: He converted the horse stables behind the McGill hospital into isolation chambers. He put blackout goggles and soundproof headphones on his subjects. He wrapped their arms in weird pipes so they couldn't touch themselves, all of this to induce sensory deprivation and to cause the mind to "fold in on itself." He would stagger meal times and serve breakfast food at dinner, dinner a lunch, etc. No contact with anyone. He would leave them like this for MONTHS AT A TIME. At this point, when the personality is gone, there is a state of total vulnerability where the prisoner will comply with anything. Then the sensory overload part begins, usually involving days of blaring white noise and music, lights, yelling, tape loops. Torture historian Alfred W. McCoy calls this "the first real revolution in the cruel science of pain in more than three centuries."

In addition to stress positions (standing for days), water boarding (drowning), phobias (like fear of dogs), humility (nakedness), and beatings, Cameron and Hebb's technique is occurring at Guantanamo Bay. As soon as the Iraq and Afghanistan prisoners were captured, a hood went on and the shock and isolation treatment began. There is a section at Guantanamo called Delta Block that holds more than 50 men who have completely lost it. James Yee, a military chaplain that worked there describes what he saw: "I'd stop to talk to them, and they would respond to me in a child like voice, talking complete nonsense. Many of them would loudly sing childish songs, repeating the song over and over. Some of them would stand on their steel bed frames and act out childishly..." Indeed, those are the same results Cameron got. After experiencing extreme regression most would curl up into a fetal position and suck their thumb. Then Cameron would start playing repeating tape loops of positive messages to them for months at a time. Psychiatricly, a laughably sick joke. Obviously it didn't work, the patients never recovered. Most lost there jobs, some killed themselves, and many cant remember anything about there life before they came across Cameron. Thankfully, a few of them pulled it together and sued the CIA, as well as the government of Canada, and won.

So when we look at all this in relation to what has happened to the prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan, a different picture comes to light. Hundreds of thousands have been detained, tortured, and released months or years later, never being charged or accused of anything. Abu Ghraib is one of the main facilities for this purpose. As Naomi Klein, from who's book The Shock Doctrine I got most this information, puts it: "We are told it's about getting information but I think it's about more than that- I think it may also have to do with trying to build a model country, about erasing people and then trying to remake them from scratch."

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