Breaking Jose: Psychological Torture Not so Bad?
A new study indicates that psychological torture--sleep deprivation, threatening to harm friends or family, or threats of rape--tends to result in comparable levels of mental anguish in victims as physical torture. In a study of 300 torture victims from the former Yugoslavia, those that had experienced psychological torture, but not physical, tended to develop post traumatic stress disorders at about the same rates as those that had been physically abused.
Of course, as a result of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, U.S. intelligence officials may be sactioned to engage in various forms of "torture lite" in order to extract information from detainees. International law prevents physical torture, and the U.S. military advises its personnel not to engage in psychological torture. But there do not seem to be such restrictions on the CIA.
These methods have come under scrutiny in the Jose "Dirty Bomber" Padilla case. As Naomi Klein reports, Padilla's lawyers are saying that he has been rendered mentally incompetent through the interrogation methods he has had to undergo, perhaps, including psychological torture.
Of course, enemy combantant detainees in military prisons have apparently lost the right to have their cases reviewed in U.S. courts because of the Military Commissions Act, based on a Federal appeals court ruling last February.
Should this study raise cause us to reassess whether the United States is sanctioning human rights violations in the" war on terror"?