DOI link for Torture
DOI link for Torture
Torture has torn through additional restraints since I ﬁrst tried to get a grip on it (Shue 1978). Then I began by apologizing for raising an issue that I thought most Americans considered closed. The worst torturers seemed to be in such places as the Shah’s Iran, Marcos’s Philippines, South Korea and various Latin American dictatorships, including Chile, Argentina, Brazil and Guatemala.1
Courageous US Congress members like Don Fraser of Minnesota and Vietnam war veteran Tom Harkin of Iowa led an outcry against torture in the early 1970s, a protest that provoked my own interest and was later embraced by the presidency of Jimmy Carter after 1976. Many of us thought that torture was practised in the Third World but condemned by Americans and Europeans, reminiscent of the author of the 1911 entry on “Torture” for the Encyclopaedia Britannica, who claimed “[t]he whole subject is now one of only historical interest as far as Europe is concerned” (Waldron 2005b: 1683-84; 2010: 187). How far, and how sadly, wrong can one be! It emerged that a number of the Latin American torturers had been trained at Fort Benning,
Georgia, in the School of the Americas in techniques developed by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) (Gill 2004; McCoy 2006: 60-107; Rejali 2007). Unknown to me and most other US citizens whose taxes were funding it in 1978, CIA had already for decades been funding a massive academic research programme designed to create a new paradigm of torture, which is now in operation and has to a considerable degree corrupted the US military (Wolfendale 2007, Forsythe 2011). The most penetrating account of this secretly funded research is Wisconsin historian Alfred W. McCoy’s A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation, from the Cold War to the War on Terror: “From 1950 to 1962, the CIA became involved in torture through a massive mind-control eﬀort, with psychological warfare and secret research into human consciousness that reached a cost of a billion dollars annually – a veritable Manhattan Project of the mind” (McCoy 2006: 7). In April 1953 the CIA organized its various research grants “under the umbrella of a uniﬁed
project, MKUltra” (ibid.: 28). Much of the research on human consciousness involved human experimentation: “[f]rom 1953 to 1963, MKUltra and allied projects dispensed $25 million for human experiments by 185 nongovernmental researchers at eighty institutions, including forty-four universities and twelve hospitals” (ibid.: 29). Direct and indirect CIA contracts went to universities including, for instance, McGill, where pioneering research had been done by the great
psychologist Donald O. Hebb (ibid.: 32); also Yale, with Irving L. Janis and Stanley Milgram (ibid.: 32-33); and Cornell Medical Center’s Lawrence Hinkle and Harold Wolﬀ (ibid.: 41, 45).2 Further research was done during the war in Vietnam as part of the Phoenix programme (and others) where, in McCoy’s ironic words, there was “a limitless supply of human subjects” (ibid.: 65).