Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Brain Damage of the Torture Lovers

U.S. Soldiers Waterboarding a captive
The premise of this post is that those who torture people are going to suffer damage and that they are going to become less humane as a result of their egregious harm to others and a prolonged defense of that unthinkable ghoulishness.

It is obvious to many that V.P. Dick Cheney has suffered some sort of brain damage which is manifesting itself at this stage of his life in several forms of dementia.

Denial, loss of the grasp of reality, and a willingness to fabricate a false reality are all quite obvious in his thinking and behavior, and that is not a normal condition.

Is his habitual and self proclaimed cruelty any part of his drifting off from the harbor of human decency into the stormy seas of hatred?

What is surprising in some ways is that V.P. Dick Cheney's brain damage is mirroring the damage done to those he tortured:
Memos released by the US Department of Justice in April of 2009 detailing coercive interrogation techniques suggest that prolonged periods of shock, stress, anxiety, disorientation and lack of control are more effective than standard interrogatory techniques in making subjects reveal truthful information from memory. "This is based on the assumption that subjects will be motivated to reveal veridical information to end interrogation, and that extreme stress, shock and anxiety do not impact memory," says review author, Professor Shane O'Mara from the Institute of Neuroscience at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. "However, this model of the impact of extreme stress on memory and the brain is utterly unsupported by scientific evidence."

... it is difficult or impossible to determine during the interrogation whether the captive is revealing truthful information or just talking to escape the torture. Research has also shown that extreme stress has a deleterious effect on the frontal lobe and is associated with the production of false memories.
(You Can't Trust A Tortured Brain, emphasis added). And you certainly cannot trust the brain of V.P. Dick Cheney who loves to be cruel contrary to conditions of humane treatment of war prisoners or other detainees.

It is sure to trigger more fanatical fantasies when Dick Cheney and his cadre of ghouls hear that science disagrees with him. He will grasp at some fanatical religious belief while rejecting the humane religious notions of common decency, and while rejecting the scientific evidence.

It comes from the same cognitive place that says "God made the earth so humankind can't hurt it and therefore there is no global climate change".

The sane people of the earth shudder to think of that madman in power again.


  1. On torture itself, I think the bigger issue is a quis custodiet. Torture may or may not be effective in extracting truth. The problem is, regardless, it is much better at extracting falsehoods, and, particularly, the falsehoods the torturer wants to hear.

    In short it's a better tool for confessions and political show-trials than for interrogations. And the problem is that it will likely trend toward the use for which it is most useful.

  2. Carrington Ward,

    Good point about torture being used to extract falsehood.

    It appears that is the reason Dick Cheney was having torture used in early 2002 before the Iraq invasion so as to link 9/11 to Iraq and away from the actual perpetrators.