In early December, leaders in the Democratically-controlled Senate released a declassified report detailing the use of torture during the early years of the Iraq invasion, which has put some students and faculty in shock from the findings.
The report, which details torture-like actions against Islamic detainees that were assumed to be instrumental in the Sept. 11 disaster, exposed among a number of things that all the techniques used were guised under what a few psychologists had called “enhanced interrogation techniques.”
“Besides the cost in terms of human suffering, the erosion of public trust in our government and the damage to our national reputation at the international level, is the specific ramifications to the Profession of Psychology,” wrote Dr. William Ashton, an associate professor of psychology in York’s Behavioral Sciences Department.
In 2007, many of the faculty apart of York College’s Health and Behavioral Sciences Department had actually taken a stand against the techniques and were one of a handful of colleges that argued psychologists should not participate in the interrogations taking place in camps like Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay.
But many have looked at the techniques as not meeting the definition of torture, arguing that the techniques were vetted through the Department of Defense and Department of Justice before being used.
“I think it’s pretty obvious that the Bush Administration’s ‘enhanced interrogations’ were torture,” said Dr. Ian Hansen, also an assistant professor in York College’s Department of Behavioral Sciences.
Hansen, Ashton and others in the department had been active in petitioning leaders to expose the report, even calling on Colorado Sen. Mark Udall (D) to read the report on the Senate floor during the lame duck session, said Hansen.
And whereas a number of media outlets have tried to paint the picture that support for the bill goes along partisan lines, Hansen warns that the issue isn’t as simple as a democrat versus republican ideology.
“In fact, both parties have a large amount of culpability,” said Hansen. “The use of ‘enhanced interrogations’ began under Bush, but Obama has refused to prosecute the people responsible for developing and implementing the program, and some torture practices preferred by the CIA–like sleep deprivation, sensory deprivation and isolation–are still in use.”
On campus, here’s what some students had to say:
“People have their rights, so it depends on the situation. The CIA checks people’s email, whatever you do, they do research on it and the Bill of Rights give people the freedom to do whatever they want to do, so it depends in the case, if they are allowed to torture them they should show some proof.”
-Mohammed Gamal, 19, Nursing major
“I don’t think they should torture them because sometimes they are innocent and even so, they’re still human beings, so why should they be tortured.”
-Miranda Vines, 22, Information Systems major
“Humans have rights and it’ll just be bringing it back like in history similar to slavery and the Holocaust.”
-Johnny Brines, 23, Movement Science major
You can read the full torture report HERE