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View Diary: Why they shouldn't release the photos (108 comments)

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  •  Anybody who is above a City Councilmember (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cotterperson, pontechango, allep10

    in government or a sergeant in the military, and who is not familiar with the Stanford Prison Experiment, should not be able to plead ignorance as an excuse for abandoning the legal safety nets (Geneva Conventions, Military Handbooks, rule of law) put in place to prevent these completely predictable effects of asymmetrical power and dehumanization.

    Twenty-four undergraduates were selected out of 70 to play the roles of both guards and prisoners and live in a mock prison in the basement of the Stanford psychology building. Those selected were chosen for their lack of psychological issues, crime history, and medical disabilities, in order to obtain a representative sample. Roles were assigned based on a coin toss.[1]

    Prisoners and guards rapidly adapted to their roles, stepping beyond the boundaries of what had been predicted and leading to dangerous and psychologically damaging situations. One-third of the guards were judged to have exhibited "genuine" sadistic tendencies, while many prisoners were emotionally traumatized and two had to be removed from the experiment early.

    I would imagine that the worse crimes (rape, murder, brutal physical beatings) were not specifically authorized. On the other hand, anybody far enough up the chain of command who was powerful enough to declare that the Geneva Conventions did not apply to these prisoners, and to declare that some forms of historically acknowledged actions designated as torture were now OK, would have been knowledgeable enough to realize that more brutality was bound to follow.

    I agree that the photos should not be released. I think our motivations for wanting to see them are not pure, and I think that they will put our men and women in uniform in significantly greater danger. I think that all of the memos authorizing torture ought to be released, and I think that the House & Senate should authorize a special prosecutor to investigate, and I think that after the investigation is complete, any who are responsible (including, I hope, Dick Cheney) should be prosecuted for war crimes, preferably in the same courtroom which saw the trial of Saddam Hussein.

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