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And, yes, I DO take it personally: Democracy in Afghanistan...? Not so much... The Afghan Guantánamo...? You betcha... Interrogation techniques hazardous to your health...? Yes...
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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Democracy in Afghanistan...? Not so much... The Afghan Guantánamo...? You betcha... Interrogation techniques hazardous to your health...? Yes...


mr. khan would like peace, security and job opportunities... pardon me, but, no shit... while we're at it, how about some decent infrastructure like roads, electricity, water, health care, and schools... oh, yeah, and then there's decent food supplies that aren't so outrageously expensive that the folks starving to death on the streets might have a shot at basic nutrition...
Mubaruz Khan didn't bother to vote when Afghans went to the polls in the country's second-ever democratic election last month. He was too busy eking out a living selling cigarettes and soda for $3 a day, and didn't think voting would make a difference in his life.

Millions like Khan stayed home on Aug. 20, a sharp contrast to 2004, when Afghans jammed polling stations to give President Hamid Karzai his first term. Ominous warnings from the Taliban suppressed turnout, but some Afghans said they were also discouraged by the government's failure to halt endemic corruption, spiraling unemployment and crumbling security.

"We want peace. We want security. We want job opportunities," the 55-year-old Khan said Monday. "Otherwise, the democracy and the elections that they are all shouting about every day mean nothing to us."

meanwhile, just a few kilometers down the road from where i sit typing this lies bagram, the afghan guantánamo...
Bagram is "the forgotten second Guantánamo," says American military law expert Eugene Fidell, a professor at Yale Law School. "But apparently there is a continuing need for this sort of place even under the Obama administration."

From the beginning, "Bagram was worse than Guantanamo," says New York-based attorney Tina Foster, who has argued several cases on behalf of detainee rights in US courts. "Bagram has always been a torture chamber."

And what does Obama say? Nothing. He never so much as mentions Bagram in any of his speeches. When discussing America's mistreatment of detainees, he only refers to Guantanamo.

and bagram ain't small, either...
The Bagram detention facility, by now the largest American military prison outside the United States, is not marked on any maps. In fact, its precise location, somewhere on the periphery of the giant air base northeast of the Afghan capital, is classified. It comprises two sand-colored buildings that resemble airplane hangars, surrounded by tall concrete walls and green camouflage tarps. The facility was set up in 2002 as a temporary prison on the grounds of a former Soviet air base.

Today, the two buildings contain large cages, each with the capacity to hold 25 to 30 prisoners. Up to 1,000 detainees can be held at Bagram at any one time. The detainees sleep on mats, and there is one toilet behind a white curtain for each cage. A $60 million extension is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

i've never been up the road toward bagram... in fact, i've barely been out of kabul... however, if i ever do get the opportunity to see some more of this amazingly rugged country, bagram won't be anywhere near the top of my list of "must-see" places...

and as long as we're on the subject of detainees, it kind of leads into how they're treated, particularly in the interrogation process... apparently, our methods aren't necessarily contributing to mental and emotional health...

Prolonged stress from the CIA's harsh interrogations could have impaired the memories of terrorist suspects, diminishing their ability to recall and provide the detailed information the spy agency sought, according to a scientific paper published Monday.

The methods could even have caused the suspects to create – and believe – false memories, contends the paper, which scrutinizes the techniques used by the CIA under the Bush administration through the lens of neurobiology. It suggests the methods are actually counterproductive, no matter how much suspects might eventually say.

"Solid scientific evidence on how repeated and extreme stress and pain affect memory and executive functions (such as planning or forming intentions) suggests these techniques are unlikely to do anything other than the opposite of that intended by coercive or enhanced interrogation," according to the paper in the scientific journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences.


"We've known for quite a while that stress radically impairs cognition. We know memory is very fragile to begin with," said Stephen Soldz, president-elect of Psychologists for Social Responsibility and a professor at Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis. "It's just amazing that this has not been taken into account."

not so amazing... in fact, my guess is that it actually WAS taken into account and deliberately discounted because it didn't line up with the preconceived notions of those who were bound and determined that torture and useful interrogation somehow went together despite all of the principles upon which the foundation of the united states supposedly rests...

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