That some American prisoners are treated very badly does not — much as Mr. Bush’s defenders would like it to — in any way mitigate the horrors now being carried out in the name of the war on terror. But if they’re really interested in doing something about maltreatment of Americans, rather than just deflecting criticism from the Young Churchill, I invite them to join the campaign to end the commercialized child abuse masquerading as “tough love” drug treatment (and behavior modification of other kinds).
This letter from reader JL (who prefers not to have his full name published) brought the issue back to mind:
We live in a society that has a hard time coming
to grips with the truth about how we treat our
own children. If you read it, you eventually find
out about some Republicans you might have heard
of. If we are willing to do these things to our
own kids, kids who need help, why would we be at
all concerned about doing it, or worse, to ‘enemy
I survived Straight, I served as a Staff Trainee,
I abused other kids and was abused in turn. It
only took 18 years of suicide attempts,
alcoholism and finally several years of
cognitive therapy and a big dose of luck to be
And everyday, everyday, it continues right here
in American, to people who for the most part
have been convicted of no crimes, who are held
without access to outside counsel, or even
outside anything, citizens, children.
But no one wants to talk about it. No one wants
to cover it on AC360, no one wants to hear about
how we enforced peanut butter diets, how we beat
people, how we unwittingly used the most
sophisticated thought and behavior reform
techniquues, at the behest of grown ups, to
literally torture each other into various states
Plenty of the kids I was in with 23 years ago are
dead today, some were killed, others took their
own lives, I know of one who is serving life in
an Alabama prision.
These were 13-14-15 year old children, and we
tortured them, we tortured each other into
proclaiming the desired truth, and we did it at
the behest of so called conservatives. I saw
broken bones, people covered head to toe in
bruises, people who were not allowed to go to the
bathroom, people stripped naked in private homes
and taunted for 8 hours a night, then taken into
the ‘building’ and taunted for 10-12 hour days,
every day for a year, two years, three years. I
was there, I saw it, I did it. I live with it
everyday of my life. I live with the nightmares
of being abused, and the far worse nightmares of
being the abuser.
Sure, I agree that what we are doing to people
like Padilla and those at Gitmo is horrible. But
I think it is even worse that we are doing it to
our own children.
JL points to this chilling piece by Maia Szalavitz.
If you’re wondering where you’ve heard the name “Mel Sembler” before, he’s just signed up as one of Mitt Romney’s finance co-chairmen.