Torture Harms the Torturer Too

The Tortured Lives of Interrogators – washingtonpost.com

“I tortured people,” said Lagouranis, 37, who was a military intelligence specialist in Iraq from January 2004 until January 2005. “You have to twist your mind up so much to justify doing that.”

Being an interrogator, Lagouranis discovered, can be torture.

I think the most compelling arguments against torture are its fundamental immorality, what it does to this country;s moral standing, what it does to this country's legal standing, and that it doesn't work real well, in that order. But I'm willing to add what it does to the torturers to the end of the list.

They could, after all refuse, costly as it would be to them personally. And, indeed, some do:

Lagouranis's tools included stress positions, a staged execution and hypothermia so extreme the detainees' lips turned purple. He has written an account of his experiences in a book, “Fear Up Harsh,” which has been read by the Pentagon and will be published this week. Stephen Lewis, an interrogator who was deployed with Lagouranis, confirmed the account, and Staff Sgt. Shawn Campbell, who was Lagouranis's team leader and direct supervisor, said Lagouranis's assertions were “as true as true can get. It's all verifiable.” John Sifton, a senior researcher for Human Rights Watch, said the group investigated many of Lagouranis's claims about abuses and independently corroborated them.

“At every point, there was part of me resisting, part of me enjoying,” Lagouranis said. “Using dogs on someone, there was a tingling throughout my body. If you saw the reaction in the prisoner, it's thrilling.”

In Mosul, he took detainees outside the prison gate to a metal shipping container they called “the disco,” with blaring music and lights. Before and after questioning, military police officers stripped them and checked for injuries, noting cuts and bumps “like a car inspection at a parking garage.” Once a week, an Iraqi councilman and an American colonel visited. “We had to hide the tortured guys,” Lagouranis said.

Then a soldier's aunt sent over several copies of Viktor E. Frankel's Holocaust memoir, “Man's Search for Meaning.” Lagouranis found himself trying to pick up tips from the Nazis. He realized he had gone too far.

At that point, Lagouranis said, he moderated his techniques and submitted sworn statements to supervisors concerning prisoner abuse.

The Post's article has lots more, not all of it unambiguous, and is worth reading in full.

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2 Responses to Torture Harms the Torturer Too

  1. “Lagouranis found himself trying to pick up tips from the Nazis”

    Yipe!

  2. nomidreamsofjustice says:

    Lagouranis says “part of me resisting, part of me enjoying” He mentions it’s thrilling to get a reaction from the prisoner . . .

    Jonathan D Moreno, author of “Mind Wars: Brain Research and National Defense” says that torture is powerfully addictive.

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