Abuse less shocking in light of history

This article from USA Today tries to describe how the soldiers in Abu Ghraib, people that lived normal, caring lives in the US, could have gotten caught up in the torture of prisoners: USATODAY.com – Abuse less shocking in light of history. The article refers to several psychology experiements that I remember from Psych 101. In one the researcher has students “teach through punishment” and administer electric shocks. Suprisingly, most subjects followed orders and increased voltages even when their “students” were screaming in pain. In another study, the researcher sets up a mock prison environment. In that mock environment, some of the subjects did things similar to the Abu Ghraib situation. The experiment had to be called off before it was finished.

I don’t think this excuses anybody, heinous crimes were committed and everybody involved is responsible, however I think this means that those in command should be even more responsible because they did not create a structure that would have prevented these crimes. Based on scientific studies, we knew something like this could happen and we didn’t put adequate controls in place.

2 Replies to “Abuse less shocking in light of history”

  1. Even though the apparent crimes to the prisoners seem to be terrible, the one thing that is not reported is that a lot of those prisoners are classified as terrorists. Whose status under the Geneva Convention forbids them the same rights as those considered POW’s. Which in turn allows the confining body to use more extreme measures during interrogation. Now, does this justify what went on in Iraq? I don’t know. But until the complete story is told, and not just by left wing papers and news coverage during an election year, no one can make that call. Source for the Geneva Convention info: Former Judge Advocate General, United States Navy.

  2. While I agree we don’t have the whole story yet, what is shown in the pictures I’ve seen is not acceptable to me under any circumstances. We need to live what we believe in and I don’t believe anyone should be treated like that, not even terrorists who may have killed thousands of people and who would willingly kill thousands more. Treating others cruelly makes you cruel. And that goes for how we treat terrorists as well as how we treat our own president. We need to judge others under the rules we judge ourselves. We owe it to our parents, to our children and to the founders of our nation.

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