When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

eyes on the U.S.

America's Recurring Victims Of Torture, From Nazis To Al Qaeda

After World War II, it was SS prisoners in Germany's Landsberg prison. After 9-11, it was Guantanamo. The U.S. repeats its sins, but also repeats its repentance.

At Guantanamo
At Guantanamo
Torsten Krauel

-OpEd-

BERLIN — The U.S. Senate report on torture contains repulsive details about mock executions, interrogations of suspects with an electric drill placed threateningly near their backsides, five days of sleep deprivation.

Sixty-five years ago, another congressional committee published similar details — and that had consequences. The details concerned the brutal methods of U.S. military investigators against imprisoned Nazis, particularly former members of the SS.

The consequences? A number of verdicts against the Nazis were reversed. Many SS perpetrators serving sentences in Landsberg prison were set free, all because the interrogations — and hence the verdicts — did not abide by American legal standards.

Measured against that, the new report should lead to the remaining Guantánamo detainees being freed. But that's not likely to happen for several reasons. While the Nazis had been defeated by the time of the report 65 years ago, al-Qaeda is still very much intact. A second reason is that al-Qaeda deliberately attacked American civilians in 2001, which is why Congress unanimously approved a harsh reaction against it. Finally, the report is too politically controversial for it to serve the White House as a guiding principle.

The Republicans are furious because they believe the Democrats were trying to evade joint Congressional responsibility for the anti-terror battle that began after Sept. 11. The Democrats, what with President Barack Obama's deployment of drones, have their own thorny legal issue to deal with. And nobody — in view of ISIS terror and Russian President Vladimir Putin's policies — wants to go out all guns blazing against the secret intelligence services. Consensus looks possible, and that would involve agreeing to view the report as a "never again" warning and focusing on moving forward.

The same hope of setting a standard for intelligence services proved deceitful after 1950, deceitful after the CIA revelations of the 1970s — and the deceit continues still. There are situations where feelings determine behavior. The only wish fulfilled here is that America remains more open than others about its mistakes and crimes.

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

Sources

Indigenous Women Of Ecuador Set Example For Sustainable Agriculture

In southern Ecuador, a women-led agricultural program offers valuable lessons on sustainable farming methods, but also how to end violence.

Photo of women walking in Ecuador

Women walking in Guangaje Ecuador

Camila Albuja

SARAGURO — Here in this corner of southern Ecuador, life seems to be like a mandala — everything is cleverly used in this ancestral system of circular production. But the women of Saraguro had to fight and resist to make their way of life, protecting the local water and the seeds. When weaving, the women share and take care of each other, also weaving a sense of community.

With the wrinkled tips of her fingers, Mercedes Quizhpe, an indigenous woman from the Kichwa Saraguro people, washes one by one the freshly harvested vegetables from her garden. Standing on a small bench, with her hands plunged into the strong torrent of icy water and the bone-chilling early morning breeze, she checks that each one of her vegetables is ready for fair day. Her actions hold a life of historical resistance, one that prioritizes the care of life through the defense of territory and food sovereignty.

Mercedes' way of life is also one that holds many potential lessons for how to do agriculture and tourism better.

In the province of Loja, work begins before sunrise. At 5:00 a.m., the barking of dogs, the guardians of each house, starts. There is that characteristic smell of damp earth from the morning dew. Sheep bah uninterruptedly through the day. With all this life around, the crowing of early-rising roosters doesn't sound so lonely.

Keep reading...Show less

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

The latest