February 28, 2005

Channel 4: The Torture Network

Damien Love writes in the Sunday Herald ( http://www.sundayherald.com/47945 )that the reality torture show, Guantanamo Guidebook, is only the beginning of Channel 4's season-long "torture strand", which will include a documentary on the US government's "Special Removal Unit"--aka, "special rendition"--which sends suspected terrorists, without charging them of any crime, to countries known to have no ethical qualms about torture (see Feb link below).

Love writes: "The season explores a post-9/11 acceptance of, even appetite for, torture – or, to use the Newspeak euphemism, “enhanced interrogation techniques” – within the US and UK administrations. An acceptance this has led to Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, and to the situation where Britain will happily use information extracted from captives in Uzbekistan, whose intelligence agencies (according to Craig Murray, our former ambassador to that country) boil their prisoners alive. "

Love writes of Guantanamo Guidebook:

"There is a danger about the programme. The intentions – to confront us with what is happening – seem clear, but it could shoot itself in the foot. It requires a lot from a viewer. In a sense, you have to bear in mind that it’s a TV show while forgetting it’s a TV show. "

He continues:

"You must remember that these techniques are only the mildest of those actually employed; that these volunteers can leave at any time. Then, for it to work, you must imagine this is not the case. It teeters between documentary experiment, and some hardcore reality revival of Endurance, the famous Japanese gameshow, whose contestants won for being able to stand having their nipples burned the longest. It is easy to imagine someone watching thinking, “I could handle that”. Indeed, the original adverts for volunteers asked prospective entrants how “hard” they were. It unwittingly runs the risk of introducing the idea that light torture might not be so bad. But it is grim, genuinely unsettling watching, and maybe constructive. If all The Guantanamo Guidebook manages is to force us to glimpse the tip of the iceberg, then wonder more about what enormities lie beneath, it’s worthwhile."

DG

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