Abu Ghraib and Gitmo abuses and torture are nothing new to the American social fabric. Prisons in the US and the police forces who pack them are every bit as bad. American s want their prisons to be places of harsh punishment and their criminals to endure as much social revenge as possible. Its just part of the American puritanical schizophrenic mindset that we perceive ourselves as generous, kind and compassionate and yet desire rending of the flesh and stupifing of the mind over measured retribution and rehabilitation for those who break the law. (Unless of course, the criminals are wealthy at which point they are sent to "tennis club" facilities to serve their generally brief sentences).
If the well known harsh prison conditions are to be rationalized as a deterrent to would be criminals, then the rationale is easily proved false by the reality that the Land of the Free imprisons more of its citizens than anywhere else in the world.
No, its more that American culture celebrates violence and revenge and sees them as effective problem solving methods. They are not of course, both serve to amplify the problems they are meant to solve. Violence begets violence and revenge leads to the Hatfields and McCoys.
Below is an article from Alternet showing our modern outrage that the incidents of abuse and torture at Abu Ghraib and Gitmo have somehow suddenly changed the notion of who we are as Americans is misplaced. We've always been like this.
More than 20 years after being tortured into giving confessions by Chicago police officers, dozens of black men remain behind bars.
Michael Tillman was 20, with a 3-year-old daughter and an infant son, when he was brought into the Area 2 police station on Chicago's South Side for questioning. His mother, Jean Tillman, says that although he had gotten into some trouble with the law as a youngster, he had been on the straight-and-narrow, working as a janitor and paying his bills, since he and his girlfriend had their first child. That was July 22, 1986.
He hasn't been home since.
Tillman is one of at least 24 African-American men that the People's Law Office in Chicago claims are still serving sentences for crimes they say they confessed to only after enduring hours of torture at the hands of Chicago police officers under Commander Jon Burge between 1972 and 1992. Although 10 of Burge's victims have been pardoned or given new trials after their illegally obtained confessions were exposed, the vast majority of the 100-plus cases have yet to be reviewed by the state of Illinois. Those men have either served out their sentences, died in custody or, like Tillman, continue to live their lives behind bars, hoping that one day they will have a fair trial.
According to Tillman's 1986 trial testimony, when he arrived at the Area 2 police station in the predawn hours of July 21, 1986, Detectives Ronald Boffo and Peter Dignan took him to a second-floor interrogation room and pressed him for information about the murder of 42-year-old Betty Howard, whose body was found the day prior in the apartment building Tillman oversaw. When he told the detectives that he knew nothing about the murder, he says that Boffo and Dignan, along with three other officers, became abusive. Without ever reading him his Miranda rights, he says they handcuffed him to the wall, hit him in the face and punched him in the stomach until he vomited blood. During the course of what appeared to be three days, rotating pairs of officers brought him to the railroad tracks behind the station and held a gun to his head, suffocated him repeatedly with thick plastic bags, poured soda up his nose and forced him into Dumpsters outside of the apartment building, ordering him to search through the rubbish for a murder weapon until, according to Detective John Yucaitis, Tillman confessed to the crime.
According to Tillman's mother, she, her husband and an attorney they called for counsel were all denied access to her son during his three days of interrogation.