The word "torture" is now so commonly used in daily English — "Today's staff meeting was sheer torture to endure!" — that it's easy to lose sight of its original meaning. But the etymology of the word, derived from the Latin, meaning "to twist," speaks volumes about the twisted minds who conjured up such actions, and the legal contortions they used to try to justify the abusive and inhumane behavior done in our names.
Consider the firsthand account of the treatment of Abu Zubaydah, a "high-value" target whom the CIA detained in one of its secret prisons. Zubaydah's testimony, included in a report by the International Committee of the Red Cross about the treatment of detainees in U.S. custody, will be among the many readings featured in a program called "Reckoning With Torture" on Monday, April 12, at 7 p.m. in the Memorial Lounge of UVM's Waterman Building. The event is sponsored by the American Civil Liberties Union of Vermont. Admission is free and open to the public.
Many of the readings, by librarians, professors, students, lawyers and writers, come from the more than 130,000 pages of documents the ACLU obtained in 2009 from the U.S. government after a protracted legal battle. For more information, including a list of scheduled speakers at the event, visit the ACLU of Vermont website here.
Here's Zubayadah's story:
"Two black wooden boxes were brought into the room outside my cell. One was tall, slightly higher than me and narrow, measuring perhaps 1 meter by three-quarters of a meter and 2 meters in height. The other was shorter, perhaps only 1 meter in height. I was taken out of my cell and one of the interrogators wrapped a towel around my neck, they then used it to swing me around and smash me repeatedly against the hard walls of the room. I was also repeatedly slapped in the face. As I was still shackled, the pushing and pulling around meant that the shackles pulled painfully on my ankles...