Sydney Ideas – A Talk on American Torture by Michael Otterman

7 Jun

The talk by award-winning US freelance journalist Michael Otterman at 5th June at the Sydney Seymour Theatre, organised by Amnesty International Australia, provided an insight on the forms of psychological torture that the American government used for its “war on terror”.

Based on his extensive research, these torture techniques which is used in US detention centres such as Guantanamo Bay range from emotional and physical abuse, violence, sensory deprivation to sexual humiliation.

These torture forms which date as early the Cold War, which may not leave any “physical scars”, often have a psychological impact on the victims.

During the talk, Michael reiterated that the use of torture against terrorists may not yield the desired results. Instead, the victims would pander to what the torturer wants to hear. In instances of the ‘ticking time bomb’, extracted confessions may not prove to be accurate either. Moreover, torture carries with it, ethical and moral dilemmas.

Michael has written a book, American Torture, on this topic and his blog provides more information about the book, links to declassified documents on America’s use of torture since the cold war, tour and news updates. It has been rated as one of the best non fiction books in 2006 by the Sydney Morning Herald.

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