Michael makes an interesting point about torture and injustice. Having read Standard Operating Procedure — an account of the abuses at Abu Ghraib — over Summer, I was struck by the way the whole sordid situation didn’t just produce injustice but unfolding in a space prepared by injustice.
Basically, it was underwritten by system-wide failure. Massive cracks were opened up by the way suspected terrorists were redefined ‘out’ of the Geneva convention off the back of September 11. Combined with the lack of clear lines of communication and supervision, Abu Ghraib was a disaster waiting to happen before it even opened for business under the U.S. forces.
I need to think more about all of this, but it’s funny how while this situation was so obviously (and tragically) unjust, as Foucault points out at the beginning of Discipline and Punish, a variety of practices which we would now class as ‘torture’ once actually served the organs of justice — both in a straightforward retributive sense and as a public deterrent (by virtue of its nature as a spectacle).
I also have questions about how the cross of Jesus speaks into such situations…