Show details for February 8th, 2009

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This week’s guests:

Karen J. Greenberg on torture, rendition, and Guantanamo.

Lloyd DeMause on the condition of our collective American psyche.

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Karen J. Greenberg is the editor of the NYU Review of Law and Security, co-editor of the Center’s newest publication, The Enemy Combatants Papers: American Justice, the Courts, and the War on Terror (Cambridge University Press, August 2008), The Torture Papers: The Road to Abu Ghraib, and editor of the books Al Qaeda Now and The Torture Debate in America (Cambridge University Press).

She previously taught courses in the European Studies Department at New York University. She is a former Vice-President of the Soros Foundation/Open Society Institute and the founding director of the Program in International Education. Most recently she served as the co-chair to Governor Eliot Spitzer’s Homeland Security transition committee, where she advised the Governor-Elect, Lieutenant Governor-Elect and the transition team on the major challenges facing the state. She is a frequent writer and commentator on terrorism, international law, the war on terror, and detainee issues. Her work has been featured in The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Nation, The American Prospect, and on major news channels. She has served as a consultant to the National Endowment for the Humanities, the NY Council for the Humanities, the NYC Board of Education and USAID.

“Six Questions for Karen Greenberg, Author of The Least Worst Place
February 19, 2009
By Scott Horton
Harper’s Magazine

The Center on Law and Security

The Least Worst Place: Guantanamo’s First 100 Days

The Enemy Combatants Papers: American Justice, the Courts, and the War on Terror

The Torture Papers: The Road to Abu Ghraib

The Torture Debate in America


Recent interviews with troops from the early days at Guantanamo confirm that the “worst of the worst” charge was suspect from the very first encounters with the detainees. There wasn’t any reliable vetting. Although the first troops on the ground at Guantanamo were led to believe that they would be receiving the “worst of the worst,” the detainees themselves seemed from the start to be far from the dangerous men they had expected—symbolically, individuals who, according to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Richard Myers, were capable of chewing through hydraulic cables on board the transport planes but who it turned out arrived with rotting teeth and weakened physiques. Overall, the U.S. military was blindsided by who they received at Gitmo and by the condition in which the detainees arrived. Arriving dehydrated, and startlingly thin, the detainees were mostly not only small and weak, but did not even speak the languages which the troops on the ground had been told to expect. Many came from countries outside of the Afghanistan/Pakistan area. Some did not even seem capable of any dire acts. Among the earliest arrivals, one was apparently an octogenarian; another was over ninety. One was a diagnosed schizophrenic. However possible the danger quotient of these first arrivals, the inclusion of these cases made the team at Gitmo suspect that the vetting process had been haphazard at best.

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Lloyd deMause is director of The Institute for Psychohistory, which is in New York City and has 17 branches in various countries. He is editor of The Journal of Psychohistory and president of the International Psychohistorical Association. He was born in Detroit, Michigan on September 19, 1931. He graduated from Columbia College and did his post-graduate training in political science at Columbia University and in psychoanalysis at the National Psychological Association for Psychoanalysis. He has taught psychohistory at the City University of New York and the New York Center for Psychoanalytic Training, is a member of the Society for Psychoanalytic Training, and has lectured widely in Europe and America.

He has published over 80 scholarly articles in such periodicals as The Nation, Psychology Today, The Guardian, The Journal of Psychoanalytic Anthropology, The Journal of Psychohistory, Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity, Psyche, Kindheit, Texte zur Kunst, Psychologie, Psychologos: International Review of Psychology, Psychoanalytic Beacon and Psychologie Heute. He is on the editorial board of Familiendynamik, The International Journal of Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Medicine and Mentalities/Mentalites

His books include The History of Childhood, A Bibliography of Psychohistory, The New Psychohistory, Jimmy Carter and American Fantasy, Foundations of Psychohistory, Reagan’s America and The Emotional Life of Nations. His work has been translated into nine languages. He has three children: Neil, Jennifer and Jonathan.


Lloyd deMause has published over 90 scholarly articles.

The Institute for Psychohistory

The Emotional Life of Nations

The History of Childhood


The history of childhood is a nightmare from which we have only recently begun to awaken. The further back in history one goes, the lower the level of child care, and the more likely children are to be killed, abandoned, beaten, terrorized, and sexually abused. It is our task here to see how much of this childhood history can be recaptured from the evidence that remains to us. That this pattern has not previously been noticed by historians is because serious history has long been considered a record of public not private events. Historians have concentrated so much on the noisy sand-box of history, with its fantastic castles and magnificent battles, that they have generally ignored what is going on in the homes around the playground. And where historians usually look to the sandbox battles of yesterday for the causes of those of today, we instead ask how each generation of parents and children creates those issues which are later acted out in the arena of public life.


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