The revelations of a once secret 2006 report by the International Committee of the Red Cross on the use of torture and "cruel, inhuman, or degrading punishment" on prisoners at Guantánamo and secret CIA jails came as a shock to many. This is odd, because anyone with a keyboard, modem and half a brain, quickly discovered that in the panicky aftermath of 9/11, the West had forged a pact with the Devil. It was not only Dick Cheney who felt the call of the dark side - it was virtually the entire governing class of America, Britain and Australia. Yes, even Australia, a former penal colony that started life as Britain’s Guantanamo.
You might think this grim past would sharpen the desire of our institutions to root out injustice and comfort the afflicted. Well, we go through the motions. Australia signed the Convention against Torture (CAT) and, unlike the US, ratified it. But now we have trashed it. How come? Let’s take a swift trip into the heart of darkness.