Walking Through Walls and Other Feats of the US MilitaryJust heard the most fascinating book talk on C-SPAN on a book called The Men Who Stare At Goats, by Jon Ronson. It's a book about the evolution of a bunch of quasi nutty ideas in the US Military: spiritual healing, development of psychic powers and similar stuff. Apparently the genesis for all this was in the First Earth Battalion, begun in 1979
to create "Warrior Monks," soldiers capable of walking through walls, becoming invisible, reading minds and even killing a goat simply by staring at it.He did offer the most intelligent explanation – original in the sense that it actually accounts for what happened there, as opposed to just condemning it or explaining it away – for Abu Ghraib that I've yet heard.
His explanation is that many of the people there, especially those in military intelligence, once spent some time at these seminars developed from the First Earth Battalion. So when they got to Abu Ghraib, these middle ranking types had these half remembered ideas about how to go about obtaining military intelligence from the prisoners. And set about doing so, treating their subjects to some extent experimentally. And then this accorded with the information he received from some of the prisoners released from Guantanamo, who told them they felt like they were subjects of an experimental lab.
Ronson was quite insistent that the originators of these ideas and particularly the person who first developed the idea of the First Earth Battalion was benign. But afterwards, in the heads of less benign people, the ideas were twisted from healing ideas – the warrior monks – to ideas whose power should be used to harm others. Which is how we ended up in Abu Ghraib.