The Lucifer Effect by Philip Zimbardo  

In March of 2007, this web site opened a virtual voting booth for visitors to vote on the guilt or innocence of four Bush administration officials who were "systems managers" in creating the conditions leading to the abuse and torture of prisoners in the U.S. war on terrorism.

By December, 2008, more than 10,000 people had cast their votes based on the charges below. As these results show, all four officials were judged guilty by a majority of voters regardless of political party, age, or whether they had read The Lucifer Effect.

   George Tenet
Former head CIA

Before the Iraq War, Former CIA Director George Tenet reportedly told President Bush that the evidence for Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction was a "slam dunk case." According to Human Rights Watch, Tenet specifically authorized the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to torture detainees by “waterboarding” (the near drowning of a suspect) and withholding medicines. Other alleged CIA tactics include feigning suffocation, "stress positions,” light and noise bombardment, sleep deprivation, and making detainees believe they were in the hands of foreign governments known to routinely torture.

Under Director Tenet, the CIA also “rendered” detainees to other governments that tortured them in secret locations. These detainees were given no legal recourse or contact with the outside world. Instead, they were held in long-term incommunicado detention and have effectively been “disappeared.”

The independent investigation of abuses at Abu Ghraib by U.S. Generals Fay and Jones concluded that, “CIA detention and interrogation practices led to a loss of accountability, abuse, reduced interagency cooperation and an unhealthy mystique that further poisoned the atmosphere at Abu Ghraib.” The CIA, under George Tenet’s direction operated under its own rules and beyond the rule of U.S. law.

Overall Verdict on George Tenet:

Guilty87%2400 out of 2753
Not Guilty6%152 out of 2753
Undecided7%201 out of 2753

Results by Political Preference:

Democrat83%902 out of 1090
Republican70%117 out of 167
Other89%1381 out of 1556

Results by Age Group:

< 2181%187 out of 230
21-4084%929 out of 1101
41-6089%919 out of 1027
> 6092%365 out of 395

Results by The Lucifer Effect Readership:

I have read the book87%539 out of 619
I have not read the book87%1861 out of 2134

   Donald Rumsfeld
Former Sec. Defense

On May 7, 2004, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld told a Congressional Armed Service Committee that Iraqi prisoner abuses "occurred on my watch. As Secretary of Defense, I am accountable for them. I take full responsibility."

Human Rights Watch asserts that, "Secretary Rumsfeld should be investigated for war crimes and torture by US troops in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Guantánamo under the doctrine of ‘command responsibility.’”

Secretary Rumsfeld created the conditions for troops to commit war crimes and torture by sidelining and disparaging the Geneva Conventions. He did so by approving interrogation techniques that violated the Geneva Conventions as well as the Convention against Torture, and by approving the hiding of detainees from the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Overall Verdict on Donald Rumsfeld:

Guilty94%2517 out of 2670
Not Guilty3%88 out of 2670
Undecided2%62 out of 2670

Results by Political Preference:

Democrat89%969 out of 1090
Republican72%115 out of 159
Other95%1433 out of 1509

Results by Age Group:

< 2187%170 out of 196
21-4092%951 out of 1031
41-6096%1011 out of 1051
> 6099%385 out of 390

Results by The Lucifer Effect Readership:

I have read the book94%579 out of 614
I have not read the book94%1938 out of 2053

   Dick Cheney
Vice President

Vice President Dick Cheney has publicly supported the CIA’s use of all means available to get confessions and intelligence from secretly held terror suspects.

Shortly after September 11, 2001, Vice President Cheney went on record as saying: “We also have to work, though, sort of the dark side, if you will. We’ve got to spend time in the shadows in the intelligence world….it’s going to be vital for us to use any means at our disposal, basically, to achieve our objective.” At least one of those means included the murder of a “ghost detainee” at Abu Ghraib by a CIA operative.

In November of 2005, Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, former Chief of Staff for Secretary Colin Powell, traced prisoner abuses in Iraq and Afghanistan back to Vice President Cheney. According to Colonel Wilkerson, "there was a visible audit trail from the Vice President’s office through the Secretary of Defense down to the commanders in the field that in carefully couched terms—that to a soldier in the field meant two things: We’re not getting enough good intelligence and you need to get that evidence—and, oh, by the way, here’s some ways you can probably get it.”

Overall Verdict on Dick Cheney:

Guilty95%2478 out of 2609
Not Guilty3%91 out of 2609
Undecided2%40 out of 2609

Results by Political Preference:

Democrat88%963 out of 1090
Republican72%109 out of 151
Other96%1406 out of 1465

Results by Age Group:

< 2188%173 out of 197
21-4093%912 out of 982
41-6097%1014 out of 1047
> 6099%379 out of 383

Results by The Lucifer Effect Readership:

I have read the book94%563 out of 602
I have not read the book95%1915 out of 2007

   George W. Bush

As Commander in charge of an open-ended war on global terrorism, President George W. Bush has relied on and endorsed the efforts of a team of his legal advisors to establish a legitimate basis for redefining torture and also relabeling those on whom it could be practiced with legal immunity. Using this redefinition, interrogation techniques only qualify as torture if they involve physical pain "equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death." Likewise, to qualify as mental torture, a practice must inflict significant psychological harm for "months or even years.”

President Bush also endorsed the Military Commissions Act, which does away with Habeas Corpus, the right to an attorney for the accused, and trial by a jury for anyone the U.S. considers an “enemy combatant.” This Act, recently passed by the U.S. Congress, also treats “humiliation” as a permissible interrogation tactic rather than “torture.” Thus, the kind of sexual humiliation practiced at Abu Ghraib is now legally permissible.

Overall Verdict on George W. Bush:

Guilty92%2702 out of 2952
Not Guilty6%171 out of 2952
Undecided3%79 out of 2952

Results by Political Preference:

Democrat95%1038 out of 1090
Republican57%112 out of 197
Other93%1552 out of 1665

Results by Age Group:

< 2186%251 out of 292
21-4089%1021 out of 1145
41-6093%1040 out of 1113
> 6097%390 out of 402

Results by The Lucifer Effect Readership:

I have read the book89%645 out of 723
I have not read the book92%2057 out of 2229

©2006-2016, Philip G. Zimbardo

About the Book

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About Phil Zimbardo

Stanford Prison Experiment

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