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Fun Bits About American Torturefrom The San Francisco Chronicle:
By Mark Morford
"We do not torture." Remember it, write it in red crayon on the bathroom wall, tattoo it onto your acid tongue because those very words rang throughout the land like a bleak bell, like a low scream in the night, like a cheese grater rubbing against the teeth of common sense when Dubya mumbled them during a speech not long ago, and it was, at once, hilarious and nauseating and it took all the self-control in the world for everyone in the room not to burst out in disgusted laughter and throw their chairs at his duplicitous little head.
Oh my God, yes, yes we do torture, America that is, and we do it a lot, and we do it in ways that would make you sick to hear about, and we're doing it right now, all over the world, the CIA and the U.S. military, perhaps more often and more brutally than at any time in recent history and we use the exact same kind of techniques and excuses for it our numb-minded president cited as reasons we should declare war and oust the dictator of a defenseless pip-squeak nation that happened to be sitting on our oil.
This is something we must know, acknowledge, take to heart and not simply file away as some sort of murky, disquieting unknowable that's best left to scummy lords of the government underworld. We must not don the blinders and think America is always, without fail, the land of the perky and the free and the benevolent. Horrific torture is very much a part of who we are, right now. Deny it at your peril. Accept it at your deep discontent.
Torture is in. Torture is the tittering buzzword of the Bush administration, bandied about like secret candy, like a hot whisper from Dick Cheney's gnarled tongue into Rumsfeld's pointed ear and then dumped deep into Dubya's Big Vat o' Denial.
The cruel abuse of terror suspects is sanctioned and approved from on high, and we employed it in Abu Ghraib (the worst evidence of which -- the rapes and assaults and savage beatings -- we will likely never see), and we use it in Eastern Europe and Guantánamo and in secret prisons and it has caused deaths of countless detainees. And Rumsfeld's insane level of Defense Department secrecy means we may never even know exactly how brutal we have become.
Torture is right now being discussed in all manner of high-minded articles and forums wherein the finer points of what amount of torture should be allowable under what particular horrific (and hugely unlikely) circumstances, and all falling under the aegis of the new and pending McCain anti-torture legislation that would outlaw any and all "degrading, inhumane" treatment whatsoever by any American CIA or military personnel at any time whatsoever, more or less.
All while, ironically, over in Iraq, our military is right now inflicting more pain and death upon more lives than any torture chamber in the last hundred years, and where we have recently discovered the fledgling government that the United States helped erect in Saddam's absence, the Iraqi Interior Ministry, well, they appear to be so giddy about torture they might as well be Donald Rumsfeld's love children. But, you know, quibbling.
There is right now this amazing little story over at the London Guardian, a fascinating item all about a group of hardy hobbyists known as "planespotters," folks whose solitary, dedicated pastime is to sit outside the various airports of the world and watch the runway action and make intricate logs and post their data and photos to planespotter Web sites. It's a bit like bird-watching, but without the chirping and the nature and with a lot more deafening engine roar and poisonous fumes.
These people, they are not spies and they are not liberals and they are not necessarily trying to reveal anything covert or ugly or illegal, but of course that is often exactly what they do, because these days, as it turns out, some of those planes these guys photograph are involved in clandestine CIA operations, in what are called "extraordinary renditions," the abduction of suspects who are taken to lands unknown so we may beat and maul and torture the living crap out of them and not be held accountable to any sort of pesky international law. Fun!
It is for us to know, to try and comprehend. The United States has the most WMD of anyone in the world. We imprison and kill more of our own citizens than any other civilized nation on the planet. We still employ horrific, napalm-like chemical weapons.
And yes, under the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld regime, we abuse and torture prisoners at least as horrifically as any Islamic fundamentalist, as any terrorist cell, to serve our agenda and meet our goals -- and whether you think those goals are justifiable because they contain the words "freedom" or "democracy" is, in many ways, beside the point.
Go ahead, equivocate your heart out. It is a bit like justifying known poisons in your food. Sure mercury is a known cancer-causing agent. Sure the body will recoil and soon become violently ill and die. But gosh, it sure does taste good. Shrug.
Maybe you don't care, maybe you're like Rumsfeld and Cheney and the rest who think, well sure, if they're terrorists and if they'd just as willingly suck the eyeballs out of my cat and rip out my fingernails with a pair of pliers as look at me, well, they deserve to be tortured, beaten, abused in ways you and I cannot imagine. Especially if (and this is the eternal argument) by their torture we can prevent the deaths of innocents.
Maybe you are one of these people. Eye for an eye. Water torture for an explosive device. Does this mean that you are, of course, exactly like those being tortured, willing to go to extremes to get what you want? That you are on the same level morally, energetically, politically and, like Cheney and Rumsfeld, you are dragging the nation down into a hole with you? You might think. After all, fundamentalists terrorize to further a lopsided and religious-based agenda. We torture to protect ours. Same coin, different side.
It is mandatory that we all acknowledge where we are as a nation, right now, how low we have fallen, how thuggish and heartless and internationally disrespected we have become, the ugly trajectory we are following.
Because here's the sad kicker: Torture works. It gets results. It might very well save some lives. But it also requires a moral and spiritual sacrifice the likes of which would make Bush's own Jesus recoil in absolute horror. Yet this is what's happening, right now. And our current position demands a reply to one bitter, overarching question: What sort of nation are we, really?