It sounds like a recreational activity. And, for a sadist or a sociopath, maybe it is. But this is what it looks like. Take a good look, because this is what we do now. And not everyone we do it to is a terrorist.
In this position, what would you do to end this situation? What would you say, what would you admit to — truthful or not — in order to be able to sit up and draw an unimpeded breath again? Supposedly, this treatment won’t cause organ failure, impede significant bodily function, or kill you, but do you know that? And how much of this would it take to make you wish that it would kill you, since — other than a less-than-reality-based “confession” — may as far as you know be the only way to end this treatment?
And if that’s not entertaining enough, you can get a taste of what many Americans apparently have a taste for via Channel 4’s Guantanamo Guidebook documentary. And remember that much is left out of what you’re seeing here, as there are some approved methods of torture that the BBC couldn’t justify doing to volunteers, and that might even have been illegal for the facilitators of the exercise to do to voluntary inmates. But it’s what we’ve done and are doing to people who aren’t involved in terrorism or with terrorists.
I can’t remember the last time I wrote about torture, but I remember when I gave up blogging about torture.
I’ve blogged about extraordinary rendition before. To the point that I’m no longer even sure what can be said about that hasn’t already been said. Nor am I sure anymore that anything that’s said about it makes a damn bit of difference beyond merely documenting the atrocities for anyone who may bother to seek out the information. The reality is that it happens, and it will continue to happen; in our names, on our dime. It doesn’t even appear to matter whether a majority back the use of torture or not.
I’m not anything that’s said or done on the issue is going to stop the powers that be from employing it, or prevent the inevitable blowback and consequences from its use. And it doesn’t matter because 51% of the country put them back in power knowing that stuff just like this would happen. So it must be what most of us want, because how do you embrace a course of action without also embracing the potential consequences when the potential consequences are known? How can it be otherwise when up to 90% of prisoners in the “war on terror” are mistakenly imprisoned, something we’ve known since May of 2004?
…Godammit Condi, enough already. Just say it. This is what you, and a whole lot of people want, or at the very least intend. This case is not a mistake. It’s exactly what you and yours intended when you decided to give Torquemada a run for his money. It’s what the Bush intended. It’s what Gonzalez intended. It’s what Rumsfeld intended. It’s what 51% of voting Americans intended (if election results are to be believed) when they returned to power the same bunch that brought us Abu Ghraib and more.
And how exactly do we “rectify” this? You can’t undo torture any more than you can resurrect someone who dies from it (and who may well be among the wrongfully imprisoned 90%) and at best you can maybe pay off the victims and their families. But beyond that?
Do we even want to rectify it? We’ve become a country where presidential candidates support waterboarding by domestic police forces and laugh at the tasering of citizens who take the first amendment a little too seriously. And they do so because they know it will get them votes, and in significant numbers. What’s depicted above is a part of who we are. Waterboarding is now as American as baseball, mom, and apple pie, because enough of us want it that way.
How much can you do to a person before you cause “death, organ failure, or the permanent impairment of a significant body function”? And to someone who may not have the information you’ve resorted to these methods to get out of them? Quite a lot actually. And, fortunately for those so inclined, it’s probably even more fun than sticking firecrackers into frogs.