Thursday, October 27, 2005

Bad Apples in High Places

Let's see if I've got this straight: the Bush Administration is not being led by a bunch of barbarians who order and approve of torture, right? Abu Ghraib was just a local aberration committed by a few "bad apples," and the expressions "Gitmo-ize" and "f--k a PUC" simply represent attempts by Michael Moore and a few other French-sympathizing fat people to destroy the morale of The Troops, right? I think that's right ... after all, America is the very, very best country in the world and has never been in the wrong about anything, and besides, we have the firm, no-nonsense Official Word from the White House:

On Tuesday, White House press secretary Scott McClellan said, "The president's made our position very clear: We do not condone torture, nor would he ever authorize the use of torture."

But, on the other hand, it would be very, very bad if there were a law forbidding the president from authorizing the use of torture. Which is why "top Republicans" in the House are mobilizing to defeat such a very, very bad law:

Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, and Rep. Bill Young, R-Florida, who chair Congress' defense spending subcommittees, will be among the leaders of those talks in coming weeks.

Young has said the United States has no obligation to terrorists, and he and other top House Republicans have signaled they will try to change the Senate-approved language.

It turns out, you see, that the Bush regime claims to have no problem with law forbidding uniformed military folk from torturing people, but it would be very, very bad if "undercover operatives" couldn't do it.

If it's difficult for you to see the obvious moral difference between Americans wearing Army uniforms beating prisoners to death and Americans wearing civilian clothes beating prisoners to death ... well, welcome to the club. I seem to be suffering from a little blindness here, myself.

Meanwhile, Rep. Young of Florida is quoted above as saying that the United State has "no obligation to terrorists." Interesting. Considering that the majority of Iraqi "detainees" have been nothing more than Iraqis who were in the wrong place at the wrong time, swept up more or less randomly, I wonder what "obligations" the U.S. might recognize to such unfortunates. Since "terrorist" has come to mean simply "someone that our government does not approve of," Mr. Young's statement is especially chilling.

Finally, I wonder who these "top House Republicans" of whom Mr. Young speaks will turn out to be. I have the familiar, nauseous feeling that they will include "my" own Representative, Marky-Mark "Washington Is My Career" Souder. Bet on it.


Grace said...

Sad to say that when I read about this, my first (cynical) thought was that this was just a cost-cutting measure. See, it would save on the airfare involved in all those cases of "extraordinary rendition," all that shipping of detainees to counties where the governments gleefully kick the crap out of prisoners.

Bartleby said...

Damn, Grace, I should've thought of that. That's probably what it is. Consider the timing and the trends. Up to now, the War Party has been following the "outsourcing" trend -- farming the torture out to foreign contractors who'll do it cheap. But now: jet fuel's gotten really expensive! So it pays to keep those torture jobs in the country again. You have to hand it to our supervisors -- they're nothing if not astute businessmen.

TW said...

I like to think I have a strong sense of morality and cringe when I read of the U.S. being involved in issues of torture. Unfortunately, it is not a black and white, no shades of gray issue in my mind for a couple of reasons.

1) A hypothetical: If I captured someone that I felt quite certain was part of a group that had a member of my family and had threatened to kill them within say 24 hours if I didn't comply with their impossible to meet demands, I would have no problem using a pair of needle-nose pliers to roll back their fingernails 1 by 1 until I'd obtained the information I needed.

I wouldn't hesitate to venture that anyone reading this scenario wouldn't be obliged to do it as well were they in the same situation. If I'm incorrect in this assumption, I'd like them to take a stab at convincing me otherwise.

2) Where is that line that determines moderately coercive persuasion from out and out torture. I don't see the problem with keeping people in situations of considerable discomfort in order to change their attitudes. In combat situations we apply plenty of coercive force to encourage people to surrender. I experienced more discomfort in Marine Corps boot camp than some people deem appropriate to apply to terrorists that are hell bent on killing as many Americans as they have an opportunity to kill and with absolutely no regard as far as who and what methodology they use to do it. The use of chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons is not a concern of theirs other than the more they can kill the better. Women, children, or old people - that doesn't matter to them either. They'll even be satisfied with sawing off a head with a dull knife. Go to a web site that contains videos and watch that being done a couple of times. I guarantee it will make a extensive impression on you as well as solidifying some feeling you have that may currently be in a state of flux. I waited quite a few months after various videos had been put out there before I finally convinced myself to watch one. It didn't immediately turn me into a guy hell-bent on revenge, but it did deepen my perspective as to what extent radical Islam is willing to go to.

Just a little side note. I understand we don't outsource the individuals to other countries unless they are also wanted for illegal activities in that country for what it's worth.

Sorry for the run on sentences and any other grammatical errors, but I didn't want to take too much time assembling a masterpiece. It's late Friday and I've things to do.

Bartleby said...

TW, I appreciate your comments as always. But I have to ask you: did you follow that third link?

Instead of giving you a hypothetical about high-powered terrorist conspirators who know the location of the dirty bomb or whatever, let me give you the actual. Let me excerpt what one of The Troops had to say:

On their day off people would show up all the time. Everyone in camp knew if you wanted to work out your frustration you show up at the PUC tent. In a way it was sport. The cooks were all US soldiers. One day a sergeant shows up and tells a PUC to grab a pole. He told him to bend over and broke the guy's leg with a mini Louisville Slugger that was a metal bat. He was the fucking cook. He shouldn't be in with no PUCs. The PA came and said to keep him off the leg. Three days later they transported the PUC to Abu Ghraib. The Louisville Slugger [incident] happened around November 2003, certainly before Christmas.

People would just volunteer just to get their frustrations out. We had guys from all over the base just come to guard PUCs so they could fuck them up. Broken bones didn't happen too often, maybe every other week. The PA would overlook it. I am sure they knew.

The interrogator [a sergeant] worked in the [intelligence] office. He was former Special Forces. He would come into the PUC tent and request a guy by number. Everyone was tagged. He would say, "Give me #22." And we would bring him out. He would smoke the guy and fuck him. He would always say to us, "You didn't see anything, right?" And we would always say, "No, Sergeant."

One day a soldier came to the PUC tent to get his aggravation out and filled his hands with dirt and hit a PUC in the face. He fucked him. That was the communications guy.

One night a guy came and broke chem lights[10] open and beat the PUCs with it [sic]. That made them glow in the dark which was real funny but it burned their eyes and their skin was irritated real bad.

If a PUC cooperated Intel would tell us that he was allowed to sleep or got extra food. If he felt the PUC was lying he told us he doesn't get any fucking sleep and gets no food except maybe crackers. And he tells us to smoke him. [Intel] would tell the lieutenant that he had to smoke the prisoners and that is what we were told to do. No sleep, water, and just crackers. That's it. The point of doing all this was to get them ready for interrogation. [The intelligence officer] said he wanted the PUCs so fatigued, so smoked, so demoralized that they want to cooperate. But half of these guys got released because they didn't do nothing. We sent them back to Fallujah. But if he's a good guy, you know, now he's a bad guy because of the way we treated him.

After Abu Ghraib things toned down. We still did it but we were careful. It is still going on now the same way, I am sure. Maybe not as blatant but it is how we do things.

This is what happened, and what the guy says is still happening. And I'd bet a lot of money that he's right.

TW said...

No I didn't read the links. I guess I just skimmed over them as I read your piece.

Of course if there is any truth as far as what was said in any of those links heads should roll. People that engage in sadistic activity to "get their frustrations out" are sick SOBs and should be made examples of to the fullest extent of the law.

I wouldn't want to be rubbing elbows back here in the home country with people that warped either.

Robert Enders said...

There already is a law against torture. Its called assault and battery. If it takes place at a military base, it taking place on federal property and constitutes a federal offence. Is this going to be enforced as such? Not during this administration.