Saturday, January 8


As I listened to various right-wing talk hosts echoing the refrain, "It's not REALLY torture," I couldn't help but think back to our Vietnam-era POW's and how they were treated by the Viet Cong and how we in America reacted to it. They were kept in tiny "tiger cages" that made it impossible to lie down and rest; at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo prisoners were handcuffed to the top bunk, making it impossible to lie down and rest. In Vietnam our POW's had water poured down their throats, or were submerged under water, until they thought they were drowning and sometimes lost consciousness; at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, the same. In Vietnam our POW's were repeatedly beaten; in AG and Gitmo, the same. In Nam they were subjected to psychological torture, told their families had been or would be killed, that the U.S. had been nuked, humiliated, terrified by attack dogs, hooked up to wires and told they would be electrocuted, etc. In AG and Gitmo, the same. In Nam they were denied the right to pray, and their religion was mocked. In AG and Gitmo, the same. In Nam, some suffered retaliatory executions; in Abu Ghraib and elsewhere, the same.

In Nam, the Hanoi government stated that it would treat captured American flyers humanely, but it would not accord them prisoner of war status as they were "pirates" engaged in unprovoked attacks on North Vietnam. Sound familiar, eerily like Bush policy?

In the USA we were appalled, outraged, and no-one questioned whether the treatments that fell short of execution amounted to torture. Where's the outrage now, as we stand on the verge of confirming the author of the memos justifying such behavior by American forces as the new top law enforcement officer of the land?

Picture this scenario: a young woman is kidnapped by a wacko who believes she is his abusive mother, held captive for weeks as he rapes her occasionally, systematically terrifies her with threats of death and disfigurement, burns her with cigarettes, leads her around, naked, by a dog collar in front of his friends. She is rescued and the newspapers are filled with accounts of her "torture." Nobody tries to justify it by saying, "But she MIGHT have BEEN his mother! He couldn't take that chance! He needed information from her that might have prevented other boys from being abused by their mothers! And after all, she didn't suffer pain equivalent to losing a body part or death!"

I don't think that's a terribly whimsical analogy. It is estimated that 80-90% of the detainees at Abu Ghraib have been innocents picked up wrongfully in a "sweep" and yet we continue to label our victims (and yes, that's what they are) as "terrorists" to justify doing to them whatever whenever we like. If FBI agents had treated TIMOTHY MCVEIGH, who we PROVED was a domestic terrorist and a mass murderer, similarly, you can bet American newspapers (and most citizens!) would have screamed their heads off. We're not the former Soviet Union -- we don't get intelligence that way.

We are, after all, supposed to be a nation ruled by law, not the jungle. You would expect our Attorney General to be a man of the law. In Gonzales' case, he's a man of corporate (Enron) law, which is another fish altogether. That's the kind of law where you find legal loopholes or justification for doing whatever the CEO wants to do. Gonzales has proved he's great in that role. LEAVE HIM TO IT and keep him far, far away from the Justice Department.

UPDATE: World O'Crap summarizes "Torture Day at The Corner." Ya see, it's not R-E-A-L-L-Y torture.


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