Saturday, December 31, 2005

The Courage of a Torturer's Convictions

I posted an answer to the rightie blogger who called waterboarding "pouring water in people's faces," as if it were a prank at a swimming pool, or like taking a shower.

But as I was writing, I got all fired up by his sneering remark about how courageous it is to oppose torture when facing a ruthless enemy when he doesn't even have the courage to come out and say he supports what he really supports.

The pro-torture crowd does not have the courage to face up to what it is they support. Instead -- and not just to avoid legal liability, but I think to shield their consciences from the knowledge of what they are supporting -- they redefine what torture is, and what the torture involves so it doesn't seem so bad.

If they had the moral courage, then like the above rightie blogger, they wouldn't pretend that waterboarding is just getting water splashed in the face

Rumsfeld wouldn't pretend that standing on carpet all day for a job (come on, Rummy, you really did sit down and walk around during your gruelling day -- did you ever take Ibuprofen for that sore back or knee as well?) is anything like standing on a cement floor in chains or kneeling on gravel for even half a day.

Rush Limbaugh wouldn't pretend that debasing bound prisoners who know that others around them have been beaten, raped and killed is anything like frat boys who willingly participate in hazing rituals run by their friends that they could opt out of.

If this crowd were so sure of the moral rightness of their position, they would fully embrace the reality of torture and not try to downplay how bad it is or deny that it is happening.

But they do downplay it, comparing torture to events most of us have experienced at some time or other, that what we're doing may be stressful and uncomfortable, but it's not like anyone is dying.

I guess all those al-Qaeda detainees (or maybe that innocent person caught in the wrong place at the wrong time) are just pussies for caving in to things that rightie bloggers, clerks at checkout stands, and radio talk show hosts have to deal with all the time.

Even more on torture:

In at least one instance, ABC News was told that the techniques led to questionable information aimed at pleasing the interrogators and that this information had a significant impact on U.S. actions in Iraq.

According to CIA sources, Ibn al Shaykh al Libbi, after two weeks of enhanced interrogation, made statements that were designed to tell the interrogators what they wanted to hear. Sources say Al Libbi had been subjected to each of the progressively harsher techniques in turn and finally broke after being water boarded and then left to stand naked in his cold cell overnight where he was doused with cold water at regular intervals.

His statements became part of the basis for the Bush administration claims that Iraq trained al Qaeda members to use biochemical weapons. Sources tell ABC that it was later established that al Libbi had no knowledge of such training or weapons and fabricated the statements because he was terrified of further harsh treatment.

"This is the problem with using the waterboard. They get so desperate that they begin telling you what they think you want to hear," one source said.


The sources said that in that case [not Libbi] a young, untrained junior officer caused the death of one detainee at a mud fort dubbed the "salt pit" that is used as a prison. They say the death occurred when the prisoner was left to stand naked throughout the harsh Afghanistan night after being doused with cold water. He died, they say, of hypothermia.

According to the sources, a second CIA detainee died in Iraq and a third detainee died following harsh interrogation by Department of Defense personnel and contractors in Iraq. CIA sources said that in the DOD case, the interrogation was harsh, but did not involve the CIA.


On the morning of Nov. 26, 2003, a U.S. Army interrogator and a military guard grabbed a green sleeping bag, stuffed Mowhoush inside, wrapped him in an electrical cord, laid him on the floor and began to go to work. Again.

It was inside the sleeping bag that the 56-year-old detainee took his last breath through broken ribs, lying on the floor beneath a U.S. soldier in Interrogation Room 6 in the western Iraqi desert. Two days before, a secret CIA-sponsored group of Iraqi paramilitaries, working with Army interrogators, had beaten Mowhoush nearly senseless, using fists, a club and a rubber hose, according to classified documents.

More killing:

Time magazine has reported of the coverup by the CIA of an Iraqi who died after being tortured in Abu Ghraib prison.

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