American Torture

Mark Shea unloads on the Rubber House Right, its supporters and defenders, in a long and colorfully illustrated post today.

It is a painful thing to face and I don't enjoy it any more than you do. But the facts are really quite plain. The reality is Abu Ghraib was not an isolated event. We have been torturing people in other facilities. What happened at Abu Ghraib was that some morons who loved their work thought it would be fun to take pictures and those pictures shocked the world. Naturally, the Bush Administration could not say, "Yeah! We support that!" Of *course* they repudiated it and made sure the lackeys got punished in order to distance the Administration from the awful press.

But the reality is that after Abu Ghraib, the Administration labored--intensely--to make sure that the abusive techniques used at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere would remain part of what the President calls his "tools" for fighting the War on Terror. You can read all about it here.

The White House response has been, I must be blunt, to lie through its teeth in the knowledge that it has broad support from a people that don't want to look too closely at what we are doing. Indeed, past polls have shown that Catholics have a higher rate of support for torture than the general population.

The lie is simple and plain: President Bush continue to look us in the eye and say “This government does not torture people.”

But the reality is, it does. Bush made certain of this by loading the Justice Department with toadies who gave him what he wanted:
In two separate legal opinions written in 2005, the Justice Department authorized the C.I.A. to barrage terror suspects with a combination of painful physical and psychological tactics, including head-slapping, simulated drowning and frigid temperatures.

Note that word "including". This is not an exhaustive list. Much of the degrading stuff you saw at Abu Ghraib isn't even life-threatening, so it falls well below the threshhold of "torture" for this Administration's Justice Department, as far as we can tell. And when we speak of "simulated drowning" or what our Vice President lightly laughs off as "dunking" we are looking at prima facie evidence of the Administration's careful mendacity. [Source]

You must read the whole thing. The doubletalk we get from Bush defenders about this is astonishing. It boils down to "Torture is fine. We don't torture." Which is it? If there's nothing wrong with torture, why all the gymnastics denying that the U.S. does it? This bunch can't even keep its lies straight.

In the combox at Mark's post, someone asked a chilling question: is there any example any time in history of a government that tortured its enemies but not, eventually, its own citizens as well?

1 comment:


Thank you for this post. During the debate on the Military Commissions bill, Sens. McCain and Warner expressed concern that a lower threshhold of tolerance for torture would also put our own troops at risk of being tortured. So how can one support the troops and cast a blind eye on torture at the same time?

My oldest daughter serves in the military and is currently in Iraq (third deployment), so I have a very personal stake in this issue.

The administration's equivocations on torture are very disturbing.