We Are No Longer A Torture Nation (Whew!)

“I have unequivocally prohibited the use of torture by the United States. . .,” said the President in Cairo to the Arabs.  The clapping started before he finished. “. . . and I have ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed by early next year.”  Thunderous applause.

“Allah be Praised!”  I can hear each member of the audience thinking.  “The Americans are finally getting out of the torture business.  They stink at it.”

President Obama, in calling us a torture nation, put us in a very exclusive coalition:  the Coalition of Torturing Nations (COTN).  Unfortunately, our presence in this coalition made its members uneasy because our qualification for membership was clearly inadequate.  In fact, by coalition standards what we did may rise to the level of harsh interrogation techniques, but not higher.  You have to realize that we weren’t really invited by the members into the organization; President Barrack Hussein Obama joined without being asked by merely making statements that we we tortured.

It was effective for others to call us torturers before our Supreme Leader released the details and mentioned it to anyone and everyone at every possible public opportunity.  Unfortunately, the release of the memos and subsequent public declarations turned the uneasiness of the members of COTN (of which Egypt, where he was speaking, is a prominent member) into downright embarrassment.  If you are going to torture, you don’t release the details and then start blubbering like a guest on Dr. Phil.  The touchy-feely aspects of the revelations really takes away the tough guy image of a national leader of a country in COTN, and President Obama’s actions were a reflection on all of them.

The details were bad enough.  The worst “torture” that we practiced was waterboarding.  Again, that may not rise to the level of “torture.”  We didn’t even have enough guts to hang people by meat hooks, break bones, beat them, pull out fingernails, or anything that was nice and bloody.  I mean, violate them with a cane and email the video to their friends to embarrass them as the police did in Egypt in 2007 if you really want to get with the program.  It’s better to practice torture with methods that leave permanent physical damage—a limp, or some kind of disability for Leno to make fun of on the late show decades later.  We did put a caterpillar in a box with one guy, as I understand.  The actual experience was probably less traumatic to him than the embarrassment of having the world know that he squealed like a baby from close proximity to the caterpillar.

Even if our use of waterboarding and fetal-bug-in-a-box are classified as torture, we still come up short on membership credentials.

A big problem is that we restricted our use of torture to the few, only the baddest of the bad.  For example, waterboarding was used only early on and only on 3 very high profile subjects who had information about a second wave of attacks in the US that could have resulted in thousands of deaths.  Only 3 out of around 770 detainees were waterboarded, and none in the past several years!  It’s not an impressive record.

We decided these detainees had Constitutional rights—where is their equal opportunity under the law?  Why did we waterboard Khalid Sheikh Mohamed, and skip Abdul and Mohammed and Mustafa and Salih and the rest of those guys. It was really rough on those guys that were released.  After Salih al-Ajmi was released from Guantanamo Bay, he returned to terrorism.  Unfortunately, he was so ashamed that he had not been important enough to be waterboarded that he volunteered for a suicide attack in Iraq in April 2008.  Martyrdom redeemed him from the stigma of not having experienced enhanced interrogation techniques.  Our stinginess with the “torture” was deadly for the guys that got freed.

Another problem with our membership is motive.  We didn’t waterboard or abuse caterpillars for sheer humiliation, for debts owed, to get even, for political disagreements, or just to show we were boss.  We only did it because we needed to extract information to save lives from an attack on American soil.  That’s almost an altruistic motive in the minds of master torturers.  We should have been torturing the detainees like there was no tomorrow, and spreading the practices to our police forces throughout the US.  If we wanted to be members in good standing of the COTN, we should have had an expanded portfolio of motives.

Lastly, we were very sexist in our selection of detainees for “torture.”  Only men were “tortured”—that is outrageous.  A good public beating or stoning of a woman for an outrageous crime—like being raped or being alone with an male unrelated to her—would have been a nice gesture to throw in.  Hold it, torturing a woman is kind of difficult.  Most of what can be done is just punishment for crimes, not torture. Nevertheless, we should have applied American ingenuity to find some way of “torturing” a couple of woman.  Under the Koran, women have equality (we are told this again and again).  We should have respected the religion and figured something out.

The one redeeming quality of our actions is that we profiled on a religious basis.  We only “tortured” Muslims.  In doing something that heinous and that out of line with our Constitution (it’s an obvious breach of the Constitutional right to religious freedom), we showed some promise to COTN members.  Oh, well, maybe next year.  Or maybe after the next attack where thousands more are killed.

Published in: on June 8, 2009 at 12:07 pm  Leave a Comment  
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