Friday, August 14, 2009


I'm copying this from an email I got this morning:

Reports in Newsweek and the LA Times indicate that Attorney General Holder is on the verge of appointing an independent prosecutor to investigate CIA abuses committed during the interrogation of detainees in U.S. custody.

Unfortunately, the reports indicate that the investigation may be limited to low-level CIA operatives who went beyond techniques authorized in the “torture memos,” letting high level government officials who commissioned and authorized “enhanced interrogation techniques” off the hook.

It is absolutely critical for Attorney General Holder to know that the American people support a full investigation -- wherever the facts may lead -- and that those who authorized these horrific violations of human rights must be held accountable.

Now please go watch this video and take the action it suggests, if you agree:

I know I have at least one reader of this blog who thinks torture's just fine, but every study done about torture shows that it doesn't work. It doesn't make people tell the truth. It's true that it terrifies and humiliates and permanently damages people, physically and mentally, but that's generally not the truth torturers are looking for.
Or is it?

Sometimes when I have the least little pain -- say a paper cut -- I wonder what it would be like if I had paper cuts all over my body, all the time. I wonder if that would make a good torture technique. What about an earache? In addition to everything else, what if torture victims also were given earaches, something to plague them between waterboarding sessions? Sometimes when my back goes out (I don't know where it goes, and I can't say I blame it, but still, it really hurts), I think, what if I were a slave and I had to go out and tote dat barge anyhow?

I think about that when I see street people sometimes. Some of them walk so awkwardly, with shoulders all skewed this way and that. I'm guessing they don't get a lot of chiropractor care. They just have to keep moving, no matter how painful, no matter the condition of their shoes.

I remember overhearing my parents talk when I was a kid. I believe now that the Ku Klux Klan was in the news then, and that the American Civil Liberties Union was defending the Klan's right to meet peacefully. That's what the ACLU is for. Mom said if we decide that the KKK isn't allowed to meet peacefully, then maybe we'd decide that oh, the Republican Party wouldn't be allowed to, either. It really had to be a right for all, or none.

I later discovered it was the issue that lost a whole lot of members for the ACLU, but I'm with Mom. She was right.

Now you know I can't stomach "news," but I'm pretty sure the United States has its own rules about torture, and that people in the Bush administration broke those rules. I believe they need to be ... hm ... "held accountable"? Would that do it? What does that even mean? Or should they be "punished"? What if they were subjected to the same torture they permitted? Do you think that would stop them? Or would we be just as bad as they?

And so what if we were?

What I can't stand about it is the cold cruelty of torture. If it were passion of some sort, it wouldn't seem quite so bad. But this is cold-blooded. It's discussed. It's decided exactly who will do what for a particular form of torture. And I suppose various employees develop specialties. Jesus.

There's a scene in the movie Stand by Me that just kills me every time. The big boys -- the JD's (junior delinquents, to the uninitiated) -- take the smaller boy's ball cap and play keep-away with it while he scrambles, in vain, to recapture it. The thing is, it belonged to his dead older brother and it really meant something to the kid. See? It's the meanness that makes it so awful, the complete lack of sympathy or empathy or compassion.

Well, I recently read the daily meditation page in the bathroom at The Longhouse. It was a simple statement from the Dalai Lama: We must be compassionate to all. All.

After I read that, I actually made a point to feed Nero every day, even though I'd started to dislike him because I think he bullies my Mittens. But surely Nero is part of this all His Holiness is talking about, so I do it. In fact, I just went out on the porch, and there was Nero in a chair, out of the rain, skeeters circling him. I sprayed him and Mittens with mosquito-repellent, which they both despised.

So we must be compassionate to Bush and his ilk. Man. I don't know.

A friend called and interrupted this blog with his opinions on this stuff, which I did not ask for. I guess now I'd have to say that at least two of my readers think torture's okay. Damn. Anyway, he says there can be no rules in war. The other side's going to break the rules, so we may as well, too. But, but -- the Geneva Conventions?

Well, I can't quite just shrug. I can't just shake my head at this torture stuff and get back to my book. So I'll write a blog that's remarkably informed (for me, who prefers the Dave Barry System of Research [ask someone else]), and I'll provide a link which I hope you'll follow, and I'll even put up a picture of a yawning cat, our dear dying Mo, so that his sharp, bared teeth may be a lesson to us all.


PsychMajor said...

I am reminded of the cliche (sorry, haven't a clue how to get an accent over that e in cliche): Two wrongs don't make a (it?) right.

Just because some battle-minded people ignore "rules of war," doesn't mean the U.S. should follow suit. What do we stand for if we engage in torture? Hypocrisy? Do as I say, not as I do?

Ha, when my back "goes out" I try to look at it this way: At least I'm getting out more.

Mo looks so comfy and beautiful. Great photo. Thanks for sharing!

Don Moore said...

Good post. Very sound thought.

Steve Robinson said...

Interesting that Don would concur with your anti-torture sentiment, especially since he spent a good part of the 80s listening to Duran Duran. Forget waterboarding; just bombard terror suspects with a continuous loop of "Girls On Film". They'll buckle within the hour.
I share your feelings about the word "awesome". Holding a newborn baby is awesome; finding an Office DVD in Blockbuster is not. In fact, it's downright troublesome, since you're obviously speaking of the travesty of a remake that NBC has foisted upon us, rather than the original BBC production of The Office that introduced us all to the talent that is Ricky Gervais. Now that show was awesome!