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A Routine Matter The torturous path of least resistance
by Bryan Zepp Jamieson
Zepp's Commentaries
June 29, 2004

When Putsch looked the camera straight in the eye and declared, "I did not authorize torture. I would never authorize torture," I thought of Nixon. Nixon, who never did say "I am not a crook," nevertheless became famous for it. Had he been honest, the expression wouldn't have stuck in the public consciousness; after all, reasonable honesty is one of the job requirements. But he was a crook, and so his actual words ("People need to know that their president is not a crook") led to his best known catchphrase.

I wonder if Putsch will be misquoted on late night TV shows as saying "I didn't order torture." It would serve him right.

We may never know if he ordered torture or not, but when he claimed that he never even considered torture, we have proof that he was lying through his teeth.

The memo that crossed his desk, and which he signed off on, had the addendum that he understands that prisoner "treatment" including sleep deprivation, forced nakedness, temperature fluctuations, standing for extended periods, and pain that fell short of mortal pain associated with major organ failure were not torture and thus did not violate the Geneva accords. "Only pain like that accompanying death, organ failure or the permanent impairment of a significant body function" qualified.

If you are wondering what vile little Heyrich type wrote the memo, his name was Jay S. Bybee, and a few months after he wrote the memo, he was nominated by Putsch to the Ninth Circuit Court of appeals, and his nomination was confirmed by the Senate last year. A man who should not be trusted around small children or pets is now one of the highest judges in America.

Say, Judge, do you mind if we ram a broomstick up your ass? I promise not to cause organ failure, and I promise to try to avoid permanent impairment of a significant body function. Sure, it will hurt, and it will humiliate you and maybe, just for shits and giggles, we'll coerce a confession from you for a crime you didn't commit, but I promise: no torture.

And of course, Putsch did sign off on the memo, even though he claims not to remember it. Well, that's possible, assuming the man really is a completely feckless moron.

Makes for a great campaign slogan, doesn't it? "George didn't authorize torture -- he was too stupid to know what he was signing!"

The torture of prisoners is widespread in America -- not just among the grubby little sadists at Abu Ghraib, but at Guantanamo, in Afghanistan (where the government is now investigating five prisoner deaths considered to be homicide at the hands of soldiers in addition to the 31 in Iraq) and of course, in most American prisons.

Donald Rumsfeld also saw the memo, and in response to the part saying it was ok to make prisoners stand for four hours, wrote in the margin "Why only four hours! I'm often standing for six or eight hours." In the words of your illustrious vice president, "Go fuck yourself, Donald."

Tell you what, Donny: let's have you try the four hours standing that they have in mind when they talk about "stress positions." You're a pretty old fart, and obviously life's lessons were wasted on you. I'm betting your heart will give out in the third hour. What say we try it, Donny?

As for George, I have a modest proposal: resign as President, and subject yourself to the exact same conditions that the prisoners at Abu Ghraib have been subjected to. If you can go a certain amount of time (how long? Well, you don't get to know that, since the prisoners don't know if they'll ever be released either, so just say "indefinite") without confessing to planning and carrying out the attacks on the towers on 9/11, then you get your job back. How good a deal is that?

George, if you would never consider torture, what the fuck did you need a memo saying what sorts of abuse didn't rise to the level of torture for, anyway?

You would think the sadistic little creep who wrote the memo justifying torture ending up as a federal judge was bad enough, but there were a couple of other stories in the news that really show that not only does this administration not mind torture, but they avidly embrace it as a policy.

First there is the matter of Iraq's new prime minister, who took power (well, power in the sense that he wears a big target on his chest in the hopes it will distract some Iraqis from shooting at Americans) unexpectedly and in secret, two days before the "transfer of sovereignty" was to take place.

The guy, our bright, shiny, freshly minted symbol of peace, freedom and democracy in Iraq, is Iyad Allawi, a former hit man for Saddam Hussein, a "neurologist" (with a phony degree bestowed upon him, not by a medical college, but by the Ba'athist Party) who used his title to perform "experiments" on prisoners not unlike those done by Doctor Mengele at the death camps in Europe in World War II.

That's George's fair-haired boy, and for the sake of the Iraqi people, let's hope someone assassinates the son-of-a-bitch quickly.

In light of all this, I was less than thrilled to read a story in the Sacramento Bee about a weapon the army is working on called the "Active Denial System" According to the Bee article, "When the beam hits an individual, it penetrates 1/64th of an inch beneath the skin and heats water molecules to 130 degrees in less than a second. îIt tricks the pain sensors into thinking they're on fire,' said Rich Garcia, a spokesman for the Air Force Research Laboratory at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, N.M." The Bee article relates that the beam creates instant, unendurable pain, but causes no injury or marks. It's years from deployment, and the current version weighs four tons. They hope to miniaturize it, so folks like soldiers, police, and prison guards can carry them on their waist.

Let's see. We have a regime that redefined torture nearly out of existence in order to use it against people being held without charges and without trial. The dirtbag who did the redefining got awarded a federal judgeship position. The Secretary of Defense thinks the torture allowed by the memo is too lenient. The president claims it was so unimportant to him that he doesn't remember signing it. And we have one of Saddam's worst thugs as the new head of Iraq, just to show our commitment to human decency and rights.

And now they are working on a weapon that causes incredible pain, but leaves no marks and causes no direct injury. If you survive, it's only your word against theirs.

Posted: July 1, 2004


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