Saturday, April 18, 2009

We Tortured

The United States tortured its prisoners, and President Bush was either unfathomably ignorant of the truth or he was lying when he said ''this government does not torture people'' (bet on the latter). You can read the chilling memos justifying the practices here.

Sullivan puts it succinctly:
According to these documents, almost nothing that was done at Abu Ghraib was outside the limits agreed to by Bush - and much of what was done at Abu Ghraib was mild in comparison. So when the president acted "shocked" at what we all saw, and said it was not America, he was also authorizing far worse in secret - and systematizing it long after Abu Ghraib was over. He was either therefore a fantastic liar on one of the gravest matters imaginable or so psychologically compartmentalized and prone to rigid denial of reality and so unversed in history, law and morality that he had no reason being president.

References to ''1984'' are quite popular right now (for obvious reasons), but one passage in the Bybee memo is worth noting again for its eerie similarity to the nightmarish torture scene near the end of the novel (again, hat-tip to Sully):

''You would like to place Zubaydah in a cramped confinement box with an insect. You have informed us that he appears to have a fear of insects. In particular, you would like to tell Zubaydah that you intend to place a stinging insect into the box with him," - Jay Bybee, judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

"‘The worst thing in the world,’ said O’Brien, ‘varies from individual to individual. It may be burial alive, or death by fire, or by drowning, or by impalement, or fifty other deaths. There are cases where it is some quite trivial thing, not even fatal,’" - George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty Four.

More on this when I've returned to the UK and am no longer paying for internet. For now: to the airport.

1 comment:

Molly B said...

Stewart keeps me sane!

I still check into your blog so keep writing! I enjoy reading your thoughts and insights.

Good luck with your travels.

Thanks for the link to the torture memos! Mrs. B