George W. Bush's memoirs and the old criminal himself are getting new exposure. In his book, he confesses once again to having ordered criminal torture, in violation of US and international law. Ray McGovern reminds us of the seriousness of those crimes in "Damn Right": Bush Boasts about WaterboardingCommonDreams.org 11/08/2010:
According to newspaper accounts of the memoir, Bush says he was asked by the CIA for permission to subject KSM to the technique that creates the sensation of imminent drowning. His response was: "Damn right."
For such a frank admission of high-level criminality, we can say, with ample justification, Shame on Bush. But that shame also sticks like Saran wrap to the rest of us – and especially to the Fawning Corporate Media (FCM), which has soft-pedaled the significance of Bush’s confession, and to his make-nice successor, Barack Obama, who has refused to demand any accountability.
However, if we are still a democracy, we are all complicit.
I don’t much care if this sounds judgmental. You see, I was alive during World War II when there was torture galore; then it was considered a grave offense. The Nuremberg Tribunals tried and convicted Germany’s leaders for torture and other war crimes. In the war’s aftermath, there were a very few serious people arguing that the world should simply look forward, not backwards. The vast majority knew there had to be a reckoning, even amid the many serious crises that were facing a war-ravaged world. [my emphasis]
The torture crimes aren't going away. They are too serious and their implications are too far-reaching. There will be a real reckoning with the Cheney-Bush torture program someday.
Meanwhile, you can watch a clip here of several Very Serious People standing around grinning about Bush's latest bragging torture confession, including George Will and former Blue Dog Sen. Evan Bayh: Greenroom: Bush's BookABC News 11/07/2010.
The Guardian recently offered a glimpse at what torture is really about in Humiliate, strip, threaten: UK military interrogation manuals discovered by Ian Cobain 10/25/2010. This is not about getting information or the proverbial ticking time bomb. This is like something straight out of one of the Marquis de Sade's books. It's about sadism (the word coming from De Sade's name):
One PowerPoint training aid created in September 2005 tells trainee military interrogators that prisoners should be stripped before they are questioned. "Get them naked," it says. "Keep them naked if they do not follow commands." Another manual prepared around the same time advises the use of blindfolds to put prisoners under pressure.
A manual prepared in April 2008 suggests that "Cpers" – captured personnel – be kept in conditions of physical discomfort and intimidated. Sensory deprivation is lawful, it adds, if there are "valid operational reasons". It also urges enforced nakedness.
More recent training material says blindfolds, earmuffs and plastic handcuffs are essential equipment for military interrogators ...
Next month, at the high court in London, lawyers representing more than 100 Iraqis who were held and interrogated by British forces, between the March 2003 invasion and April 2007, will argue that there is compelling evidence that they were tortured in a systematic manner.
The abuse, documented by a team of lawyers led by a Birmingham solicitor, Phil Shiner, includes 59 allegations of detainees being hooded, 11 of electric shocks, 122 of sound deprivation through the use of earmuffs, 52 of sleep deprivation, 131 of sight deprivation using blackened goggles, 39 of enforced nakedness and 18 allegations that detainees were kept awake by pornographic DVDs played on laptops. ...
Interrogators are advised to find a discreet place to conduct interrogations, preferably somewhere that looks "nasty". Shipping containers are said to be ideal places that offer "privacy for TQ and Interrogation sessions". The chosen location should always be "out of hearing" and "away from media". [To conceal the screams.] One of the documents states: "Torture is an absolute No No." However, it then goes on to recommend methods of ill-treatment that can be employed by interrogators.
Prisoners should be "conditioned" before questioning, with conditioning defined as the combined effects of self-induced pressure and "system-induced pressure". Harsh questioning – or "harshing" – in which an interrogator puts his face close to the prisoner, screaming, swearing and making threats, is recommended as a means to provoke "anxiety/fear". Other useful responses include "insecurity", "disorientation" and "humiliation".
The training material recommends that after a prisoner's clothes are removed, the interrogator ensures he is searched behind his foreskin and that his buttocks are spread. This is part of the conditioning process, rather than as a security measure. [This procedure makes explicit the overwhelming sexual component.] One section of the training course is entitled "positional asphyxiation – signs and symptoms".
Baha Mousa is thought to have died from positional asphyxiation caused by a soldier kneeling on his back and then pulling backwards on the hood that was over his head. Mousa also suffered 93 separate injuries while undergoing "tactical questioning" by soldiers of the 1 Battalion Queen's Lancashire Regiment. [my emphasis]
The is violence, cruelty and genuine sexual perversion. It takes sick, twisted people to want to do this. And if the torturers are not like that when they start doing it, they will either get sick themselves or will discover a taste for such sick pastimes.
This is why we have laws and international treaties against torture. War creates conditions where it becomes easy for twisted sadists to indulge their passions. And for evil officials like Dick Cheney and George Bush to indulge their own twisted desires from afar.
As Jimmy Carter put it in Our Endangered Values: America's Moral Crisis (2005), "The primary goal of torture or the threat of torture is not to obtain convictions for crimes, but to engender and maintain fear." And he could have added, to indulge the sick pleasures of the torturers and those who order it.