Saturday, January 15, 2005

Torture Part Two: Abu Ghraib

  • These two photos depict American soldiers liberating the Buchenwald Nazi Concentration camp. To me, this is the way I envision American soldiers relationship to torture: freeing the victims of torture, not perpetrating acts of torture. Many soldiers in our current war went with hopes of being the men and women who would free the Iraqi people from the tortures committed by Saddam and his two sadistic sons. As an interesting historical note, the second photo shows plainly that African-American soldiers were a part of the liberating force.

  • I want to quote El Capitan directly:
    Let's get something straight right off the bat. Having boxer shorts put on your head, or making you stand on a box wearing a poncho, or even piling you up in a nekkid pyramid is NOT torture! Neither is playing loud music, making you wear pink jammies, or putting you through a body cavity search. Shit, I went through worse than all of that during Hell Week while pledging a fraternity back in the 80's. It's humiliation, to be sure. No doubt it's unpleasant, and it's something you'd rather never have happen to you. If you can claim the above activities are enough to cause 'permanent mental scarring' or constitute emotional abuse, well, you're ranking pretty high on the Puss-O-Meter, there, Nancy-boy. Grow a pair and get over it.

    I think the question of whether or not the specific activities El Capitan cites amount to torture depend on the manner in which they are done and the purpose for which they were done. Lets revisit the definition of torture:
    Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary which says:
    Main Entry: 1tor•ture
    Function: noun
    1 a : anguish of body or mind : AGONY b : something that causes agony or pain
    2 : the infliction of intense pain (as from burning, crushing, or wounding) to punish, coerce, or afford sadistic pleasure
    Function: transitive verb
    1 : to cause intense suffering to : TORMENT
    2 : to punish or coerce by inflicting excruciating pain

    A naked pyramid is not torture in and of itself, making them hold that position for extended periods of time could well be torture. Playing loud music does not sound like torture. Playing music at >130 decibels 24/7 for a week to someone who could not get away from it would cause permanent hearing damage and is considered above the threshold of pain. So it is possible to turn music into an instrument of torture. Now, I do not know if these things actually happened. I am simply illustrating that El Capitan is being simplistic in his analysis of what constitutes torture and what does not.

    In any case, we can safely set aside the incidents El Capitan chose to illustrate his point. I will stipulate that those specific incidents probably did not constitute torture. However, the good Capitan is guilty of cherry picking which incidents he would talk about. He skipped these:

  • The autopsy report for this particular detainee revealed that he was beaten to death

  • The Pentagon has admitted that they have not released all the photos. They have also admitted that some of the others are “worse.” Among the things I hear being shown is the rape of Iraqi children. Journalist Seymour Hersh said "The boys were sodomized with the cameras rolling, and the worst part is the soundtrack, of the boys shrieking. And this is your government at war."

    Puss-O-Meter, Nancy-boy stuff. El Capitan, you disappoint me.

    Index to the Torture Posts:
    Torture Part One: Hostage Rescue/Bomb Goes Off In An Hour Scenario
    Torture Part Two: Abu Ghraib
    Torture Part Three: Make Sure You Torture The Right People And Make Sure They Are Telling The Truth
    Torture Part Four: Do We Want To Encourage The Worst In Humanity?
    Torture Part Five: Why The United States Of America Should Never Resort To Torture