Sunday, June 13, 2004


Tom Engelhardt puts America's global torture network into perspective:

For his dystopia, 1984, his classic novel of totalitarianism, George Orwell created "Room 101," an interrogation room where a prisoner's deepest fears were to be realized and applied. Tier 1 in Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, as the now-infamous photos indicate, was the Bush administration's Room 101 for the "Arab mind," and so the crown jewel of its global interrogation facilities; just as Guantanamo was the "crown jewel" of the prison camps in its global Bermuda Triangle of injustice; just as the new appointed "interim government" hidden within the ever-more fortified Green Zone in Baghdad and led by a prime minister and former CIA asset whose exile organization, we learned this week, once set off car bombs in downtown Baghdad, is now the crown jewel of "freedom and democracy" in the Middle East. This is our "war against terrorism." Talk about an Orwellian world.

As it happens, from the heart of Abu Ghraib's interrogation rooms and the acts of, as our President and other administration officials have repeatedly said, "a few people" or even "a few hillbillies," the nature of, extent of, knowledge about, and responsibility for such acts has been rapidly spreading outwards across the imperium, upwards into the highest reaches of our government, and backwards in time. We now know, for instance, that, to the various acts of horror caught on camera in Abu Graib, we must add murder (or rather numerous murders) in Afghanistan as well as Iraq, and the use of electric shocks on prisoners, as the Marine Corps Times reported recently.

As for the acts we saw in the photographs, they too have "spread" and knowledge of them reaches ever higher: To take but two examples, Nakedness is now reported to have been used as a tool of humiliation not just in Iraq but in Afghanistan and at Guantanamo, as it was used in one of the earliest acts of American inhumanity in the war against terrorism, the interrogation of John Walker Lindh in Afghanistan back in 2001; while the "technique" of menacing prisoners with dogs -- "an apparent violation of the Geneva Conventions and the Army's field manual" -- has now been well documented at Abu Ghraib by the Washington Post ("On Jan. 13, Spec. John Harold Ketzer, a military intelligence interrogator, saw a dog team corner two male prisoners against a wall, one prisoner hiding behind the other and screaming, he later told investigators. ‘When I asked what was going on in the cell, the handler stated that he was just scaring them, and that he and another of the handlers was having a contest to see how many detainees they could get to urinate on themselves…'"); but it was also evidently employed at Guantanamo, according to the Wall Street Journal.

In the meantime, responsibility for such actions has moved inexorably upwards. We know now that interest in information gleaned from interrogations, ranging from that of John Walker Lindh to those in Iraq was requested at the highest official levels....

Add it all up -- only what's been revealed so far -- and you have a global system of injustice and torture, purposely mounted in the moral and legal darkness, beyond the reach or oversight of anyone but the President, vice-president, secretary of defense and associated officials, meant to extract information (and take revenge), meant as in Kafka's fictional penal colony to write the sentence these men had passed on the bodies of America's captives.

And talk about paper trails! If you need any evidence of the combination of arrogance, incompetence, and plain stupidity of the Bush administration, it now sits unavoidably before our eyes.

It's a good, long read.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Weblog Commenting by HaloScan.com