Tuesday, April 21, 2009

On Torture...

If you read newspapers, you've undoubtedly wept over stories about parents who tie up children and deprive them of food, or who burn them with cigarettes, or beat them with boards. You've cringed at news of husbands who mutilate and sexually terrorize and endlessly threaten violence against wives. I can imagine you've even been outraged when you've heard about animals that have been malnourished or beaten or chained in a yard without water. Yesterday, we were inundated, again, with US torture stories, after President Obama approved the release of justice department memos detailing the lawyer-okayed ways our interrogators have tried to get information from bad guys for the last 7+ years. So, what do you think NOW about water boarding suspected evildoers...you know, the people who might have had something to do with September 11, 2001? Are you able to dehumanize these people enough to approve of the many ways in which US interrogation officers worked to coerce them to talk? One of those men in today's news is Abu Zubaydah, a suspected high level Al Queda operative who was reportedly water boarded 83 times in August of 2002. He actually turned out to be schizophrenic, and a rather low level Al Queda operative. Here's an old picture of him...one they don't show us on TV...taken, probably, when his mother still hoped he'd grow up to be a brain surgeon, or something. Another one of those evildoers we're seeing on the TV screen today - one who was reportedly water boarded 6 times a day for a month in March of 2003 - is Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. This man has apparently said he came up with the idea for 9/11, sold the plan to Osama bin Laden, and managed all operations of the horrible deed from A to Z. The same photo is always shown of KSM - wild hair, handcuffed, scruffy, hairy chested. Here's what he looked like before he was a criminal detainee in our war on terror (next to that familiar photo from the TV). I'm not trying to make a defense for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. A little over a month ago, he and three other alleged 9/11 plotters released a statement to a Guantanamo military judge that called:
U.S. allegations "badges of honor" and declared themselves "terrorists to the bone"
What bothers me is what we do to OUR people to make them capable of torturing THOSE people. What line is crossed in a human being's soul that allows him/her to completely disregard a beating heart, a breathing lung, a flailing arm? I may be the last person to actually see the video below. I caught glimpses of it...what I could stand to watch...last night on MSNBC. It's a "water boarding reenactment" produced by Kaj Larsen, who is an award winning reporter for current TV. Larsen is also a former Navy SEAL, and a Harvard grad, in case you need credentials. It's a difficult thing to watch. Very difficult. What happens in the captor/captured scenario that allows this kind of human-on-human action to even be possible? Really...are memories of these images enough? Or is something else at work? Whatever it is...it is surely not named peace.

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