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Torture Me Elmo

it's true, we knew, so blue

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, December 10, 2014.

Well, the Senate Intelligence Committee under Diane Feinstein released its report this week. It's a horror show. It roundly condemns the CIA and the torture it inflicted on suspected terrorists and claims what the CIA said under oath and in public is contradicted by its own emails and written documents. So, try as the right wing, the GOP, and the Bush administration veterans will do, it is not a political act. Republican Senator and former presidential candidate John McClain is totally on board with this report, and as a five year prisoner subjected to torture, he is one of the few whose opinion cannot be contradicted.

There were probably people who thought torture works the way it's portrayed in novels and movies. I know for a fact I'd collapse just being threatened by it. I don't like pain and I'm worthless without sufficient sleep. There is no 'hero' gene within this carcass. For this and other reasons the US military and I mutually passed up the opportunity to unite when I had a draft card. I was 4f from the get go, physically unable to serve. I was not upset.

When the photos of Abu Graib came out nearly a decade past, they featured a fat male soldier and a dumpy female soldier, neither obviously of the first quality nor scheduled for advance, making fun of people in pain, some dying, some dead. It was hard to deny the sadistic and clearly sexual overtones if not outright portrayal. As in many military issues in training and combat, there is not unoften a sadistic and masochistic element closely related to sexual dominance. This is true since forever, and the literature and the myths to soften the image are as old and widespread.

The Native Americans when fighting each other or the cavalry often goaded their enemies by exposing and shaking their genitalia at each other, bragged about rape of enemy women and survival of torture, which they cheerfully administered to each other as a sign of respect for the opposing warrior. It was an honor of sorts to be tortured and not succumb to pain. They did not do this for information, but for the torture itself, viewed as a near favor to the victim who often shared that view as an opportunity to demonstrate courage before death. This is a religious issue the Christian Churches also exhibited when slaughtering each other through the years. Pain for the sake of pain. The Indians often felt obligation to show respect to the man in death and to inform his family that he stood up well to physical horror. They would expect the same in return if the they were captured.

What horrifies McCain and others is that the US has now given permission for Americans to be tortured in the same way. Of course, it's unlikely that a practice by enemies for centuries would go up but we used to pretend we didn't do it, only savages did, and it justified conquest of inferior peoples who'd do such a thing. Please do not succumb to the notion that this is somehow something new. During WWII American Airborne units and the SS units did not take each other prisoner, and they did not just kill each other, either. It's even possible they got constructive info out of each other In some ways, it may be the concept of getting info from a victim is just a cover story to satisfy longings for revenge and demonstration of genetic and biological superiority. It's the sadism of the locker room and fraternity gone wild.

But a case was made that when we are under attack, and we most assuredly were, you are free to do anything that might prevent Americans from getting killed. In theory, maybe, but you'd think that there would be constructive evidence to prove torture actually works often enough to be open about it. The very fact that the CIA, caught lying under oath, somehow cannot find certain videos and gave orders to destroy others, does not elevate expectations. And other disturbing issues arise.

The people most enthused and insistent that torture works tend to be of two types. First, the tradition of the CIA back to its inception was heavy on Ivy League Catholics leaning towards the conservative branches of that faith. Second, the pudgy third rates who radiate desire to take their rivals or representations of their rivals down a peg. In America, this was mostly whites torturing people of darker hue. They can't lynch them, anymore, but they can interrogate.