The Latest Euphemism From The Torture Party

by Andrew

Max Boot deploys a new one (they keep coming up with them):

It would be easy to conclude with a “high degree of confidence” that one of the most effective intelligence-gathering tactics in the war on terrorism the aggressive interrogation of captured terrorists has been eliminated and, along the way, the agency charged with being on the front lines of the war has been severely degraded in operational effectiveness. In other words, the Obama administration has taken some of the most effective changes implemented by the Bush administration and reversed them in what could be a Carter-style emasculation of American intelligence capabilities.

"Aggressive interrogation of captured terrorists"  needs translation into plain English. It means "the torture of captives suspected of being terrorists." "One of the most effective intelligence-gathering tactics in the war on terrorism" also needs translation, since there is no evidence, as Bush DHS official Frances Townsend and every neutral observer has noted, that the intelligence, if accurate, could not have been achieved by legal, American and ethical means. We also know for a fact that the majority of all those who have been abused and tortured by the US under Bush and Cheney were innocent of any terror offenses. (At Abu Ghraib, one of the test-sites for Cheney's methods, up to 90 percent were completely innocent, according to the Bush administration). We have no idea how many of those captured, abused and tortured at Bagram were and are innocent. And we know that the Red Cross has definitively ruled the Bush-Cheney treatment as torture and, at the very least, illegal "cruel and inhuman treatment" of prisoners.

"Aggressive interrogation" means, in plain English, stripping suspects, hooding them, beating them, putting a collar around their neck and launching their bodies against a plywood wall up to thirty times, subjecting them to sleep deprivation in one case as long as 960 hours over 54 days, shackling them in stress positions used by the Vietnamese against John McCain, denying medical care in some cases, sexually traumatizing them, using Islam as a weapon against them, putting them in upright coffins, threatening to kill their children and spouses, threatening to drill their skulls with power-drills, freezing them in iced water or freezing air-conditioning until near-death, subjecting them to extreme heat, and sensory deprivation in isolation for months until they become mental and physical shells. It means Abu Ghraib, the one place where we have been able to see what neoconservatism has come to stand for: the brutal torture and abuse of Arabs and Muslims. It means murdering over a hundred of such prisoners - merely because they are suspects and Arab Muslims. It means verschaerfte Vernehmung, in which neocons eagerly adopt the precise methods and even terminology of the Gestapo and brandish their cooptation of Nazi standards of prisoner treatment as an American value.

If Max Boot wants to defend these things, he should have the courage to defend them in plain English. He should have the courage to defend what we saw at Abu Ghraib and what we have not been allowed to see at Bagram.

As for "Carter-style emasculation", let us also remember that the return to ethical, legal treatment of prisoners is just as easily described as "Reagan-style emasculation." It was Reagan who signed the UN Convention on Torture which these neocons have torn up and despise. It is his legacy of American support for human rights that they reject. Indeed it is every president before Bush that they describe as emasculating US defense, because no president until Bush authorized and enforced torture and abuse of war prisoners as a national policy.

You want a "Reagan-style emasculation" of American intelligence? Support Obama.