Saturday, March 17, 2007

TORTURED LOGIC. After years in U.S. custody, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed has confessed to being the "mastermind" of 31 terrorists attacks from 9/11 to the mysterious death of your pet schnauzer.

Conservatives, hungry for any sign that this Administration's anti-terrorist activities are achieving anything besides mayhem, are going for the story in a big way. "The testimony by bin Laden's top operational lieutenant is a jolting re-education in the enemy we face," says the Wall Street Journal.

(Even if they don't believe Khalid, conservatives like the story. "There is reason to be wary of every word this man says, including his claims of responsibility for anything and everything," says John Podhoretz before pronouncing Khalid "unmitigated, unmediated, undeniable evil in human form" on the basis of his unreliable testimony.)

The Journal dismisses anyone who might supect that Khalid's extraordinary confession was coerced or derived by torture as "truly credulous" -- by which I guess they mean that we give some credence to reporters like Nat Hentoff, and to reports like this one (pdf) from the Center for Constitutional Rights:
Military reports admit that many prisoners have been thrown or dropped on the ground or thrown against walls. Several prisoners report that assailants jumped on their backs or shoved their heads into hard surfaces while they were incapacitated and lying on the ground. For example, Yasein Khasem Mohammed Esmail claims that when he arrived in Guantánamo, while he was still shackled, he was thrown into the air and allowed to fall to the ground. When he lay on the ground, soldiers stomped on him. A group of soldiers sprayed Mr. al-Wahab with “disorienting gas,” burst in his cell, handcuffed him, pulled him out of his cell, and pushed and rubbed his head against concrete until he lost consciousness...
Etcetera. Khalid's statements, by the way, were made from Guantánamo, and the photo that ran with his story in the papers is the same one that was taken when he was captured, no other having been permitted since then.

Anything, as they say, is possible. It may be that all these detainees are lying, or actually had themselves beat up like Andy Robinson in Dirty Harry. It may be that Khalid is lying just because he got a little goofy after years of not-being-tortured. Or it may be that he is the super-genius he claims to be, which proves... well, I don't know what, exactly.

I do know a few things. First, that because this Administration has worked so hard to normalize "coercive" interrogation, it is now only reasonable to assume that the Fed have employed such techniques when a unseen-in-years detainee admits to killing Papa Doc with his voodoo.

I also know that conservatives, whom I once thought didn't give a shit about torture, actually do give a shit, but in a very different way that we do.

Some of them basically use torture the way they use everything else -- as a stick to beat the left for its constant complaining, hobbling our fighting men, etc. Religious conservatives say they're "praying" over the issue, while accusing other Friends of Jesus who wonder what could possibly be Christian about torture of being snotty.

And others invove it in orgasmic fantasy scenarios ("Jack Bauer invents 'Dry Waterboarding' -- yee-hah!).

I prefer my kink consensual, but I am an adult and can accept that not everyone is like me.

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