Tuesday, May 24, 2005

We are what we do

From Hendrik Hertzberg in the current New Yorker.

The most heartrending passages of Golden’s story, which was drawn from a two-thousand-page confidential Army file provided by an anonymous source, describe the death by torture of a slight, shy, illiterate young Afghan villager who was shackled by the wrists to the wire ceiling of his cell for days, struck more than a hundred times in one day for the amusement of captors who found his agonized screams of “Allah!” funny, and beaten on the legs until the tissue, in a coroner’s words, “had basically been pulpified.” By the time he died, most of his interrogators had concluded that he was guiltless. In common with the Abu Ghraib case and others, only a few lower-ranking officers and (especially) enlisted soldiers have been disciplined in connection with this and other abuses at Bagram.

The indulgence of this sort of depravity goes to, and comes from, the top. President Bush pushed aside the Geneva Conventions. A memo prepared on the order of his White House counsel, now Attorney General, suggested limiting the definition of torture to acts that bring on “organ failure.”

The people that do these things did not come from outer space. They came from next door. They are us and we have become torturers.

Read the whole column.

Hertzberg points out that arguing about the reliability of Newsweek sources, when we know it is a fact that we are torturing people, is nonsensical. Bush and his foot soldiers are astonishingly adept at fogging the lenses. We wander bamboozled again in never never land.

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