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COMMENTARY:

Torture for the Torturers

by Dave Lindorff
Tue, 07/15/2008
When I think of what kind of twisted minds that President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Condoleezza Rice must have in order to actually meet in the White House and approve such methods for use against human beings, it makes me sick to my stomach.

I don’t believe in torture, but right now, I’d like to see a few people subjected to some of the torture techniques that they approved for use against US captives in the so-called War on Terror.

I’d be satisfied if they just stuck to the ones used against 15-year-old Omar Khadr—techniques that a US federal judge established constituted torture under the Geneva Conventions.

I have a 15-year old son, so I’m particularly aware of what an atrocity it has been the way the US has treated Khadr, and some 2500 other young boys and teenagers that it admits to having captured and labeled as “enemy combatants” in its so-called “war on terror.”

Khadr, recall, was sent at the age of 14 to Pakistan by his allegedly terrorist-linked Canadian father to attend a madrassa—one of those fundamentalist Muslim schools. Like a number of students of those schools, he was indoctrinated in jihad and ended up fighting with the Taliban in Afghanistan against the warlords that opposed them. When the US attacked Afghanistan, in 2001, Khadr got caught up in a war against America. According to the charge against him, he was arrested in 2002 after US Special Forces found him and some adult fighters hiding out in a remote compound in the mountains. The Americans called in an air strike, and then moved into the rubble to find out who was left—quite probably, according to some testimony in the case—to finish them off. Someone, still alive after the attack, tossed a grenade which killed one of the Americans and blinded another. The others sprayed the wounded fighters, gravely injuring Khadr and killing one of his older companions.

Khadr was accused of being the grenade tosser, and was reportedly tortured in Afghanistan, before being shipped off to Guantanamo, where he remains six years later, facing a military tribunal. He was interrogated there, not just by Americans, but by Canadians too.

A citizen of Canada, and clearly someone who was captured and held in violation of the Geneva Conventions, which hold that children are “protected persons,” not to be held as POWs if captured in wartime, but rather to be treated as victims of war, Khadr has thus far been abandoned to his fate by his own government. The Conservative prime minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, anxious to have Canada serve as a willing servant of US military power and foreign policy, has not lifted a finger to help him.

Now a court in Canada has ordered the Canadian government to release videotapes it was keeping secret of Khadr’s interrogations, and they make for ugly viewing. Khadr is shown weeping, holding up his wounded arms, pleading to be given treatment, pleading to be returned to Canada. It’s a disgusting scene, especially when we learn that he had already been “softened up” for his Canadian interrogators by American torture specialists at Guantanamo who subjected this boy to three weeks of sleep deprivation and god knows what other creative techniques which we recently learned were copied from the methods developed by the North Koreans and applied to American captives in the Korean War.

It all makes you disgusted to be an American—especially with so many Americans still justifying this kind of grotesque behavior.

But back to my desire to see some torture inflicted. My profound wish is that President Bush, Vice President Cheney, former Department of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Canadian Prime Minister Harper all be subjected to no less than a month of torture, to include water boarding, at least 2-3 weeks of sleep deprivation, a variety of 24-stints of being forced into stress positions (Rumsfeld’s should be standing), some violent slapping around, and a bit of creative sexual humiliation. Since we don’t know at this point that anal sodomizing was officially sanctioned, or just was something that the torturers on the ground came up with that was then ignored by superiors, I’m willing to let that one be left up to those performing the torture, but I sure won’t object if it happens.

At this point, I can’t think of anything less than such a punishment that would be fitting for these monsters who are currently still running our, and Canada’s, governments.

When I think of what kind of twisted minds these people must have in order to actually have met in the White House and approved such methods for use against human beings—human beings who under our Constitution are to be afforded the presumption of innocence, and who are promised to be protected against “cruel and unusual” punishments (or in Harper’s case to have known about it and then not protested, even to protect a child born in his own country)—it makes me sick to my stomach.

If there is a hell, I am sure there is in it some special circle reserved for such monsters, but I think, having seen what was done at their direction and with their approval to young Khadr (who after all, if he really ever did toss that grenade, was only doing what any US soldier would hope to have the courage to do in wartime if his unit were attacked), that hell is too good for these leaders. They all need and deserve the special punishment of having done to them what they ordered or allowed to be done to others.

Sadly, my wish to see them suffer such a fate is unlikely to be granted. One can at least hope, though, that they will have their names etched somewhere for posterity on some memorial to the victims of war crimes and to the eternal condemnation of the perpetrators of such bestiality.


Lindorff speakingAbout the author: Philadelphia journalist Dave Lindorff is a 34-year veteran, an award-winning journalist, a former New York Times contributor, a graduate of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, a two-time Journalism Fulbright Scholar, and the co-author, with Barbara Olshansky, of a well-regarded book on impeachment, The Case for Impeachment. His work is available at www.thiscantbehappening.net.


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This story was published on July 15, 2008.