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AMERIKA THE BEAUTIFUL?
Extending the Tradition: Proudly Taking American Torture Into the Future
Originally published on Wednesday, 17 June 2009
Obama has not "abolished torture," any more than he has abolished the worldwide American gulag -- or indeed, renounced any of the autocratic powers claimed by Bush, including the "right" of the Unitary Executive to seize and hold anyone on earth indefinitely, without charges -- or to have them murdered in "extrajudicial assassinations."
The recent, mysterious death of yet another captive in the Guantanamo concentration camp opens yet another door into the blood-caked labyrinth of the American gulag, where despite all the soaring rhetoric about "restoring the rule of law," torture is still very much the order of the day.
They took him away, held him under the close supervision in a psychiatric ward -- and yet he still managed to magically kill himself by some as-yet undisclosed method. No doubt the "ongoing investigation" -- by the NCIS guys! just like on TV! -- will eventually manage to concoct an explanation plausible enough to satisfy our ever-incurious political and media elites.
But as Horton notes, Saleh was also a victim of an particularly sadistic form of torture that is still being practiced -- openly, unapologetically -- by the Obama Administration's agents in the Guantanamo concentration camp: force-feeding. Horton writes:
As we have noted many times before, Obama has not "abolished torture," any more than he has abolished the worldwide American gulag -- or indeed, renounced any of the autocratic powers claimed by Bush, including the "right" of the Unitary Executive to seize anyone on earth and hold them in captivity indefinitely, without charges -- or to have them murdered in "extrajudicial assassinations." This latter power -- which Bush also delegated to covert agents in the field, who could murder selected targets on their own volition, without awaiting approval from higher up -- was openly trumpeted by Bush, on national television, before a joint session of Congress -- and was routinely noted by the mainstream press. To my knowledge, no leading figure in the national political establishment has ever publicly objected to this practice of state murder -- nor has Obama repudiated or overturned Bush's directives on this point. In fact, Obama has made one facet of Bush's "Murder, Inc." program a very public linchpin of his strategy in the "Af-Pak" War: the use of drone-fired missiles to assassinate alleged terrorists, alleged insurgent leaders -- and everyone else in the missile's general vicinity.
But we must give credit where it's due. Obama has wrought some changes in the imperial torture policies, making good on his campaign pledges to restore the American values that were lost or diminished under his odious predecessor. As Alfred McCoy -- the premier historian of the American elite's long, long love affair with torture -- points out, Obama has revived the venerable bipartisan practice of relying on client states to do the bulk of the dirty work for the U.S. security apparat. McCoy writes (at TomDispatch):
Another suicide, in murky circumstances, of a Terror War captive -- a cynic might begin to detect a pattern here.
We also learned this week that the Obama Administration had renewed the contract of the two psychiatrists who were instrumental in designing several of the more exquisitely painful and perverse elements of the Bush Regime's torture program. James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen were re-hired by the CIA -- for 1,000 smackers a day -- in February. As Jane Mayer notes (in an interview with Horton at another venue, The Daily Beast):
In other words, now that the security apparat is outsourcing most of its torture again, there is no need for pricey stateside contractors to do the job. Hey, we all know foreign labor is cheaper! Hell, those Libyans and Egyptians and what have you probably do it for free, just to stay on the good side of their imperial patrons.
McCoy's remarkable piece gives us dreadful chapter and horrifying verse of the history of American torture -- a long and proud tradition that our government is still staunchly upholding today!
Chris Floyd has been a writer and editor for more than 25 years, working in the United States, Great Britain and Russia for various newspapers, magazines, the U.S. government and Oxford University. Floyd co-founded the blog Empire Burlesque, and is also chief editor of Atlantic Free Press. He can be reached at email@example.com.
This column is republished here with the permission of the author.
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This story was published on June 18, 2009.
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