Ever since I heard the words “we don’t torture” come out of President Bush’s mouth a couple of weeks ago I have been flabbergasted. It’s not that I expect the U.S. government to be honest; I’m used to its deceit. But usually its attempt to keep the truth from Americans is confined to a space and time before the world, including the U.S., discovers its deception. In a world that has been subjected to photographs, stories, and hearings about Abu Ghraib, how can President Bush live with himself by stating such a claim? Can he really go to sleep at night knowing he perpetuates this lie? Does he have a conscience? Or, is he so indebted to Adolf Hitler’s “big lie” that he is lost within the sea of distortions perpetuated by his regime? I think this story came back to me this week because of the new news story that reported an Iraqi prison where people were being tortured. Today I learned that these prisoners are being transferred to Abu Ghraib. Is there an amnesia pill that the world takes to allow such things to happen? Is there no sense of tragic irony?
My only source of news about the U.S. while I’m abroad, and certainly while I’m stateside as well is Democracy Now! Just in the past month or so there are so many credible pieces of evidence, even for those who are not ready to believe the truth, about U.S. and its torture policy. For instance, Col. Janice Karpinsky, who was the head of Abu Ghraib when all of the evidence about U.S. torture was first leaked, talked about her role in that while promoting her new book last month. Like Karpinsky, attorney Scott Horton discussed how high up the Bush administration the torture policy climbs. This particular interview was given in the context of Senator John McCain’s proposal banning torture and Vice President Dick Cheney requesting that the CIA be exempt from such a ban. Then there is another story featuring Vice President Cheney as he chooses David Addington to replace Scooter Libby; Addington is famous for having written that “the war on terrorism has rendered the Geneva Conventions ‘obsolete.'” Of course, one of the reasons I listen to Democracy Now! rather than read U.S. newspapers is because I value Amy Goodman’s investigative journalism, a quality that is far too rare in a post-9/11 U.S. Her recent story on The Washington Post’s collusion in covering up the story that the CIA maintains secret torture prisons in Eastern Europe is a perfect example of why this is the most worthwhile American news source. Her show last week included one of England’s best journalists, Robert Fisk, who is promoting his new book, The Great War for Civilization: The Conquest of the Middle East, which sounds as amazing as his book on Lebanon, The Great War for Civilization: The Conquest of the Middle East, Pity the Nation. Fisk talks about the routine nature of torture by the U.S. in the Middle East. One of the most enlightening moments of the interview, at least for American listeners, I imagine, Fisk says:
It was interesting that when, in fact, the pictures first came out of Abu Ghraib, of the atrocious abuse of people, sexual abuse, the initial reaction was, “Oh, my God, what will the Iraqis say?” Well, the Iraqis knew all about it. They weren’t at all surprised. It was we, the Westerners, who were shocked. ‘What? We’re doing this?’ It was very interesting to see that when, under the various pieces of legislation by which you can, and we in Britain can’t, get hold of documentation of Abu Ghraib, when more pictures were about to be revealed, which, oddly enough, I think they have not been, the response of the U.S. government was that it would create further anger among the Iraqi population against U.S. troops serving in Iraq. It won’t. The Iraqis already know all about it. They’re not shocked at all. They think that’s how we behave, and actually they’re right, aren’t they.
Then, this week, Goodman interviewed U.S. Army interrogator Specialist Tony Lagouranis about his role in abusing Iraqis and the methods used by the Navy SEALS.
Finally, a word on Jon Stewart. I admit I miss his humor and his program, The Daily Show, and I sometimes watch snippets of his show online. But I’ve never enjoyed his Zionist perspective and often find myself cringing when I witness yet another moment of his inability to be critical of Israel. Therefore, I was elated when Allison Weir of If Americans Knew wrote a savvy and witty open letter to Stewart about his double standard when it comes to torture. In this memo she says,
Jon, you’re a really smart guy. Is it possible that you don’t know that there are 8,000 Palestinians in Israeli prisons right now, and that many of them have been tortured, some of them at this very minute?
Is it possible that you didn’t read the article about Mustafa Dirani testifying in an Israeli court for ten hours about his gruesome torture by Israeli interrogators?
Is it possible you’ve never ever talked to Palestinians, even Palestinian-Americans, and heard their graphic descriptions of the Israeli prison experience?