Friday, November 14, 2008

Feck Yoo (And The Rest of BushCo Too)

Ever since the horrors of Abu Ghraib were made public, and then conveniently pinned onto the chests of the underlings who were carrying out not just an implied tone, but an actual White House abuse and torture policy, I marveled at how the American people could remain unmoved.

Even more, the fact that the revelations of Abu Ghraib were made public before Bush ran for his second term, but did not stop the American people from voting him into the highest office in the land for the second time, has alternatively made my blood boil and my stomach churn.

All of the evidence is there, and has been there, for the eyes to see, if you have the will, and the capability, and the inclination to view it. But I have come to realize that Americans, at many levels, are incurious, and certainly infantile in their world view.

You may take exception to my generalizations about the American public. You may say that you, as an American, were disgusted and horrified. Yet Guantanamo, an American gulag that will end up being, as a wise person said in the following documentary, the Nuremberg of our time, is still open for business. We Americans sit complacently, and allow this crime to be committed day in and day out, without rising up and demanding its closure.

We are all guilty of abuse and murder (of those who died in US custody, and of those that are somehow "missing" from US custody), and should be collectively ashamed.

I have some theories as to how this evil can persist, in broad daylight, without protest from not just Americans, but from the world. It only takes a little listening to the neocon rhetoric of the Bush administration to get a hint of what they believe is the psychology of the American people. Karl Rove, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, John Yoo and the rest of the neocon legal cabal are experts in scripting the type of code speak and propaganda that is effective in steering the American public towards supporting their heinous acts, or at least ignoring them with the idea that our leaders "know better" than we do, as to what is best for our country. (Just listen to Sarah Palin talking about "those teeruhrists" and you'll know what I mean.)

The first key talking point is the sneering, derisive statement that we should not "coddle" prisoners, especially these terrorists who "wish to destroy America." So, in the face of actual photographs of a pile of naked and chained human beings struggling on the ground, surrounded by beefy male and female guards, exposed, filthy, terrified and humiliated human beings, the American public says, "But those people want to kill all of us. So they don't deserve the respect that we, the better people, deserve."

There are many problems with this simplistic viewpoint, not just the incredible moral injustice and for those Christians out there, the completely non Christ-like behavior of these acts. First: many of those "terrorists" were SOLD to the United States by people who read the leaflets dropped on their village and who wanted to capitalize on the incredible amounts of money offered by a sadistic US administration hungry for retribution (in the case of those who actually believe in all this horse shit) or for human examples to parade around as images of evil so as to keep the fear machine, and thus the incredibly profitable war machine, in motion.

This means that the odds are very high that there are innocent people incarcerated, with no hope of proving their innocence or being freed. There are people in Guantanamo STILL, who have not yet been charged with a single crime, but have been held in terrible conditions, with torture, for periods of up to seven years.

The second problem: The reference to "coddling" prisoners, or jokes like, "What do you want a prison to be, a country club?" serve to dehumanize a group of human beings and simplify and minimize the serious impact of violating the Geneva Convention, primarily the negative impact on the safety of our own troops, the very troops that BushCo claims to be protecting. It is a fact that if we torture, then it gives license to our enemies to torture us as well.

If your son or daughter, brother or sister, mother or father, or next door neighbor is taken as a prisoner by an enemy, you can no longer expect them to be treated fairly, or humanely. BushCo has sealed the fate of our soldiers in the case of capture. Will you protest then? Will you remember how you failed to protest over the last 8 years?

The third problem: I am not exactly sure that there was a big group of people out there that wanted to "destroy America." That big group full of Arab boogie men, who are supposedly out to git us, each n' every one of us. But I am positive that if there was one, the group is MUCH BIGGER now. When you watch the film below, just think about how many people you would hate and want to kill after you got out of US custody. Just think about all those relatives of those prisoners at Guantanamo who hate the living shit out of America now. We've been busily manufacturing fresh new jihadis all by ourselves, just by our own behavior. 'Nuf said.

Once upon a time I learned an important lesson about interviewing potential employees to work for my teams in corporate America. My ability to create a warm, welcome and respectful environment during the interview, gave me more information about the candidate than if I had approached the interview in an intimidating, controlling or authoritarian style. I didn't need to exert authority. I needed information. I needed to get an idea of what this candidate had accomplished in his or her career that could benefit my team, and I needed to see if their style, demeanor and attitude would fit into my team's environment. I had one candidate tell me about a prior arrest for drug posession. He volunteered that information. I didn't have to beat it out of him.

This example is not even close to the practice of interrogation in a time of war, but the more I read from interrogation and legal experts about the inefficacy of torture for obtaining information, I know why this is true. Because I have experienced getting information out of people in my own little way. Yet, Americans, for some reason, LIKE the idea of torture. Otherwise, a TV show like 24 would not be such an amazing success. Americans have this naive little sexual fantasy about spies and torture. At least the Brits made 007, the guy himself, sexy, instead of making what he did sexy. Of course, 007 had a lot of sex, ate a lot of good food, drank the best booze and looked great in a tuxedo, so he was romantic as a spy character, but he didn't fucking torture anybody. At least the 007 production teams kept the line pretty clear between the good guys and the bad guys, and only the bad guys tortured.

Torture, and the support of torture, no matter what kinds of softened, vague euphemisms the bastards in the Bush administration come up with to describe it, is depravity. But, contrary to George W. Bush's repeated lie "We do not torture," we, America the beautiful, DO torture and that liar ordered up the torture. Unfortunately, like it or not you flag wavers out there, we Americans are now the bad guys.

As a shining beacon of freedom and democracy, we have utterly failed. Currently, we are a third-world country, run by insane power- and money-hungry despots. When a friend of mine who had been cynical about Obama read the recent headline that Obama plans to close Guantanamo, this friend of mine, a grown man in his fifties, stood in front of his computer and cried like a baby. He still welled up the next day, and the day after, every time he spoke of that news. He was the one who said to me, "How could this have taken so long? How could America have been publicly running a gulag without anybody doing anything about it?"

I feel like I'm pissing in the wind writing this. I'm calling out to a largely deaf American public. Those who read this blog already agree with me, so I'm singing to the choir. There are also many people who have written and produced much more compelling articles and films than I could ever produce in my tiny little circle of influence. Yet even with all the facts available, America is still unmoved.

If you could, as a tribute to those whom we have harmed by allowing BushCo to perpetrate these crimes against other human beings, please watch the powerful documentary created by The National Security Archive Project at George Washington University, called Torturing Democracy, available online in its entirety (3 segments). Please pass it on via any means you have, to as many people as you know. It was supposed to be aired on PBS but the Bush administration threatened to slash PBS funding, so PBS said they would only air it after January 21st. When The Daily Beast busted PBS on this and the New York Times subsequently also challenged PBS, they actually said that the timing of January 21st, the day after the end of Bush's term, was "a coincidence." Fuckers.

If you can spare some change, please also donate to Amnesty International's "100 Days" campaign, which calls on President Obama to set a deadline for closing the prison at Guantánamo Bay, issue an Executive Order banning the use of torture, and end impunity for human rights abuses in his first 100 days in office.

Somehow, I want to believe that we can get through to the American public about the gravity of this situation. Somehow, I want America's eyes and ears to clear, and their brains to start thinking again. And I want Bush, Cheney, John Yoo and all the rest of those bastards to be tried and convicted of war crimes. And I want reparations to begin. Somehow.

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