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BY ALLAN UTHMAN
Waterboarding. It’s all we seem to discuss when comes to American torture. Whenever you see people discussing “enhanced interrogation” on your TV, chances are they’ll be throwing around the same tired arguments, all revoling around waterboarding. Why, of all the things we’ve done to our suspected (and not-so-suspected) terrorist detainees, is waterboarding the issue? Why confine the rapidly dwindling debate to that single technique? We’ve engaged in a lot of other practices that qualify universally as torture. Are sleep deprivation or “Palestinian hanging” not controversial enough? Is solitary confinement too mundane?
How about sodomy? Is that something we consider unremarkable?
That’s right; sodomy. Forcible anal penetration. The documentation of this and other forms of sexual humiliation is too extensive to be denied or pawned off on a couple of redneck privates. And we know now that sexual humiliation techniques were among those discussed and approved by the National Security Principals Committee, a White House group including Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, George Tenet, and John “History will not judge this kindly” Ashcroft.
I don’t want to come off as minimizing the horror of controlled drowning. It’s just that there’s something about forcible anal rape that brings the torture issue into sharp focus. Just once, I’d like to hear one of these American Enterprise Institute psychos, the ones that always trot out to defend the Neocons’ freakish obsessions, have to defend shoving a flashlight up a guy’s ass. I want to hear Frank Gaffney or Jonah Goldberg tell me why I shouldn’t be fucking mortified that raping prisoners was considered within tolerable interrogation practices by my country. I want Glenn Beck to justify butt-raping a suspect.
The next time I hear some idiot refer to Jack Bauer in defense of torture, I want to ask him what he thinks of Jack Bauer rogering terrorists with a broomstick. You’ve never seen that in the hours of not-so-subtle pro-torture TV drama we’ve seen since 2001, have you? Never saw Andy Sipowicz cornhole a skell on NYPD blue? Or Michael Chiklis on The Shield making a suspect drink his pee? Me neither. Something tells me that might have hurt their ratings.
The key to winning the debate on torture is to eradicate any illusions about just what this was, which is sick, twisted, and freakish beyond any usefulness in gathering information. And it becomes very clear in the light of a rectally inserted lightstick. Raise the specter of White House-authorized sexual abuse, and anyone who doesn’t shrink away from defending it will be doomed to be remembered as the guy who defended ass-rape and forced urine-drinking, which is the very least an American should suffer for trying to justify brutally raping prisoners.
But no one will pull the trigger. Even as more proof is revealed, nobody seems to mention the sodomy. The torture debate is limited to waterboarding alone. Why? Forget the 48 photos Obama has flipped on releasing (like the putz he’s turned out to be). There are known photos—you can see them at Salon.com—of a female prisoner being raped, and a male. Not to mention the kinky naked slave-stacking and forced masturbation--and the prisoner with a banana up his ass.
We blared Metallica at them 24 hours a day while they shat themselves, chained to the floor. We kept them in coffin-sized boxes for hours on end. We hung them from the ceiling. We made them jack each other off. We beat some of them to death. Many have lost their minds. Some these people were guilty of nothing but being in Afghanistan or Iraq and being swept up as part of an intelligence “mosaic.”
The inevitable dunderhead response, “they beheaded our people,” is a sickness unto itself. From Abu Ghraib to Gitmo, we’ve suffered countless such humiliating comparisons, judging ourselves by the lowest standards current events can offer. Sorry, but it is not enough to say we aren’t as bad as Saddam Hussein or the scumbags that killed Daniel Pearl. The very idea that we should measure our own conduct by theirs is a total failure of self-respect. Only the worst kind of scumbag can excuse himself by saying, “I’m incrementally better than the Taliban.”
What’s so sick about it is that the sexual nature of the torture seems so unnecessary. I mean, even if we were going to torture them, we could have stuck to waterboarding, pulling some fingernails or just beating the shit out of them. But menstrual blood smeared on their faces? Ass rape? What kind of people do that? What possible purpose does that serve that outweighs becoming known as the country that ass-rapes people? We couldn’t get enough answers, or false confessions, or whatever we were looking for, from regular brutality? We had to go all BDSM on these people?
The upshot is this: America is the country that rapes its prisoners. We’re sex criminals. That’s our thing now. And Obama’s refusal to “look back,” i.e. prosecute these incredibly serious crimes, ensures that it’s our permanent legacy. No national reputation can survive this simply by shrugging it off. We used to be seen as a bastion of freedom and decency around the world. That shit is over, folks. We’re like the Soviet Union with better movies now. When we talk about human rights, we are an international joke.
And when we talk about torture, we stick to waterboarding, because nobody, not even the “liberals,” are willing to face what we’ve done.
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