JACQUELINE MARCUS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
innocent people who met the tragic misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.I’m not drawing a parallel between the Holocaust that led to the deaths of six million tortured and murdered Jewish parents and their children under Hitler’s regime and the CIA Torture Report; to do so would diminish the unspeakable evils that were committed by S.S. operations. However, the question of torturing victims of US occupations in the Middle East is applicable here. Many of the same barbaric methods of torture that the S.S. used on their prisoners were also used on detainees in Iraq, Guantánamo Bay, and at secret CIA cells, many of whom were
It’s important to remember, in the context of the CIA Torture Report, that the Bush administration invaded Iraq on behalf of empire (whatever the 9/11 pretext) - that we have to “get them before they get us,” despite the fact that the Iraqi people were innocent and that they had absolutely nothing to do with the September 11th attack—nor did Saddam Hussein harbor weapons of mass destruction. If you wanted to look for a nation with verifiable direct ties to 9/11, evidence shows that it was the State Department's favorite friend, Saudi Arabia, but Iraqis were the ones, as one example, who were tortured and died in Iraq. Can someone explain that diversion of blame and duplicitous justification of torture?
After WW II, the world acknowledged that heinous crimes of torture were committed by the Nazis. There was no debate. There was nothing “controversial” about condemning the horrific practice. No one argued in the media the pros and cons of torturing human beings.
No, the US did not commit a Holocaust after 9/11, but it did torture - and some of the torturing resulted in deaths, or let's just call it murder. I would like to ask the corporate network media defenders of the Bush-Cheney administration if they believe that the techniques of torture committed by the S.S. paramilitary organization under Adolf Hitler should be discussed as a “controversial” and “debatable” issue? That is to say, if Hitler defended his S.S. torture operations in the name of “national security” would that make torture under Nazi Germany justifiable? If the answer is “no” then when the CIA commits some of the same heinous crimes of torture, why is that up for debate? If they agree that it is plainly wrong when Hitler did it—then why is it excusable when the CIA does it?
Ironically, we were told by the Bush administration that Saddam Hussein “had to go” because he “tortured his people.” Once again, I must raise the question: if the US media condemned Saddam Hussein for torturing or executing those whom he believed were traitors, if it was wrong when Saddam Hussein did it, then why is it acceptable when the CIA does the exact same thing? And if that’s the standard justification that the Bush administration used to hang Saddam Hussein, then the same standard should also be used for every member of the Bush administration and the CIA torturers as well as the lawyers who attempted to make the gruesome act of torture—legal.
Torture was categorically wrong when Hitler and Saddam Hussein did it, but if the CIA does it—then it’s up for discussion on whether or not it was “helpful in providing national security information,” according the defenders of the torture program.
We knew it was wrong when Hitler did it. It was deemed so in violation of civilized standards that it led to the signing of the Geneva Conventions that made it exceedingly clear to world leaders that the brutal, insane practice of torture is illegal, immoral and a crime against humanity.
But you don’t have to turn to the Geneva Conventions to understand that the practice of torture is illegal, immoral and barbaric. It’s very straightforward in the Eighth Amendment of the Bill of Rights: No “cruel and unusual punishments [can be] inflicted.”
Consider for a moment how certain political figures rose to powerful leadership positions by using their effective powers of persuasion to incite hate and bigotry. Families of the world never sit around thinking about waging wars. Most wars on behalf of empire are hatched-up by a minority of oligarchs who are interested, as Plato noted, in stealing profitable resources from foreign lands. The question then becomes a matter of persuading the public: a few speeches from a few politicians can ultimately lead to the occupation of sovereign nations and the unnecessary suffering of millions of people.
In addition to the Bush-Cheney crimes, the individuals who should be held accountable for why torture occurred in the first place, falls additionally on the shoulders of the corporate media networks and on the shoulders of congressional members: the majority in both Houses sat cowardly by, stamping Cheney’s Orwellian policies with a rubber stamp of approval while they skipped merrily off to their next lobbyist engagements.
Also, it should be known for history that when the US government, during the Bush and Obama administrations, attempted to shred the US Constitution, the only meaningful laws that held our country together for over three hundred years, it was an attempt to make those laws arbitrary and capricious. There will be no prosecutions of the CIA torturers because the government set fire to the very laws that they were clearly violating from the moment that they proceeded with a pre-emptive attack of Iraq to the moment congress approved of the Patriot Act, to Obama’s signing of the National Defense Authorization Act, via executive action, a document of bad laws that serve to protect all those in the government-CIA-military who were and are committing national and international war crimes. Try as they may, no matter how hard the U.S. government attempts to undermine the Bill of Rights, they will never be able to do so because those inalienable rights are grounded on eternal principles of justice.
It’s no coincidence that many people in the United States are being persuaded, through the media, to accept military interventions in new and subliminal ways, which make the conventional methods of war propaganda seem archaic by comparison. It’s no coincidence that there are numerous CIA-NSA-Homeland Security TV series that make spying and torturing for information seem normal and acceptable when in fact both practices, government surveillance of our homes, phone calls, texts, and emails, and the practice of torture, are blatantly unconstitutional, illegal, and excessive abuses of power. It’s no coincidence that the Pentagon and their military contractors have an infinite amount of money to fund these so-called “fear the terrorists” shows. The corporate networks are also paid handsomely to promote war advocates (alias arms dealers) without debate.
On the first US bombings of Iraq, I will never forget the then NBC Nightly News anchor, Tom Brokaw, how he sat at the desk with images of US weapons of mass destruction flashing across the screen behind him, bombs that were annihilating Iraq’s infrastructure, and how he boasted about the operation that was given the perverted title “Shock and Awe” coined by Donald Rumsfeld, and how those bombs were killing thousands of innocent Iraqis, including children. Brokaw talked about the explosions as if he were enjoying a night of festive fireworks and celebrations.
What was shocking to me was how Brokaw could sit there and seem to enjoy an invasion of a people who had done nothing to harm US citizens. Keep in mind that Iraq was a modern, functional society that included free health care and college education. So while US bombs were annihilating Iraq’s hospitals, schools, bridges, homes, sewer systems and electricity to rubble, they were also destroying an educated people with the highest literacy advantages in the Middle East. Saddam Hussein may have been a heinous tyrant, but the Iraqi people were our potential friends who did not deserve death and destruction - and torture.
And lastly, here’s a question for Tom Brokaw who so greatly admires the WW II veterans: Did they all sacrifice their lives in vain?
Through the centuries of time, men have tortured one another: Human beings are perhaps the only animals on earth that strategize and invent the most barbaric ways to inflict pain on one another. It was not right when Christians lynched, tortured and burned African Americans from treetops, and it’s not right to this day when the police brutalize and kill defenseless people of color. And when they’re caught and condemned, the torturers always use the same argument the CIA is using: that the ends justify the means.
Torture is wrong. There is no justification for it, ever.
It was wrong when the Romans did it; it was wrong when the church did it; it was wrong when slave owners did it (along with the ignbole practice of slavery itself); it was wrong when the Nazis did it - and it is wrong when the CIA does it.
Jacqueline Marcus lives is the editor of ForPoetry.com and EnvironmentalPress.com. She is the author of Close to the Shore by Michigan State University Press. Her E-book, Man Cannot Live on Oil, Alone: Time to end our dependency on oil before it ends us, is available at Kindle Books. She taught philosophy at Cuesta College. Her essay, The Beauty of Sadness: An Essential Human Emotion Exiled in a War Society appeared at the North American Review blog.