Fri 7 Mar 2008
A San Francisco Chronicle headline and an Economist ad published in recent days provide worrisome evidence that a significant minority of Americans aren’t bothered by their government’s use of torture. In fact, more than a few Americans get off on it.
“McCain Urges Bush to Veto Waterboard Bill; Senator Is Against Torture But Doesn’t Want CIA Limited,” noted a Chronicle headline on Feb. 21. The accompanying AP story explained:
“Arizona Sen. John McCain [right] said President Bush should veto a measure that would bar the CIA from using waterboarding and other harsh interrogation methods on terrorist suspects. McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, voted against the bill, which would restrict the CIA to using only the 19 interrogation techniques listed in the Army field manual.
“His vote was controversial because the manual prohibits waterboarding — a simulated drowning technique that McCain also opposes — yet McCain doesn’t want the CIA bound by the manual and its prohibitions.”
As McCain sees it, when our government is torturing someone, the torturer needs to be on the CIA payroll and not the Defense Department’s — a distinction that may be lost on victims such as the Abu Graib prisoner at left.
There are, of course, people who defend the CIA’s use of torture. Some make lawyerly arguments for it, but an uncomfortable number are gleefully sadistic in its defense. A spot check of online debates nationwide found a number of comments along the lines of these sent to The Anchorage Daily News:
“We have a new breed of extremely violent men with knowledge of extremely deadly plans. Do what you need to do to make them bare their souls. If waterboarding is too harsh for you bunny huggers, do it how Poncho Villa did it? Tie them to a post, pull their pants down, and put a hungry calf in front of them. Problem solved.”
Or: “Water boarding would be better if we used rats’ blood instead of water.”
Such remarks from more than a few members of the public raise the question: What kind of person does the CIA hire to do the torturing?
And how does our government find educated people willing to work for an agency known worldwide for its sadistic abuse of prisoners?
Answer: The CIA recruits its spies with ads in The Economist, in other publications, on television, and on the website YouTube where it solicits both conventional spies and computer techies interested in electronic spying. The Economist ad above reads:
“Be part of a vital mission that’s larger than all of us. The CIA’s National Clandestine Service seeks qualified individuals to serve our country’s mission abroad. Our careers offer rewarding, fast-paced, and high-impact challenges in intelligence collection on issues of critical importance to US national security.”
Of course as a practical matter, CIA employees must either be able to indulge in sadism that would turn the stomachs of most people — or at a minimum be comfortable working for an agency that indulges in such horrors.
On Saturday, March 8, President Bush, as expected, followed Senator McCain’s advice and vetoed Congress’ attempt to bring the United States of America back into the civilized world.
These four photos of captives at Abu Graib being tortured by our government are from AntiWar.com. The fact that they are so horrible to look at demonstrates how much our government’s use of torture — whether pain, fear, or sexual degradation — offends most Americans’ sense of decency.