Friday, May 08, 2009

Enhanced Interrogation Techniques?

Andrew Sullivan poses an interesting about torture...

One way to look at how the Bush administration redefined torture out of existence, so that it could, er, torture human beings, is to compare their criteria for "enhanced interrogation" with those for rape. Raping someone need not leave any long-term physical scars; it certainly doesn't permanently impair any bodily organ; it has no uniquely graphic dimensions - the comic book pulling-fingernail scenarios the know-nothings in the Bush administration viewed as torture; and although it's cruel, it's hardly unusual. It happens all the time in regular prisons, although usually by other inmates as opposed to guards. It barely differs from the sexual abuse, forced nudity and psychological warfare inflicted on prisoners by Bush-Cheney in explicit terms.

Recall that smearing fake sexual blood on the faces of victims was regarded as brilliant interrogation by the Bushies in Gitmo - and its psychological effects were supposed to be heightened by Muslim sexual sensibilities. And male rape would be particularly effective in destroying male Muslim self-worth and psychological integrity. Rape almost perfectly fits, in other words, every criterion the Bush administration used to define "enhanced interrogation."

So ask yourself: if Abu Zubaydah had been raped 83 times, would we be talking about no legal consequences for his rapist - or the people who monitored and authorized the rape?

1 comment:

Ben said...

Strawman much?

Seriously though, whehther you agree that "enhanced interogation" is/was tortue, Mr. Sullivan's argument is just dumb. A few points...

1) The long term harm requirement covered physical and psychological harm. Rape obviously causes long term psychological harm.

2) Sexual abuse, and threats of sexual abuse were explicitly forbidden by the 2nd May 10th memo under the section discussing nudity.

3) Sexual abuse is specifically enumerated as a prohibited by the Geneva Conventions and U.S. law.

I have little doubt that some of the "enhanced interrogation" techiniques authorized were tortue but we don't need to inflame the rhetoric more then it already is. This debate doesn't need a strawman, the conduct is bad enough to stand on its own.