April 21, 2009


Because I’m an avowed conspiracy theorist, I believe there’s got to be more to the torture story than merely “trying to get information.” When you’re waterboarding someone 183 times, there’s something else happening. What is the conversation that ensues on waterboard 163? They drag the guy out of his cell. He’s taken to the waterboarding room and knows what’s going to happen. The hundredth time he probably doesn’t fight it – it’s become routine. He knows he’s not going to die, but he knows it’s going to be terrible. What could he possibly give up after waterboard 150 that he didn’t give up during waterboard 128? This really seems like pure sadism at work – or possibly practicing the technique to be used on other people. Or seeing the effect of multiple bouts of torture on the human psyche – i.e. experimentation, nothing to do with gaining information.

Or, and here I get crazy, messing around with the power of life and death in an occultic way, as if torturing somebody becomes a kind of prayer to a demonic force, or studying what happens to the brain when on the brink of death, studying near death experiences. Some other reason than just getting information about terrorism. They had an insane license to experiment like during the Holocaust, so they went with it. This is what leads to conspiracy theory, this is what leads to David Icke-style paranoia, because waterboarding someone 183 times is so purposeless on its surface, there’s got to be a deeper cause. “To gain information” seems like the least likely reason.

Even the idea that torture was used to justify the Iraq war makes little sense. If the Bush Administration was this intent on going to war in Iraq, why would they need a false confession to justify the invasion? Would a prisoner need to utter the words, "There's a link between Saddam and Al Qaeda"? If the Administration was this intent on war, they could just manufacture that someone made the link - i.e. false evidence of a confession. I think there's more plain sadism at work.

The detractors who say torture isn’t such a big deal are showing their true intentions. They’ve lost all credibility. I’ve liked Peggy Noonan in the past, even if I disagree with her, same with Bill Bennet, because even when they’re maddening, they’re still articulate. But Peggy Noonan saying, basically, “Sometimes you just need to look the other way” is a kind of career ender. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to take what she says seriously again. Even Rush Limbaugh used to be kind of threatening – because he’s such an unrepentant asshole with a loyal audience – but rationalizing torture to this degree strips him of his power. If this was torture under Democratic leadership, there would be calls for impeachment. Everybody who is defending or rationalizing torture has lost the credibility to have another opinion, because obviously they’re not coming from a place of sincerity. They’re blind and professional liars.


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