We Torture, Obviously

Posted: December 19, 2014 in Corporatism, Culture, Politics, Torture
Tags: , ,

A 528-page report by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence was made public about ten days ago, and the response was immediate, varied, and voluminous. However, no one could pretend to be surprised. I’ve blogged in the past about the willingness of U.S. agencies to allow and even relish unspeakable, inhumane, torturous interrogation and the blasé acceptance of such behavior by the American public. But I knew I was just screaming into a waterfall. Reopening the issue, which has never really gone away, provoked all the usual memes, ranging from (self-)condemnation to denunciation to rationalization. A few things ought to be clear, though, to all Americans:

  1. We have institutionalized torture.
  2. We have institutionalized lies, obfuscation, and outright denials about torture — even in the face of overwhelming evidence.
  3. We have institutionalized rationalizations and refusals to prosecute torturers and their administrative supervisors — all the way up the chain of command.
  4. We have no intention of stopping.
  5. We are our own worst enemy.

Despite all the horseshit (please, just call it what it is) about dangerous regimes and terrorists threatening the U.S. (landing a couple blows in a fistfight doesn’t make someone a bully), it’s equally obvious that the U.S. is now a rogue state. So far, no one has issued a direct challenge to the biggest bully on the planet, but we’re asking for it. Rather, indignant response manifests at the fringes, where it’s marginally safer.

Ten years ago, a documentary film called The Corporation compared the psychology of business entities to human entities (corporate personhood having been enshrined in law) and concluded that, because of perverse incentives operating in the business world, corporations are essentially psychopaths. A similar comparison could be made with respect to nation-states and individuals, and the conclusion should be that the U.S. as a whole is criminally insane. We don’t know this about ourselves, really, and probably couldn’t admit it or deal with it even if we did. (Some might argue that we are dealing with it by self-destructing with ferocious speed.) The U.S. is certainly not the first or only nation to go criminally insane. Seems to migrate across time and space. So merrily we roll along.

I was surprised to learn last summer that June is Torture Awareness Month, so named because the United Nations Convention against Torture (CAT) came into force on June 26, 1987 (though it was adopted by the General Assembly on December 10, 1984). How odd. Wasn’t this already covered by the Geneva Conventions of 1864, 1906, 1929, and 1949? I had thought at the time to write a blog post denouncing (again) U.S. torture but ultimately felt I had nothing new or worthwhile to say. The past ten days reinforce that I can only hang my head in shame, knowing that my own country has run off the rails and that no additional screaming into waterfalls will change anything.

  1. leavergirl says:

    Yup. I’ve pretty much stopped watching. Why give the gift of attention to something this loathsome?

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