Henri Alleg, a journalist, was tortured in 1957 by French forces in Algeria. He described the ordeal of water torture in his book The Question. Soldiers strapped him over a plank, wrapped his head in cloth and positioned it beneath a running tap. He recalled: "The rag was soaked rapidly. Water flowed everywhere: in my mouth, in my nose, all over my face. But for a while I could still breathe in some small gulps of air. I tried, by contracting my throat, to take in as little water as possible and to resist suffocation by keeping air in my lungs for as long as I could. But I couldn't hold on for more than a few moments. I had the impression of drowning, and a terrible agony, that of death itself, took possession of me. In spite of myself, all the muscles of my body struggled uselessly to save me from suffocation. In spite of myself, the fingers of both my hands shook uncontrollably. 'That's it! He's going to talk,' said a voice.
The water stopped running and they took away the rag. I was able to breathe. In the gloom, I saw the lieutenants and the captain, who, with a cigarette between his lips, was hitting my stomach with his fist to make me throw out the water I had swallowed."
I'm not sure what to make of this. Is it classified information? Is it common knowledge? President Bush only confuses the issue.
Bush, prodding the Senate to confirm [Attorney General nominee Michael] Mukasey, told reporters at the White House that lawmakers were being "unfair" by asking the nominee about a program "on which he's not been briefed." Mukasey "doesn't know whether we use that technique or not," the president said.
President Bush has been spending a lot of time lately not making any damned sense. One; if Mukasey has no idea what waterboarding is, then he just plain hasn't been paying attention. Senators would be justified in doublechecking to make sure he knows what terrorism is, who Osama bin Laden is, and what happened on 9/11/01 -- if you take him at his word, it's pretty clear that he doesn't get out much. They should also question whether someone who doesn't read newspapers, watch TV news, listen to the radio or use the internet is informed enough to be the AGUS.
Two; what the hell difference does it make whether he knows if we do it? It's torture or it's not; either he knows or he doesn't. Rudy Giuliani may believe that "it depends on who does it," but it's pretty well established that, outside of the subject of what a "hero" he was on 9/11, Rudy don't know Jack.
Bush explained his position before a suitably fawning audience at the Heritage Foundation. "As a price of his confirmation, some on that committee want Judge Mukasey to take a legal position on specific techniques allegedly used to interrogate captured terrorists," Bush told his fan club. "As Judge Mukasey explained in a letter to committee members, he cannot do so for several reasons: First, he does not know whether certain methods of questioning are in fact used, because the program is classified -- and therefore he is in no position to provide an informed opinion. He has not been read into the program, and won't until he is confirmed and sword in -- won't be until he is confirmed and sworn in as the Attorney General. Second, he does not want an uninformed opinion to be taken by our professional interrogators in the field as placing them in legal jeopardy."
Whether or not the program is used has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not it's legal. That's a stupid argument on its face; a legal non sequitur. And we've already established that Mukasey doesn't need to be "read into the program" to know what waterboarding is and, therefore, whether or not it's legal.
But the dumbest argument is that he can't put "professional interrogators in the field" in "legal jeopardy." If it's illegal, they're already in legal jeopardy, because they're already breaking the law. An Attorney General nominee's opinion isn't going to make any difference in the legal standing of professional torturers.
The speech to the Heritage Foundation is actually a gold mine of crazy. "The terrorists have stated their objectives. They intend to build a totalitarian Islamic empire -- encompassing all current and former Muslim lands, stretching from Europe to North Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia," he said. "In pursuit of their imperial aims, these extremists say there can be no compromise or dialog with those they call infidels -- a category that includes America, the world's free nation [sic], Jews, and all Muslims who reject their extreme vision of Islam."
I'd tell the president what I tell everyone who makes this argument -- so what? I want to win the lottery, but that doesn't mean I stand a chance in hell. If terrorists think they'll be able to "build a totalitarian Islamic empire -- encompassing all current and former Muslim lands, stretching from Europe to North Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia," then they're just as crazy as they seem to be. There's absolutely zero chance of this ever happening -- they have no army, no air force, no navy, and they're going to take over half the world? That's pretty low on my list of stuff to worry about, right below being left behind in the rapture. I'm not losing a lot of sleep over it, because it's one of those "never in a million years" type things.
Bush went on to argue that, if the Judiciary Committee rejected Mukasey, "America would have no Attorney General during this time of war." Well, other than the acting AGUS -- we have a fully functional and fully constitutional Attorney General right now. Congress saw this one coming back in 1789 -- seriously, it's covered. Besides, what the hell does an Attorney General have to do with war? It's like arguing that it'd be disastrous not to have a Secretary of Labor or a Surgeon General during a time of war.
Probably the dumbest damned argument Bush made was this; "When it comes to funding our troops, some in Washington should spend more time responding to the warnings of terrorists like Osama bin Laden and the requests of our commanders on the ground, and less time responding to the demands of MoveOn.org bloggers and Code Pink protesters."
So Osama bin Laden should hold more sway in Congress than MoveOn.org and Code Pink? You know, last time I checked, MoveOn.org and Code Pink were American citizens and taxpayers. Osama bin Laden, on the other hand, is a terrorist, a murderer, and not a US citizen. Why the hell should we let him tell us what to do? Here's a crazy idea -- let's just assume that everything that comes out of bin Laden's cave is propaganda and, therefore, BS. Let's not allow terrorists to dictate what we do or don't do. Really, reverse psychology should stop working on you when you get older than five.
I ran a little experiment on Bush's speech. The word "courage" shows up zero times, ditto "bravery." Variations on the word "terror" -- i.e., terror, terrorist, terrorism -- make twenty-seven appearances. It's typical of this president to appeal to fear over courage, cowardice instead of bravery. He asks us to give up freedom, embrace torture, and abandon everything we've stood for for over two centuries. It's possible that George W. Bush may be the most anti-American president we've ever had.
If you're part of that 24% who still support Bush, ask yourself if this is the best democracy you could possibly have. Ask yourself if you're willing to live as free person or as a ward of the government. Ask yourself whether, after we've given up liberty, freedom, and law, there's anything left worth fighting for. And, if so, what is it? Your safety?
How safe can you be when you've given up all your civil rights, when there's nothing left to protect you from your government? How safe can you be when you can be locked away and tortured without charge? As things stand now, there's nothing keeping it from happening to you -- there's absolutely no guarantee it won't happen. And, if it does, there's absolutely nothing you -- or anyone else -- can do about it. How safe does that make you?
President Bush has become the Mayor of Crazytown and that 24% are the only residents. Short of impeachment and maybe prison, this is where George W. Bush belongs. Speaking in front of a mass of brainwashed, far right lunatics making desperate arguments. They'll clap, they'll hoot, they'll cheer, but Bush is basically addressing a mirror -- all of the applause means nothing. The American people are pretty much done with him and the influence of his ideology will die with his last day in office.
And all of those mirror images, clapping and cheering and hooting, will be just another cult. A brainwashed mass that people pity and swear that they'll never, ever become.
When that happens, we'll be able to begin rebuilding America.
Technorati tags: politics; war; Iraq; terrorism; Republican; conservative; neocon; propaganda; Bush is crazier than a sack of cats