Wednesday, June 22, 2005
Torture: it's doubleplusgood after all!
A week after comparing interrogation at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp to the methods of Nazis and other repressive regimes, Sen. Dick Durbin apologized on the Senate floor.All we really need to know we learned from Grover Norquist (courtesy of our BARBARic colleague Paperwight):
"Some may believe that my remarks crossed the line," said the Illinois Democrat, at times holding back tears. "To them I extend my heartfelt apologies."
Durbin said he never intended disrespect for U.S. soldiers around the world.
"They're the best," he said Tuesday . . . .
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, in an interview to air Wednesday on Fox News Radio's "The Tony Snow Show," tried to equate Durbin's comment with actress Jane Fonda calling U.S. soldiers war criminals during a visit to North Vietnam in 1972.
"Some people always in their lives say something they wish they hadn't said," Rumsfeld said. "We just watched Jane Fonda run around trying to recover from the things she did and said during the Vietnam War. ... He said some things and he's going to have to live with them, and I think that that's not a happy prospect."
Defense Department spokesman Glenn Flood said Rumsfeld stands by his statements, even in light of the apology.
Many wonder what it will take to restore social civility to Washington, to get Republicans and Democrats mingling again. Rock-ribbed Republican Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, proffered a solution, telling us that Democrats must accept the finality of their powerlessness. "Once the minority of House and Senate are comfortable in their minority status, they will have no problem socializing with the Republicans. Any farmer will tell you that certain animals run around and are unpleasant, but when they've been fixed, then they are happy and sedate. They are contented and cheerful. They don't go around peeing on the furniture and such." Norquist assured us that he meant neutered "psychologically" and his metaphor was "facetious." Of course: Let the healing begin.UPDATE (via our eminent colleague Chris Floyd of Empire Burlesque): "The Simplest Methods That Break the Will," a long excerpt from The Gulag Archipelago in which Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn describes the interrogation techniques commonly used in that Soviet prison system to which our own network of detainee camps must never be compared:
18. The accused could be compelled to stand on his knees-not in some figurative sense, but literally: on his knees, without sitting back on his heels, and with his back upright. People could be compelled to kneel in the interrogator's office or the corridor for twelve, or even twenty-four or forty-eight hours . . . .
19. Then there is the method of simply compelling a prisoner to stand there. This can be arranged so that the accused stands only while being interrogated-because that, too, exhausts and breaks a person down . . . . Sometimes even one day of standing is enough to deprive a person of all his strength and to force him to testify to anything at all . . . .
21. Sleeplessness, which they quite failed to appreciate in medieval times. They did not understand how narrow are the limits within which a human being can preserve his personality intact . . . . Sleeplessness was a great form of torture: it left no visible marks and could not provide grounds for complaint even if an inspection-something unheard of anyway-were to strike on the morrow.
"They didn't let you sleep? Well, after all, this is not supposed to be a vacation resort. The Security officials were awake too!"