When the devil comes knocking on your front door, looking for a way to spread his evil inside, he won’t be sporting horns and a tail.
He’s going to come dressed as your sweetest dream, clean as a whistle, pious, sincere. He’s going to speak your lingo, ape your ways — and when he opens up his little box of poison, it’s going to look like the heaven your mama sang about when she rocked you to sleep in your cradle.
Then one day, when the mind-fog lifts, you see him sitting at the head of the table, the walls of the room smeared with filth, dead bodies swelling on the blood-mucked floor, the still-living victims hog-tied and naked, screaming for mercy as the whipcords strike. He beckons you forward with a welcoming smile. You pause for a moment. It seems so strange: All this horror — it would have once made you sick, but now it just feels like … home. You shrug, you grin, you take your place beside him at the feast.
In just this way, while Americans were finishing their Thanksgiving dinners and preparing to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, a series of stories exposed — once again — the torture chamber at the heart of their feast: a government gone insane, embracing terror, atrocity and tyranny. Yet there was no public outcry against these desecrations. Few even noticed; fewer still cared.
Last week, the minions of George W. Bush announced, in open court, that he has the power to seize anyone on earth — even “little old ladies in Switzerland” — and imprison them forever if he so chooses, The New York Times reports. The minions said that anyone Bush declared “an enemy combatant” — even if they never took up arms against America, even if they didn’t know their actions were related to terrorism in any way — could be abducted from any nation, friend or foe, or in the Homeland itself, and held indefinitely, “at the president’s discretion,” stripped of all rights under the U.S. Constitution or the Geneva Conventions.
Assistant Attorney General Brian Boyle said Bush’s captives were entitled only to a single hearing, alone before a military tribunal, without legal counsel or access to the evidence against them — evidence which Boyle cheerfully admitted could be obtained by torture in foreign countries, The Associated Press reports. Overturning centuries of Anglo-American jurisprudence, Boyle said there were no restrictions whatsoever on using torture evidence, as long as the president or his military agents arbitrarily decide it is “credible.”
Days earlier, The Sunday Times tracked down the “private” planes of CIA front companies that Bush uses to carry victims of his lawless abductions to torture chambers in Jordan, Egypt, Libya and Uzbekistan, where “credible” evidence can be obtained with fists, cattle prods, rape, drugs and starvation. For example, witnesses told of hooded American agents grabbing captives in Sweden, stripping them, jamming drugs up their rectums, putting them in diapers and chains, and bundling them off to Egypt’s hellhole prisons — whose tortures have already produced generations of violent extremists.
But outsourcing is only one aspect of Bush’s Torture, Incorporated; he has plenty of domestic production as well. Last week, the Pentagon released a report — completed long before the election — confessing that the “aberrations” of Abu Ghraib were in fact part of a broad system of state terror spread throughout Iraq, the Washington Post reports. Elite squads of “Special Operations” officers and CIA agents beat and abused prisoners across the country, the Pentagon said, while regular troops committed “technically illegal acts” by rounding up thousands of innocent people at random and holding them for months in crowded prisons, where they were often turned over to those same “elite” squads for “special handling.” Some of this blood-soaked “intelligence” was “sent directly to the White House,” interrogators noted. The report also admitted that American forces had taken innocent people hostage — especially “female family members” — in an effort to pressure wanted men to surrender: a clear war crime, as if such things mattered anymore.
Meanwhile, the International Red Cross revealed that Bush has even perverted the healing professions at his concentration camp in Guantanamo Bay, using doctors and nurses to help “set the conditions for interrogation” by withholding medical treatment and using their diagnostic skills to determine captives’ “vulnerabilities” to various physical and psychological torments — “a flagrant violation of medical ethics,” said the Red Cross. Its investigators also found that the Guantanamo regime — “an intentional system of cruel, unusual and degrading treatment, and a form of torture” — was growing worse over time, Salon.com reports.
In such a moral sink, it was hardly even news that more photos of prisoner abuse — taken months before the Abu Ghraib atrocities — were uncovered last weekend, Reuters reports. This time it was “elite” teams of Navy SEALs mugging for the cameras with bloodied captives — some with guns to their heads. Nor did anyone blink when Bush military brass announced plans last week to create forced labor camps for all male citizens in “liberated” Fallujah, the Boston Globe reports.
This Satan’s Rout of blood and abandon comes directly from the White House, where Bush’s legal counsel, Al Gonzales, engineered memos “justifying” torture and exalting unrestricted presidential power, beyond the reach of any law, foreign or domestic. As a reward for this violent outrage of American honor, Gonzales — sweet-talking, pious and sincere, just like his boss — will soon become the chief law officer of the land.
And the American people, what do they do about all the horror being wrought in their name? They shrug. They grin. They sit down to the feast.