THE BIG IDEAS IN ABSTENIA
Barbershop Torture Edition DeAngelo Starnes
Yeah, I know. The shop ain’t been open in a few. Sorry. Folks been brown bagging on the corner more than getting a cut. But the Shop is open now and we got science to drop and topics to decode.
A recent article in The Atlantic penned by Peter Beinhart, “Torture Is Who We Are,” actually captures the vibe of where the shop is at. In this piece, Beinhart decries the false narrative that torture is somehow a temporary lapse in judgment. That torture was committed by rogue elements of government. (“Rogue” — a catchword implying an exception rather than the rule.) Beinhart insightfully observes that torture is not an “aberration” nor a contradiction of “American” values and morals.
A single act, or even a limited moment, might indicate an “aberration.” But to do it over and over again establishes a pattern. A continuous pattern illustrates habit. Habits that impact other people’s lives begin to reveal character.
Let’s not get it twisted, the United States has tortured since before it was the United States. In the name of religion. In the name of conquest. In the name of enslavement. In the name of unification.
Post-Constitution? What do you call scalping? What do you call lynchings prior to the actual hanging/burning/drowning? What do you call elongated interrogations spiced with beatings to get a confession and/or information, i.e. the Third Degree? What about the waterboarding of Filipinos in the Spanish American War? Torture ain’t nothing new.
To listen to the pseudo-apologies and tap-dance justifications, one has to suspend belief. That some m-fs were so hell-bent on protecting the country post-9/11, they had to enhance their interrogations by beating the shit out of people, stripping them of clothing, depriving them of sleep, blasting them with white noise and loud music, threatening them with dogs, kidnapping them to countries where they weren’t citizens, separating them from family and home, caging them without charge, and water-boarding them. We’re supposed to buy the party-line that these were aberrations committed by rogue elements within the CIA? That they were necessary to protect the country from another 9/11? So if this is true, where’s the evidence that information obtained during these torture episodes led us to the people responsible for 9/11? And if you have the proof, why the fk are we still in Afghanistan?
Of course, it is nonsense. This was no accident. It was deliberate, systematic, and dare we say, systemic. The CIA and its contractors used psychologists to design the program to tap into deep-seated fears. Induced hypothermia, shackling, sleep deprivation for days on end is medieval. “Rectal hydration”? Who thinks of that shit? Kidnappings. No notice of charges. No hearings. Punishment without defense. Due process violations committed after they obtained legal advice to opine on whether the torture violates the law. Torture was a program — not happenstance.
So the handwringing is false, hollow, and disingenuous. But what really causes the Shop’s head to explode is this vibe of “Was it really necessary to release this report?” This sentiment has inundated the airwaves and social media. That’s head-in-the-sand shit. Torture was/is being funded by your tax dollars — whether committed by a CIA employee or CIA/military contractor. And wouldn’t you rather have that money spent on your roads, schools, financial aid, libraries, free medical care, employment, unemployment benefits, police training, etc.?
The equally intellectually dishonest position is that releasing this information emboldens our enemies, and as was floated on Faux News, creates a playbook for so-called terrorists. You don’t think the alleged enemy didn’t already know what was being done at Black Op sites and Guantanomo Bay? The Shop submits the only people who didn’t know was the American public. You think our alleged enemies need torture to embolden them? Try military invasions, infiltrated governments, spying, assassinations masked as “accidents,” and drone attacks. Playbook? We gave them a playbook a long time ago as the people we label our enemies have been trained by the CIA and the military — for years.
The Shop ain’t buying what they selling. Sadly, though, the Report verifies what we all already knew and/or suspected.