“Hypocrisy is the best gift you can give to the terrorists.” –
Anyone who questions the illegality and cruelty of torture or does not realize its existence in the US interrogation room needs to watch Law and Order’s new episode about a young, 4 year Iraq War veteran who worked at Abu Ghraib. When he returns from Iraq he is shortened by the Verteran Association from his health benefits that he is in dire need for, due to post traumatic stress syndrome. Maddened by this, he blackmails a former Department of Justice Council Member with a memo of how he was ordered to torture, and essentially kill “enemy combatants”, detainees in Abu Ghraib. The former Bush Administrator ends up killing the veteran, and admitting the murder as an act of not only self defense from a “stalker”, but also as protecting the country.
Law and Order has taken politics to an entirely different level. This is hands down the most political episode yet, taking account both sides of the argument and persecuting the criminals, and in this case we don’t need a bias to depict whether torture is illegal or not.
Last Thursday in Anthropology class, we were sent on an anthropological field trip to observe work in action; anyone, it could be a clerk at Starbucks to a canvasser on a street corner. My friends and I sat down at Pioneer Square and observed some musicians who were killing time while waiting for a lady friend. After a while we noticed a rally in front of the Portland Courthouse, we went closer to check it out, or to anthropologically investigate since we were under assignment. We talked to some of the protestors; Smiling,older people who covered the sidewalks with facts on torture, Gitmo and Abu Ghraib holding constitutions and giving out fact sheets. In the middle of their sidewalk exhibit was someone standing on a stool with their arms spread out, face and body covered in black cloth. In both hands they held wire, imitating that their arms were being held up. It was the same picture, one of the only pictures released from Abu Ghraib. She asked if any of us would like to experience how it felt like to be in a torture position, the same one they force detainees in Gitmo, Abu Ghraib and Bagram. I volunteered. I always admired how that guy on Current was water boarded for 24 minutes to prove a point about how water boarding is torture, and how that other conservative talkshow host tried water boarding to prove that it isn’t torture, and stopped it short after 18 seconds because he realized that it was indeed torture.
Basically, for the 5 minutes I was under that black hood sucked. I was shaking while I was standing on that stool. My arms were failing my strength, my calves were burning because I had to bend my knees in order to not lock them, I was swaying because of the poor balance I had for just standing on a tiny stool… (And by the way, if a detainee were to fall over they would be electrocuted up the arms and genitals). I was struggling for just 5 minutes, out of the 8 hours a detainee would be forced to stand like that. That’s not to say that I had it easy too. My arms and genitals weren’t actually connected to electrical wires, and I wasn’t being interrogated. How a detainee can endure being in a torture position like that for 8 hours to me seems absolutely cruel. Torture.
She gave us a constitution to commemorate Constitution Day. In the Bill of Rights, in the 8th Article, it states that “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” Well, the definition of torture is “the act of inflicting excruciating pain, as punishment or revenge, as a means of getting a confession or information, or for sheer cruelty.” Yeahh, it’s illegal even under our own constitution. It’s illegal under the US Constitution, and international law, and it just keeps on going on. The worst part is that we know for a fact that interrogators are using torture techniques too. But it keeps on happening, keeps on going, with little progress to stop it. Those Abu Ghraib pictures I were complaining about being released in May still haven’t been released. Gitmo still isn’t closed down. The Internment Camp (Which is the same name of that type of camp that we put the Japanese in after Pearl Harbor, and the Germans put the Jews in) in Bagram still hasn’t been publicized.
(One of the first war crime trials; I haven’t seen one in color yet.)
In this Law and Order episode, Jack McCoy (The DA) was challenging this “federal man” in a state court for murder of the Veteran, while questioning the legality of torture since this man was riding on the defense of “defending the country”. Defending the country from what? The truth? The truth is a pretty scary thing. The former Bush Administrator stubbornly supported the acts of torture nonetheless, while at the same time acknowledging and accepting the brutality of it. His key defense being that “enemy combatents” are exempt from any human right laws, including due proccess.
“So you are saying that in war the president is bound by no laws.” -Prosecuting Attorney, Michael Cutter
“Yes, in war.” – Defendant, Mr. Franklin
Basically restating the archaic Laws of War Handbook. Awesome, considering a majority of these detainees haven’t even been charged with a crime.
It seems that throughout US history, Presidents have been dismissed from war crimes the minute they step out of the White House. Nixon is a parallel example to Bush and Cheney, who got away with over a million Indo-Chinese deaths. And now, the Bush Administration is getting away with the deaths of over 1 million Iraqis. If it’s a change we need, it’s to put international law as well as our own to good use and to prosecute the Bush administration for war crimes. Vincent Bugliosi is ready, and as the people–The Jurors of this trial, we need to recognize that No, Mr. Department of Justice Council Member, no, Nixon, no, Bush–Presidents are bound by law, even in the time of war.
This is no simple legal opinion, ladies and gentlemen, this is an instruction of how to commit a crime and avoid prosecution. Surgical crossing of words to draw hair splitting The creation of a special class of prisoners of a fair game for any sufferings we might subject them to. This is the legal grease that label the conspirators to commit acts that are immoral and illegal. Hanging prisoners by their wrists until their lungs collapse against their ribs. Water boarding one detainee over 180 times. Mr. Franklin’s defense was that he is just following orders as a mere lawyer in the Department of Justice. Well like all lawyers he was employed as the last and best defense against justice. To use the law as a shield; to protect people. But instead he used it as a sword to injure people. Where he was sworn to uphold the constitution he used his legal education to subvert it, so shame it, to betray its promise to the world. Five days after 9/11 vice president Cheney told us we would have to work the dark side to fight terrorists. Well we never imagined that to mean that we would cease control to our own dark sides. The tactics justify from Mr. Franklin’s memo draw from the worst of our nature. Even in the midst of the revolutionary war, in the midsts of the Civil war, presidents Washington and Lincoln admonished their troops not to injure their prisoners. Now, some of you may feel that it is not the place for the jury or even the people to question the actions of our government officials int he time of war. That the premise of the trial itself is treasonous. I will insure you, ladies and gentlemen, that it is not disloyal to hold our officials to the highest standards of conduct, and it is not disloyal to allow you the people decide what you want done in your name. Thank you. Closing statement delivered by Michael Cutter (Linus Roache).