week of torture stories: day one

Picture showing S.S. Doctor Sigmund Rascher immersing prisoner at Buchenwald in Ice Water. The United States has now declared its intent to perform similar tortures.

“To extort a confession this beast in human form did the following: He forced the prisoner to put his testicles first into a bowl of ice-cold water then into a bowl of almost boiling water. This procedure was repeated several times until the skin was inflamed and blistered. Then Sommer painted the testicles with iodince, causing excruciating pain.

The corridor of the cellblock between the rows of cells was locked with a barred door. Sommer would place the head of a prisoner between the wall and the barred door, then he would slam the door with full force so that the head was crushed.

In many cases Sommer suspended the prisoners with chains from the window bars, with their arms bend backward. Often he let the unfortunate victims hang in this painful position for three to four days. Then he threw a blanket over their heads and strangled them. – The Buchenwald Report

We’re the future your future – Sex Pistols.

Quite a week. I admit, I have not paid that much attention to the politics around the CIA torture cells. That’s because, dummy that I am, I am inured to American torture. The prison system is so rife with it, and the prison system is so large, that I took the quantitative view. That is, that there was nothing to see here. You want torture, just go down and look how any state prison is run.

But the quantitative view isn’t all embracing. It can’t really explain itself. That is why it is dumb. The torture in the prison system is a scandal. The torture that President Bush pushed for and got this week is a law.

We have had slave holding presidents before, but until now, we have not had a slave making one. We have not experienced a leader who brags about ordering torture. Who openly claims that he will order torture. Who glories in destroying, to the extent he can, our oldest liberties. And as he does it, there is simply a vast numbness, as though these tyrants were slicing bits off a corpse. As if Americans are a people so drugged that they are giving up their liberty for nothing. In the past, peckerwoods and black panthers both had one thing in common, at least, the motto – don’t tread on me. Live free or die. That this should pass from the scene so easily, that the old joyful violence of not simply refusing, but trampling down illegitimate restraints is not there anymore – well, it fucking amazes me. Far from being a “campaign winner”, the law that was just passed should be the type of thing that would cause a general rush on the pigs who wrote it and passed it. The vitals of American democracy depend upon a constant threat that, pushed too far, our enraged populace will put the torch to the Congress and the White House.

No rage. Not the fire this time, and no threat of the fire next time. No bare scorched columns.

What puzzles me in all of this is what it is, exactly, that Bush’s base – gated community America – is so scared of?

The world has never gazed upon a group more pampered and protected. Their every shit is ringed with bodyguards. In the last five years, through the manipulation of the tax system and a fake war on terrorism that allowed for frauds that, in amount, are equal to the GDPs of sizeable countries, they have fattened until they have almost become unbelievable, like Macy’s Thanksgiving day parade figures, inflated grotesques. This is a strata of society – the upper 10 percent – that has to its credit, as its one cultural monument over the last ten years, the collected films of Paris Hilton. We are talking about an absolute nullity. All of the Fortune 100 richest are now billionaires. Many should be stripped of every nickel, and none should be billionaires at all – a billionaire is a walking crime in a well run republic - but that’s neither here nor there. The impetus in the country is towards the powerful. Their pump and dump scheme, using the U.S. treasury, has worked beyond anybody’s wildest dreams. Labor has long been broken. Outside the gated communities, the rest of us our bound hand and foot by wilder and wilder amounts of debt. And the accumulation, year after year, of the message from the media, of which the general and only purpose is to deaden the revolt in each and every heart. To turn us into “idiots” – that is, private people. The media exists to service the governing class. In the interstices, one can make a few spicy remarks now and then, but the media’s job, in the end, is to create an atmosphere of overwhelming conformity and triviality to make the yahoos governable. Even the yahoos know that. So, in general, we are broken either by our ignorance or our cynicism, and won’t even think of throwing sticks and stones at our rulers. We will merely throw words, and words will never hurt them.

So why, then, are Bush and Co. so afraid?

PS - A long passage from a document that we can now throw into the garbage can: the Federalist. No. 48:

''The other State which I shall take for an example is Pennsylvania; and the other authority, the Council of Censors, which assembled in the years 1783 and 1784. A part of the duty of this body, as marked out by the constitution, was "to inquire whether the constitution had been preserved inviolate in every part; and whether the legislative and executive branches of government had performed their duty as guardians of the people, or assumed to themselves, or exercised, other or greater powers than they are entitled to by the constitution. '' In the execution of this trust, the council were necessarily led to a comparison of both the legislative and executive proceedings, with the constitutional powers of these departments; and from the facts enumerated, and to the truth of most of which both sides in the council subscribed, it appears that the constitution had been flagrantly violated by the legislature in a variety of important instances. A great number of laws had been passed, violating, without any apparent necessity, the rule requiring that all bills of a public nature shall be previously printed for the consideration of the people; although this is one of the precautions chiefly relied on by the constitution against improper acts of legislature. The constitutional trial by jury had been violated, and powers assumed which had not been delegated by the constitution. Executive powers had been usurped. The salaries of the judges, which the constitution expressly requires to be fixed, had been occasionally varied; and cases belonging to the judiciary department frequently drawn within legislative cognizance and determination. Those who wish to see the several particulars falling under each of these heads, may consult the journals of the council, which are in print. Some of them, it will be found, may be imputable to peculiar circumstances connected with the war; but the greater part of them may be considered as the spontaneous shoots of an ill-constituted government.

It appears, also, that the executive department had not been innocent of frequent breaches of the constitution. There are three observations, however, which ought to be made on this head: FIRST, a great proportion of the instances were either immediately produced by the necessities of the war, or recommended by Congress or the commander-in-chief; SECONDLY, in most of the other instances, they conformed either to the declared or the known sentiments of the legislative department; THIRDLY, the executive department of Pennsylvania is distinguished from that of the other States by the number of members composing it. In this respect, it has as much affinity to a legislative assembly as to an executive council. And being at once exempt from the restraint of an individual responsibility for the acts of the body, and deriving confidence from mutual example and joint influence, unauthorized measures would, of course, be more freely hazarded, than where the executive department is administered by a single hand, or by a few hands.

The conclusion which I am warranted in drawing from these observations is, that a mere demarcation on parchment of the constitutional limits of the several departments, is not a sufficient guard against those encroachments which lead to a tyrannical concentration of all the powers of government in the same hands.


Tutor said…
Those who don't feel outrage, had better cower and conform, because every rule of decency is now revealed as no more than a paper fiction. Power has learned it can do as it pleases, with only the most empty, half-hearted and ritualistic protest. We bloggers, a few of us, are about the last bulwark of democracy. About time, things clarified themselves. Wealth Bondage is learning its own name.