The Path to Happiness

Well, LI, for one, was glad to see that bipartisanship returned to D.C. this weekend. Democrats and Republicans have coalesced around the torture issue – they like it. They want more of it. It is the kind of thing that Nancy Pelosi would like to have more of, except that she doesn’t remember if she was told of it at all, poor dear. Amnesia is a terrible thing. Maybe she would like to have less of it. She was for it until she was against it.

Of course, at LI, we are so, so proud of our American torturers. The problem, as we see it, is lack of recognition. Why not: an American torturers medal? Rather like the Medal of Freedom, but ballsier.

We’ve been reading That Inferno to get into the torturing mood. Five women who were tortured at the EMSA – the Naval Mechanics school – between 77 and 81 began to get together in the nineties to talk.

Here’s a bit in the introduction that Pelosi would just swoon over. Perhaps, after the voting for the the 200 billion in Iraq that the Dems have pushed through Congress, no strings attached, they could set aside a billion here or there for Blackwater, our national resource when it comes to all things murderous. Imagine how this would fight terrorism!

“There was a door where someone had written “The Path to Happiness”. Behind that door was the torture chamber: electic shock machine, an iron band of a bed connected to a 220 volt machine, an electrode that went from zero to 70 volts, chairs, presses, and all kinds of instruments….
Have you ever been shocked by a refrigerator or another electric appliance? Add a hundred and multiply it by a thousand. That is what a person feels when he is tortured, a person who might be guilty or might not. … I’ll tell you about a case, a seventeen year old girl named Graciela Rossi Estrada. She was a sad looing girl. Because they needed more hands, I was asked to be present. It began with the simple methods of the average villain in a grade B police movie: cigarette butts, poking her, pulling her hair, beatings, pinchings. As they apparently didn’t get what they wanted to hear, they started with the electricity. After a half hour of receiving blows and electric shocks, the girl fainted. THey they took her very delicately by the hair and legs and heaved her into a cell, into a pool of water so she’d swell up. Four or five hourse later she was in terrible shape from swelling and they brought her back to the torture chamber. Then she’d sign anything – that she killed Kennedy or she foght in the Battle of Waterloo. That’s why I saw the facts gotten from torture weren’t real most of the time: they were just used to justify arresing a person…
One of the lively systems [that the camp doctor] invented to torture a pregantn woman was with a spoon. They put a spoon or a metallic into the vagina until it touched the fetus. Then they gave it 220. They shocked the fetus.”

Now, I’m not sure if we could go for shocking the fetus. Only if it doesn’t lead to an abortion – after all, we don’t want the value voter to be turned away! They are crucial to getting a real progressive majority in Congress.

But the electricity that they used in Argentina – trained, often, by experts from the U.S. at the School for the Americas in Columbus, Georgia – does not express the kind of perky, innovative tortures that the CIA and its allies in the Middle East are all about. I interviewed a Lebanese author, Elias Khoury, about his novel, Yalo, a couple of weeks ago. An excellent novel, and one that Democrats might well read so they can suggest new and innovative torture techniques that we need in order to stay free and keep our credit cards going. Here’s a simple but sure way to make sure you get the info you need. You simply strip your man – your inhuman terrorist, a real beast. Now, strap his arms. Usualy this method requires a couple of men. And produce a simple coke bottle. The method is called “sitting on the throne.” Lower your man onto the bottle until his anus is pressed against the top of it. Keep lowering. Hey, we aren’t monsters, of course. The man has a fair chance of surviving if the coke bottle goes into the anus without breaking. Of course, most of the time, alas, all that weight can crack the neck, and so as the coke bottle goes in, there are the rough edges that abrade and tear tissue. But such is life, and I’m sure if this was seen by Nancy Pelosi and Jay Rockefeller, they asked many questions to make sure that the torturers did not – and this is very important – use any ethnic slurs while tearing through the anal tissue of the torture ‘victim’ – as some people call obvious terrorists. Because slurring people is unprofessional, and we don’t want to get into hate crime territory, do we? We want our Medal of Torture recipients to be clean living and clean speaking. No jokes about getting it up the butt, even if they are irresistibly funny.

‘I was naked, my eyes were blindfolded, my hands were tied, and no fewer than ten people were yelling at me. “Bitch”! they yelled. “You have to collaborate,” and they asked me about my friend Patricia. Meanwhile, another one stroked my hari, took my hand, and whispered in my ear, “Stay calm, and if you collaborate, nothing will happen to you.” It was a truly demonic scene. There were yells, insults, obscenities. At one point, one of the guys lifted my mask and another one lowered his pants. I was naked and tied up. He brought his penis close to me, while the others threatened, “We’re going to go at you one by one, bitch.” The truth is that I would have preferred an actual rape. I would have taken it as something more human, more comprehensible than the torture. At one pont during the session, the power went off … And I… when the power went off, I laughed.
Elisa: Because they couldn’t use the electric prod on you.
Miriam: The situation struck me as funny. The guys said, “Oh, this is fucked up!” and they brought in a portable, battyer-powered electic prod that I didn’t even know existed. When I screamed, they said, ‘come on, you dumb ass, cut the crap. This is nothing. You got off easy because the power went off.” I don’t know whether the other one was more potent. I was lying on a wooden table, and later they took me somewhere else, where there was an elastic belt and a metal cot, and they also wet me down to help conduct the electricity. And after the electric prod in my womb, in my vagina, in my eyes, on my gums, one of the most vivid memories is of how afraid I was they would torture me again.”

See how it works? After a while, everything you ever imagined comes true. It is the path to happiness, and apparently Congress and the Coup group in the White House went hopping merrily down it. I wonder if we are ever going to come back?


roger said…
ps - I should say, up front, I liked Pelosi coming in as Speaker of the House, and in her first few months there, I had some high hopes for her actually getting some needed legislation through and defunding the war.

I was disappointed, of course. And as we get more backstory about how implicated our establishment is in unconstitutional, corrupt and inhuman practices, I understand better why Pelosi was so unsuccessful. It is part of the larger story of why controversies in D.C. in which the popular side is represented by the Dems still shift to the right, why the discourse that we hear is so numbingly mindless. It isn't even a matter of majority vs minority rule - to my mind, democracies are always pushed by one minority or another - but it is the coloration of this minority, its utter contempt for the bill of rights, its utter enthrallment to direct coercive action, its enabling of a short term profit elite, that is mindboggling.
Scruggs said…
Roger, it seems to me that there was never any chance Pelosi or the others would do a thing about the torture gulags, kidnappings, the war and other crimes against humanity. They came into the Bushists' clutches already dirty in all the same ways from the Clinton years. The difference between then and now is a matter of degree; the fig leaf of outsourcing versus proudly in-house sadism. How enthusiastic they were is possibly open to question, but the sense of being entitled to pursue atrocity runs deep and true. Not one of them breathed so much as a tepid, whispered caveat, which is highly unusual even amongst hardened operators. Chafee and Jeffords showed more disgust with Bushism. Upper and mid level civil servants resigned in droves. The military officers put up more resistance to atrocities. And they all had much more to lose than any well-connected politicians.

As far as the Democrats go, that determined minority had plenty to work with. The Bushists' peckerwood style of imperialism may have horrified some of the snootier among them, but it has been a proof of concept for the whole rotten class.