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December 10th

Still Indefensible After All These Years

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Memo to Me, Ten-And-A-Half Years Ago: YOU WERE RIGHT.

In May of 2004, in the wake of the Abu Ghraib revelations, I wrote a column called "Defenders Of The Indefensible", about how certain aspects of society responded to the torture and abuse of Iraqi prisoners by what we know now to be the bottom-feeding amateurs of a post-9/11 American torture culture.

Anyway, the reaction to the release of the Senate torture report is so strikingly similar to the reaction ten-and-a-half years ago that I'm just going to repost the column from 1994. The only difference between then and now is that the ideas I had to go to a bunch of yahoos writing letters to the editor for back then are now fully mainstreamed, spouted by pundits and politicians without fear of being seen as complete fucking monsters even though it's what a complete fucking monster would say. So here's the column.


Memo to defenders of the indefensible: YOU ARE DUMB."

"As a result, there are no longer torture chambers or rape rooms or mass graves in Iraq." - George W. Bush.

Except for the chambers where American troops tortured Iraqi civilians, of course. On the second point, is sodomizing someone with a chemical light or a broomstick qualify as a "rape"? Bush -might- get out on a technicality on that one. We've removed the rape rooms and replaced them with shove-stuff-up-the-butt rooms. The mass graves thing is true, though. We're doing a much better job of spreading the corpses around.

Now, that's a harsh, fairly political, cynical, pessimistic assessment of the meaning of the abuses in the Abu Ghraib prison. But no matter what your political affiliation, we can all agree that the inhumane abuse of Iraqis detailed in the Pentagon report (that the military may have sat on for months before photographs forced their hand) must be investigated, should not be tolerated, and are a bad thing. Basic human decency and values trump everything else.

Or they would, if a lot of people weren't borderline psychopaths, insane jingoists, and messenger-blaming morons. What's that, you say? How could anyone support torture and abuse? How could anyone blame those who brought it to light?

It appears the typical method is to send an e-mail to CBS to bitch. And most of them signed their names, which means I get to use them, and someday, when they discover Google, and wonder what's been written about them on the Internet... MERRY CHRISTMAS.

Betsy Berra wrote a letter that'd make Yogi cringe at the logic. "We've just lost the goal of helping anyone over there because of this show, and God help us. You are no better then those who did these horrible acts. Your reports are bringing down this country." Yes, in Betsy Berra's deluded world, pouring acid on someone, and exposing that act in the hopes of stopping it, are MORALLY EQUIVALENT. This country is being brought down because of people criticizing torture. Betsy Berra is a fuckhead whose moral compass is made out of scrap paper, crayon, and bits of string.

John Threadgill needs to look up the word "destructive" in the dictionary. "I find it very wrong that our soldiers mistreated confined Iraqis. What I find even more destructive is that you do not find the time to report what has been accomplished with what the good soldiers have done." Darn that pesky mistreatment! He makes it sound like they took away the prisoners' cable. I don't know exactly what the proper ratio is in John Threadgill's mind. How many smiling Iraqi schoolchildren does CBS have to show every time they expose a case of torture? Five? Ten? How many smiling schoolchildren are there?

Art Kettunen, Mike Schuchman, Pam Anderson, and "Jeanie" are very confused, stupid people. They seem to think that the Iraqi people have been sitting around, happy and content and occupied, sitting quietly in their living rooms, when suddenly "60 Minutes II" came on, they learned about these atrocities, and decided to go and kill Americans. Do they think these stories are not getting out? Do they think that even worse stories and rumors, true or otherwise, are not spreading throughout the country? How can Iraqis get upset by "60 Minutes II"? I live HERE, and I don't know when 60 Minutes II is on. We dropped BOMBS on the country, not CARE packages featuring satellite dishes, 80-hour TiVos, and electronic Arabic translation devices.

"Do you really think this is going to help this situation? Don't you think the government can correct this situation without you publicizing it? Of course they can. " - That was Pam Anderson, by the way. Let's see. The report detailing the abuse was completed in March of 2004. Six of the soldiers involved were given severe administrative reprimands today, just a few days after the pictures came out. Seems like the government was in no hurry to correct the situation until it was publicized, doesn't it? Dumbass.

But at the end of the day, it's people like "J Guzzi" "I say they should give those troops medals. An eye for an eye.", and Sally Ainsley "They had to pose for pornographic pictures? So what. We cannot imagine sitting at home on our couches the horrors our soldiers must face every day. Why not focus your attention on the unfair practices of our enemy?" that earns the deepest enmity that I can scrape up. Using the deaths of four paid mercenaries as an excuse to justify atrocities toward civilians on our end. It doesn't get through to people like this that the people in Abu Ghraib were largely just people picked up off the street in sweeps. In their world, everyone in the country was on that bridge with a rope in their hand, and deserved what they got. And anyway, we're Americans, we're always right.

The lesson, of course, is one that even I can't seem to fully internalize. That there is no opinion in this country so stupid, so callous, so fucking redneck, racist, insane, cruel, or pitiful that you won't find a half-dozen people willing to sign their name to it and put it out there in public. DUMB.


You know, reading that again, I was wrong. One thing has changed in the last ten years. I've totally internalized that argument. I was so innocent back then.