Al Qaeda does it too

The campaign of the pro-torture, right-wing pro-war cheer squad over the recent “discovery” of illustrations in former Al Qaeda safe houses – depicting examples of torture methods employed by Al Qaeda types – has been fascinating, to say the least. First of all, these intrepid sleuths, who pride themselves on being able to sniff out frauds, have disregarded the most basic of questions.

Look, they could be legit, but (sorry, this is going to be somewhat graphic) why would you need to do an elaborate full-color sketch of a cleaver cutting off someone’s hand, or a hand being pierced by a drill?

………Funny, our government never seems to have released any pictures of corpses of Iraqis tortured with drills. Ah, but that’s been the handiwork of the Iraqi Interior Ministry, so never mind.

But now, they are incensed that those who oppose torture by the US and sundry haven’t joined in the chorus to condemn torture by the terrorists with the same enthusiasm.

Apparently, it has not occurred to James Taranto of The Wall St. Journal that while few would be surprised at Al Qaeda members using torture, it came as a surprise to most of the public to learn that the US also does it.

The tools, the drawings, and the photos are gruesome and clearly show what type of enemy the U.S. is facing.

Yet most of the liberal media are deliberately silent. This is the same self-righteous liberal media that ran more than 6,000 stories and countless photos of Abu Ghraib and the abuse of prisoners there by several U.S. soldiers. Where are they now? Why will they not show the American people what al-Qaeda is actually doing in Iraq right now? Whose side are they on?

You have to admire the level of discourse here.

Glenn Greewald points out:

It is easy sometimes to lose sight of how extreme a period this is in America’s history, how profoundly our national character has been degraded and how fundamentally our country’s core has changed over the last six years. If you haven’t already read Andrew Sullivan’s superb and dispassionate analysis of the Gestapo’s “Verschärfte Vernehmung” manual (German for “enhanced interrogation”), I encourage you to do so.

The Andrew Sullivan article points out that the torture defense offered today is identical to the ones used by Nazi war crime defendants to justify their use of “enhanced interrogation” techniques. Incidentally, some of these Gestapo defendants were convicted and sentenced to death at a 1948 war crimes trial for carrying out “interrogation” techniques similar to those that White House Counsel John Yoo regards as benign.

Just as disturbing is the endorsement of torture among the Republican base. During recent debates, we witnessed enthusiastic applause in response to candidate Mitt Romney calling for the doubling of Guantanamo, and Tom Tancredo calling for more Jack Bauer. It reminded one of the scene from Borat when he appeared in front of a Rodeo audience. The louder the calls for torture and lawless detentions, the louder the applause.

Joshua Muravchik of the American Enterprise Institute (AIE) dismisses an Amnesty International report documenting American violations of human rights:

Today, it may be that some U.S. actions in the war on terror are questionable or blameworthy. But such derogations are trivial in comparison with what is at issue between us and the terrorists. No one genuinely devoted to human rights can be blind to this. Those who ignore it are using the lingo of human rights to pursue some other agenda.

In other words, it’s permissible to sink to the most barbaric standards of human existence, because that’s what the terrorists are doing it, and there is no other way to defeat them. Still, that doesn’t mean we’re as bad as they are, because you know, we wouldn’t be doing it for freedom and liberty.

Al Qaeda clearly operates without regard for humanity, whereas the U.S. is supposed to be a beacon to the rest of the world, yet this point appears to be lost on war supporters. When we accuse the US of war crimes and crimes against humanity, the defenders of these policies scoff at the notion of moral equivalence. The irony is that neoconservatives and other Bush followers never accepted this distinction in the first place. They demand that the media treat stories of torture from the U.S. and Al Qaeda exactly the same.

What is the point of denegrading the brutality of tyrannical and barbaric regimes, when we are adopting those standards of behavior as our own? Is it to justify why we have sunk so low?

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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