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A portrait of American torture

Theodore R. Griffiths
Opinion Editor

On Monday, the BBC reported that a two-year study by the Institute of Medicine and the George Soros-funded Open Society Foundation revealed that, “medical professionals helped design, enable and participated in ‘torture and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment’ of detainees.”
The CIA and the Pentagon have rejected these statements, but these accusations should come as no surprise to any conscious person, American or not.
The main focus of this report is the alleged force-feeding of detainees, especially since water-boarding has now been banned. Co-author of the report Leonard Rubenstein stated, “One [example] is the use of physicians to force-feed detainees and using very coercive restraint chairs in a way that violates the ethical standards of the World Medical Association and American medical groups.”
waterboarding3This history of torture in the United States does not begin after the September 11, 2001 attacks, but it does escalate at a very rapid pace from there.
In 2004, the New York Times acquired copies of legal analysis prepared for the CIA and the Justice Department in 2002. These documents classified torture as actions which “must be equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily functions, or even death.” The report even argued that any actions inflicting lesser pain could not be considered torture.
As someone who is witnessing a family member’s health deteriorate because of cancer, I personally cannot believe that the limit of the United States when it comes to torture is the excruciating pain and slow death that she is going through now.
This means that broken bones, beatings, cuts, and any actions which only cause fleeting pain are accepted. This is America’s stance on how we should treat alleged terrorists, many of whom are never given a fair trial, and yet we consider them to be the savages. I think you can see where that finger should be pointing.
For a prolonged period of time, before the information was made public, America was using techniques within the “stress and duress” category of torture, primarily for their War on Terrorism (and oil).
This category included water boarding, stripping and blindfolding of prisoners, subjecting prisoners to prolonged sun exposure in high temperatures, tying of hands and feet for extended periods, sleep deprivation, solitary confinement, and prolonged standing and isolation.
Those instances of torture would have been a great day for some detainees, especially when one considers the case of Khalid el-Masri. Khalid was shunned by the US Supreme Court in 2007 after they refused to hear his case, even though the CIA had used numerous torture methods on him in 2003, including forced anal penetration.
As I am writing this, I can already hear the unfortunate amount of men in flannel shirts, riding lifted pickup trucks, waving Confederate flags screaming, “well those Arab bastards deserved it!” Those abominations to our gene-pool must be ignored and the significance of this situation must be observed.
Many of these cases of torture revolve around people who looked the part of our twisted, racist view of what a terrorist looks like, yet many of them had absolutely no case mounted against them while going through this torture.
This is simply a flexing of power by the CIA and the American military, where murder has become an accepted form of punishment and where the legal system has been ignored to accommodate our irrational fear of the unknown– in this case, Muslims. The impact is so profound that even some people administering the torture techniques, like Alyssa Peterson, commit suicide because of the pressure to do these actions and the immediate regret that follows.

Alyssa Peterson, a former U.S. Army Specialist who committed suicide after performing torture techniques.
Alyssa Peterson, a former U.S. Army Specialist who committed suicide after performing torture techniques.

This regret does not stem only from administering torture, but from the murder of possibly innocent detainees. According to Human Rights First, as many as 8 detainees have been tortured to death in U.S. custody in Iraq and Afghanistan.
A simple question must be raised in this case: How does this use of torture make us any different from the people America has sworn to protect its citizens against?
The answer is simple: It makes us no different. It makes us ruthless barbarians willing to break every moral law so that we can show the world our propensity for vengeance and our desire to flex every political and military muscle in order to instill fear in our enemies, many of whom do not even know that they have fallen into that category.
The United States of America is the ultimate terrorist state. This country sends drones to destroy targets, but instead kills wedding parties, leaving innocent men, women, and children dead. America insists on torturing any person they deem to be even a minor threat, well before a fair trial, and well before they can speak for themselves. America is the problem. America is a state run by terrorists.