Sunday, August 29, 2004

Come for the free dental care, stay for the naked human pyramids

The Pentagon is following James Schlesinger in fashioning its propaganda about the torture of prisoners. It’s ignoring everything we know about torture during interrogation (as I noted before, Rumsfeld even flatly denied the existence of that type of torture). What this strategy amounts to is focusing on the torture we’ve seen pictures of, and trying to explain away those pictures as the result of the famous “few bad apples,” the night shift, just doing it for fun. At a background Pentagon briefing Wednesday, an unnamed “senior army official” insisted that the prisoner in the famous picture, standing on a box with a hood over his head, wasn’t even interrogated.

And there’s a lot of talk about the “chilling effect” on current interrogations of insisting on rules against abuse. The same official claims that because prisoners know these limits, they no longer fear imprisonment by the Americans (in other words, they won’t fall for the if-you-fall-off-the-box-you’ll-be-electrocuted ploy): “They know that if the United States captures them, they will get a medical exam. They’ll get their teeth fixed. They will get essentially a free physical and they will be released if they don’t talk after a certain amount of time.” The WaPo says that the CIA has even stopped refusing pain medication to and “feign[ing] suffocation” of prisoners.

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