Discipline and Punish, American-Style:
So now we know for sure what we all knew anyways: the only reason that anyone gave a happy monkey fuck about torture at Abu Ghraib is because someone blew the whistle. Because, see, now that we know about the torture of prisoners at a military base in Mosul, torture that occurred at the hands and clubs and other devices of Americans, it's pretty obvious what was already obvious except for those in deep Republican denial: torture is systematic, far-ranging, and unending for those imprisoned in the maniacal war on "terror."
Why do we know anything about what happened in Mosul? Because the 311th Military Intelligence Battalion tortured an innocent man, broke his jaw even: "The investigation was triggered by the case of Salah Salih Jassim, 20, who had his jaw broken in detention. He was not a suspect but had been arrested along with his father, an officer in Saddam Hussein's Fedayeen militia. Mr Jassim was held in a room with 70 other prisoners. Deafening heavy metal music was played and guards sounded bullhorns beside their heads. Mr Jassim said: 'All night they were throwing water on us and making us stand and squat. From the night to the next day ... they were beating us.'"
The ACLU's summary of the recent 1200 pages of documents from the Army is a wonderful catalog of hate and destruction, the kind of shit that if you read it about any other nation, you'd wonder why the people don't rise up in rebellion. Or if the people did rise up, you couldn't blame 'em. We got sworn statements of soldiers saying they were told to take prisoners out back and "beat the fuck out of them," we got a healthy man dying in custody, we got soldiers being allowed to get "payback" against suspected insurgents. And no distinction, often, between people picked up who have done something to attack the American or Iraqi military and people who just were standing next to that person. Because, you know, that might require, let's just fuckin' say, "Due fucking process," which is anathema to the purposes of this approach: inflicting fear on populations.
Here's how they used to treat prisoners under a U.S. buddy, the Shah of Iran - see if any of this sounds familiar, from the 1999 book Tortured Confessions by Ervand Abrahamian: "sleep deprivation; extensive solitary confinement; glaring searchlights; standing in one place for hours on end; nail extractions; snakes (favored for use with women); electrical shocks with cattle prods, often into the rectum; cigarette burns; sitting on hot grills; acid dripped into nostrils; near-drownings; mock executions; and an electric chair with a large metal mask to muffle screams while amplifying them for the victim. This latter contraption was dubbed the Apollo--an allusion to the American space capsules. Prisoners were also humiliated by being raped, urinated on, and forced to stand naked." No, not all, no acid in the nostrils that we know about, but, fuck, an awful lot of these techniques and others are part and parcel of the "interrogation" of prisoners, part of the "softening up" process.
Meanwhile, meanwhile: the majority of "detainees" in Iraq have "no intelligence value" (use that phrase freely), soldiers poured dirt on a detainee going into diabetic shock, allegations of raping female prisoners, reports of dogs being used to frighten juveniles, and on and on.
Over at Gitmo, the Supreme Court-ordered bullshit tribunals have been shown to have all the effectiveness of a Yugo in a blizzard. A German citizen who was officially declared an "enemy combatant," to be held until the war on "terror" ends or Jesus comes back, whichever comes first, after a tribunal. Problem is "U.S. military intelligence and German law enforcement authorities had largely concluded there was no information that linked Kurnaz to al Qaeda, any other terrorist organization or terrorist activities." But don't try to get the military or the government to say they fucked up. That shit's classified, asshole, don't you know that?
And now that it seems the whole process is fucked up beyond belief, the military wants to "strengthen the rights" of detainees, which appears to mean "give them a couple of rights." Standing in the way? Dick "You Heard My Motherfuckin' Name" Cheney, who wants to maintain the silent, dark status quo.
This is all in the last couple of weeks. This is what we know. Now shouldn't we be a little queasy over what we don't know?
Michel Foucault, that French bondage sodomite, knew that the tortured body had been disappeared from view on purpose: in Discipline and Punish, he considers "the disappearance of torture as a public spectacle. Today we are rather inclined to ignore it; perhaps, in its time, it gave rise to too much inflated rhetoric; perhaps it has been attributed too readily and too emphatically to a process of 'humanization', thus dispensing with the need for further analysis. . .Punishment of a less immediately physical kind, a certain discretion in the art of inflicting pain, a combination of more subtle, more subdued sufferings, deprived of their visible display, should not all this be treated as a special case, an incidental effect of deeper changes? And yet the fact remains that a few decades saw the disappearance of the tortured, dismembered, amputated body, symbolically branded on face or shoulder, exposed alive or dead to public view. The body as the major target of penal repression disappeared."
At Guantanamo and in the new and old dungeons of Iraq, the American state is at work, in secret, making its frustrations known on the hidden bodies of those guilty and not guilty.
He is us. Goddamnit, he is us.