Monday, May 25, 2009

The "Water Cure" for Mancow Disease

Doing "God's work" in the Philippines:
U.S. troops on a mission to suppress an independence movement inspired by American ideals apply the "water cure" -- a form of torture now commonly called "waterboarding" -- to a captured Filipino rebel. This method of interrogation proved too useful to abandon once the troops came home, so it was adopted by police agencies across the country.

It took all of six seconds to exorcise the unearned and unwarranted self-regard that had possessed Chicago rant radio personality Erich "Mancow" Muller: All that was necessary was a brief application of the "water cure," a torture protocol now commonly referred to as "waterboarding."

Mancow (as we'll refer to him) insists that he underwent the procedure, in its most benign form -- he could call it off on his own terms at any time, and the purpose was to conduct a demonstration, not to break his will -- in order to prove that it is relatively harmless, and that critics of its use are exercised over nothing.

Six terrifying seconds later, Mancow emerged from the experience a chastened and wiser man.
"It is way worse than I thought it would be," Mancow admitted while the horror was still freshly imprinted in his mind and body. For him, the sensation -- however brief -- of being helpless as water filled his mouth and sinuses summoned palpable memories of a near-drowning he experienced as a child.

The Chicago radio personality is one of several media figures who have undergone a relatively domesticated and benign form of waterboarding.

Each of them experienced merely the mechanics of this torture method; in fact, Mancow's hands were left unbound and he was able to sit up and leave the table without the aid of others.
As the subject of a "demonstration and exercise," Mancow and each of the other media figures who have undergone the "water cure" could end it at any time, and was surrounded by people who wanted to ensure that they avoided serious injury. None of them was helpless in the hands of a professional torturer who regarded them as a thing to be broken and humiliated.

The practice of torture reveals the elemental nature of the State even more effectively than does the summary killing of innocent people.
The State is an entity claiming a monopoly of force over a given geographic region. And force, as Simone Weil so poignantly observed, is that mysterious influence “that turns anybody who is subjected to it into a thing. Exercised to the limit, it turns man into a thing in the most literal sense: it makes a corpse out of him.”

It is possible for an individual to lose his life at the hands of those who enforce the State's will without losing what makes him human: Sovereignty over his individual choices, a sense of self-ownership, and self-possession, even in the hands of his enemies. This is precisely what the torturer seeks to strip from the individual, particularly when he leaves the victim alive.

Owing to its status as the world's largest and most powerful government, the Regime ruling us must also be regarded as the world's pre-eminent practitioner of torture. Yes, horrible things are done in the dungeons of Pyongyang, Beijing, Havana, Riyadh, and Tehran. But none of those governments can project its power halfway around the globe, or operates a global archipelago of "black sites" in which hired torturers -- often foreign subcontractors from satellite regimes -- ply their trade.

Compounding that grotesque irony is the fact that the most outspoken advocates of torture in the world today -- perhaps in all of recorded human history -- are Americans who profess to worship Jesus of Nazareth.

An atrocity committed during an unjust war: U.S. troops "waterboard" a captured Viet Cong guerrilla.

As a man, Jesus was subjected to every fiendish method of torture devised by the perverse ingenuity of professional sadists.

While Jesus was willing to endure those torments, including an ignominious death through torture on the cross, it is impossible to extort from His teachings, or the moral instructions of those who knew Him first-hand, anything resembling an endorsement of torture for any purpose, or so much as a hint that the practice may be morally acceptable.

Exercising a lamentable gift for casuistry, some "Christian"
apologists for torture describe contemporary methods -- such as controlled drowning, sleep deprivation, the use of stress positions, and the occasional beating -- as relatively mild forms of "corporal punishment" meted out to captured "terrorists."

Sanctified sadism:
The "Holy Office" of the Spanish Inquisition administers El Tormento de Agua (water torture) in an effort to "purify" a person suspected of heresy.

"The terrorist, worthy of death but given the plea-bargain of corporal punishment in exchange for life-saving information, should be awfully glad just to get beaten silly for plotting genocide, instead of being killed outright in the same way he was going to murder civilians," sneers one "Christian" defender of Torquemada's fraternity.

"Corporal punishment for capital crimes is only immoral if no valuable, life-saving information is ever gleaned," he continues. "If the United States were handing out beatings because we were too scaredy-cat to administer firing squads, yes, I would have a problem with it and call it immoral. But if we are negotiating a plea bargain by pummeling the guy who was going to set off a truck bomb at Chuck E. Cheese's, then I'd say the terrorist ought to be awfully grateful to us for, whack, being such gentle negotiators."

In his derangement this individual assumes that everyone accused or suspected of involvement in terrorism is guilty of that offense, and no proof beyond the accusation is necessary. This definitive question is similarly left begging by other "Christian" torture advocates, at least some of whom rummage through the severe penalties prescribed in the Law of Moses in the misguided belief that, first, the terms of the Old Covenant are still in force; and second, that we're discussing punishment for proven crimes, as opposed to the interrogation of people yet to be convicted of an offense.

Another torture apologist and professed Christian insists that torture is a valid wartime interrogation method, and that in any case waterboarding and other "enhanced interrogation methods" institutionalized by the Bush junta don't amount to torture.

"`Torture' has been defined through the ages by the Mongols to the Spanish Inquisition to the Nazi Gestapo to the brutal Japanese of World War II,"
he writes, as is his wont, with much greater certitude than knowledge. Handicapped by an unremarkable mind filled to capacity with talk radio-caliber slogans and buzzwords, and eager to insulate his prejudices from exposure to uncongenial facts, this fellow dutifully regurgitates the Bush Regime's euphemism for torture -- "enhanced interrogation" -- in blissful ignorance of the fact that the phrase is the exact English translation of the same phrase used by the Nazis (verscharfte vernehmung) to describe almost exactly the same collection of torture methods.

Likewise, he is either unaware of or indifferent to the fact that waterboarding, known by its Spanish name
El Tormento de Agua, was widely employed by the Spanish Inquisition, or that the use of water torture was among the war crimes for which many of the "brutal Japanese of World War II" were executed.

"The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side," observed Orwell, "but he has the remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them." In some cases, like the one presently under examination, the nationalist is vividly aware of atrocities only when they are committed by the "other side," and is hopelessly blind to them when they are carried out by the government he worships.

"[M]ake no mistake: We have non-fatal techniques available to scare the bejabbers out of those Muslim maniacs and get them to blabber, but that is not `torture,' folks,'" he insists. "We do not hack the heads off innocent prisoners like Daniel Pearl on videotape while those maniacal butchers chant, `Allah is great!'"

Another beneficiary of Washington's benevolence: A young Afghan girl following an airstrike on Farah City.

Indeed not: "We" -- meaning the government ruling us, and those foolish enough to identify with it -- drop high-yield explosives from high altitude, or fire cruise missiles at targets thousands of miles away, or deploy remote-controlled unmanned killer drones against targets halfway around the world, and the resulting carnage never makes a public impression, at least over here. "We" don't make and circulate videotapes of the civilian casualties -- including women and children -- that result whenever such selectively antiseptic methods of mass murder are employed.

Yes, the murder and mutilation of the heroic Daniel Pearl illustrates the utterly demonic depravity of which Jihadists are capable. How does that fact mitigate the murderous proclivities of the government ruling us, which -- unlike Jihadism -- is a tangible present threat to us, rather than an entirely hypothetical one? Are we to assume that the beheading of Daniel Pearl represents the outermost benchmark for permissible behavior, and that anything short of videotaped decapitation of helpless hostages is acceptable?

The eagerness to advertise such exploits as the murder of Daniel Pearl demonstrates that Jihadists can at least be candid about exactly what they are. They don't indulge in sanctimonious prattle about such episodes not reflecting their ideals, or issue stern admonitions against releasing images that will put their "troops" at risk -- as some American defenders of aggressive war insist in
opposing publicity of atrocities at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere.

The practice of torture, in the American experience, is usually an outgrowth of aggressive foreign war. It does nothing to enhance the safety of the country. And whether or not it is openly acknowledged and publicized, it undermines the safety of American troops on the battlefield.
U.S. Army Major Matthew Alexander, who was among the most successful military interrogators in Iraq, asserts that torture and other abuses at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, not Islamic ideology, served as the main recruiting theme for foreign Jihadists who gathered in Iraq. By his reckoning, torture contributed directly to the death of more Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan than occurred on September 11, 2001.

Assuming that the "Long War" abroad ever ends, torture will continue to exact a price from Americans unless it is definitively repudiated and its practitioners and enablers properly punished. It fell to
Jesse Ventura, of all people, to underscore the reason why countenancing torture by U.S. officials anywhere threatens the rights of Americans everywhere.

During his recent Smackdown '09 Media Tour, Mr. Ventura devoted his imposing physical presence and testosterone-saturated rasp to their best and most commendable use: Pushing back against the official bullies who promote torture and the media lickspittles who parrot the official line. As someone who underwent waterboarding during SERE training as a Vietnam-era
Navy SEAL, Ventura would abide no dishonest dissembling as to whether or not the practice constitutes torture.

As to whether the practice can be justified as a cruel but effective interrogation technique, Ventura asked a critical question: If it works so well, why don't police use it against criminal suspects?

What Ventura may not know is that
roughly a century ago, following America's near-genocidal war to "liberate" the Philippines from the burden of self-government, water torture became a very commonplace method of administering the "third degree" in police departments from Los Angeles to New York, with special emphasis in Chicago and various parts of the Deep South.

The "water cure,"
notes Dr. Darius Rejali, author of Torture and Democracy, "migrated here after American troops returned from the Philippine insurgency in the early 20th century. By the 1930s, the water cure was favored by the Southern police." Police in Chicago preferred a variation they called the "ice-water cure," in which they sought to extract confessions from prisoners "by chilling them in freezing water baths."

During World War I, "American military prisons subjected conscientious objectors to ice-water showers and baths until they fainted."
Indeed, prior to release of the report by the National Commission on Law Observance and Enforcement (the so-called Wickersham Commission) in 1931, the methods now known as "enhanced interrogation" were commonly called the "Third Degree" -- "the infliction of physical or mental pain to extract confessions or statements," in the words of the report.

The practice was found to be "widespread throughout the country" and "thoroughly at home in Chicago." Third Degree tactics ranged from "beating to harsher forms of torture," reported the Commission. "The commoner forms are beating with the fists or some implement, especially the rubber hose, that inflicts pain, but is not likely to leave permanent visible scars.... [A]uthorities often threaten bodily injury ... and have gone to the extreme of procuring a confession at the point of a pistol."

Interestingly, these abhorrent practices thrived in large measure because of the policy the Wickersham Commission was assembled to review -- alcohol prohibition, the early 20th Century version of the War on Drugs. And it may be the case that the wartime atrocities in the Philippines grew out of common practices in police departments, which were refined in foreign battlefields before being imported, in greatly amplified form, to the homeland.

In 1902,
the Army convened a court-martial of Major Edwin F. Glenn (among other officers and enlisted soldiers) for war crimes, including the use of the "water-cure" against captured Filipino insurgents. Among Glenn's victims were a Catholic Priest named Fr. Bartolome Picson, who was "water-cured" to death under his supervision, and Fr. Picson's sister, who was bayoneted to death on his orders. Major Glenn's defense attempted to submit evidence showing that Brig. Gen. Frederick D. Grant (the son of Ulysses S. Grant), who presided over the trial, had employed or authorized water torture and similar practices in 1894 as a police commissioner in New York City.

In an example of self-serving institutional hypocrisy comparable to that depicted in the film
Breaker Morant, the court-martial refused to allow evidence that would impeach the authority of its president.

Things worked out a bit better for Glenn than for Harry Morant and his comrade Peter Handcock: Glenn was convicted of war crimes, and sentenced to a one-month suspension and a fifty-dollar fine.

Following the counter-insurgency war in the Philippines, it took nearly three decades to purge the practice of officially sanctioned torture from America's law enforcement system. That war lasted about two years. The current conflict began more than seven years ago. The bi-partisan Establishment considers the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to be parts of a "Long War" that would last a generation or more.

What the government is permitted to do to suspected terrorists and insurgents abroad, it will eventually inflict on civilian criminal suspects here at home. This principle is clearly illustrated by the experience of the Philippine counter-insurgency war.

The prospect of a nationalized law enforcement system infused with a Cheneyite perspective on torture should be enough to cure any thinking person of what we might call "Mancow Disease": A crippling lack of moral imagination that leaves the victim unable to recognize torture for what it is until he has personally experienced the mildest possible sample under the gentlest possible conditions.

Video Extra -- "Well, Peter -- this is what comes of empire-building":

On sale now.

Dum spiro, pugno!


Greg said...

Mr. Grigg - Thank you for your thoroughly researched and well-written article.

We Christians need to continue to renounce this evil, and denounce those who perpetuate it under the false flag of "christianity".

Who would Jesus waterboard?

Isaac and/or Becky said...

While we wait for the wheels of justice to turn—as they always do—let's hope that we don't go out with the traditional stiff upper lip of the British empire, but with a fight worthy of true patriots.

Anonymous said...

"causistry" => "casuistry"

Lemuel Gulliver said...

Roman Empire, Hittite Empire, Babylonian Empire, Mayan Empire, Byzantine Empire, Ottoman Empire, French Empire, British Empire, Evil Empire, and finally American Empire - forgotten or soon-to-be-forgotten turds floating down the dank sewers of human history.

If reincarnation exists, for sure Dick Cheney will come back in his next life as a toilet brush. And George Bush will be a gonorrhea bacterium.

Yours pungently,
Lemuel Gulliver.

PS: If I recall the movie correctly, your readers should be aware that the last five seconds of that Australian film "Breaker Morant" were omitted from that clip. I guess it was too raw for the delicate American sensibilities of the viewers of YouTube - like most of what is done in our name all over this blood-soaked, godforsaken planet.

Mimi said...

I was struck by the question, "Why don't the police waterboard?" Never thought of that and it's a good way to get people to examine a practice they might otherwise accept.
Excellent post.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Grigg,
Thank you for articulating the argument against these acts of barbarity.

I have become increasingly alarmed at the American people's acceptance of this type of behavior and its relevant propaganda.

We seem to be a nation that has lost her way. We can no longer claim the moniker of a "shining city on a hill" when we stoop to such depravity in the name of God or freedom.

The America I grew up in and loved stood for greater ideals. We stood for being above such moral corruption.

I very much fear the day that the ruling powers turn this type of injustice upon we the people. For who will come to the aid of the American people when her government openly turns against them?

Anonymous said...

'The bi-partisan Establishment considers the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to be parts of a "Long War" that would last a generation or more.'

Indeed. Last week, Barack Dubya Obama told a graduating class at the U.S. Naval Academy that the U.S. will maintain its 'dominance,' meaning its worldwide empire. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

Even a child could discern that the U.S. can't afford this empire. If proper reserves had been set aside for Social Security and Medicare -- using the same accrual accounting employed by large corporations, rather than misleading cash-basis accounting -- it would be seen that the U.S. has not run a budget surplus since the Coolidge administration in the 1920s.

And unless the troops are brought home for good from Germany, Japan, the U.K., Korea, Af-Pak, and dozens of other places, Usgov will never run another budget surplus in our lifetimes. Instead, chronic trillion-dollar deficits will grease the skids of a long national decline into an impoverished, second-class status.

Permanent war requires an 'elastic currency' to finance it. The Vietnam War broke the dollar's last link to gold in 1971. Now the Iraq/Afpak wars are destroying its vestigial reserve currency status. Along with national bankruptcy, 68 years of permanent war since 1941 have delivered secret government, black budgets, and an evisceration of the constitution.

That the ruinous policy of global empire is not even on the agenda for debate suggests that the U.S. is going to have to smack the wall, British-style, before it awakens from its folly. Too bad Christianity will be irrelevant to this discussion. The Christian zionists are gung-ho, while the old-line liberal protestants have gone silent. It seems that flag-waving nationalism can neuter the church just as effectively as communist oppression did. Why oppress, when one can suavely co-opt?

jon said...

most that have tried it under similar circumstances would probably agree that it is torture.

liberranter said...

Having been "privileged" to undergo waterboarding as part of POW/survival training while on active duty, my first reaction after watching the Mancow video was that this showoff underwent his "ordeal" under the most benign and casual of conditions. Among other things, his head was not immobilized, the surface on which he was placed did not slope downward at a steep angle to make breathing even more difficult than under normal conditions and, last but not least, he was not being beaten with solid objects while several gallons of water were suffocating him. All of these conditions are characteristic of "real" waterboarding, so if Mancow was ready to throw in the towel after fourteen seconds (as would any human being even under the relatively benign conditions depicted in the video), I doubt he would have lasted half that long under "field" conditions.

I noted also that even after admitting that waterboarding was torture, one thing that Mancow did not even address was the question of whether or not, now that he admitted to waterboarding's real nature, that it should continue to be practiced on "them ferners." Maybe he's afraid that his credibility --not to mention his ratings-- would suffer if he made a full-fledged recantation of his belligerent stance on the issue and that he would lose his neocon-right following. Either way, I still wish that he would have at least called for those who most avidly support waterboarding to put their money where their mouths are, like he did, and sip some of the toxic koolaid they so avidly perscribe for others.

MoT said...

Breaker Morant! One of my favorite films. It paints the very vivid picture that the tools of Empire are as disposable as the people on the receiving end. Empire simply doesn't care.

Many Americans simply don't "get it". They haven't a clue as to who they are, where they came from nor where they're headed. But, at least in the case of the Mancow, someone may wake up and realize its not an idle game.

I only wish that blowhards like Hannity or Limbaugh would go through the same treatment. If they only had the cajones to admit how cowardly they really are when they babble about how they needn't. I guess they're simply too important in their own eyes.

The one anonymous poster who says that Christianity has caved is absolutely right. Fight for truth? There is no debate when those in the pulpit and those in the pews bow down before Molech. Jesus is just another spiritual "Gumby" to be stretched and molded to the States wishes.

CycleTimeChart said...

Will: Will you please tell Dr. Stan that the link to your Friday program is broken?

(ha ha Will Will)

were number one said...

God's gift to the world the indispensable nation doesn't torture! Who told you that! Mom and apple pie good guys never torture because torture gleamed information is usually worthless. History has ended (Paging Mr Fukiyama) and only the people of the North American land mass have a right to exist.

Lemuel Gulliver said...

It all boils down to selfishness. This has become a nation and a people dedicated to greed and selfish pleasure. Only such a person can look upon the suffering of another human being and feel nothing, or can look upon the suffering of animals, our brothers in the web of life, and feel nothing.

Back in the 40's and 50's this nation had glaring faults. Familial abuse and alcoholism took place behind closed doors, with a happy face presented to the world. Blacks were still arrogantly treated by whites as inferior. Institutions of government were corrupt and bigoted.

Yet, when WWII was coming to an end, millions of German soldiers and civilians fled west to surrender to the Americans rather than be captured by the Russians, because they knew they would be treated humanely, fed, and cared for. They were not disappointed, and even today most Germans of that generation look affectionately on Americans for the kind treatment they received at a personal level, even though we had bombed their cities to rubble.

Where did we go astray?

I believe, in the vile pursuit of enormous money, Hollywood and Television have corrupted our moral ideals, glorifying greed, selfishness and violence to the children of the last 3 generations in America. And we have exported our soulless, mindless, inhuman, crass materialism through movies, TV and Madison Avenue to the whole planet. Since 1945, every cultural shift starts in America and spreads outwards from here.

In 1960 John Kennedy told us, "Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask rather what you can do for your country," and by extension, your neighbor. In 1985, Gordon Gekko told us, "Greed is good."

Finally, the children of the movie and television era grew up to become our Presidents, Vice Presidents, Supreme Court Justices, Senators, and Representatives, not to mention our police, judges, prosecutors, and military.

We do not like what they have become. We do not like, either, what we have become.

I do not believe there is anything we can do about it, except wait for the system to destroy itself, which it certainly will. Meanwhile we can conduct ourselves with dignity and generosity towards others, and raise our children to do the same. That's all.

Lemuel Gulliver.

punky brewster said...

Once I had to watch an episode of 24 with Queefer Sutherland it was torturous!

Sans Authoritas said...

Torture isn't just a certain amount of subjective pain being inflicted. It's an objective action. A means to an end. Usually, it is inflicting suffering as an attempt to coerce the will. A horrible act. Something God himself won't do.

A loathsome age. Full of violent, worldly individuals who do vile things to God's creatures, and ascribe the adjective "good" to their damnably evil acts.

I don't think God will suspend the just consequences of our horrible actions for much longer. The world is a child, waiting for its father to come home and dispense justice.


they hate our freedoms said...

By Paul Joseph Watson

The real reason behind Obama’s reversal of a decision to release the torture photos has been almost completely ignored by the corporate media - the fact that the photos show both US and Iraqi soldiers raping teenage boys in front of their mothers.

The Obama administration originally intended to release photos depicting torture and abuse of detainees in Afghanistan and Iraq by the end of May, following a court order arising out of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit first filed by the ACLU in 2004.

However, a reversal of Obama’s decision was announced this week, after he “changed his mind after viewing some of the images and hearing warnings from his generals in Iraq and in Afghanistan that such a move would endanger US troops deployed there,” according to a Washington Post report.

In response, the ACLU charged that Obama “has essentially become complicit with the torture that was rampant during the Bush years by being complicit in its coverup.” The Obama administration has also sought to protect intelligence officials involved in torture from prosecution at every turn.

The primary reason why Obama is now blocking the release of the photos is that some of the pictures, as well as video recordings, show prison guards sodomizing young boys in front of their mothers, both with objects as well as physical rape.

Anonymous said...

In response to your posting at 830 Lemeulle G : Well said !!!!

William Cooke said...

Thank you for your article.

Anonymous said...

The same could be said of those in favor of war. The loudest proponents are usually the most insulated from its harsh realities. I distinctly remember at my last church, on the eve of the Iraq war, the only individuals who prayed that the war would not take place, was an elderly Dutch couple who had lived through the Nazi occupation of their homeland. They knew firsthand the "hell" that they had experienced those many years ago and clearly were not keen on seeing other poor souls experience the same type of "liberation".

S. Bevin

The Omega Man said...

"How now, thou American, frustrated crusader, do you know where you are?
Is it security you want? There is no security at the top of the world.
To thine own self a liberator, to the world an alarming portent, do you know where you are going from here?" --Garet Garrett, writing in the 1950's

Dave P. said...

One thing I've come to notice is that mainstream Christians support all of this claptrap because they don't know anything about the Jesus they claim to worship. Nothing about His teachings, His life, His ministry, or even His Atonement. All the "good" Christians have to do is provide some lip service and attend weekly services while dust-covered Bibles lay on the bookshelf at home and not once do they open their mouths in prayer.

If you asked a random group of people who profess to be Christians to name the first four Books in the New Testament, don't be surprised if you encounter more who can't than who can.

MoT said...

Dave, I agree only to a point. There are plenty of book and verse memorization types who know things backwards and forwards and STILL dance to deaths tune as if on cue. Being "educated" either in the way of the world or theology is no guarantee that someone wouldn't just as soon put a bullet in the back of your head. Stalin, Mao, Lenin etc. were educated but fundamentally and see how they turned out! Deep down when you have someone who thinks they know more than anyone else, and feels the need to put people in their place either religiously or socially, then you've got a prime card carrying candidate for totalitarianism.

Jake Witmer said...

I'm impressed with your article's thoroughness. I also clicked on it because of its excellent title, having remembered watching "the water cure for mancow disease". LOL.