– Mahatma Gandhi
“No conditions justify torture.”
– Norman Finkelstein
Publisher’s Note: Most of the monsters involved in the torture regime at the beginning of this new century have skirted justice and remain at large prospering and grasping at the levers of power as we speak. -BB
America has formally endorsed torture since August 2002 and has practiced it as an extension of warfare at home and abroad for most of its history. Waterboarding originated in the Spanish=American War in the Philippines at the close of the 19th century when America was stretching its legs in its brutal colonization pogroms planet-wide after 1983.
What is torture? Per the universally accepted definition of torture:
“For the purposes of this Convention, the term “torture” means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.”
This “tortured” definition is typical of what a bureaucrat would come up with to describe the impossible philosophical calculus of the state that immoral means will yield moral ends. One will notice that the last sentence gives the official torture regime pardon planet-wide much like the state excuses its actions for terrorism. Terrorism is the employment of politically motivated violence against innocents and non-combatants. A reflective person would instantly apprehend that this is the cornerstone of the state’s power and that torture is merely a subset in the toolset that is the government maintenance effort for power and expansion thereof.
The existence of private torture is certainly a reality. I in no way suggest that private malcontents and twisted psychopaths don’t ply their trade globally. There are ample lurid testimonials to this in the literature and the news splashed across the screens humans habitually stare at in the absence of reflection and cognition. But they hold no candle to the government’s ability to break human beings and stack up corpses like cordwood.
Like the advocacy of abolitionism, the moral and consequential efficacy of torture is undisputed among those who have a virtuous compass. It doesn’t work but it does always transform the torturer and tortured into one twisted artifact of inhumanity. Per the efficacy of torture in divining accurate intelligence, Umberto Eco The Name of the Rose makes a succinct and powerful case:
“Under torture you are as if under the dominion of those grasses that produce visions. Everything you have heard told, everything you have read returns to your mind, as if you were being transported, not toward heaven, but toward hell. Under torture you say not only what the inquisitor wants, but also what you imagine might please him, because a bond (this, truly, diabolical) is established between you and him … These things I know, Ubertino; I also have belonged to those groups of men who believe they can produce the truth with white-hot iron. Well, let me tell you, the white heat of truth comes from another flame.”
Like so many things the state does, it cannot help but be the warp and woof of everything it does everywhere. Everything the empire does abroad, it will do at home. The emerging evidence of a police state in all its ugliness in America is no accident. It’s simply a natural outgrowth of a barbarous and formerly sub rosa bundle of characteristics that have grown in the orchid hothouse of government expansion that is most American history.
Politicians are merely violence brokers; nothing more and nothing less. The coin of the realm for the state is the threat and actual employment of violence. Either the lingering forms that would include torture or the sudden extinguishing of lives through minor and major pogroms outside of warfare. The US has a long and sordid history of employing official torture in the pursuit of its interests especially when on military expeditions as hundreds of thousands of corpses can attest to if they could speak of the unspeakable things done to them in the name of US dominion.