Thursday, May 07, 2009

The torture creative class

Devastating column from Katha Pollitt:
I should have been a torturer. You too, reader. Well, maybe not an actual physical torturer, because then there'd be a small chance I'd go to prison like Lynndie England or Charles Graner. My picture might be in the paper doing nasty things to naked men with a goony smile and a thumbs-up. I might even have disturbing memories and bad dreams, because surely, unless one is a sociopath, throwing people into walls and hanging them from the ceiling all day is likely to have its troubling moments. What I mean is, I should have been a member of the torture creative class--a conceptual torturer, a facilitator of torture, perhaps an inventor of torture law, an architect of the torture archipelago, a dissimulator, concealer, denier, rationalizer, minimizer and pooh-pooher of torture. As a word person, I could have come up with circumlocutions to confuse the media, bureaucratic phrases like "special methods of questioning" and "enhanced interrogation techniques." According to New York Times public editor Clark Hoyt, just figuring out whether to call a given action "harsh" or "brutal" has kept editors busy for years! Or I could have written copy for the CIA. For example, I could have suggested they call putting people in coffinlike boxes full of insects "studio picnics," because studio apartments are small and picnics have bugs, and I could have nicknamed waterboarding "drinking tea with Vice President Cheney," although come to think of it, waterboarding is a euphemism already.

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