Notes on the Atrocities
Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...

Monday, June 28, 2004  


By Herm Tupper, Amalgamated Press International

WASHINGTON (API)--Before any new interrogation techniques were tested on prisoners, they were first vetted by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumseld, a leaked memo shows. The memo, sent August 23, 2003, contains a list of interrogation techniques apparently personally tested by Mr. Rumsfeld.

Over the past weeks, a steady stream of sensitive memos relating to the Abu Ghraib prison torture scandal have been leaked to media sources. In one famous instance, Mr. Rumsfeld responded to the approved practice of forcing prisoners to stand in four-hour blocks by asking, "why is standing limited to four hours? I stand 8-10 hours a day." Now it appears other methods--including ones not seen at Abu Ghraib--were also tested by Mr. Rumsfeld or were part of his daily regimen.

The list of approved practices included the following: the use of dogs, nudity, stress positions (like standing), caning, sound abuse (Celine Dion, that girl who lost American Idol), video abuse (for example, repeated viewings of Gigli and the McLaughlin Group), and 'waterboarding' (where a prisoner is made to believe he is suffocating).

The practice of caning, in particular, caused the most outcry by enraged peaceniks, civil libertarians, and Democrats. "Under no circumstance can caning be considered merely a method of 'interrogation,'" said Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle. "It's fairly unambiguous that it's torture."

But Secretary Rumsfeld was not mollified. "I enjoy a good caning," he said. "As a child, my father was a proponent of caning. I can't tell you how many times I fell before the old bamboo rod. Even today, if I get out of line, Paul [Wolfowitz, the Deputy Defense Secretary] pulls out Old Spanky. It's good for the spirit."

Other abuses were likewise good for character, emphasized Mr. Rumsfeld. "It's been blown out of proportion. A lot of this stuff looks far worse than it really is. That nude pile, for instance. It just looked perverse in the pictures. But I happen to know that a thing like that can build brotherhood and trust. I'm not even sure it was torture. Looked to me like a bonding thing."

After the approved list of methods, a second list including practices the Defense Secretary deemed too severe. These included acid, electric shock, dismemberment, or "any of that 'Passion of the Christ business.'"

In separate experiments, Mr. Rumsfeld apparently subject himself to all of the practices approved in the memo. The memo explains why several staffers last summer heard screams, crashes, and loud music coming from the Secretary's office.

Conservatives immediately seized on the memo as evidence that the administration was not breaking any laws. "As a medical doctor, I second the statements made by Secretary Rumsfeld in the memo. Those practices, while potentially coercive, are completely humane. I'd also like to commend the Secretary for personally testing out the methods to demonstrate their gentleness."

A statement issued by the President cited the memo as an example of how, even during wartime, the administration maintained its compassionate conservative ideals.

posted by Jeff | 2:08 PM |
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