The Talking Dog

February 23, 2009, Going All Medieval...

After seven years of some of the most horrifying torture I have ever heard of (besides the usual beating, sleep deprivation, starvation and so forth, Binyam was treated to years in cold dark rooms while his "interrogations' included repeatedly slicing open his penis in a Moroccan dungeon) at the behest of the United States government (or at other times, committed by the CIA or American military torturers interrogators...) British resident/Ethiopian national Binyam Mohamed has finally been released from Guantanamo Bay and is now home in Britain. Binyam had issued a statement calling the treatment he received "Medieval". That's.... pretty euphemistic in his case.

The purpose of the Binyam's torture was supposedly "the ticking bomb scenario"... the same nonsensical and non-existent "dirty bomb" plot used to justify the illegal and unconscionable in camera detention of (U.S. citizen) Jose Padilla... except, of course, that the reality of "the ticking bomb scenario" is that the prisoner will simply shout out anything to try to make the torture stop, while the torturers interrogators run around like madmen trying to follow up "the leads"... while, in fact, proper and effective interrogation techniques (hint: they don't involve torture, or coercion... but instead involve the far less "ready-for-prime-time-on-the-Fox-network" wait for it... rapport building) might have gotten actual truthful answers.

In the end, in this case, torture accomplished what it always accomplishes: exactly nothing... except risking the destruction not only of Binyam, not only of those who tortured him and assisted in it, but in the very fabric of our so-called civilized society.

And ironically, of course, it was Binyam's own case against Boeing subsidiary Jeppeson (literally, the travel agent for torture) that was the subject of the disappointing assertion of "state secrets" by the Obama Administration I recently noted... It was also the subject of a hasty British court ruling essentially closing down Binyam's case in Britain seeking to release documents evidencing his torture under the apparent threat of damaging the U.S.-U.K. intelligence sharing relationship.

All of this only serves to protect Binyam's torturers and those who directed the torture (presumably so that the Obama Administration can be spared the troublesome notion of holding the Bush Administration accountable for its more egregious actions).

The ACLU's blog notes some of that organization's early disappointments with the Obama Admininistration, a sentiment I share. So let me just say it: notwithstanding that I supported Barack Obama's candidacy, including working for it on Election Day, indeed, that Barack is my college classmate, and that I believe him to be a vast improvement over both the prior government and his electoral opponent... the President is still capable of disappointing on a variety of issues, and on this core issue on which nothing short of the nation's soul is at stake, the disappointment will go down particularly hard, I'm afraid. It's still early, of course, and I do fully expect that many things will vastly improve, while others will no doubt still be disappointing. That's life; Barack himself would tell us that the perfect is the enemy of the good. And today, at least...

The good news is that the Obama Administration did what the Bush Administration mean-spiritedly refused to do, and finally sent Binyam Mohamad home to Britain. For which we can all be grateful.