You may know George Orwell as the guy who wrote "War is Peace" and "Slavery is Freedom." Of course, Orwell wasn't espousing these absurd opinions, he was merely presenting them as examples of the sort of twisted rhetorical devices that authoritarian regimes use to consolidate and maintain their own power. What's different about the Neoconservatives in the Bush Administration is that when they insisted that "War is Peace" and "Slavery is Freedom," they actually mean it... or at least they want the rest of us to believe it.
One of the best example of Neocon absurdity was probably the moment our war in Iraq shifted from being directed against Saddam Hussein's presumed Weapons of Mass Destruction and focused instead on his Weapons of Mass Destruction Related Program Activities. The phrase was so outlandish it made Bill Clinton's attempt to re-define the word "is" at the height of the Lewinsky scandal seem like a perfectly reasonable philological exercise in comparison.
Another great rhetorical pirouette, which was repeated so many times it's etched in our collective foreheads was the president's simultaneous, categorical, insistence that the U.S. "does not torture," coupled with a steadfast refusal to say whether or not (a) the U.S. has ever water-boarded suspects, or (b) even whether water-boarding constitutes torture.
George Orwell was probably spinning in his grave when the camp commander at the prison facilities on Guantanamo Bay described the suicides of three prisoners as an act of asymmetrical warfare. You have to turn to Monty Python's the Life of Brian, and the Judean People's Front crack suicide squad to find something as absurd as that.
Now, thanks to the depraved meditations of Bush speechwriter Mark Thiessen, we can add another grand piece of rhetorical violence to the Bush legacy. You see, while the rest of the world looks on with horror and shock at the newly released evidence that the torture of captured Al Quaeda suspects was not only sanctioned under the Bush Administration, but was in fact employed with freewheeling abandon, Thiessen wants us to know that in watreboarding a suspect an average of six times a day for thirty days, we are actually doing the man a favor:
Critics claim that enhanced techniques do not produce good intelligence because people will say anything to get the techniques to stop. But the memos note that, "as Abu Zubaydah himself explained with respect to enhanced techniques, 'brothers who are captured and interrogated are permitted by Allah to provide information when they believe they have reached the limit of their ability to withhold it in the face of psychological and physical hardship." In other words, the terrorists are called by their faith to resist as far as they can -- and once they have done so, they are free to tell everything they know. This is because of their belief that "Islam will ultimately dominate the world and that this victory is inevitable." The job of the interrogator is to safely help the terrorist do his duty to Allah, so he then feels liberated to speak freely.That's right. Some lilly livered liberals think we're doing ourselves a disservice by torturing prisoners. But Mark Thiessen wants you to know that, quite to the contrary, by subjecting a man to physical and psychological horrors that are outlawed by the Geneva conventions and deplored by all civilized nations (and even our own state department when it is others who do it) we are in fact "freeing" our prisoners to speak openly and tell us all they know (or just make shit up so we'll stop tortuiring them... but really, that's neither here nor there) without fear of divine retribution in the afterlife.
I mean... the masked interrogators who beat prisoners boud in sleeping bags, water-boarded them, forced them to lie naked for days in freezing jail cells, sicked dogs on them occasionally went a little too far, are practically bleeding-heart humanifuckingtarians who probably deserve the Medal of Freedom, if not the Nobel Peace Prize for their selfless endeavors.
Let's all thank Mark Thiessen for reminding us of this important point that is all to easily overlooked in this whole "torture is bad" hysteria.
(This essay is cross-posted to Stinque)