Giants of Torture

Last month on 60 Minutes, Jose Rodriguez, former head of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center, justified torture—conveniently and euphemistically referred to as “enhanced interrogation techniques.” John Brennan, a counterterrorism adviser to the White House, spoke publicly Monday about the use of drones as a wise, efficient and ethical way to kill terrorists, comparing it to the targeting of German and Japanese commanders in WWII.

But since WWII, while we have been in an almost constant state of war, Congress has not declared war. Not once. Yet the Constitution specifically reserves that right to Congress. Somehow it has become acceptable for us to go to war anyway, arguing only over logistics. We invade, bomb, torture, kidnap, detain and kill people we “identify” as terrorists in other sovereign nations, violating international boundaries and laws. And we kill civilians in the process. To allow a perpetrator to decide whether an act is criminal or not is absurd. It’s a measure of how far gone we have become.

These are war crimes, plain and simple. And the policies are authorized at the highest levels of our government and military.

But many Americans are hypnotized by our own rhetoric, the sanitized Disney version of our history and American exceptionalism. In 1968, during the Vietnam War, Dr. Martin Luther King said this country was approaching spiritual death. The statements of Jose Rodriguez and John Brennan indicate that our government is indeed at that point.

Excesses, like Abu Ghraib, are portrayed as a “few bad apples,” and the killing of innocent civilians is accidental, “collateral damage.” So no one is held accountable. When first elected, President Obama said he wanted to look forward rather than investigate the actions of the Bush administration. But all crimes are in the past. It’s like saying that the victim is already dead, so why pursue the killer? Shameful, simply shameful. And now his hands are also bloodied.

We are in the presence of true madness, where war is peace, bad is good and the inmates are running the asylum.

Moss Henry is an MFT and songwriter from Santa Rosa.

Open Mic is a weekly feature in the Bohemian. We welcome your contribution. To have your topical essay of 350 words considered for publication, write [email protected].