Monday, April 20, 2009
Is it safe? A tortured debate
At the risk of alienating one of my 11 confirmed readers, I’m about to get serious. I know about 10 percent of my entire readership, a good buddy named Kyle, is not going to like it. And by 10 percent, I’m referring to per capita, and not weight.
My verifiable readership is the 11 brave souls who’ve stepped forward to declare themselves pictured “followers” of www.EightDaysToAmish.com. I suspect there are more, but these 11 are my core constituency. And I thank them! From what I can judge by their microscopic pictures, they’re handsome, engaging, warmhearted, irrepressibly witty and of mostly svelte builds.
Kyle, whom I’ve known and loved for 25 years, is like most of us middle-aged men with enthusiastic access to imported beer and domestic pizza. He is non-svelte. If we were to go solely by weight then I’m about to upset a whopping 35 percent of my readership.
Kyle doesn’t like political rants about any of the desolation left behind by the Bush/Cheney administration.
But the uproar over President Obama’s release of the CIA torture memos moves me to comment.
For me, just having to refer to George W. Bush as my president for eight years was a form of soft torture. Now that the nitty-gritty of hard torture is coming to light, it should be addressed.
I think I’m a typical American in that I hate torture but love Jack Bauer. My wife and I will be glued to the set tonight again at 9 p.m. cheering anytime Jack lops off the fingers or other dangly parts of the bad guys who’re determined to make President Allison Taylor’s already bad day really, really worse.
I was looking forward to tonight’s episode for puerile reasons that had nothing to do with drama. The story arc promised to bring back Jack’s sexy daughter, the comely Elisha Cuthbert. Then I was crestfallen to see a preview that seemed to indicate Cuthbert’s lovely face had endured torture at the hands of some hillbilly plastic surgeon.
She’s just not as fresh and pretty as she was about four years ago when in one 24-hour period she got menaced by a survivalist redneck, a wild cougar and a rusty bear trap.
I tell you, it’s a great show!
I trust our special operatives in the field to know under which extraordinary circumstances they need to go Bauer.
I spent a couple days many years ago with some Navy SEALS and a finer and more admirable group of men I’ve never met. They were boisterous, warm and fun. Knowing that they’d been trained to kill me dozens of different ways only enhanced my admiration (not to mention my manners).
I’d trust my life and the lives of my loved ones to them.
Hell, that’s what we all do.
These are the men I want making the front-line decisions about when they have to cross a line they’ll have to live with both legally and morally. I don’t want unscarred chicken hawks like John Yoo, David Addington and Dick Cheney pushing institutionalized torture from deep inside the White House to compensate for whatever masculine shortcomings about which are best left to the Freudians.
I’d be more likely to bend on torture if anyone could convince me it worked. But it doesn’t. CIA memos indicate the result is similar to what happens in the great 1976 thriller, “Marathon Man.”
The movie features a Nazi dentist -- and has there ever been a more villainous job description? -- played by Lawrence Olivier bent on orally torturing Hoffman into revealing the secret location of a hidden cache of jewels.
One scene shows Olivier ripping up Hoffman’s mouth and repeatedly asking with bone-chilling calm, “Is it safe?”
Hoffman, his gums and teeth full of drilled vacancies, is an innocent with no idea what the hell he’s talking about. He just keeps vacillating between frantically telling his torturer, “Yes! It’s perfectly safe!” And “No! It’s not safe! It’s very dangerous! Help! Help!”
In the end the bad guys get their bloody comeuppance. And that’s what I’m confident will happen with what Bush liked to call the War on Terror. The good guys will win.
I just want to make sure we’re the good guys. We always win when we’re the good guys.
In October 2007, the Washington Post did a great story asking two dozen top World War II interrogators about their work vital prying information from hostile Nazi prisoners.
They didn’t water board. They played board games.
“We got more information out of a German general with a game of chess or Ping-Pong than they do today with their brutal torture,” said MIT physicist Henry Kolm who’d been assigned to pry information from Hitler’s deputy, Rudoph Hess. “Torture just doesn’t work.”
So I’ll climb off my stump again for now and promise, Kyle, that I’ll come back in the next day or so with something silly about my socks or my nose hairs.
Either way, I can guarantee the next post won’t be nearly this torturous.