Torture in Afghanistan

This is simply a horrifying story. The Times broke it today and coming on the heels of the Newsweek fiasco it’s sure to make a stink. The stories told in here are terrible and hard to imagine. The first story is of a taxi driver who was picked up and tortured until he died. He spent the last days of his life hanging from the ceiling of his cell.

One prisoner was “made to pick plastic bottle caps out of a drum mixed with excrement and water as part of a strategy to soften him up for questioning.”

At the risk of sounding cynical, I don’t think these stories will stop coming. What we are engaging in is ugly and corrupt, and it turns these interrogators into ugly and corrupt people. In two, five, or ten years, whenever the people running this war decide enough is enough, we’re going to hear more hellish stories like this one. Yet the American public will probably be too concerned with who is the new Apprentice or who’s sleeping with Paula Abdul to pay much mind. Wasn’t the public more mobilized against Vietnam? Why the apathy? What do you think? Let’s get beyond the “distracted by spectacle” argument. What else is happening the makes us not care?

I think one answer is that these images and stories are so horrifying, but come from so far away that we can’t wrap our heads around them. These events seem to occur in another universe–yet our soldiers and their victims are real, and at least the soldiers come home to tell these stories and bear psychic scars.



  1. i think you’re right that it seems so far away, like it can’t possibly really matter to us. also, this war doesn’t really feel real, do you know what i mean? so a semi-real war can’t have real torture, can it? i hear of people i work with who have kids serving in iraq and the other day i was watching the price is right and one contestant had two daughters both serving over there, one in the navy and aone in the army. so yes, i realize it’s happening, but it doesn’t seem to affect me (or do i mean effect me?) as far as your question about the public being more mobilized against vietnam, i think it’s hard for our generation to gauge because, not to sound like our friend jose pineda, but, what we see now is a pretty agendacized (you know what i mean) version of how things were.

    also, it’s hard to believe that anyone could do such a thing. so, now, i didnt actually finish the article, but when i hear these stories, what i really want to know is WHERE DOES THE ORDER TO TREAT PRISONERS WORSE THAN ANIMALS COME FROM? and my next thought is what would i do if i were in these soldiers’ shoes? that’s the scary part of all of this for me is that rational human beings could do this apparently without compunction. i grew up on military bases, so i have a little bit of knowledge of young enlisted guys and it seems that they really believe that their commanding officers know better than they do so they don’t see any need to question what they’re told to do.

  2. what clock?

    I think these horrific stories are a) hard to read in that they are difficult to imagine being non-fictional, and b) infrequent because of the culture of “if you’re not with us, you’re against us” that my favorite monkey president imposed on us at the beginning of this war melee.

    The idea that we can’t even talk about how horrific we are because we are then some sort of traitor is so frightening that I think some people have really believed it. You can’t talk about our soldiers doing anything bad because AL QAEDA FLEW A PLANE OF INNOCENT AMERICANS INTO A BUILDING FULL OF INNOCENT AMERICANS AND IT CRASHED ON INNOCENT FIREFIGHTERS AND MORE INNOCENT AMERICANS!!! Our soldiers are just over there, being “innocent” and “naive” and “following orders” and through “misunderstanding” they commit these acts “unconsciously”.

    I don’t know if I’m being clear here, but I think this is more blaming-the-victim attitude. There’s always some justification for why it’s cool to kill unpriveleged “foreigners” at the wrong end of the socio-economic food chain.

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