Where There Were No Doors

Follow your bliss and doors will open where there were no doors before - Joseph Campbell

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

In certain cases

Juxtaposition of headlines: Torture may be used in certain cases, says US official. Alongside story about jailing of Abu Ghraib soldier
It seems that Abu Ghraib hadn't been designated one of America's "certain cases". Though Specialist Charles Graner claims he was told otherwise while there. I find this line (from the linked news article) a little puzzling:
He said he was only following orders to "soften" detainees for questioning, but prosecutors said Graner was a sadist.
See... I don't quite understand the reason for the word "but" in that sentence.

The whole world is by now aware that Charles Graner is a sadist. We've all seen the images from Abu Ghraib. The open, genuine smiles on the faces of the torturers and the jocular thumbs-up next to victims of abuse. Unless there's a deliberate deception going on, then it's fair to assume that the people in those photographs are sadists parading the victims of their sadistic behaviour.

However, I fail to see how that is incompatible with Graner's claim that he was only following orders to "soften" detainees for questioning.

One assumes that military "specialists" sent to oversee the preparation of suspected terrorists for interrogation have been psychologically profiled by some very secretive agency. And now that we live in a world where the United States has decided that torture is justified in "certain cases", it hardly seems likely that specialists like Graner are being selected for their great empathy and compassion.

If the US is claiming that torture is legitimate then it's probably safe to assume that they're hiring a bunch of sadists to do it for them. The sort of psychos they can just cut loose and leave swinging when pictures emerge.

Graner should be in jail for a lot longer than 10 years. "I was only following orders" isn't the most convincing of defences... hasn't been since the 1940s really. But if you believe - as do I - that Graner was indeed "following orders", then it stands to reason that those who gave the orders... those who hired the sadist in the first place... should be punished equally.

Somehow I can't see that happening though.


Blogger john b said...

I think the meaning they intended was "*just* a sadist".

Not only do they have no respect for the rule of law or human rights, they don't even have any respect for the English language...

26/1/05 11:11  
Blogger Jim Bliss said...

As I read it, part of the prosecution's argument was that because Graner can be shown to be a sadist it lessens the likelihood that he was following orders.

My point (though badly expressed) was precisely that you can't jump from "he was a sadist" to "he was just a sadist". I understand the distinction you make; but think those arguing against his claim that he was following orders are deliberately blurring that distinction.

In fact, I go further and suggest that because he's a sadist he was more likely to be following orders. A military "specialist" in charge of interrogation has got to be psychologically profiled by Army HR, if not the CIA. Sadists are pretty fucking easy to pick up on these profiles. If the army is recruiting these kinds of people as interrogators then it's because they're going to tell them to get rough at some point.

Well, that's how it seems to paranoid ol' me.

27/1/05 03:30  
Blogger john b said...

I see your point; on the other hand, the fact that someone wants to work in military intelligence is a reasonably strong indication that they're a sadist anyway...

27/1/05 23:01  

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