Thoughts on “Torture”
I’m really surprised (and increasingly irked) at how widespread the label of “torture” is becoming, to describe what took place at the Abu Ghraib prison. I expect this stuff from places like CounterPunch and Indymedia and buzzflash, but even some people who ought to know better are starting to use the term. As despicable as the acts were that these MPs are accused of, those acts were not torture.
If you believe otherwise, I’d like to know how you can equate the Abu Ghraib mistreatment with Saddam Hussein’s rape rooms, or with the iron maiden used by Uday to torture the Iraqi soccer team if they lost, or with the bastinado (caning on the soles of the feet) that was a regular punishment for Saddam’s underlings if they fell into disfavor, or with the countless acts of sheer horror that are perpetrated every day under Arab regimes.
Let me say it again, because it apparently needs to be repeated until we’re all sick to death of hearing it—what happened at Abu Ghraib was way over the line, any line, any time. If convicted, the soldiers involved should be disciplined. No one suggests otherwise.
But this is not an example of serious torture. The English language is demeaned and degraded by using such a word inappropriately, in the same way the language is degraded when creeps like Ted Rall call the US Army “indistinguishable from the SS.”
UPDATE: The Commissar at acepilots.com says that according to the Geneva Conventions, the events at Abu Ghraib are war crimes.