Monday, January 10, 2005

Specious Logic 101: Torture or Cheerleading?

This insanity via Tom Tomorrow's blog. Holy Hannah, what a beaut. Where to begin? Let's roll tape, er, online article...
Forcing naked Iraqi prisoners to pile themselves in human pyramids was not torture, because American cheerleaders do it every year, a court was told today.

A lawyer defending Specialist Charles Graner, who is accused of being a ringleader in the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal, argued that piling naked prisoners in pyramids was a valid form of prisoner control.

"Don’t cheerleaders all over America form pyramids six to eight times a year. Is that torture?" said Guy Womack, Sergeant Graner’s lawyer, in opening arguments to the ten-member military jury at the reservist’s court martial.

Well, I think the only reasonable response to that argument is, "You are shitting me!"

Lordy knows we are not inured to specious logic, having had a strangulating gullet-full shoved down our throats for the entirety of the B*sh Error (Get it? Era. Error. Oh.), but this takes the proverbial cake. Frickin' OJ's defense team is busily taking notes, feeling like rank amateurs, because this defense attorney is clearly 1) a master of his craft, or 2) raving mad. Mutually exclusive? Not so much.

Oh, there's more to this sad story, but it still burns my toast that they're going to try to fob this whole torture policy off on a couple of grunts -- maniacal, depraved, prone to aggression, or whatever they may be, up to and including "doing their job" and "following orders," ech, ptooie. I do not know. I do know that it is damn unlikely that these folks were intuiting torture techniques sophisticated (sic) enough to unlock the secrets of The Arab Mind. Hmmph. I blame you, Donald Rumsfeld. I blame you, Paul Wolfowitz. I blame you, Douglas Feith. I blame you, Prick Ch*ney. And not in that particular order. And I would blame you, too, George Dubya, but I think you're an idiot, who couldn't muster this anything as coherent as this.

A couple more questions:
Apart from arguing that the methods were not illegal, Graner’s defence is that he was following orders from superiors. Mr Womack said: "He was doing his job. Following orders and being praised for it."

The chief prosecutor, Major Michael Holley, asked rhetorically,"Did the accused honestly believe that was a lawful order?"

The Bush Administration has said that the actions were those of a small group and were not part of a policy or condoned by senior officers.

1) Whose orders was Graner following? Who was "praising" him? Is there documentation?
2) In this military context, in which the B*sh Madministration is itself telegraphing a policy of determined murkiness and an unclear chain of command, can we expect that Graner could determine what was or was not a "lawful" order? By this, I mean not that this shit could EVER be legal in a just world, but that the B*sh Madministration does what they do with built-in plausible deniability, not to mention a given shoot-first-ask-questions-later attitude. Should Graner be held to a different standard in a context of mayhem and rampant not me-ism? [Pls. note: I'm not making an existential or humanist argument here. Of course Graner should never have engaged in this behavior. Never. No question about that. But from a fucked-up-context-of-war perspective, is what he did outside the context of what he was expected and asked to do? I think not. I'm conflicted. I don't want the "I was following orders" defense to be viable (Nazis, anyone?), but then, I think the onus of blame should go to the madministration, not to idiot former prison guards from Palookaville. Oh, hell. This sucks.]
3) Does the B*sh Madministration's assertion that these acts of torture, or abuse, as they call it, were the actions of a small group of people and not the result of their f*cked up policies necessarily complicate Graner's, et al., fundamental right of "innocent until proven guilty"? Is the madministration condemning these folks before their trials? Does their word influence the jury (is there a jury?), the press, the public and compromise his rights to a fair trial?

I'm just askin'.