Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan



“The United States of America does not torture.” George W Bush, November 29, 2005

If you hire someone to murder, Monkey Boy, you are a murderer. If you hire someone to kidnap, you are a kidnapper. If you hire someone to torture, you are a torturer. This concept has been part of the Anglo-Saxon legal system for centuries. What part of it don’t you understand? It doesn’t matter if the blood, tears, and shit never touches your lily-white hands, it’s the same as if you had pulled out the fingernails yourself, applied the contacts to the genitals and turned the crank yourself. I despise you for more reasons than I can enumerate, but one of the chief reasons is that you have made my country into a torturer nation, and thus, though I never voted for you and will never acknowledge you as my president, you have made me into a torturer citizen. I hate you for that. All decent people hate you for that.

Now, just in case I’m accused of Bush-bashing (and of course I’m Bush-bashing, and will continue to do so as long as he’s around to bash), let me point out that this moral and ethical horror really got going during the Clinton administration. And ordinary rendition (kidnapping someone and bringing him to the US for trial) had been going on for some time, back to the Reagan and George “Big Turd” Bush era. The program really got going when Little Turd came into office, however, with the lovely excuse of 9/11 (if we don’t fight ‘em over there, we’ll have to fight ‘em over here!) there have been hundreds if not thousands of victims—we’ll probably never know how many died.
This movie shows how easily it can get started, and all go wrong. Of course, it helps if you are brown-skinned, Muslim, with an Arabic name, but don’t fool yourself, fellow citizens, one day they will come for you. We get to see waterboarding and worse, all apparently legal because they are carried out by a client state, a hell hole somewhere in the Arab world, a country that wants to kiss American ass because we give out all the goodies.

I suspect that a majority of my fellow Americans would not be too upset by this whole idea. Why? Because All-American Jack Bauer, the psychotic torturer-hero of “24” says it’s necessary, because we all know that every week there is a ticking time bomb to defuse. What I’d like to do, what I’d really like to do, is conduct a poll, and then another poll. The first would ask the simple question “Do you believe torture is morally acceptable?” Those who answered no would be through with this test. Those who said yes would be subjected to “enhanced interrogation.” Not torture. Definitely not torture. It would be hypocritical of me to suggest torturing anyone when I am opposed to it. However, our Attorney General refuses to say that waterboarding is torture, so it isn’t torture, right? So let’s subject all those pro-torture Americans to waterboarding. Say, eight to ten hours per day for, I dunno, a month or so. Then I’d like to conduct the second poll. Again, there would be only one question: “Do you still believe torture is morally acceptable?”

No one can know the outcome of a survey like that, but I am going to offer an estimate. I think there would be just five answers:

.0000000001%: Hell, yes, it’s acceptable. Bring it on! I can handle it! (That’s Senator McCain, showing off. All right, John, we know you’re tough, we know you survived five years of torture at the hands of the North Vietnamese, and our hats are off to you. Hell, you could do a month of waterboarding without even breathing, I’m sure. You are one hell of a macho man, no question. You’d be an even better man if you hadn’t abandoned your lonely stand within the Republican Party against torture when it became clear that the yahoos who will vote for you were in favor of it. Shame on you.)

5%: No, I am no longer in favor of torture. Excuse me, I’m going to throw up.

80%: I spit on the United States of America! I am solely responsible for the attacks of September 11th! I was on the grassy knoll that day in Dallas! I killed Tupac Shakur, and Jon-Benet Ramsey, and Nicole Simpson! Rape my wife! Bugger my mother! Kill my children! Only please, please, please don’t put me on that board again!

10%: No opinion. (Sitting in a corner in their own shitty diaper, drooling.)

5% Really no opinion, i.e., deceased.

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Okay, how about the film itself …?

Actually, this first comment is political again. About halfway through this movie I had a blinding revelation. If you had put all the actors playing government people … J. K. Simmons, Jake Gyllenhaal, Meryl Streep (as someone I seriously wanted to kill), and others … into Nazi uniforms … you would not have needed to change one element of the plot or one line of dialogue! I’m completely serious here. Other than throwing in an occasional “Heil, Hitler!” you could play it as written, only with Meryl in a fetching black SS uniform with skulls on her lapels. It would work! No one would have any problem with Nazis doing the stuff that is done here.

Near the end, Lee asked me if I thought I’d ever feel safe again, if I’d gone through something like the Egyptian man in this movie went through. I said, hell, I don’t feel safe now, and I’m sitting on a couch in the nation once known as the Beacon of Liberty, the formerly great US of A. This is what 7 years of Little Turd and his Turdlets have wrought.

Now to the actual movie … which is damn good, for about 90 minutes. Then it goes haywire and can’t seem to remain true to itself. A sub-plot suddenly takes over, we find that things didn’t happen in the order we thought they did, and things are artificially ramped up with a race against time which isn’t actually a race at all … in short, it all unravels. Worst of all, in a effort to have a “happy” ending, the tortured man is returned to the United States, and safety. … You really think so? After all you’ve just seen? They can come for him again any time they want to, just like they can come for you. You had dinner with an Arab-American last year? Made a few phone calls to him? You live next door to one? They can take you in on “evidence” flimsier than that. Screw your happy ending. There will be no happy ending for America until the entire Bush Administration is in prison, convicted of high treason. And you know that ain’t gonna happen.