Comparative Torture 101

Torture Not Worth Reporting

Torture. The word has been constantly thrown about by the world press in harsh and constant critiques of the United States conduct in the War on Terror. Such never-ending harping and sniping, it is claimed, is motivated solely by the press’s concern for human rights, not at all by any virulent and deep seated anti-Americanism or a pathological political vendetta against George W. Bush.

In fact, the definition of torture seems to have undergone a remarkable and elastic expansion in the hands of a crusading press (not that the press would approve of being called “crusading,” which might be deemed offensive to non-Christians). Human rights are apparently quite precious indeed when defending them offers a chance to criticize the United States. And more than one observer has claimed that the United States use of “torture” has robbed her of any moral authority she had when the “so-called” War on Terror began. Allegedly, America is now little better than Al Qaeda.

Strange then, that the recent discovery in Iraq (which has no relationship to the so-called War on Terror), of a graphic how-to guide to torture, published by Al Qaeda for the training of its operatives, has received so little coverage by the usually human-rights obsessed mainstream media. The guide, done in comic book form for the benefit of illiterate dungeon masters, was found in an actual torture facility — a dank, filthy hole of a basement, complete with chains hanging from the ceiling and a variety of whips, pliers, blowtorches, power drills, hammers, meat cleavers, vices and electrocution devices laid out nearby.

And lest you choose to believe that this was all just some particularly unkempt home workshop, I should point out that a bruised, beaten, tortured prisoner was also found at this site, still hanging from the aforementioned chain. He is not an isolated case either; recent raids on a number of other Al Qaeda torture facilities have rescued other torture victims, including a young boy who stated that the terrorists (whom we are no better than, of course) had electrocuted him by hooking cables to his tongue. No doubt the boy probably has some connection to Halliburton.

Consider also that when an American soldier is found to have committed some act of alleged torture: such as forcing a suspected terrorist to wear panties upon his head as occurred at Abu Ghraib, this is done in violation of United States policy on the treatment of detainees — and the offending soldiers are disciplined or even prosecuted. The capture of the Al Qaeda torture-training manual shows conclusively that the use of sadistic mutilation and torture is an official policy of our enemies, being applied in a systematic way. Yet the media condemnation offered for the behavior at Abu Ghraib was roughly several thousand times greater than that being expressed over the Al Qaeda torture program. No wonder much of the world claims to believe that America is a bigger threat than Al Qaeda and terrorism. Al Qaeda’s (very real) sins occur in silence and privacy, while America’s least mistake occurs in a media echo chamber of obsession and derision.

To demonstrate exactly how asymmetrical the world media’s standard for torture and transgression is for America versus the terrorists, I’d like you to compare and contrast the nearly unreported and uncondemned instructional drawings from the Al Qaeda “torture for dummies” manual to actual allegations of “torture” made against the United States by terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay. As the first pairing below demonstrates, the comparison should be quite an “eye opener” for those confused as to the real definition of torture.

Recommended Al Qaeda Torture Technique #1: “Eye Removal”

Alleged American “Torture” Technique #1: Majid Khan, a Pakistani associate of Khalid Sheik Mohammed being held at Guantanamo Bay, has made a “Statement of Torture” to a military tribunal (reported by the BBC) that he was “psychologically tortured” by the United States by being given new eyeglasses with the wrong prescription. The unfortunate Mr. Khan also “produced a list of further examples of psychological torture, which included the provision of ‘cheap, branded, unscented soap’, the prison newsletter, noisy fans and half-inflated balls in the recreation room that ‘hardly bounce’.” This torture was so intolerable that Khan twice attempted to commit suicide by chewing through one of his arteries. Clearly, we are the ones that are unbalanced.

Recommended Al Qaeda Torture Technique #2: “Victim’s Head in Vice”

Alleged American “Torture” Technique #2: Australian terrorist David Hicks, a convert to Islam who recently pleaded guilty to charges at an American tribunal and is serving a reduced nine-month sentence in an Australian prison, claims he was tortured by overly bright night-lights in his cell. He also has complained, via his father, that the rich meals at Guantanamo have made him fat.

Recommended Al Qaeda Torture Technique #3: “Clothes Iron to Skin”

Alleged American “Torture” Technique #3: Jumah al-Dossari claims he was “tortured” by being urinated upon and “threatened” sexually. He has also claimed to have been “smashed” to the floor by guards. No injury seems to have resulted from this smashing. No proof was possible of the urination claim. But, I’m inclined to believe that Mr. al-Dossari has actually inspired the use of the “F-word” during his captivity. Perhaps he is, as most fundamentalists are, prone to literalism in his interpretation of words and phrases.

Recommended Al Qaeda Torture Technique #4: “Blowtorch to the Skin”

Alleged American “Torture” Technique #4: A number of “human rights” groups have claimed that US “rendition” of terror suspects back to their own oppressive countries is a form of torture. Apparently, sending a Moroccan back to Morocco can be torture. However, when the US sent a released Algerian suspect (a doctor) to political asylum in Bosnia so as to avoid such torture, the BBC reported the man complaining that he was not licensed to practice medicine in Bosnia. Apparently, not sending an Algerian back to Algeria can be torture

Recommended Al Qaeda Torture Technique #5: “Drilling Hands”

Alleged American “Torture” Technique #5: Jamal Udeen, a “Briton” who “accidentally” wandered into Afghanistan during the US invasion, claimed in the British tabloid the Daily Mirror (under the screaming headline “MY HELL IN CAMP X-RAY”), that he was shackled — while in prison no less! He was also “psychologically tortured” when water to his cell was cut off just before prayer time, preventing him from washing up first.

Recommended Al Qaeda Torture Technique #6: “Suspending and Whipping”

Alleged American “Torture” Technique #6: Fawzi al-Odah, a Kuwaiti man captured trying to kill US soldiers in Afghanistan, told the BBC he witnessed torture when several prisoners at Guantanamo were prevented from starving themselves to death by being fed liquid formula through tubes. One formula victim, something of a detention expert, is said to have claimed that the feeding was worse than when he was tortured in Saudi Arabia before the war. Mr. al-Odah, who briefly joined the hunger strike, also claimed that as punishment “they took my comfort items away from me. You know, my blanket, my towel, my long pants, then my shoes. I was put in isolation for 10 days.” Aw, they took away his blankie ‘cause he wouldn’t clean his plate! Then he had to go to “time out!” Unconscionable!

I could go on (there are so many pages from the Al Qaeda torture manual left to cover), but unless you work for the Associated Press or the BBC you get the point by now: America is held to an impossible standard by a hostile press in a transparent effort to embarrass her and her current leader. The actions of America’s enemies, by contrast, are reported (if at all) in a moral vacuum devoid of any of the self-righteousness or propagandizing associated with America-bashing. This holds true whether the issue is “torture,” civilian casualties, or military victory vs. defeat. It is this blatant, ideologically-motivated double standard in the press that has damaged America’s reputation in the world far more than anything she has actually done.