'1984': The sequel

 What it would be like if interrogators and detainees actually talked 

 Interrogator: Come on. It’s time for your waterboarding.

 Detainee: Didn’t you do that already?

 Interrogator: We’ve waterboarded you only 182 times so far this month. We have to get in one more before the next budget.

 Detainee: I’ll tell you whatever you want to hear.

 Interrogator: But we don’t know what we want to hear. That’s why we are waterboarding you.

 Detainee: I thought a former U.S. government interrogator said there was "no actionable intelligence" you could gain from torture that you can’t gain "from regular tactics."

 Interrogator: But we have all this water on our hands. And all these boards. We’ve got to use them for something. The taxpayers don’t want their money wasted. Besides, the United States does not torture.

 Detainee: It sure feels like torture.

 Interrogator: You are mistaken. It feels like "harsh interrogation techniques" or "enhanced interrogation techniques" or "aggressive interrogation techniques."

 Detainee: But you have stripped me naked, slammed my head against the wall, deprived me of sleep and waterboarded me. That’s not torture?

 Interrogator: The lawyers say it’s not. And lawyers are experts when it comes to torture. Besides, President George W. Bush said on Oct. 5, 2007, "This government does not torture people."

 Detainee: Why did he say that?

 Interrogator: Because his administration had authorized the use of torture in August 2002. So I guess he was just trying to get ahead of the news cycle.

 Detainee: But didn’t the Bush administration end waterboarding in 2003?

 Interrogator: Don’t believe everything you read in the newspapers. Besides, the U.S. Constitution authorizes the use of torture.

 Detainee: Where?

 Interrogator: In the 28th Amendment.

 Detainee: But there are only 27 amendments to the Constitution!

 Interrogator: There are only 27 amendments in the public copy of the Constitution. In the Double Secret Bush administration Constitution, all sorts of amendments were added. The 28th authorizes torture, the 29th authorizes wiretaps on U.S. citizens without warrants, and the 30th authorizes the shooting of old guys in the face during quail hunts.

 Detainee: Quail hunts?

 Interrogator: Dick Cheney wanted to cover all his bases. OK, here’s the first question before we waterboard you: There is a bomb about to go off in a major U.S. city. You must tell Kiefer Sutherland where it is before the next commercial break.

 Detainee: Kiefer Sutherland?

 Interrogator: Oh, wait. That’s a script from "24." We’re getting our notes mixed up.

 Detainee: This couldn’t be legal.

 Interrogator: Oh, yes, it is. Here is a memo written by Jay Bybee when he was an assistant attorney general under Bush. He wrote that "although the waterboard constitutes a threat of imminent death, prolonged mental harm must nonetheless result" in order to violate the law. And since you have been waterboarded only 182 times this month, no prolonged mental harm could possibly result in waterboarding you again.

 Detainee: Bybee should be in a nuthouse.

 Interrogator: Maybe, but Bush put him on a U.S. court of appeals, instead. It was sort of a consolation prize.

 Detainee: Consolation prize?

 Interrogator: There was no opening on the Supreme Court.

 Detainee: Can you tell me who won the presidential election?

 Interrogator: Barack Obama. That’s why we have to send you overseas soon. We hear he’s going to ban torture in the United States. So we have to "extraordinary rendition" you before he takes office.

 Detainee: What’s extraordinary rendition?

 Interrogator: Extraordinary rendition is when we send you to a foreign country where they will torture you and send us back the information. It’s also called "torture by proxy."

 Detainee: And you do that so you can say the United States doesn’t torture?

 Interrogator: Yes. After all, we’re a civilized country. Now, are you ready to tell us everything you know?

 Detainee: "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power."

 Interrogator: Who said that?

 Detainee: O’Brien in "1984." It was written by George Orwell.

 Interrogator: We’ll track this Orwell down and waterboard him.

 Detainee: He’s dead.

 Interrogator: Darn. The big fish always get away.


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