Balkinization  

Friday, February 24, 2006

Don't be distracted by the gay porn

JB

The latest revelations about prisoner mistreatment at Guantanamo Bay are both weird and sad. The weird part is that military interrogators posing as FBI agents wrapped detainees in an Israeli flag and forced them to watch homosexual pornography under strobe lights during interrogation sessions that lasted as long as 18 hours.

But that weirdness shouldn't detract our attention from the more important revelations about the far harsher interrogation methods used at Gitmo. And the sad (and far more important) point that has come to light is that the prisoner mistreatment wasn't due to isolated misbehavior by low ranking officers, as the Administration has repeatedly asserted, but went up much higher:

The documents suggest that harsh interrogation methods were approved of and encouraged by high-ranking Pentagon officials and commanders. In an internal FBI memo dated May 2004, an unidentified bureau official complained that Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's public pronouncements about interrogation policies were misleading.

"I know these techniques were approved at high levels within DoD and used" on specific prisoners, said the official, referring to the Department of Defense. The names of the author and recipients of the e-mail were blanked out on the version obtained and released by the ACLU, and no information was provided to indicate how the author knew the techniques were authorized at top levels.

In an e-mail from May 2003, Guantanamo's prison commander, Army Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller, was described as favoring aggressive methods "despite FBI assertions that such methods could easily result in the elicitation of unreliable and legally inadmissible information."


The real story is not the U.S. military's views about gay porn but the Defense Department's attempt to avoid responsibility for policies of prisoner abuse by trying to blame mistreatment on individual soldiers. The Administration is right about one thing: prisoner abuse at Gitmo and elsewhere was ultimately due to a few bad apples, but those bad apples are in the Pentagon and in the Bush Administration itself.

Comments:

Are you sure that the sado-masochistic, latent-homosexual freaks were "military interrogators" or "soldiers"? They do not sound like that to me. Where is the military discipline? Were they, perhaps, civilian spooks or "contractors"?
 

nk,

Abuse by authoritarians often comes with an overtone of latent homoeroticism. See my post, here:
http://www.transparentgrid.com/wordpress/index.php/archives/2006/02/24/1533/

Also remember the nightstick rape of the Haitian immigrant by officers in New York. There is also an excellent book, whose title I'll need to find, on latent homoeroticism in the Marine Corps expressed as hyper-mascualinity
 

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