Wednesday, April 1, 2009

In Which I Commend Rachel for Going Toe-to-Toe

The story a couple of days ago about the Spanish judge who wants to indict six American policymaker types for their torture policies reminded me about a story Rachel did on Air America last June, the 18th, I think. She interviewed a representative of Physicians for Human Rights on the occasion of the release of their report, Broken Laws, Broken Lives: Medical Evidence of Torture by US Personnel and Its Impact. The study reported on eleven men who were tortured in American hellholes like Guantanamo, or Abu Ghraib, or other dark, dark places. The stories include testimony of physical, mental and sexual atrocities. The detainees were interviewed separately, yet their stories are similar. The PHR also did physical exams of the men which corroborated their testimony.

"Methods of torture experienced by the former detainees evaluated by PHR included interrogation and detention practices such as isolation, sleep deprivation, forced nakedness, severe humiliation and degradation,and sensory deprivation that were officially authorized by military and civilian officials during certain periods when these men were incarcerated. Additional practices recounted by the interviewees including beatings and other forms of severe physical and sexual assault that, while not officially authorized by government documents now part of the public record, came to be part of a regime of brutality at the facilities where the detainees were held."

In anticipation of Rachel's impending interview with Colin Powell today, I reread the report last night. As I was reading, my face became hotter and hotter. At first I thought it was my typical, "Prosecute these fuckers!" anger. Then I recognized it for what it was: shame. So it was in this frame of mind that I watched Rachel interview the former Sec. of State. And God love her, she sure as hell tried to get him to admit something; anything. It can't be easy to sit across from someone like him and press, press, press. But she did. And he would not be budged. I understand the cover-your-ass aspect of all this, but Powell has always seemed to be above that to me. He's a man who appears to value personal accountability, yet he hedged. Not that I really expected anything different. Although he might have blinked when he admitted that Susan Crawford, head of the military tribunals in Guantanamo, "was in a position of authority to make such a statement; has access to all the information" regarding her statement that we tortured.

But brava to the birthday girl. She asked the questions I wanted to hear answered. And she asked them over and over. Poor thing. I hope she got a great birthday cocktail out of the deal.

Happy place, happy place:

Portrait by

1 comment:

  1. I truly never thought I'd see the day when I'd be ashamed of the behavior of our country. But then again, I never thought I'd see the day we'd lose our civil liberties to the likes of such demos as Rove and Cheney, either. Great post. And Happy B.D. to our girl, Rachel!