Time for You All to Stop Thinking of Torture in the Abstract

Promoted by Jeff. Read the whole thing…it’s worth it.

The more I hear about this “torture” debate, I cringe – the discussion of the CIA using tools of water submersion, sleep deprivation, physical slapping, diet and mind control . . . well, the thoughts for me are not “what would that be like?” The flashbacks for me are quite real.

You all talk about this torture discussion – these criminal interrogation techniques – in the abstract.  How convenient and safe for all of you – I lived it.  For nearly twenty years, I have remained silent.  I have never relayed my experience to those outside my family and friends and I must caution you that I don’t know if I will be able to complete this post.  Here it goes . . . let me tell you a little bit about my experience.  Pardon the cryptic nature of my description, but it is truly painful.

Starting at the age of 15, I was detained by an “internationally known organization,” erasing my freedom of movement, activity and choice until I was nearly 18 years old.  That nearly three year period was without a doubt the most mentally and physically exhausting period of my life.  And, while others were detained with me, it was a situation where I had to depend upon my own abilities to persevere in order to carry on day after day.

The daily torture which I experienced involved the following:

After very short periods of sleep, following  evenings of hard labor which would not end until nearly midnight, I was awakened not later than 5:00 a.m.  I was then carried to an immersion tank – where without proper clothing and often without proper nourishment, I was immersed in water, frequently submerged, for periods of 2 to 2 1/2 hours.  With my tormenters screaming at me, I often dodged heavy wooden planks which tank guards would throw at me or my fellow detainees, if they sensed if we were fraternizing.  My tormenters would routinely direct that I submerge myself for periods of not less than 1 1/2 minutes while navigating around the immersion tank, forced to touch each edge or wall of the immersion tank before I could come up for breath.  If I would come up for breath too quickly, I was immediately directed to do it again and, if I did not complete it the second time, then my tormenters would force my fellow detainees to submerge themselves all over again, until all detainees had completed their tortuous task.

I would remain in the immersion tank until my skin was literally prune-like.  Then with whistles, my tormenters would scream for us to get out of the tank and marched us to a dungeon room, where my fellow detainees and I were separated in three lines and ordered to grab a metal bar, from which our bodies just hung – the forced arm-stretching was just brutal.  I could only survive by pulling my chin up over the bar repeatedly, in order to give my arms a break from this artificial arm-lengthening torment.  Then, after our arms had been stretched as if on the “rack,” we were ordered to lay down on these hard benches, where steel weights were placed on our chest and at our sides.  But for our abilities to lift these weights off our chest repeatedly, assuredly, we would have suffocated.

Just when our bodies were about to cave from the sheer weight of these steel circular objects, we were marched out of the dungeon and permitted to eat very modest amounts of food – high carbohydrate, starchy foods, which would have raised the triglyceride levels of most mortal men, but the detainees were not mere mortals.  We were the tortured few.

Then, with a callousness reserved for third world dictators, the detainees were ordered back to the immersion tank.  Again, we were tormented.  At points in time, we were bound by little rubber tubes around our ankles, with only a little foam object placed between our thighs – with no ability to move our legs, we were repeatedly ordered into the deep end of the immersion tank and told to not come back until we had touched the other wall.  Then, as if that effort to drown us was not enough, we were strapped with thin rubber tubing around our waists and then told to stretch that rubber tubing all the way to the opposite wall – this would often necessitate repeated arm movement, almost a flailing as if caught in the most merciless of rip-tides.  Once we touched the wall, the stretched rubber tubing would snap back and with a rush, we were returned to the area where our tormenters stood with their whistles and sticks.

Day after day, we endured this regimen.  I stand 6′ 1″ tall and yet I weighed a paltry 144 lbs. – immaciated does not adequately describe my damaged appearance.  Not only this – but my hair turned green and routinely fell out.  And, then periodically, every four or five months, the male detainees were forced to shave their legs, arms and backs and worst of all, our heads.

As if to curry favor with our tormenters, the older detainees would gang up on the younger detainees – routinely slapping them, piling on them and, then, often grabbing their undergarments, stretching their underwear up over their heads.  A few ended up being hoisted on the prison flagpole by their underwear, while they screamed in fear over their unforeseen predicament.

This is what I endured – day after day after day – month after month.  It is a wonder that I survived.

Torture is wrong – very wrong.  And, I hope that by relaying my experience to you, you will open your eyes to the concerns raised by the Obama Administration over the CIA techniques used to elicit information from Kalid Sheikh Mohammed and his ilk.

. . . I can’t do this anymore.

To all hand-wringing Democrats in Washington – claiming that America lost its values in permitting the CIA to carry forward its terrible interrogation techniques with persons responsible for the MURDER of nearly 3,000 Americans – get a life.

Are we to believe that somehow an internationally known, public high school swim team in Ann Arbor, Michigan can compel its 15 year old, 10th grade swimmers:

  • to swim not less than 18,000 yards a day (760 lengths in a 25 yard pool) over a period of 4 1/2 hours;
  • to lift weights for not less than 1 hour per day;
  • to do pull-ups until the swimmers literally vomit at the base of the pull-up bar;
  • to get less than 5 hours of sleep per night, only to get up at 5:00 a.m. and ride a bike eight miles to and from the swimming pool – twice a day (in the summer);
  • to, let’s not forget, endure your teammates giving repeated “snuggies” and hanging you by your underwear from a flagpole (of course, this doesn’t happen anymore ;-));
  • and to generally endure a swimming regimen and discipline, which has produced numerous national champion teams and swimmers, including medal-winning Olympians,

BUT the CIA can’t compel the production of important information about terrorists’ identities and future terrorist attacks, designed to save the lives of millions of Americans, by:

  • immersing someone in water for 30 seconds;
  • by depriving them from their beauty sleep, night after night;
  • by grabbing them harshly by the shoulders and directing their attention to what you are saying;
  • by slapping them occasionally to get their attention; and,
  • by not feeding them a USDA approved diet?

Are you kidding me?

President Obama, Senator Leahy, Speaker Pelosi and any others whom agree with your recent actions – your extreme views are endangering the safety of my family, my friends and my country.  If any one of my family or friends is harmed, because your pansy attitude towards harsh interrogation techniques, NOT TORTURE, with terrorists has prevented us from knowing about a future terrorist attack, I will hold you personally responsible for such harm.

Hiding behind the comments of an American hero, John McCain, does not excuse your callous disregard of American interests and our need to discern the nature and gravity of the threats which America faces today and tomorrow.  This disregard isn’t on George W. Bush – this disregard of American interests is yours and yours alone.

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