On Torture: Terry Gross Has Eric Fair On NPR

As an hypothesis, let us entertain that the torture done at Abu Grabe is a national sin. And let me urge you to read what George Mason said about national sin, in this case the sin of slavery, at the Constitutional Convention. For all you well read patriots, I do not need to quote the passage, for I know that in your studies of America, the studies that qualified you for your cushy jobs making policy for the NSA for soldiers and, oh, contractors to follow and obey, I just know that you have read and re-read the prophesies of Mason and Jefferson many times, perhaps as many as your dogeared copy of Machiavelli’s The Prince. Who says the liberal arts have been in decline? But no let us have no Libertarian sarcasm here. No forty pages to be unpacked from a single sentence, accessible only to those who care to think it through. Let us return to prose, straight prose, promising to refrain from Satyra-grapha, satire writing to express rage without violent anger in the words. Let us get to the report.

Eric Fair is a now penitent former NSA contractor who tortured people in Iraq for the U. S. government, the very same government that was elected with the George Bush administration and those previous to represent the intentions of the U. S. people. We, the people, are told that lives were saved, that there is nothing we can do about these decisions anyway, and that we are being spied upon, and spied upon by men like those who threaten we are no longer allowed to use the words CIA and torture in the same sentence. Only these are men who do not change their mind upon being called to reflect upon the particulars in light of the First Amendment, the Declaration, and the Bill of Rights. These men are far above the law, protected in their exercise of power by layers of secrecy, which layers are then protected by that order they now routinely give even to librarians not to say a word about what you have just heard or seen: those folks. The people who suggested that St. Martin Luther King kill himself, and were never held accountable. They are there for our protection, after all, and are no doubt very busy working as knights, saving American lives, probably risking their own lives for free, like Jesus. And they can always withhold their protection, and order others to do so- who would call that an action?

Although a private contractor, Eric Fair was confused by the attention to duty of a soldier, the sense of camaraderie and common mission that pertains among Soldiers. While Isis was displacing the former Sunnis, some of whom were merely Al Qaeda, Eric Fair was torturing people to get information, important information such as the location of Saddam’s chemical weapons, so we could catch him violating the Gulf war treaty. This treaty required verification, or else the Gulf war of George Bush senior that pushed Saddam out of Kuwait would be back on, and we could pick up where our president had refrained from proceeding without the agreement of the coalition nations, to Baghdad to depose Saddam and prevent the impending tyranny of his sons Oudai and Kusai, both of whom promised to be worse than their father Saddam. Instead, the CIA fabricated evidence of nuclear weapons in order to gain a unanimous vote from the U.N.security council, you remember, the embarrassment that destroyed Colin Powell’s career. Consequences. Saddam was not the worst, not as bad as some. He would merely play American gangster movies and watch videos of real torture, like hooking car batteries to genitals, unlimited by any attempt to stay this side of the fine line where some might still be able to say this is not torture but “enhanced interrogation.” Straight prose, please, without euphemism. This is torture under a nation that is becoming a tyranny, not one that is already a tyranny plain and simple. We used things like keeping the prisoners nude in the cold cells, depriving them of sleep, and many kinds of sexual indignity and violation of the sort that would qualify an American citizen for the sex offender’s registry, if dumpster pissing will, the sort leaked in the photos of the female soldier who piled up naked Iraqis and led them on dog leashes to get them to confess that vital information that surely just could not be had in any other way, like going to find it. This is what they call going to find it, and it does seem to quickly have become the only way followed of going to find it. And if they ever found anything, these Machiavellians were their own justification, as though it truly were for them the only way.

But the truth is that their own argument from effective deterrence of terrorism undermines their own case, if there is any other more effective way, such as not committing a national sin and preserving the ability of the decent people caught up among the enemy to tell who the good guys and the bad guys are. We made 10 or one thousand enemies of friends, or kept them enemies, or reassured them in their opposition to America. We confirmed for them that America is clearly like every other power in the world, a tyranny beneath appearances, appearances which fool only the vulgar. We made enemies of potential friends who would have given us information far more valuable, and as John McCain says too, gained an awful lot of false information to then sift through for every little piece we might pick up glimmering and rush back to show to the American people to incite their terror and justify the Richard Cheney and the CIA method of fighting a war. This assumes that it does not matter at all if one deserves to lose. What matters is power, because underneath, the truth is, that liberty is an illusion, always was an illusion, and every government is already, necessarily, a tyranny.

The now penitent Eric Fair looks America in the face for falling for the Machiavellian argument. In speech, he reminds us that it should not matter if these methods were the most effective:

Torture is wrong, and all Americans should know better. Anyone who argues that it is a matter of effectiveness fails to understand what this country is about.

Again, the position of the CLC, which is only a bit further along than that of the Obama administration, is that “when we capture you, “War Is Over.” With that, we will both win and deserve to win this war, that war which only about half of the Americans have looked up from their natural and ordinary desire to acquire or their pursuit of epicurean pleasures to notice is even going on yet.

Finally, Eric Fair has some advanced psychological insights, from his penance, about the effects and the definition of torture.

He mentions the Donald Trump / New Republican position that waterboarding is not legally torture, and says that though one could bring in six different lawyers and get six different legal definitions,

The minute you violate another person’s will, [it is ] torture.

So he moves the definition back prior to the area of legal quibbles. We will agree, if what he means by “will” is the same thing we mean by fundamental choice or authority over one’s own actions, the Montesquieu definition of liberty, to neither forbid doing the right nor compel to do the wrong, the violation of our fundamental liberty to obey God rather than man. He was especially disturbed by the nudity for some reason, and when brought back to Iraq, seems to have done some things that are “classified,” and deeply sickened him. He is under a legal threat which our president too upholds regarding revealing classified information, the sort of thing that makes one glad to have never seen a classified document in his life. I myself offered to help design a constitution for Iraq if the three parts artificially thrown together did indeed wish to remain a single nation, and offered to serve, since I agreed with the purpose of that war. He says that torture involves:

forcing someone’s will against them, …like creating two people inside them…

…to replace the one person who would never treasonous-ly collaborate with the enemy, even if it were the United States. It works to…

create two people inside of one, …to physically insert yourself inside that person.

He is convinced, and he repents that he has…

violated another person’s will… We hurt people, destroyed them emotionally. We suffer some of those consequences.

When questioned as to how he could reconcile these things with his Christian faith- he was about to enter Presbyterian seminary to seek ordination before the war- he answers that God is never on the side of the jailer. Later, after the part surrounding the redactions, he says he was disgusted not primarily by his actions, but “by how good it feels to wield power.” He says he chose not simply the wrong path, but had gone in the “wrong direction entirely.”

The truth is that what we do to one another is in fact done to us in the effects upon our souls. Such a soul is in faction, distracted, and hence cannot act efficiently toward any purpose. Every adulterer knows this from experience. The most calloused learn to ape love to save face, though the effort consumes their souls. They cannot ornament the Christmas tree at home. Their joy is ruined, and their brief time spent this way. When you are done reading your Machiavelli, if you ever finish, you can study these things in the first book of Plato’s Republic, where faction in the soul is considered, or in the scripture, if read with subtlety in any genuine program of liberal study, aimed at learning for its own sake, rather than for the sake of wealth, security or power, as a free man rather than the pawn of some executive agency. These things may well be missing from the Aristotelian study of political faction. For just as Aristotle does not much study the soul and love, he seems to leave out a study of the soul and faction, and this is why Plato is superior to Aristotle.

Now, how could anyone be so delusional or “schizophrenic” as to suggest that our own FBI, in domestic matters, would go so far as to set a woman on a man to pretend she admitted his love, and might even marry him, a man of whom one just cannot be too sure whether he is a Russian spy or something, since, though in proximity to the CIA, and impoverished, he turned down an invitation to apply to work with them? How else could such a thing be explainable, but that he may just be a spy or something else treasonous we have yet thought of? It could indeed have been in part because he knew they would do such things, and, sworn to obedience, they would expect such things of him. And since he pissed them off as though he had stirred their tortured conscience, why should they care for him, especially now a-days, with so much at stake, amid human uncertainty, when one just cannot be too sure? Is the gateway to hell not again that old passageway of science called the desire for certainty? Take that into your effectiveness calculation Richard Cheney, and as John McCain has said, “Good Luck.” My suggestion is that the case is anything but that we know our nation and our NSA: the CIA, FBI and ETC. all together, just would never do such a thing, and anyone must be mad even to suggest that the question be asked. Besides, it is still possible to rape the mad, though there may be problems with their testimony in court. A little slander and an order of silence will take care of that, because of the great reputation for integrity demanded by these agencies. We want the president to order the agencies to tell our representatives in both the House and Senate the truth about this matter, so they can figure out what America needs to do for accountability and meaningful recourse to make things right, to purge the sin against the image of God in man that America has taken into itself, both for its own sake and in order to mitigate the consequences of these sins for the world and for our nation. As in the civil war, many unborn and un-involved in slavery would suffer and die, because that is what happens by nature with national sin. Ask Mason and Lincoln and Jefferson. No one need ever know the details outside of Congress, but otherwise, more sin such as murder will be necessary to hide the sin, and even that will not work any longer. And Otherwise, if at least the representatives of the people do not decide these issues, it is an usurping faction that we have allowed to take our flag and do these things in our name.

Barack Obama, it is time to hold our government accountable, letting those like Eric Fair lead the national penance, rather than hide from possible assassination in a monastery. Did you see the suggestion that he kill himself amid the comments he has received? Who makes such suggestions, and where have we, on the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s assassination, ever heard of anyone making such a suggestion, yeah, and who invents such acronyms? It is time to clean house, to get these people out of government, and correct those who can be reminded of the meaning of America. Again, as with the argument of the McCarthy essay on Islam, it is a question of repent or risk losing a war with ISIS and Russia and anyone else with an interest in America’s corpse, for it is a big world we have wronged, and we are dying of our own sin. Nineveh indeed repented and avoided catastrophe, but that, I fear, is not any longer in the cards. What does seem to be in the cards is the question of better or worse, and even the possibility of national survival if we do return immediately to the great American founders, and to the Lord.

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