Monday, June 18, 2007

Yes, this is America


I'm having a lot of trouble processing Seymour Hersh's New Yorker piece on what happened to "that famous General Taguba—of the Taguba report" at the hands of the Pentagon. I'm reading this thing, and I really can't concentrate, because I'm thinking about Dr. Benway:
"I deplore brutality," he said. "It's not efficient. On the other hand, prolonged mistreatment, short of physical violence, gives rise, when skillfully applied, to anxiety and a feeling of special guilt. A few rules or rather guiding principles are to be borne in mind. The subject must not realize that the mistreatment is a deliberate attack of an anti-human enemy on his personal identity. He must be made to feel that he deserves any treatment he receives because there is something (never specified) horribly wrong with him. The naked need of the control addicts must be decently covered by an arbitrary and intricate bureaucracy so that the subject cannot contact his enemy direct."
"While in general I avoid the use of torture-- torture locates the opponent and mobilizes resistance --the threat of torture is useful to induce in the subject the appropriate feeling of helplessness and gratitude to the interrogator for withholding it. And torture can be employed to advantage as a penalty when the subject is far enough along with the treatment to accept punishment as deserved. To this end I devised several forms of disciplinary procedure. One was known as The Switchboard. Electric drills that can be turned on at any time are clamped against the subject's teeth; and he is instructed to operate an arbitrary switchboard, to put certain connections in certain sockets in response to bells and lights. Every time he makes a mistake the drills are turned on for twenty seconds. The signals are gradually speeded up beyond his reaction time. Half an hour on the switchboard and the subject breaks down like an overloaded thinking machine."

"The study of thinking machines teaches us more about the brain than we can learn by introspective methods. Western man is externalizing himself in the form of gadgets. Ever pop coke in the mainline?" (...)

From Naked Lunch
© 1959, William S. Burroughs

I really can't get through it, but I happen to have a thinking machine handy, so I decide to externalize myself in its form. I grab the text of Hersh's piece and head over to a Cutup Engine to subject it to some mid-20th Century postmodern hermeneutic therapy. This free public Burroughs/Gysin Cutup machine hacks up the following:
“I’ll talk to you of staff wrote, “Sir: update on news up the chain of of interagency visibility to embassies a sixth grader. In response, disquieting.” At the time, his soldiers. DO PHOTOS report. “Rummy did what we called with any terrorist group. Taguba had a day for at “I didn’t quibble. If (Rumsfeld stayed in lying to protect the first complaint. On January 13, referring to the Intelligence; General Richard for example, to the few prisoners were affiliated with any aggressive than the tried to focus “female detainees exposing themselves to the what authority. By law, there. me. His orders were clear, Low-Intensity Conflict, defended the White House and told them, ‘I’ll do anything or torture?”

In response, Administration officials had soldier in uniform sodomizing a female detainee. guards to condition these senators were “misreading General Miller’s intent.” Questioned I wasn’t about to lie to the . . And the general nature met with the President “once or street from a Japanese-run prisoner-of-war camp Army thirty-two years by then, Abu Ghraib report. “Rummy Southern Command, with jurisdiction over Guantánamo—he had the Administration feared on. Jordan subsequently became the two other sites, largely based actions, but the White House was insisted that only a few low-ranking soldiers in March. In He’s a control guy, for my three commissioned second lieutenant, he was church.”

During the the photographs were that Naval Command and Staff at used to go shopping together,” Taguba said, Jordan was “just what happened?” Wolfowitz asked. Someone Rhode Island. While there, I’ll deny it.”

Schmidt wet floor, handcuffed, with an interrogator the reports that we had Ghraib was the consequence of a I didn’t know. “Rumsfeld is very told me, referring like a steel trap."

There, that's better.

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