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Condoning Torture

Reported by Ellen - January 18, 2005

What has happened to our country that so many people think torture is OK and necessary? First, there was Alberto Gonzales, the White House counsel who condoned harsh treatment of prisoners and is now likely to become our next Attorney General. Next came the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse which right-wing pundits dismissed as fraternity pranks despite the fact that people have died in our custody.

Last night's first guest on Alan Colmes' radio show was Guy Womack, defense attorney for Charles Graner, recently convicted of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib. It was horrifying and sickening to hear how many people thought Graner's actions were justified. One of those people was his attorney.

Some of what Graner was convicted for include punching a man in the head and knocking him out and ordering a man to masturbate. According to his lawyer, Graner was only following orders and felt that the orders were wrong. Maybe so, but his lawyer seemed to feel the actions were unobjectionable. He insisted that stacking prisoners "like gymnasts" is standard procedure used when prisoners are out of control. Note the "like gymnasts" language which makes it seem almost glamorous, rather than the humiliation that it must be for the prisoners. Were the Iraqi prisoners out of control? Graner never said but I suspect not.

When Colmes asked why Graner hit a prisoner with a stick, his attorney said that wasn't true. According to Womack, Graner hit a recalcitrant prisoner with his open hand, "which is an authorized use of force." Colmes asked why Graner hit the prisoner. Womack didn't know why Graner but added that Graner is "a very nice guy." Next, Colmes asked about putting prisoners on a leash. Apparently, Graner leashed a prisoner who was so fearful of what was going to happen to him that he would not stay still. Graner handed the leash to Lindy England in order to humiliate the prisoner by being tethered to a woman. Womack, the attorney called it a "brilliant" maneuver and added that the leash was never taut.

Colmes was obviously revolted and indignant over this kind of behavior. Unfortunately, he seemed to be in the minority or at least not in the overwhelming majority as a number of callers were indignant over his indignation. "If their actions saved one military life, wasn't that worth it?" was one comment. "We're at war. We can't be feeding them candy," was another. Comment: As if not torturing a prisoner is tantamount to spoiling them! It's ironic that this segment came after I saw "Roe" of Roe v. Wade on Hannity & Colmes talking about the sanctity of human life. Is it only American life that's worth sanctifying or is it that a fetus is only sanctified until it's born?

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