By David Swanson
I may be a United States Senator and a candidate for President and the Republican frontrunner. But I am, more importantly (assuming you’ll take my word for it) a man who has been tortured.
There are two key types of people in the world, and I am both of them. I have been tortured, and I have tortured. I have suffered man’s inhumanity to man, and I have turned on my fellow human beings. I am a victim and a criminal. I am a victim who has turned against the victims. I have done the worst possible thing in the world to my brothers and sisters. I am the modern incarnation of the curse of Cain, tailored to the needs of the television networks, presented like a Mcjob, a McSenator, a McHero. I am nothing of the sort.
You imagine I opposed the legalization and the normalization of torture by the United States. For show I did so, yes. I helped to pass a bill banning torture. But why in the world would I do such a thing? Torture has long been banned by our Constitution, our law, and international covenants. The current president and vice president tortured in knowing violation of the law, an act that merits immediate impeachment, removal, and prosecution. But have you heard me speak up for justice?
Once we’d passed that bill, the president signed it and added a signing statement giving himself the right to torture. But the Constitution says that Congress has the power to enact laws, not the president. His job is to execute the laws as passed by Congress. And I barely made a peep. I watched torture being installed in our nation’s governing culture by the decree of a dictator, and I kept quiet because I wanted to be president.
Then we came back and legalized torture with new legislation. And did you see me filibuster? Did I speak out? Did I launch a hunger strike? Sure, that would have been extreme, but in Guantanamo it is commonplace. So are suicide attempts. When three prisoners committed suicide together in Guantanamo, do you know what the commander of our prison camp did? He announced that these men’s suicides constituted an unfair act of war against the United States.
I came as close as one can come to suicide in Vietnam, and it never once occurred to me that my death would hurt the monsters who were putting me through an existence worse than death. I considered suicide out of the most desperate horror, out of a terror to believe that life could be what I was experiencing it to be, and out of deep doubt that my life would ever change into something else.
Imagine that you saved up money and traveled to Afghanistan before the invention of the so-called war on terror. Your goal was to help those less fortunate, but one such individual sold you to the Americans for $5,000. You then entered each successive circle of Hell, increasingly disoriented and deranged. You were denied sunlight or room to move. You were hung by hooks on the wall for hours. You were told that your loved ones would be raped and murdered. Your private parts were sliced up to cause the most excruciating pain, but the humiliation outweighed it. You saw others murdered, and you assumed your time would come at any moment. Each time you were tortured, you believed it might be the end.
I’ve seen people simulate waterboarding on the sidewalk in Washington to make a point, and then I’ve watched TV pundits comment that it didn’t look so bad. How could it? The victim knew he would live. A victim of real torture believes the torture may end in murder.
And a victim of real torture will say anything. Just from the stress of television interviews, I’ll make up the wildest stories, such as that I’ve never brought home any pork from Washington. Under torture I said anything that I thought would make the torturers happy. I’m no hero. Neither perhaps are any of the other chumps running for president. My recommendation to you is to limit the penetration into your house of election lunacy, and instead focus on forcing the current government to end torture, something that can be done only with impeachment.
If we will torture, there is nothing we won’t do. We’ll even prolong bloody wars for political points.
I hereby remove myself from the presidential election. You nutcases can go ahead and run with the hardcore Christian who thinks dinosaurs were invented by Disney.