Thursday, May 21, 2009

US Terror Detainees – Prison or Frat House?

I find it peculiar to read, yet again, ad nauseam, about U.S. treatment of detainees in facilities in Guantánamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, and super-secret CIA-operated prisons across the globe. The epicenter of the discussions, of course, radiates from Washington, as members of Congress and the Senate race to take their positions, get their names in the paper, and pad their campaign contribution funds. After all, politicians are in the business of getting re-elected.

I’m resigned to having to put up with the topic in the press for another 12-18 months, though, as it looks like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is going to run this through the public hopper in an effort to cleanse herself of that dirty feeling she wakes up with every morning. The Washington “Gang of 4,” and what they knew, when, will be debated in a public forum, and it won’t be short and sweet. Pelosi is viewed considerably less favorably than President Obama and the rest of the Democratic Party – a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll of Americans showed favorability ratings of Obama at 64%, the Democratic Party at 45%, and Pelosi at 31%. This data suggests the Democratic party will be happy for Pelosi to be the face of this public battle; they’ll allow it to stretch out and have her bake in the heat of public indignation while they smoke contraband Cuban cigars and sexually harass young pages and interns.

It’s the public indignation part I’m beginning to wonder long and hard about. Waterboarding, I’m sure, is a real bitch. I imagine even fish don’t like it. But, in the relative context of a post-9/11 world, I’m not going to stand up and say its evil. If one just one life was saved by having one bad guy feel for a minute like he was drowning, I think I’m probably cool with it (it’s important to note that the bad guy doesn’t actually drown – he just feels like he’s going to until he coughs up more than name, rank, and serial number, or, as is more likely the case in the war on terror, the name of the tailor who makes custom-fitted, suicide bomber vests).

However, you never see pictures of waterboarding; ditto for pictures of sleep deprivation. What you do see are pictures like those below:

Okay, before you react, stifle that angry sneer (or amused chuckle). There’re a couple of very important points that need to be made.

First and foremost, it’s PRISON. Prison is not supposed to be dinner and drinks at The Plaza. It’s supposed to suck, and really suck badly at that. It’s supposed to send a message to wannabe scumbags everywhere – that message being, regardless of your circumstances right now, you do not want to be here. As the theme song to Baretta stated, “Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.”

Now, I’ve not been in prison. Yet. But, I have seen Midnight Express and a number of episodes of Oz on HBO – enough to know, or, rather, suspect, that there’s a whole host of pretty bad things that happen in prisons – in Turkey, in the United States, wherever. It’s not an evil U.S. government thing. It’s a prison thing. If you don’t want to be stacked in a buck-ass naked human pyramid, don’t do bad things and get tossed in the clink.

Second point that needs to be made, is the very real fact that many of us have similar photos in a shoe box hidden under our bed, either from bachelor parties, honeymoons, weekends in Las Vegas, or our 4 (or more, and you know who you are) years spent matriculating in campuses of higher education all around the world. Don’t look up – just think back to the pictures above. Every fall, those scenes, and worse, are repeated all over the United States. People actually pay for the privilege of being victimized, knowing down the road, they get to be the headmaster at this particular school of humiliation. It’s call “Pledging,” and it goes on beyond closed doors at fraternities everywhere.

Now, I know some of you reading this are shaking your heads and thinking, “No it doesn’t.” Just keep telling yourself that, particularly you mothers of teenage boys.

There is one hope that maybe all of this goes away as a nasty bit of “family business,” something that we just don’t talk about at family gatherings. As you’re aware, in his first week in office, President Obama ordered Guantánamo closed. Yeah, even his Democratic buddies are beginning to fight that now. Where are the “bad guys” going to go, the mainland U.S.? Sent back home to fight us again? Maybe Gitmo is the right place afterall?

There are no good answers to the quandary, which can mean only one thing – break out the restraints, edible undies, and digital cameras – we got a party on our hands!

Now it’s possible I could be wrong – it’s just this guy’s opinion.

Hey Tweeples, tweet me up on Twitter @RayHartjen.

1 comment:

  1. Couldn't agree with you more!!! I think Obama should be tried for "treason of the United States" for unclassifying the documents he did and making them public knowledge. And wanting terrorists that would try to kill as many Americans as humanly possible to not be subjected to intelligence gathering techniques. I didn't vote for Obama for MANY reasons!!! Don't get me wrong the guy is well educated, charasmatic, but totally unpatriotic and shouldn't have been granted the Presidency. But thats what happens when uneducated people believe the pre-election BS that goes on. Not that I think McCain was that great, but in most elections it comes down to voting for the lesser of two evils.